St. Maarten: Biking Diary – Fort Amsterdam

I turned to my best bud, Mr. Google :-), for directions because I’m off to Fort Amsterdam. Fort Amsterdam is one of the two historic forts in St. Maarten (Dutch colony). It was the first fort to be built by Dutch settlers in the Caribbean, in 1631. It was then captured by the Spaniards and made it an important stronghold east of Puerto Rico.

It remained under the control of the Dutch after the Spaniards left the fort in 1648.  Fort Amsterdam is the nearest attraction from the terminal aside from the Boardwalk. It rests atop of a hill keeping an eye on the enormity of Great Bay and Little Bay and this is where the tides had brought and stirred me to pen another page in my biking diary.

I hopped on my bike and started to pedal. But I haven’t gone too far yet when I was beckoned by the terminal security to stop, the officer said “No Riding”. What?! Was he serious when he said that? I told him why would they let us rent the bike if we cannot use it? And there were others behind me with a bicycle.

Again, he said “No riding, I’m not kidding”. I went back and asked another officer if it is true that biking in St. Maarten is not possible. He concurred to what his colleague had said that I cannot ride the bike…but ONLY while at the terminal, he added. I was so relieved when I heard that! I thought that my journey had already ended even before I get to start.

So, I walked with my bike going past the officer who stopped me and he was smiling at me. He said, “that’s right, no riding when on the terminal”. On my mind, I wish you had said that the first time. Lesson learnt, know the rules, don’t panic and clarify things when you’re confused. 🙂

As soon as I got out of the terminal gates, I got anxious because of the “what ifs”. I was very far away from home and what if I get into an accident? What if I don’t get back on time? Those were the worries that were running through my mind. So, I collected myself, took a deep breath and went on my way.

From the terminal, I turned left going to the boardwalk; I kept right because some of the vehicles were driving too fast. When I have reached the boardwalk, I stopped for a moment. There was no rush of tourists yet so I was able to get some decent shots that were not too cluttered. A sundry of flamboyant umbrellas were set up on the beach adding a vibrant feel to the place.

Great Bay Beach
A full day of relaxation at Great Bay Beach
Great Bay Beach
Beach umbrellas
Great Bay Beach
Great Bay Beach Coast

In the distance were some orange reddish-roofed villas at the foot of a hill and I have a hunch that that is where I was supposed to go. After confirming it with a local, I squandered no time and forged the road under the Caribbean sun. I went past the villas and straight up the hill.

Walk along the Beach of Great Bay
Divi Little Bay
On the way to Fort Amsterdam
Divi Little Bay
Entrance of Divi Little Bay
St Maarten Divi Little Bay
St Maarten Divi Little Bay
Divi Little Bay
Backyard backdrop
Divi Little Bay
At Divi Little Bay with a view of Great Bay

I got off the bike and started to walk up the rock-strewn path. As I got closer to the top, I had a peek at a huge canon on the edge of the cliff. I went further up and before me were the remnants of the past, a few of the stone walls still stand from what was left of the Southeast Bastion that used to watch over the bays.

Unfortunately, the rest of the vintage canons were dismantled from the carriage and were to undergo repairs.

At first, I was a bit disenchanted with what was left to see; I thought that there was nothing special. I have decided to go around and I have found some interesting areas. I guess, just like anything in life, I just have to look at it from a different perspective to appreciate it more.

Canon Fort Amsterdam
Only canon left standing when I went to Fort Amsterdam
Fort Amsterdam
Fort Amsterdam was temporarily closed to undergo repairs
Fort Amsterdam
Dismantled canons to undergo repairs
Fort Amsterdam
Fort Amsterdam Canons
Fort Amsterdam
I moved back a bit to get a better view of the Southeast Bastion

There was no one else on the hill and all I can hear were the roaring winds and the crashing of the waves. I saw brown pelicans gliding in the air and diving to the sea. I have set eyes on the expanse of Great Bay and Little Bay like a huge playground for tourists with all the different water activities.

Fort Amsterdam
Pair of Brown Pelican soaring the skies. Fort Amsterdam is known to be a bird sanctuary.
Fort Amsterdam
Caribbean Brown Pelican that was about to dive into Great Bay
Fort Amsterdam
Cliff
Little Bay
A view of Little Bay from Fort Amsterdam
Fort Amsterdam
Hospital Marker Fort Amsterdam
Fort Amsterdam
South Bastion Fort Amsterdam
Fort Amsterdam
Southeast Bastion Marker
Fort Amsterdam
Fort Amsterdam Marker
Sail Away! Great Bay St Maarten
Sail Away!
Fort Amsterdam
A view of Philipsburg from Fort Amsterdam
Fort Amsterdam
Philipsburg Port
Fort Amsterdam
Biking in Fort Amsterdam

Biking and hiking in a foreign land was another one of the many firsts that I can take off of my bucket list. With this trip, I came to fathom that even if it was too much of a burden for me go to these high places (I’m not a professional hiker so everywhere I go to was too high for me 🙂 ) I still push forward because there is a different sense of fulfillment every time I reach the summit.

