Pack your bags and sail off. The 33rd Heineken Regatta in St. Maarten will take place Feb. 28 – Mar. 3. There's parties on both the French and Dutch sides of the island, so pack up and join a crew.
The coveted regatta races near the mountainous island of St. Maarten, and though the setting is postcard-like, unbelievably lush and beautiful, like the island in your dreams, the waves of salt water swell up into enormous giants, even as the sun shines on the vivid blue water. The beauty can be deceiving when you're out in the middle of the ocean, as Mother Nature can whip up some nasty waves in the blink of an eye, let alone if a massive storm rolls in unexpectedly. Out in the elements, even the biggest ships have sank, as evidenced by The Titanic, so sailing can be quite a deadly sport.
Heart racing, blood pumping, the thrill of a race is enough to get you going, but Mother Nature holds the wild card, so one never knows what could happen. Will there be sharks? Dolphins?
Chicks in bikinis, guys in shorts, people scaling the ropes to hoist up to unbelievable heights. Double check the knots. Don't lose your balance.
Hope you brought Sea Bands. You don't want to get sea sick. It's normal if you do.
I did. Sad to say, embarrassing to admit, but while riding in the VIP boat, which was a awesome trimaran, I got a little green under the gills. Nobody thought less of me, and hardly anyone noticed.
The service was impeccable, as one guy whistled a happy tune, spraying down the side of the boat, and another fellow waltzed up with a fresh drink to get the taste out of my mouth. They assured me I was not the first and would not be the last. It's the Heineken Regatta, and these people know how to party.
There's a different party every night, alternating from the French side to the Dutch side of the island and back, with concerts, feasts and, of course, Heineken. In fact, when walked up to sign in, they handed me a backpack full of Heineken. Normally, I'm not a fan of beer, but I actually liked it a lot.
This year, the Commodores will be headlining the Heineken Regatta. Orange Grove and Patrick Grayham play the Boardwalk Party of the Regatta, and Destra Garcia will perform in Marigot. The Sunday Party on Kim Sha Beach will feature Dutch DJ duo Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano.
If you're not brave enough to risk life and limb in an intense race against some of the best sailors in the world, then sit back with a camera, and take pictures of the vividly colored sails and spinnakers. The designs are breathtaking against the natural backdrop of the ocean, especially in a lush tropical setting. Sunsets at the marina are amazing, as you see so many types of boats coming in, both sailors and spectators in everything from inflatable boats to massive yachts and boats that looked like they were plucked out of a movie like Pirates of the Caribbean, huge ships any pirate would want as their own.
The food is amazing. It doesn't matter where you go, you can find delicious food. The French cuisine is so mouthwateringly delectable, but it is a tad pricier than the Dutch side, which is awesome, too.
Clothing optional beaches on the French side might beckon to you, but don't be like me and get boofed over the head by a 15 foot wave that devours your brand new prescription sunglasses. Bring a backup pair of sunglasses. That's my best advice; oh, and be sure to go zip lining, too.
There's nothing quite like dangling from a string at the height of a mountain, zooming over the great divide, seeing the ocean before you, and a huge gap of nothing for a long ways underneath you. Scream all you want, but there's one way across, and you just have to grit your teeth and do it. The rush is akin to fighting a massive storm in a small boat, only in a completely different way.
Adrenaline rushes can be had at the Heineken Regatta, but you can also sit back and chillax. Enjoy magnificent sunsets, or, if you're female, take off your top for a free drink at the famous Sunset Beach Bar. The airplanes barely scrape past the metal fence, and your hair blows back with the force of a jet.
The bar is easy to find. It's right next to the airport. Drink at the end of the runway.
There's much to do, see and experience in St. Maarten, but the Heineken Regatta is the most picturesque time of year to travel to St. Maarten. The sails of boats bloom on the horizon. Not to mention, the parties each night are guaranteed to be worth of a few photos to add to the collection.
There's a plethora of places to stay, but one stand out location was The Cliff. With the stunning Christian Dior spa, and views overlooking the island, The Cliff is breathtaking. The views from the rooms are perfect for watching the Heineken Regatta, or you could always watch from their pool that seems to extend out and into the ocean; the entire facility offers posh surroundings.
All suites at The Cliff have panoramic views of the Caribbean sea, but for the best view of all, get a penthouse suite. The beds are comfortable, the showers and tubs are great, and the whole property is phenomenal; The Cliff is rated as Excellent by Trip Advisor and Flipkey. For more information on The Cliff, visit www.cliffsxm.com, and for more on the regatta, www.heinekenregatta.com.
The Author of 100 books, Marisa L. Williams earned her Master's in Writing from the Johns Hopkins University; for more on Marisa, visit www.lulu.com/spotlight/thorisaz and www.wix.com/thorisaz/photography.