Posts Tagged ‘Grand Fond’

Hike to the Washing Machine and Natural Pools in Grand Fond

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Steve and I made it back to St. Barth from our trip to Australia where we celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary. The trip from here takes 32 hours. We did not have time to deal with jet lag on the way back because my daughter Kim, grandson Matt along with his Fairfield University roommate Andrew were to arrive two days later for spring break.

Lunch at Le Select with Steve, Matt, Andrew and Kim. It is a must do for anyone vacationing on St. Barth.

Lunch at Le Select with Steve, Matt, Andrew and Kim. It is a must do for anyone vacationing on St. Barth.

We needed a larger villa so I rented the beautiful 3 bedroom Villa Lilu. I fell in love with the villa on my very first inspection so I was thrilled to be able to stay there. It is gorgeous.

Villa Lilu living area

Villa Lilu living area

Everyone wanted to do and see as much as they could while also trying to stay fit so several hikes were put on the agenda. If you are looking for something a bit unusual to do while you are vacationing in St. Barth, set aside a morning or late afternoon to hike to the Natural Pools and Washing Machine located in the unblemished area of Grand Fond.

Drive to Toiny along the main road which eventually leads to Grand Fond, an area of St. Barts that many people say reminds them of Brittany. There are spots where you can park your car above the rocky beach to take photos and listen to the surf crash onto the shore but do not swim there; the current is very dangerous. After your photo op, go a little further and when the road starts to curve, you will see a parking area with enough room for four cars to park.

Parking area by the path that goes to the shore

Parking area by the path that goes to the shore

The path leading to the beach and the trail is on the left.

Take this path to the left of the parking area to get to the shoreline leading to the Natural Pools and Washing Machine

Take this path to the left of the parking area to get to the shoreline leading to the Natural Pools and Washing Machine

When you arrive at the rocky beach which is NOT a swimming beach, turn right and off you go!

Head to the right to access the trail

Head to the right to access the trail

Climb up a few rocks to get to the goat path. (Sneakers or good walking shoes are recommended). The path is easy to follow but it is narrow so you need to walk in single file.

Along the trail the surf crashes against the rocks

Along the trail the surf crashes against the rocks

You will come across a spectacular view of a beach that lies in between where the rocks meet the sea. This spot is known as the “Washing Machine.” The beach was so named because at certain times of the year, the water crashes over the beach and swirls around it mimicking the action of a washing machine. Many people think the Washing Machine is in another area but my expert is Pascale Minarro who works in my St. Barth Office and has lived here for more than 30 years. Pascale walks along the trail every weekend and attests to the fact that this small beach is the authentic Washing Machine.

This photo was taken March 25, 2014 by my grandson Matt Pellegri. It was a beautiful spring day. In the winter months the water can be rough and in the summer months there are swells where expert body surfers enjoy practicing their sport.

Washing Machine

Washing Machine

Matt, advises, “Wear a hat and sunglasses because there is only one spot with shade along the way.” As you continue on the path Matt goes on to say, “It is likely you will see some goats grazing on the mountain along the trail.”

You may need to share the path with Mother Nature

You may need to share the path with Mother Nature

About 25 minutes into your hike, you will be exhilarated by the sight of the natural pools and want to take a dip, so be sure to wear a bathing suit.

The Natural Pools in Grand Fond are formed as a result of the surf crashing over the rocks and trapping the water

Discover The Natural Pools in Grand Fond

Matt wisely states, “Be careful on the climb down as it is a little steep and be extra cautious of the small sea urchins that line the pools.”

The water in the Natural Pools is crystal clear

The water in the Natural Pools is crystal clear

The crystal clear water in the Natural Pools is created by the surf pounding against the high rocks and trapping some of the water that splashes over them.

The contrast between the blue color of the Caribbean Sea against the greenish hue of the natural pools is stunning

The contrast between the blue color of the Caribbean Sea against the greenish hue of the natural pools is stunning

Checklist for your backpack:

  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Water
  • Camera
  • Swim shoes

Enjoy the hike!