I have been to St. Maarten a few times but I only usually went to the stores downtown and the nearby beach. I have never really dared to go further to see what was beyond those imaginary walls.  Maybe it is because of the limited time that I have on land or of the notion that it might cost me a fortune to go and take on an adventure. 

But then I realized that it was an opportunity for me to get to know other cultures or meet other people.  Not anyone can have this chance at any given time or maybe even in their lifetime. I just have to take that leap of faith and live in the moment.

(Sources: stmartinisland.org, Philipsburg crossroads of the Caribbean, geographia.com)

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St. Maarten BikingDiary Fort Amsterdam Portrait

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I am a novice photographer, waterfalls chaser and an introvert who is more comfortable doing things on my own. Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-social; if you would ask me to travel along I usually don’t say “NO” (depending on the circumstances). Join me in my journeys and together we will discover places, understand its history, explore its rich culture and meet extraordinary people.

21 Comments

  1. souravagg1207
    2017-02-27

    I never been there but love to go there.

    Reply
  2. Sam Sparrow
    2017-02-27

    This is so thorough and I’m really fascinated by the history and culture of St Maarten! I love the look of Beach of Great Bay, it looks incredible picturesque and I could really imagine my self relaxing there. The colours and sunshine is so cheerful – thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. wheninmyjourneys
      2017-03-01

      You’re welcome Sam.

      Reply
  3. nicolelabargecm
    2017-02-27

    Wow this is really beautiful. I’m finally going to the Caribbean in May. Can’t wait.

    Reply
    1. wheninmyjourneys
      2017-03-01

      I look forward to reading your post about it. Enjoy your trip.

      Reply
  4. beforemymamdies
    2017-02-27

    Oh my gosh! Your photos are so beautiful! I love the blueness of the sea – I’m very jealous. Glad to hear that you clarified about the bikes. Sometimes it can be very confusing.

    Reply
    1. wheninmyjourneys
      2017-03-01

      Thank you. At least I know now what to do next time. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Timi Townsend
    2016-12-16

    I have never been there, but would love to go!

    Reply
    1. wheninmyjourneys
      2016-12-18

      It would definitely be worth a try. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Beautiful photos!!

    Reply
    1. wheninmyjourneys
      2016-12-08

      Thank you. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Tina Schell
    2016-10-21

    I have been there and found it really beautiful – as did you I see!! How adventurous of you to do it on a bicycle!! Loved the colorful umbrellas especially

    Reply
    1. wheninmyjourneys
      2016-10-21

      Hello Tina,
      It is really a beauty and I enjoyed it and still enjoying it. I have yet to go to the French side though. Thank you for reading my post and I hope that it brought back how you felt when you were there. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Boots
    2016-10-18

    Would love to go someday! I love hiking and would love to be able to do that there. Btw, thanks for the follow. I’m following you back 😉

    Reply
    1. wheninmyjourneys
      2016-10-18

      Thank you Boots. Enjoy your travels. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Sint Maarten News
    2016-10-14

    Hi would like to publish an excerpt of your blog to one of the local sxm travel blogs contact me on Facebook I LOVE ST MAARTEN! page or email novodia9(@)yahoo.com thanks

    Reply
  10. Mel & Suan
    2016-10-14

    Wow. Really nice and we wish we will be there. The caribbean islands have such fascinating stories of naval warfare, piracy etc. That’s how the movies began. Imagine that the rusted cannons firing against an armada coming onto the fort!

    Reply
    1. wheninmyjourneys
      2016-10-14

      Hello Mel & Suan,
      It really has a rich history about piracy and conquerors. These islands were precious jewels and played a very important role in the expansion of colonies during the early times.

      Reply
      1. Mel & Suan
        2016-10-14

        That’s right! But not all was about treasure, the islands were sugar plantations and exported this white gold to Europe!

        Reply
  11. SueT唐 梦 琇
    2016-10-14

    Haven’t been but it looks spectacular. Great photos.

    Reply
    1. wheninmyjourneys
      2016-10-14

      Hi Sue,
      The Caribbean region is really fascinating. Thank you for your appreciation of my work.

      Reply

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