French Side – St Martin
St Martin Beaches – A Few of The Best
As with the Dutch side (St Maarten), the French side (St Martin) has it’s own special blend of beaches with some being totally deserted and hard to reach, and some having a little bit of everything!….
Leading on from the last Dutch Side beach (Cupecoy), going from West clockwise to East, we have:
- Long Bay
- Bay Rouge
- Nettle Bay
- Friars Bay
- Grand Case Beach
- Orient Bay
- Le Galion
Known also as ‘La Samanna beach’, Long Bay is one of St Martins widest, longest and most deserted beaches except for the collection of tastefully appointed white tents by the La Samanna hotel.
Whilst you must be a guest to enjoy the offerings of La Samanna, if you are coming to this beach, you are probably aware of it’s status as a beautiful and natural sanctuary. So take all your chairs, umbrellas and coolers with you and make sure you leave nothing behind and respect the natural beauty.
Long Bay borders the area of French St Martin know as Terre Basse, or ‘Lowlands’. This is where quite a few rich and famous have chosen to build impressive villas and second homes.
This St Martin beach is a favorite of Dutch side and French side locals and tourists and is renowned for it’s variations in waves from calm and lapping to rolling and pounding depending on which part of the beach you are on.
There is a little-known secret to be found at this particular beach that even people who visit regularly don’t know about – to learn more click here.
There are a couple of small beach bars here just good enough to stave off the hunger and keep you lubricated. A MUST St Martin beach!
Here’s a beach that you would probably visit for other reasons than swimming! Nettle Bay beach, St Martin, runs all the way from what we refer to ‘whale island’ (because from Marigot port it looks like an enormous humpback whale breaching the water.
Parts of Nettle Bay beach have the small stinging urchins on the beach just at the waters edge and, with it being very narrow, not many people choose to swim there.
However, what makes this beach special are two very nice restaurants with their own unique charms – Ma-Ti Beach and Lay-La’s. They both have fantastic views out towards Marigot and Grand Case. The food is also similar in that they are world-fusion French cuisine with a few locals favorites thrown in like Accras and Tuna Tartar.
Lay-La’s has long been a favorite of ours because of the cool, laid-back atmosphere and because of the simple fact that you can sit in comfort with your feet in the sand under the palm trees and enjoy great cuisine!
After Nettle Bay it’s quite a way to the next decent beach. Just north of Marigot St Martin, there is a left turn at the bottom of the hill on a sharp bend – blink and you miss it!
This road takes you on a winding path to Friars Bay which is a great family beach with gentle lapping waves. With only a couple of beach bar/restaurants it’s a fairly exclusive beach.
The only real grip about this beach is the small rocks and pebbles in the shallows of the shore.
Grand Case Beach
Being the culinary capital of the Caribbean, Grand Case is packed with fine restaurants that line the quaint rustic Grand Case Boulevard. Read more on Grand Case here.
They are mostly only open for dinner, but there are a few beach-bar type restaurants that are very popular, such as Calmos Cafe, dotted up and down the coast.
St Martin Grand Case beach is an oddity in that it is constantly shifting in and out – the sands come and go depending on the seasons. So you could find yourself with either a narrow, steep beach or a flatter wider one.
Grand Case beach is long and great for a walk up and down. Because Grand Case is an old fishing village, most of the houses are sitting right on the beach all the way down.
There are a few great spots worth discovering on this beach:
- Calmos Cafe
- Love Hotel
- Le Petit Hotel
- La California
- Grand Case Beach Club (sunset restaurant!)
- Zenith bar
- Le Shore
No trip to St Martin would be complete without a trip to Orient beach – it is probably one of the best in terms of variety of activities and restaurants, size and beauty.
If you’re on a cruise ship, you will probably hear the shouts of ‘taxi to Orient beach’ wherever you go – it is only 15 minutes ride from Philipsburg and pretty much guaranteed no traffic to delay you get back to the ship.
When my children were small this was the beach of choice! To us locals it’s fondly referred to as ‘baby beach’. The whole bay is set back from a natural reef which protects the shore from any adverse wave action or undertow so there virtually are no waves!
The slope of the descent of the depth of water is very gradual and you can actually walk out quite a way before you get submerged.
Pat & Tracy at Tropical Wave Beach Bar are great hosts at their small but well-run beach bar – restaurant where you can get simple but tasty dishes.
There are also various watersports you can do (sorry, no jet skis! – it’s a natural reserve) with instructors available to teach you anything from kayaking to windsurfing to surfing.
So, if it’s St Maarten Beaches or St Martin beaches you’ll discover the best in the Ultimate St. Maarten Island Guide…..