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st martin beaches map

Finding the right beach is like shopping for shoes; it must be a perfect fit. The beaches of this island paradise are all appealing with each providing charm, character, and hidden pleasures. Yet, in common, they are all fabulous. Some are little secluded crescent shaped patches of sand nestled between rocky cliffs with cottony white rolling dunes and rock formations jutting into crystal clear blue/green water. Others offer moderate waves gently caressing the shoreline with peace and solitude; and, some have raging waves, great for surfing. No matter what you seek, the 37 beaches of St. Maarten/St. Martin will satisfy your desires. 

Although, hotels and resorts occupy several beaches on both sides of the island, the public has access to all beaches. There are some beaches where bathers strolling the beach in the nude will keep you busy and also provide some good laughs. Remember, topless bathing is optional everywhere, even at most resorts, and nude sunbathing is a common practice on the island. Warning: The surf on the Atlantic Ocean side of the island is rougher than on the Caribbean side. The following beaches include some of the most popular, most beautiful and my favorites.

French Side - Caribbean Sea
Still one of my favorite beaches, but it has become a little more crowded. Now, the beach is populatedRougeBeachR with tourists from France and South America, as well as Americans and everyone else. It is a crescent shaped, mile long, mostly narrow beach with numerous rock formations caressed by crystal clear water and moderate waves. Snorkeling is said, to be very good. The Eastern end of the beach is wider with a few trees to shade the sun and a magnificent cove with stairs built into the rocks climbing up 40 feet where a fabulous villa sits in majesty over the water. Walking the beach, there are no hotels or resorts. But, there are beautiful private villas, which can be rented from villa rental companies. Upon approaching the beach, park your car and walk down the stairs on the right. At the bottom of the stairs, each morning around 9AM, Augustin “Gus” Arrondell, a local St. Martinian born and raised on the island, and his friendly staff set up Gus’ Beach Bar. This is an open-walled bar/barbecue stand where you can enjoy tasty grilled chicken & ribs, beer, soda, and other lunchtime favorites. You can also rent beach chairs, umbrellas, rafts, and snorkeling equipment at reasonable rates. There are two bars on the beach.  

French Side - Caribbean Sea

It lives up to its name, about a mile long, LongBeachcrescent shaped and beautiful. Belmond La Samanna Resort and Spa, the world famous deluxe resort, occupies the Eastern end of this gem of a beach and numerous private villas occupy the Western end. It is very private, quiet and secluded, and hard to find. Turn off the main road and head for La Samanna Resort; but, before going through the main gate, turn right and follow the road until you see an open pathway. A sign in French referencing the beach and parked cars will indicate the entrance pathway to the beach. Bring towels, an umbrella and have a great day!

Dutch Side - Caribbean Sea

This beach is one of the nicest and most popular beaches on the island. It is very wide depending on the tide, has great waves and always has great activity. It is part of the former Mullet Bay Resort, which was destroyed by Hurricane Luis in September 1995. But, it is still popular and people still patronize this beach. A small open walled food stand with beer, soda, chicken, ribs and snacks on the beach also provides beach chairs and umbrellas for rental. By the way, the golf course at Mullet Bay is open; but, not in good shape. The Greg Norman designed course at the Temenos Golf Club, www.temenosgolfclub.com, at the St. Regis Resort on Anguilla, which opened in 2006 is beautiful and worth the boat trip across the channel. 

French Side - Caribbean Sea

This beautifully crescent shaped beach is approximately one mile long and runs from one end of this charming little village GrandCaseBeachknown as the "Gourmet Capital of the Caribbean" to the other ene. From time to time, you will see colorful fishing boats off the shore plying their trade and local children playing in the water. Private villas, inns, numerous restaurants, and small hotels occupy just about every foot of this lovely serene beach with calm azur waters. Located midway on the beach sits the very lovely Le Petit Hotel and on the hillside at the northern end sits its luxurious sister property Hotel L’Esplanade which provides majestic views of the bay of Grand Case, Anguilla, and the Caribbean Sea.  

Dutch Side - Caribbean Sea

A narrow pretty beach with great palm trees, it is shared by Divi’s Little Bay Beach Resort, and its lovely timeshare units, which sit on a slender finger shapedDiviLittleBayBeach peninsula with great views of both Little Bay and Great Bay. The beach is also shared with the Belair Beach Hotel, an all suites property. It provides great views of the majestic cruise ships that occupy the bay during most weeks. The Belair’s beach pool bar happens to be an excellent place for watching the cruise ships coming and going.

Dutch Side - Caribbean Sea

This is a very narrow beach with incredibly beautiful cliffs and caves, but not the place that you would want to be if a CupecoyBeachrainstorm passed by during the night. Reason: In the morning, the surf churned up during a storm is extremely rough and crashes over the beach into the cliffs. If you happen to be lying on your beach towel, the waves may carry you out to sea. We were there during one such episode and it wasn’t much fun. We left! The Eastern end is home to Cupecoy Beach Club, the Wyndham Sapphire Beach Resort, The Cliff at Cupecoy Beach and the Rainbow Beach Club. The Western end is wider and unofficially known as the nudist beach of the Dutch side.

