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Kayaking the Lagoon on Dutch St. Maarten

Listed under Kayaking in Netherlands Antilles.

  • Photo of Kayaking the Lagoon on Dutch St. Maarten
  • Photo of Kayaking the Lagoon on Dutch St. Maarten
Photo of Kayaking the Lagoon on Dutch St. Maarten
Photo by Hal Peat
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Simpson Bay Lagoon is an unusual location for a kayak outing in this region of the Caribbean, taking you in a winding circuit around the differing points and waters that this large semi-protected lagoon area encompasses. Simpson Bay Lagoon is the Caribbean's largest saltwater lagoon - and you will see much when you paddle around its area from unspoilt mangrove waterfront to busy docks and large ships. The major outfitter right in the Simpson Bay area is Tri-Sport, and they know the full range of the lagoon and how to make it easy for any level of kayaker to navigate with relative ease. A typical guided tour of the lagoon begins at their launch point at the small beach at Port de Plaisance resort with a standard demonstration of the equipment -- single and two-seater top-sitting kayaks -- along with some overview of what you will be encountering as far as the various channels and conditions enroute.

One overall observation your guide will point out and you will experience almost immediately are the changeable currents on this body of water. This may vary from fairly calm surfaces to light chops with a quite strong undertow. Again, these are all conditions you just follow the guide to understand best how to paddle through, along with individual attention they are glad to provide any novice they note is having too much challenge. After leaving the waters close to the resort, your first area to visit is the dense mangrove eco-system that looks toward Mount Fortune. The waters here are calm and at points clear enough to see the lagoon's bed, where your guide will point out marine residents such as the odd-looking sea cucumber. They also explain the benefits of the mangrove system to the island's ovrall natural and human habitat. You may observe some land-based occasional visitors here such as the grey and blue heron, but otherwise this remains a very serene and open stretch of the lagoon and shore. The onward portion of your paddling from here takes you past large anchored yachts and commercial shipping, then through the bridge that crosses the oceanside of the bay and over to rest and swim for a while at Simpson Bay Beach. Surprisingly, the open waters near shore and just outside the lagoon itself along your way to and from this beach are actually easier to paddle in than the currents that flow at points through the channels into the lagoon, and those you encounter for a while upon reentering the lagoon. The mix of nature and man-made activity, the combined route inside and outside the lagoon and the changeable conditions make this a very memorable paddle. Bring sunblock and purchase beverage before leaving shore, this outing lasts somewhere over three hours.

Written by  Hal Peat.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Hi Hal Peat

There is less doubt that Simpson Bay Lagoon is the largest inland lagoons in the West Indies. It's good to follow the guide but it's better to have some knowledge about the kayak.

Go and get some knowledge about some kayak on this link: topkayakreviews.com/best-inflatable-kayak-reviews

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