With a top spot on the itineraries of all major cruise lines, one would suspect St. Martin must have something going for it. And it certainly does, unforgettable dining, top flight resorts, modern casinos, and not the least of which is its spectacular beaches.
Trying to narrow down and sort a list of the Top 5 Beaches of St. Martin however is a bit akin to listing the Top 5 eateries in Italy, but alas we will give it a go. Our criteria will be far less scientific than that of the infamous Dr. Beach. We base our list strictly upon our own personal tastes of its natural beauty, and will “sometimes” consider such things as its access, amenities, and the quality of sand and water. But honestly, that kind of system requires far too much accounting and articulation for our liking. So, with that in mind, grab yourselves a “frozen concoction”, slather on a little SPF 30, and settle back as we list Our Top 5 Beaches of St. Martin.
No. 5 Simpson Bay Beach Yes, technically this beach is located on the Dutch side (St. Maarten) of this dual nation island, but for the purpose of this exercise we are going to blur the lines a bit, and ignore the trappings of international law. Simpson Bay Beach is located on the islands southern edge, immediately adjacent to the Princess Julianna Airport.
Don’t let the occasional passing jet deter you though. With over a mile of pristine sand and calming waters, this beach has plenty to offer the residents of the resorts that dot its shore. Restaurants and bars sprinkled amongst the palm-lined shore afford numerous options for dining, drinks, and modern facilities. This beach offers great views at sunset, and a view of neighboring Saba. The western end, a particular favorite of ours, is less populated than the eastern edge which approaches the more active Simpson Bay strip.
No 4 Baie Rouge With views of Anguilla in the distance, access to this beach is via a small “paved” lot immediately off the main road, and is tended to by the ever present hawkers ready to assist you with a chair or umbrella. Either end of this north facing shore is bounded by stunning limestone cliffs, the eastern-most featuring a window to the sea carved out by centuries of crashing waves. At a length of approximately three fourths of a mile, walking the pinkish sands here can provide a bit of a challenge, but it has its rewards for those that persist.
The sand under foot is course and grainy, and has a certain quicksand characteristic to it. Sinking with each step, before reaching the western end you will likely have decided to shorten your hike, as your calves will be barking under the strain. Note that the further west you walk, the more the clothing optional standard is … well, optional! There is only one lone shack offering drinks and light snacks, and the facilities are basic. We suggest the fresh lobster for an awesome lunch delicacy. You won’t be disappointed. Walking this beach requires a bit of a commitment, but we suggest you put forth the effort. You may find it becomes a favorite of yours as well.
No. 3 Mullet Bay Beach
Quiet Mullet Bay Beach is a large white-sand beach in a beautiful moon-shaped bay, and is located next to the island’s only golf course. Situated on the island’s western edge, the beach is also in the foreground of a resort destroyed by hurricane Luis in 1995. But don’t let that deter you. The beach has many shaded areas where you can find plenty of cover and enjoy a picnic, and there are even a few Lolo’s (snack shacks), where you can find refreshing food & drinks. At times a rip current may be present at the Bay, so be aware and be sure to swim or surf with a partner. Beach amenities are available, though they are not abundant. At a length of over 500 yards, Mullet Bay Beach, with its powdery soft sand, is one of the prettiest beaches on St. Maarten. With a wide and flat sandy shelf, and a beautiful stand of palm trees on the fringe, the beach is a picture of the idyllic tropical paradise. We recommend a stop at Rosie’s Snack Shack for a lite bite and refreshments, and then settle in for a stunning sunset!
No. 2 Happy Bay Access to our No. 2 beach is again not for the faint of heart, but this perfectly quiet cove proves a great place to spend a day with your lover, and enjoy the quiet solitude. Though gaining more and more notoriety, this formerly undiscovered beach remains a break-away from the more populated tourist meccas.
Park at Friar’s Beach and climb the hill to the far north end. Bring sturdy walking shoes as the trail is rock-strewn and just a little Billy Goat-ish! Danny has a small stand selling boat drinks and plate lunches. He also has a few chairs to rent, though don’t go expecting Class A chaises. With just under 300 yards in overall length, this quaint beach is a wonderfully quiet getaway. Happy Bay is at times a popular location for the local naturists, however it is truly optional and we’ve never received a wayward glance for our textiled ways. A beautiful little cove, with perfectly soft sand, Happy Bay is a personal favorite, and remains a must-do for our St. Martin agenda.
Our nod for St. Martin’s No. 1 Beach is Orient Beach. Sure, others may hold different opinions, but honestly that’s just the kind of discussions we like to foster.
This 1.3 mile crescent of sand is littered with dining options, has plenty of resort and villa choices, and virtually every beach activity you could muster. With options from traditional beach fare to the more upscale French, Thai, and Italian cuisines, there is something for every appetite. While the bay offers spacious waters more than adequate for wave-runners, windsurfing and kite-boarding, I find I do my best work from the comfort of my towel and umbrella. The beach is meticulously tended by the various bars along the shore. With abundant food, bars, watersports, beautiful sand, and people-watching galore, Orient Beach has it all. And hey, in the end, who doesn’t like a good beach that’s anchored by the titillating Club Orient Resort, the infamous naturist resort that occupies the far south end.
There you have it. Our list of the Top 5 Beaches of St. Martin. So, what say ye?