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beaches of st martin

The Best Beaches of St Martin

What are the best beaches of St Martin? Well you’re about to find out! I have had the pleasure of spending a combined four months between 2017 and 2020. The island has come to feel like a second home for me. I have visited almost every beach on the island more than once, so you can be sure I know my stuff. St Martin is home to some of the most beautiful, pristine beaches in the world. I hope you enjoy the best beaches of St Martin as much as I do.

St. Martin-The French Side

St. Martin is a dual-country island in the Lesser Antilles group of islands on the Leeward side of the Caribbean Sea. The island is unique for being the smallest island in the world to be owned by two countries; France and the Netherlands. While both sides have their own unique flare, I personally prefer the French side of St Martin for its laid back attitude. You can be sure to have a relaxed experience on the French side. St Martin’s most popular towns are Orient Bay on the northeast side of the island, Grand Case on the northwest side, and Marigot on the west coast. Marigot is the capital of St Martin, so you can expect a busy, bustling town at least by Caribbean standards.

The beaches of St Martin are absolutely beautiful. You can find all different beach vibes depending on which beach you decide to visit. When you think of the idyllic Caribbean beach, you can be sure to find that on St Martin. Since St Martin is a European owned island, don’t be surprised to find beaches frequented by nudists. I have put together an entire guide to the nude beaches of St Martin that you can find here. Even if you are not visiting a nude beach, you can be sure to see many women topless on any beach in St Martin. This is very typical for Europeans, so don’t be too shocked if you are an American visitor.

The Best Beaches

1. Orient Beach

Orient Beach is personally my favorite beach on all of St Martin. Located on the northwest of the island, this long stretch of white sand beach is the most popular on the French side. Here you will find countless beach bars and restaurants, a bustling nightlife, and some of the most gorgeous blue waters you can find on all of the island. Orient Beach is situated in the small town of Orient Bay. If you are looking for any water sports like kayaking, jet skis, hobby catamarans, windsurfing etc, you will find it here on Orient Beach. The southernmost part of the beach is home to the previous Club Orient, a nude beach that up until 2017’s Hurricane Irma was a working nudist resort. Now it is simply a nude beach with small vendors.

Every time I have stayed on St Martin I stay at an Airbnb in Mont Vernon, which is an apartment complex at the northernmost part of Orient Beach. It’s fantastic because you can walk directly from your place to everything you could want on the beach. There are plenty of hotels sitting directly on the water if you are interested in that. Orient Bay has some of the best nightlife on the French side of the island. The popular restaurant square known as La Place – Le Village D’Orient offers over a dozen restaurants in a small walking village just one block from the beach. Some nights of the week there is even live music in the open courtyard. Some of my best memories of St Martin have been here. I put together an entire guide to Orient Beach for vegans and vegetarians that you can find here if interested.

2. Grand Case Beach

beaches of st martin

Grand Case is truly a unique beachfront Caribbean town. Once known as the food capital of the Caribbean, this French town is home to many fine dining restaurants, beachfront bars, and some of the calmest waters on the entire island. Sitting directly on the waterfront, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the ocean. There are a number of hotels available directly on the beach. My favorite part of Grand Case Beach is how warm and calm the water is here. The water is almost like a swimming pool, with almost no waves of any kind. This beach is perfect for kids and people who aren’t the best swimmers. The water is crystal clear and could not be more amazing.

Grand Case also boasts a fantastic nighttime scene. Many of the restaurants on Grand Case are open only for dinner service. The town has definitely seen its share of troubles from the 2017 Hurricane Irma, but they are working hard to restore the town. Here you can find all levels of cuisine, from super fine dining to more affordable options. I have put together a Grand Case guide for vegans and vegetarians that you can find here if interested.

3. Pinel Island

Pinel Island Karibuni

Located just off the coast of the northeastern part of St Martin lies Pinel Island. This island is one of my top recommendations for a fun way to spend a day on the island. You can access Pinel Island by a ferry boat or a private boat. You can find the ferry schedule here. The island is fairly undeveloped, with only the southern part having restaurants and beach chairs. The rest of the island is untouched and great place to go for a small hike. Pinel also offers some pretty good snorkeling.

