Visit a pond on Saint Martin and find out how beautiful they are! There are plenty of beaches in Saint Martin, but many people forget to appreciate the ponds. The ponds are just as significant to the well-being of the island; while they don’t draw in tourists to sustain the island financially, they do sustain much of the island’s wildlife. The Salt Pond on the French side– better known as Salines d’Orient– is a wonderful place to visit. Here’s how to get there and why you should go.
Why go to Salines d’Orient:
Unlike the Dutch side’s Great Salt Pond, the smaller French version has not been polluted beyond recognition. This makes it a wonderful place to explore and enjoy. You may never have known it, but there are lots of walking and jogging paths criss-crossing the area behind Le Galion Bay and Orient Bay. In fact, the Le Galion Bay area is completely filled with paths! They have recently received the excellent addition of an obstacle course, too, but that it a post for another time.
The second reason to enjoy the Salines d’Orient is that it will give you an appreciation for nature and the ecosystems within the pond. Here, all humanity seems to melt away. There’s nothing to see but the gentle ripples of the water, nothing to hear but the crashing of the waves on the tide pools behind you and the occasional call of a marine bird. Behind the pond, mist rises off the mountains, creating the perfect backdrop. You’re nearly convinced that you’ve traveled backwards in time four hundred years, and that you may meet an Arawak gatherer at any moment. This is a beautifully untouched place.
St Martin Canoe Surfing at Le Galion Beach – $69.99
It’s no secret that the ponds on Saint Martin are in big trouble– just look at the Great Salt Pond and other ponds that are threatened by development. Perhaps one of the reasons that these ponds have been polluted is that not enough people recognized their value. Go and see the Salines d’Orient for yourself, and take your children so they can love it and protect it tomorrow. Maybe someday, it will be a protected wetlands area like Mullet Pond.
I was recently informed by Seagrape Tours that this pond is already a protected wetlands area! Hive five, French side. By the way, after hearing from Seagrape tours, I checked out their website and they give bird watching tours in this area of the island. Pretty cool.
How to get to the Salines d’Orient:
It’s really easy to find the Salines d’Orient. Here’s how to get there:
- Drive to Le Galion Beach on the French side, just south of Orient Bay Beach.
- Park. Make sure you park within the gate, not in the sandy lot before the gate. That’s for surfers or boaters generally and it’s further away.
- Instead of going to the beach, walk to the far end of the parking lot. You’ll see a trail going into the trees.
- Take the trail. You should pass a sit-up bench.
- Turn left.
- Follow the trail to the pond, which is just to the north of the beach. There’s a path that goes right past it. It’s so lonely and deserted!
Walk around, look for wildlife, and skip stones. Revel in the natural beauty!
Don’t forget to check out the tide pools and the waves crashing against the rocks at the coast while you’re there. It’s not exactly a beach, but it’s a wonderful way to witness the power of the sea.
As always, pack out your trash and be respectful. The ponds are the island’s heritage, and we need them for our grand children to enjoy one day.