The Truth About St. Barth

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Its actual location is clearly defined

After 27 years of being in St. Barth, I learned that what we thought was a fact is actually a factoid! Now, convincing people of this newly discovered information is going to be a huge challenge because people won’t believe me. I am hoping that you can help spread the word.

It started out this way: Last week we took an island tour with Hélène Brenier, the owner of St. Barth Easy Time Tours. Our clients have raved about the various tours that she offers and I wanted to experience one for myself. Hélène was born in St. Barth and knows her island well. She is also the founder of St. Barth Essentiel a non-profit organization dedicated to “protect that which creates diversity, the originality, the beauty and the harmony of St. Barthélemy.” In other words, she is the “watch dog” whose main interest is protecting our precious island and preserving the environment.

Connie, Peg and Hélène in front of the St. Barth Essentiel office on the top of Gustavia

Connie, Peg and Hélène in front of the St. Barth Essentiel office on the top of Gustavia

We began our around-the-island tour by going to Saline and stopping at the salt pond where we learned about the island’s history of making salt. It was a difficult job but it brought in some income. The salt production stopped in 1972 when the island decided to rely on tourism as its major industry. We heard lots of tidbits about the people who settled here as we continued our tour. Most of the men had to go to St. Thomas to make a living. One such gentleman went home to see his wife once a year and as a result they produced 23 children! Phew! We saw the little “case” (house) where they were born and lived. Today, the siblings range from 50 to 90 years old.

Saline Beach

Saline Beach

Back to the point of my blog. We stopped at the top on Grand Fond to admire the view. There is a lookout spot with a large map detailing the area. Soon after this map was put up, an old-time local fisherman telephoned Hélène to tell her that the map was wrong. The artist had called the body of water on this map the Atlantic Ocean. The fisherman said that St. Barth is surrounded entirely by the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic is much further to the east of here and that the map needed to be corrected. What??? I was always told that the wave action that connects Grand Cul de Sac Lagoon and Marigot Bay is caused by the fact that this is the very spot where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea. Hélène thought so too. Everyone thinks this factoid is true.

The Lookout at Grand Fond

The Lookout at Grand Fond

A Close Up of the Lookout's Map with the Incorrect Information

A Close Up of the Lookout’s Map with the Incorrect Information

Hélène researched and researched but each person she consulted insisted that the fisherman was wrong. Finally she decided to ask for assistance from a geologist who is a real authority on the subject. He reported that, indeed, the islands in the Lesser Antilles (which includes St. Barth) are solely in the Caribbean Sea. “According to the definition of the IHO (International Hydrographic Organization), the only islands that officially have Caribbean and Atlantic coasts are: Cuba, Haiti, Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico and Trinidad.” He went on to say, “In conclusion, officially, the island of St. Barthélemy is not washed by the Atlantic Ocean but by the Caribbean Sea only. Custom, says otherwise.” I was thrilled to learn this new fact. I always knew that some islands such as the Bahamas and the Turks & Caicos claim that they are in the Caribbean but they are too far north and are actually in the Atlantic Ocean but for some reason no one seemed to know that St. Barth is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea. Until now, that is…

Grand Cul de Sac View

Grand Cul de Sac View

A few days after our island tour, I had a site inspection at the Hotel Guanahani & Spa. I was admiring one of their newly refurbished suites and when I went out onto the suite’s deck to admire the view, the staff member who was escorting me pointed to that very spot in the lagoon and said, “That is where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea.” …Not! When I corrected her, she was not at all impressed and looked at me as if I had lost my marbles. That factoid has been circulating for so many years that it is a real challenge to convince people otherwise. Hélène and I now know this new fact is true and now you know it too. Spread the word, s’il vous plaît.

Hotel Guanahani & Spa

Hotel Guanahani & Spa

P.S. Once you have selected your accommodation in St. Barth by contacting one of our Specialists at reservations@stbarth.com, our concierges can arrange an island tour with Hélène. It is a must do!