The swimming area of Pinel Island is as calm as a bathtub. Warm, crystal clear waters make this island a fantastic place for anybody to come and spend the day. The swimming area is roped off so you don’t have to worry about boats coming near. There is even a “ice cream boat” that comes to the edge of the swimming area where you can buy ice cream and novelties. I put together and entire guide to Pinel Island that you can find here.

4. Anse Marcel

Pre-Irma Anse Marcel from 2017

Anse Marcel is very unique beach on the northwestern part of St Martin. Home to several private beach resorts, this beach town is situated down a very scenic drive through the cliffside. This area was badly affected by the 2017 Hurricane Irma, but has recently reopened part of the resorts here. There is a public parking lot in town. From here you can walk between the two resorts to get to the beach. You can typically find some chairs to rent and small vendors to buy drinks from. Depending on when you visit, there may be more or less options available.

The beach is very calm and quiet with minimal visitors. There was once a few restaurants here, but I am unsure whether or not they are still in service. Due to the way this bay is situated, Anse Marcel can sometimes be a trash collecting beach. Other times the beach is pristine and the water beautiful. This is definitely not my favorite of the beaches of St Martin, but it’s a nice option if you have already been to the others and want something new.

5. Happy Bay Beach

nude beach st martin

Located on the northwestern side of St Martin, Happy Bay Beach is a super private beach with real tranquility. Happy Bay known as one of the clothing optional beach options on the island. This beach is slightly more challenging to get to, due to the beach being located behind private property. The beach itself, like all beaches on the island, is a public beach but you must pass through private property to get there. Google Maps can get you there, but you just need to walk a bit from the gate.

The beach itself is usually super clean and very private. Of all the times I’ve been to Happy Bay Beach, I’ve probably only seen a handful of other people. The water here is fairly calm and crystal clear. Unlike other options on this list, Happy Bay has no vendors on the beach. So plan accordingly. I like to bring a picnic here. There are lots of nice trees to setup a picnic blanket and have a fantastic day.

6. Les Petites Cayes Beach

View from the start of hike to Les Petites Cayes Beach

If you are looking for the most private beach on the entire island, Les Petites Cayes Beach is for you! The reason this beach is private is because it is somewhat difficult to get to. The only way get to this beach is a small hike from the Grand Cayes reserve around the north part of the island. The hike is fairly easy to slightly moderate. Be sure to bring actual shoes and not just flip flops. You will thank me later. The hike is about a 30 minute hike at a normal pace. But once you get to the end you will be rewarded by a beautiful, untouched private Caribbean beach.

The beach itself is quite small and great place for clothing optional sunbathing. The waves here tend to be pretty rough, but for people who like to swim in the waves that can be a great deal of fun. There are small little shacks of twigs setup by previous beachgoers along the route that you must check out. Part of the fun of this beach is just getting there. You will be treated some beautiful views of the north coast.

Overall Thoughts

St. Martin has some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to. I love St Martin very much and hold the island very near and dear to my heart. I was so heartbroken to hear of the destruction that Hurricane Irma inflicted on this island, but I am so proud to see the strong people of this island work hard to rebuild this beautiful part of the world. The beaches of St Martin are without a doubt a great reason to come to the island.

The dual country island has over 37 beaches. Obviously I have not covered all of these beaches in this guide. You may have noticed that I have not included any of the beaches of the far west part of the island like Long Beach. Depending on when you visit, these can be great places to watch the sunset. The reason I didn’t include these is because many of them are located within gated communities and are difficult/or not possible to get to. I personally never really tried to explore these beaches because I had access to such wonderful beaches on other parts of the island. Also this part of the island is much more populated and I typically try avoid the large crowds when I’m planning a beach day.

I hope you found this guide to the beaches of St Martin to be informative and helpful. I have fallen in love with this island over the years. Hopefully once you visit some of these beaches yourself, you will fall in love with it as well. If you enjoyed this content, be sure to follow me on social media and join my newsletter to stay up to date on all of my travel content.

Hayden

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