December 10, 2023

When I arrived in St. Maarten I wasn’t sure what to expect, given that the only place in the Caribbean I’d been to is Jamaica and Cuba. However, St. Maarten reminded me a lot of Jamaica. Unlike other Caribbean islands, like Anguilla and Aruba, which are quite flat, St.  Maarten is picturesque and mountainous … like Jamaica. My driver who took me from the airport to my hotel gave me a brief, if not informal, run down of the island’s culture. And he included that, in his estimation, the Divi Little Bay Beach Resort, where I’d be staying, was the best resort on the island.

Perched on a pennisula and spread over 24 acres, the resort, and its amenities, form a little village with waterfront and beaches on both sides of the property. On my first morning there, I ventured up the hill to Fort Amsterdam, located at the tip of the property. There I found historic ruins, including large rusty cannons peering out to sea between old stone walls. Most impressive, however, was  beautiful views of the bay and Caribbean Sea.

Divi Little Bay Beach Resort

The trek whet my appetite for more St. Maarten historical information, and later that afternoon our group visited the Guavaberry Emporium in Philipsburg. (As it turns out, the quaint painted wood building was once the site of a synagog that was abandoned in the late 17oos.)

Before visiting St. Maarten I’d never heard of Guavaberries, and was surprised to learn that they’re not related to the guava fruit. Guavaberry trees can be found growing wild throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean. They grow in Jamaica too, but my mom says they’re called something else, which she can’t quite remember.

Fort Amsterdam

In St. Maarten, guavaberry liqueur is made with aged rum, cane sugar and guavaberries. Today, in addition to the traditional liqueur, the emporium carries a wide variety of guavaberry products, including honey and BBQ sauce. I was intrigued by image of an old man on the label of all the products and was told that he was the original owner of the farm that grew most of the island’s guavaberries. Today the farm is still owned and run by his family.

In the emporium you can sample the liqueur. I found it very sweet and fruity with a familiar flavour but not sure what. I really liked my sample of the guavaberry colada, a delicious frozen drink, and I planned to make many coladas when I got home. Unfortunately my bottle of Guavaberry liqueur was confiscated at the airport because I forgot to check it with my luggage. It never made it off the island… geez! Below is the recipe for a Guavaberry Colada. You can buy the liqueur online from the emporium or substitute your favourite fruity schnapps.

Guavaberry Colada

Put ice in blender
Add 2oz Sint Maarten Guavaberry Liqueur
1oz Cream of Coconut
3oz pineapple pieces or juice
Blend well.
Garnish with pineapple, toasted
coconut and fresh nutmeg

Growing up my mother taught me and my sisters how to cook and bake, but the Jamaican dishes were always her territory. So now, years later, Iike you I'm learning how to cook like a Jamaican! From time to time I also share my own recipes that feature modern twists on traditional Jamaican dishes and ingredients.


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