Parking on the beach seems to be considered normal on St. Martin, especially on Great Bay Beach in Philipsburg. Every Friday night and every weekend day, the beach is completely filled with cars. Some come to enjoy the bars and restaurants along the Boardwalk, while others come with their families and friends to soak up some well deserved beach time in what is an otherwise busy island life. In the cars, people bring food, drinks, diapers for the babies, and more beach day necessities.
Unfortunately, after the party is over, the beach looks like a miniature dump. Throwing trash on the beach is something many islanders don’t seem to take issue with. In their wake is not just your typical food trash, but more disgusting refuse as well like poop-filled diapers and used condoms for those who’ve had their “sex on the beach.” And no, I’m not talking about the cocktail – although that is exactly what I need after I’ve cleaned up this mess. Sex on the beach is fantastic – go for it, people! Sex in the ocean is super too! Just do me a favor, lovers, and clean up your rubber duckies when you’re finished please.
Living right on Great Bay Beach and being a Property Manager Extraordinaire (a title I’ve been given by some of our guests at Ocean’s – hey, I’ll take it), I personally clean up “our” stretch of beach every single day of the year. The never-ending trash people leave behind makes me feel like they almost know I will pick up after them so they don’t need to bother picking up after themselves. I can see them secretly laughing behind their hands when they leave the beach… Hee, hee, hee, that woman from Ocean’s will have a nice bit of work tomorrow! Ok, maybe I’m being paranoid but picking up gross trash carelessly left behind by others will do that to a person.
Anyhow, in 2015 I decided to begin my campaign to bring an end to this mucking up of one of our island’s premier beaches. I wrote a letter to the government, copied it, brought it to the government building, and had it stamped so it would go to the correct Ministry. As I’m sure you can imagine, not much changed right away. Now, three and a half years later, I’ve still been fighting for the cause. I’ve written multiple letters (at least 20!), submitted numerous newspaper articles with pictures, and even got an official report from our Ombudsman (an entity which oversees the correct working of the government). I’ve also been in my share of fights with the local “beach boys.” Still, there’s been no answer, no solution. Nix, nada from government.
So, we took it a step further. Ocean’s took the Port St. Martin and the government to court and won! A big hoorah for the judicial system. Did I forget to mention that there is already a Beach Policy in place in which driving or parking on the beach is forbidden?! And has been since 1994?!
Now, the government has 30 days to block off the alley which allows cars to enter onto the beach. After that, the beach will be wide open, free of cars as it should be – no doubt cleaner with more space for both islanders and our visitors to enjoy. I mean, can you imagine coming on a cruise ship to St. Martin and you head to the beach, only to find a parking lot in its place? I look forward to our visitors finally being able to experience the beach in all its glory. This also sets a precedent for the whole island of St. Martin, where parking on our other beaches should be eradicated as well.
Being an avid member of our Nature Foundation and our EPIC Foundation, this verdict has been double sweet for me! I think my persistence over the three and half years and my relentless pit bull attitude towards looters paid off in the end. When complaining and picking up trash day in and day out simply won’t do, we can’t be afraid to take action for the greater good of our rock.