Scanning through shore excursions offered and other info while looking for something to do in Saint Martin, I came across an excursion to Pelican Peak Zip Line. On a previous visit we’d tried to get to Rainforest Adventures on the French side of the island, but none of the taxis from the stand at the port wanted to go there. Somebody suggested we might find a taxi in town, but besides the fact that we were the 4th of 4 ships arriving that day and space in that zipline went by first come first serve, we figured considering how hard it was to find a ride to get there we might not be able to get one back, and probably would be too late to get on the zip line anyway so we did something else that day instead.
I’d never heard of another zip line on the island until this trip, but that’s because Pelican Peak is a relatively new attraction. Pelican Peak is within walking distance of the cruise port, and they book through the ship. You can also book it directly through the zipline’s website or through outside sources if you want to take a taxi or walk there and find it on your own. Booking through the ship they provide transportation from the port, which was in an open jungle buggy type truck. There weren’t a lot of people in our group, probably about 10, the rest of them quite a lot younger than we are.
The transport brought us to the bottom of the zip line where they suited everyone up with a harness that not only attaches to the zip line, it also makes a sort of chair to sit in on the way down. They had lockers there for anyone who had things that couldn’t go with them down the ride, which was big beach bags and backpacks. People were allowed to keep their cameras and they even provided net bags that attached to the vest where people could put their phones to keep them safe and insure they not get dropped on the mountain on the way down – as long as they were left in the bag. Taking it out would definitely risk a drop. We thought it was kind of crazy that the tiny little zip line on the ship didn’t allow so much as a watch on a wrist or room key card in a pocket while the one going down a whole mountainside let people keep their hats and all their jewelry on and take things with them. I suppose that could be because on the ship there are people wandering around the boardwalk below the zipline and they’re afraid of things falling on their heads, whereas the mountainside is covered in trees so you’d lose your stuff, but it wouldn’t fall on anyone.
After everyone was harnessed up and ready we boarded the jungle bus again for a hairy ride on a narrow winding road up the mountain. The guide narrated things about the area, the island, and historical facts on the way up. The truck stopped near several short trails on top of the mountain. The first and shortest went to a viewpoint of a lagoon that used to be a salt pond. The second went up higher to a viewpoint of the harbor and the cruise ships at the dock. The third went down a bit to the entrance to the zipline.
They had 4 lines running next to each other, but only 3 were in use that day. They let people go with their own group so most went in pairs rather than send 3 every time and split up people who were together, though if people had wanted to go separately to take photos or videos of each other they could have gone alone or in a trio with an unrelated pair. Some of the people in our group took videos of the people before or after them and then shared the videos they took with each other after the ride.
When it’s your turn to go the workers clip your harness to the line. It’s a hands-free ride with a series of springs to stop you when you reach the bottom. At least hands-free in that you don’t use your hand to stop yourself at the end of the line. There was a handle to hold onto. I haven’t actually seen the old-fashioned sort of zipline where you kept a gloved hand over the line to stop yourself with in many years, though we thought the hands-free stop was quite a clever invention the first time we ever saw one.
The workers added a sail to some people to slow their descent. John was given a sail and I was not, but he still went down quite a lot faster than I did. There are giant heavy-duty springs at the bottom which stopped me with a little tap, but most of the others flew into it squishing it up tight and crossing over a bit of a gap between the building we landed on and the structure holding the end of the lines, then bounced back beyond the building before coming forward again into a landing on top of the building.
It was fun, though probably more so for the people who went faster. Speed of descent depends on both weather and body weight. From the description we were given it sounded like we would fly down the mountain so fast there would be no time for pictures, but about halfway down I decided to pull out my camera since I was traveling at a more leisurely pace. I had put a neck strap on it before going to the zip line that morning so there was no chance of dropping it. The camera case was also on a neck strap so it was just a matter of digging that out from under the harness.
After landing there are stairs going down from the roof where people land back to where we suited up at the beginning. We left the gear on the roof and the workers brought it down for use by another group. Other people were awaiting instructions when we went down. Besides being a bigger group than ours, there was also one couple who looked older than we are.
Once everyone was done they took us back to the cruise ship dock. One couple had started out walking because they didn’t know how long the wait would be, but they hadn’t got far before the truck caught up to them and stopped to see if they wanted a ride so they got in knowing that the truck would get them back to the port a lot faster than their feet would.
This looks like a lot of fun…and what a fantastic view as well. Great photos!
Definitely both of those things, fun with a great view.