Breakfast at La Samanna overlooking spectacular Baie Longue in French St. Martin
The island of St. Martin / St. Maarten has over 30 sensational white sand beaches ranging from secluded coastal crescents to broad expanses of untouched sand. Most beaches are rarely crowded, even in peak season.
A tour of Dutch St. Maartens most popular beaches from west to east includes:
Cupecoy Beach borders French St. Martin and is a clothing optional area. The narrow beach is backed by limestone cliffs that provide morning shade and a natural windbreak. Mullet Bay Beach along the golf course is famous for its sheer length, powdery white sand and great surf. Maho Beach lies adjacent to the airport runway and swimmers can experience the excitement of planes flying closely overhead. Calm waters shaded by palm and sea grape trees, plus weekend parties with live music also distinguish this beach. Simpson Bay Beach is an excellent place to escape the crowds. There is a nearby fishing village with a tempting variety of seaside eateries. Pelican Keys at the far eastern tip of Simpson Bay offers the largest assortment of rental equipment for windsurfing, scuba diving, sailing and jet skiing. Great Bay, a long stretch of sand bordering Front Street in Philipsburg with numerous restaurants and shops is popular with cruise ship passengers and windsurfers. The waters are calm and watersports rentals are available. The somewhat secluded Guana Bay and Dawn Beach both attract surfers and bodysurfers, and many consider beautiful Dawn Beach the best snorkeling location on St. Maarten.
Some beaches on the Dutch side may charge guests a small fee for day use (including changing facilities, beach chairs, etc.). Beach goers on St. Maarten are generally more conservative than those on the French side, where topless sunbathing is typical.
A tour of French St. Martin's most popular beaches, from west to east includes:
Baie Longue, is a magnificent arc of white sand with calm, clear waters. It enjoys an isolated location in Terres Basses with the luxurious La Samanna hotel on its eastern end. Baie aux Prunes (Plum Bay) on the far western edge of Terres Basses, reachable by walking west around Pointe du Canonnier, is small and shady with good surfing close to the rocks. Baie Rouge is a long, beautiful stretch of sand on the northern shore of Terres Basses with a snack bar and umbrella rental near the entrance. Nettlé Baie stretches from Terres Basses to Marigot Bay, with many access points from the seaside hotels, and offers quite a few watersports and dive operations. Friar's Bay, just west of Grand Case, is pretty and very popular with locals and divers attracted by the beauty of its coral reef. Grand Case, a magnificent arc of crystal-clear water and white sand, is very calm for swimming and snorkeling and offers great beachfront restaurants. Anse Marcel is calm and quiet, nicely shady, and great for kids with hotels nearby. Petites Cayes, the most isolated beach on St. Martin, can by accessed by boat or a 20 minute walk via a coastal trail from Cul-de-Sac. Cul-de-Sac is a scenic beach on the northeast coast, with boats shuttling back and forth to the offshore islets, Pinel Island and Tintamarre. Orient Beach is very long and very popular, with a clothing-optional section, numerous dining spots, beach shops and watersports. It can be quite windy at times. Baie de l'Embouchure protected by a coral barrier, is nice for sailing and windsurfing. Baie Lucas offers good diving from its isolated beach on the east coast.
All beaches on the French side are public and topless sunbathing for women is generally acceptable.
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