Dutch Side - Caribbean Sea

This is the heart and soul of Philipsburg and has lots of activity. It is a mile long sandy white beach shared by hotels, GreatBayBeachBoardwalkRrestaurants, casinos; and, the main pier where most days of the week from one to five cruise ships discharge passengers for a day of shopping and sightseeing. Tourists from the ships in search of bargains on jewelry and other goods often stroll Front Street shoulder to shoulder, which is closed to traffic when ships are in port. Recently, a $3 million program tripled the width of the beach and it is once again “Great” with colored umbrellas, beach chairs and people having fun. There is also a 35 ft wide boardwalk made of bricks with restaurants, benches, and shops on the beach. At one end is the Great Bay Beach Resort and at the other is Bobby’s Marina. The bay is home to small boats, yachts, cruise ships, and island ferries to St. Barths, Saba, and beyond.

French Side - Caribbean Sea

Still the best kept secret on the island! Plum Beach may be the finest beach on the island. Why? Because, few people know it’s there! A small quarter-moon shaped sandy white beach with exquisite views of the Caribbean located at the most Western end of the island in the Terres Basses area; or, as they say in my old neighborhood, “the high rent district.” The beach is secluded, private, serene, and mostly populated by people from the surrounding villas and savvy travelers. Turn off the main road at the Plum Baie (Bay) sign and go 2.3 Kilometers on a macadam road with gorgeous villas on both sides or turn right at La Samanna’s front gate and go 2.7 km on a dirt bumpy road along the pond. Look for parked cars in front of a fence with a pathway. Bring beach chairs and umbrellas. No beach bar & no shade! Just sunburn and serenity!

Dutch Side - Atlantic Ocean

This is a lovely white sandy crescent shaped beach with plenty of coral rocks and big ‘surfing’ waves. Remember, you’re now on the Atlantic Ocean with bigger and rougher waves. The newly expanded Oyster Pond Resort occupies the peninsula and the Northern end of the beach. And, Beau Beau’s Restaurant & Bar has opened as part of the resort and has a wonderful outdoor terrace built into the coral rock overlooking the sea with beautiful tables and large white umbrellas. The new Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa occupies the Southern end of the beach which is in the distance of this photo which was taken pre-Westin. By the way, the views of St. Barths and other islands are just lovely.

French Side - Caribbean Sea

It takes a little driving and an adventurous spirit to find this little Bay/Beach. It is off the main road to Grand Case driving North from Marigot. Turn left at the sign on the main road and drive through a residential area of fairly new houses for a mile or so. The road goes over a little bridge and then heads straight to the beach. Kali’s Beach Bar and Restaurant is the main attraction with a menu of ribs, chicken, hamburgers, and local grilled fish. A pretty white sandy beach with colored umbrellas and beach chairs awaits you. The bay is small with several yachts anchored near by. It’s quiet, secluded and provides beautiful views of Anguilla. Kali is famous for his monthly “Full Moon” parties.

Cul de Sac/Orient Bay - French Side - Atlantic Ocean

PinelIslandThis is an uninhabited little island with beautiful beaches. At one end of the island, where people sunbathe and swim, the beach is so narrow it looks like a sand bar. It’s wonderful and fabulous if you have small children and would like to take them swimming in shallow calm water. Two open walled restaurants which fill up quickly for lunch also rent umbrellas and beach chairs. There are very few toilet facilities on the island. Two small open boats continuously ferry people back and forth for the 5-minute trip to the island from the mainland. Cost is $7 per person roundtrip. Just follow the signs from the Grand Case/Orient Bay road and you will have very little problem finding the boat dock.

French Side - Atlantic Ocean

Do you enjoy Monte Carlo, St. Tropez or Nice? If your answer is yes, you will love Orient Beach, THE most popular beach on the island. On the hillside, several hotels provide spectacular views of the bay and the surrounding islands. On the beach, smaller hotels,OB-4 restaurants, and shops create a whirlwind of activity. The open-air restaurants have no walls and separate themselves from each other with different color umbrellas and lounge chairs. In Winter Season, they are very busy; so, reserve a good lunch table by 11:15 A.M. If you prefer lunch on the beach, a waiter will place a small table by your lounge chair and serve you. Cushioned chairs and umbrellas populate the beach, parasailers populate the sky, jet-skiers, windsurfers, swimmers and wave-runners populate the water, and people watchers are everywhere.

This is a beautiful, wide, crescent shaped, mile and a half long beach with clean white sand. Several small islands visible across the bay promise adventure for people with imaginative minds and a small boat. The bay is an underwater marine reserve; so, OB-3snorkeling and scuba diving are fascinating. Topless and nude bathing is appropriate anywhere on the beach; but, if you practice “naturalism,” Club Orient at the Southern end of the beach offers accommodations, privacy, a restaurant and water sports for nudists. Orient Beach is the place to be seen, meet people, and to watch bathers strut their stuff. With or without clothes, it’s a great beach!

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