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ABOUT PELICAN KEY/SIMPSON BAY AREA

It won't be long after stepping off the plane at the Princess Juliana International Airport (in Simpson Bay) before you can really start enjoying your vacation in St Maarten. Relax knowing there is not an hour or more car ride to your final destination - Villa Velaire is about 4 miles (6.4 km) from the airport. After going through customs, a host of rental car agencies will greet you to get you on your way (we recommend Paradise Car Rental Agency - they are a locally owned company and we have used them every time we visit the island).

 Sunset Beach Bar stands at the foot of the
Princess Juliana Airport

As you make your way from the airport, you will be amazed by the breathtaking scenery of Simpson Bay Lagoon - notice the many sailboats and yachts that dot the landscape. Some of the most famous bars in St Maarten can be found around this area. Be sure to visit the Sunset Beach Bar (at Maho Beach), which literally stands at the foot of the airport runway. Just beyond the Sunset Beach Bar are numerous heart pounding nightclubs, some of the more well known being Bliss and Tanta Sanctuary. Looking for something more laid back, then be sure to stop by Karakter's on the Beach, Topper's or the Buccaneer Beach Bar - where you will always be greeted by a smiling face.

Don't expect to find the typical chain restaurants with standardized menus in St Maarten/St Martin. What you can expect are creative menus with bold flavors and exceptionally fresh ingredients. While the French side is obviously more focused on French gastronomy, Dutch Sint Maarten has a more international feel when it comes to its gourmet offerings. The Simpson Bay/Pelican Key areas offer some of the finest international cuisine on the island. Restaurants specializing in Mediterranean, Caribbean, Thai, Italian or French are abundant - there is a reason why this island is touted as the "Culinary Capital of the Caribbean".

Be sure to stop by the Simpson Bay Yacht Club - watch the mega yachts and sailboats pull in from all over the world, try some of the best Fish & Chips on the island and relax to the soothing sounds of local steel bands. The Yacht Club hosts the world famous Heineken Regatta every March, the Course de l'Alliance in November, the Sol Optimist Regatta and the St. Maarten Open Laser Championships in June.

The Red Piano is on of the most famous bars
in St Maarten (less than a  half mile from
Villa Velaire)

Because of its stunning scenery, Pelican Key is a prized location for many residential homes and resorts. As you drive up along the main road (Billy Folly Rd), you will notice some of the most exclusive villas on the island.  Visitors will find the world famous Red Piano - a hotspot with locals and visitors alike offering live music every night. Bon Appetite, a French brasserie and bakery, is a must try for breakfast or dinner and they have live music on most nights. The local supermarket, albeit small, is Peli-Deli and you can find pretty much anything you would need for the week, groceries, beer/liquor/wine, sundries and it's surprisingly affordable.  All of these businesses are located less than 0.5 mile from Villa Velaire, an easy walk.

With 37 beaches to choose from on the island, most of them require a short car ride to get to, however, there are several great beaches within walking distance to Villa Velaire. The most well known is Kim Sha Beach - located at the foot of Billy Folly Road. This is a great beach to watch the sunset and its very convenient if you would like get a drink or something to eat - the Buccaneer, La Bamba and the Greenhouse are all located directly on this beach. When the sun sets, don't miss the Buccaneers fire ball party, a bonfire on the beach in two very large decorative orbs—very cool to watch. Cay Bay is popular with beach strollers and pony trekkers - it is also a popular snorkeling spot with some amazing underwater seascapes. Pelican Cay is located alongside the many resort hotels in Pelican Key (Even though a hotel may be located on a particular beach, hotels do not own the private rights to any beach, everyone is allowed to come and enjoy any beach on the island). Pelican Cay is a great family beach as it is much more calm and they have a nice protected lagoon area (great for small children).

Simpson Bay and Pelican Key are just two of the many towns in St Maarten. I have not even touched on Phillipsburg, Dawn Beach, Cupecoy or any of the amazing towns on the French side. Entire books have been written on this subject, so I encourage you if you're new to this area to do your own research and be sure to check out our Pinterest Page for direct links to many of the establishments mentioned here.

Villa Velaire

Pelican Key, St. Maarten
Telephone: 215-300-9727

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