Opinion: The death of Happy Bay

POSTED: 06/12/12 12:37 PM

Quite often St. Maarten is referred to as an island with 37 beaches on 37 square miles. That would be the total for both sides of the island. But when we checked a beach map that depicts all these beaches, there were no more than 26. Apparently, eleven beaches have gone fishing, or maybe they never existed.

Anyway, this is not about numbers, it is about the quality of our beaches – both on the Dutch and the French side, and about the death of Happy Bay. Environmental groups have expressed their concerns on a regular basis about construction activities that infringe upon the natural beauty of these beaches.

Last weekend we discovered that there are other dangers to.  Happy Bay on the French side (outside of Grand case, close to Friar’s Bay, is described on Sint maarten.net as “a rather unknown, almost undiscovered beach.”

The description is almost lyrical: “This quiet beach is like a dream! It is the right spot for romantic beach lovers, for snorkelers, and also for people dropped off for a couple of hours during a boat excursion.”

Once you are there, the description continues, “You will be taken by the beauty of this tropical, intimate bay, with gorgeous views, a beautiful white, sandy beach, and palm trees to provide shade. Take your snorkel gear with you!”

Yeah well, those were the days, but they are definitely history. Happy Bay has lost its intimate character since there is an access road that brings beach goers to within spitting distance of the sea. The ramifications are devastating.

This past Sunday a bunch of visitors from the Dutch side turned Happy Bay into a party site. Dozens of cars with Dutch number plates arrived, and these people meant business: they came with a huge tent, they came with a truckload of beach chairs, and they were brought food and drinks. All that would have been bearable if only they had not also brought a couple of boom boxes and a music installation that would make the owner of Tantra jealous.

Once this Dutch beach mob had set up shop, the peace at Happy Bay was shattered by earsplitting noise from the boom boxes. The type of music on offer was, to put it mildly, jot everybody’s taste, but this did not seem to disturb the rowdy gang.

Far away from the prying eyes of the gendarmerie, the party continued uninterrupted. And so, another beach has fallen prey to the destructive mentality of a bunch of mindless noise freaks causing the island to slowly but surely lose its charm.

First we lost most of our natural ponds to economic development and mindless construction. Then our beaches took a hit from construction activities that infringe upon their natural beauty and peacefulness. That was apparently not enough: now the attack on our beaches continues at the hands of ordinary people who think that it is okay to ruin the beach pleasure of others with their bloody noise. That’s thoughtless, egotistical and shameful.

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