Exploring the Beautiful Beaches of SXM
Saint Martin is a relatively little-known destination hidden in the Caribbean. Everyone who comes for a visit falls in love and wants to come back. Indeed, St. Martin has just been named as a must-visit island by Caribbean Journal.
Divided between a “French side” (St. Martin) and a “Dutch side” (Sint Maarten) our island is loved for its blend of Caribbean and European charm, gourmet food and friendly people. We’re also loved for our astounding variety of beaches.
The beautiful coastline, stunning views and sublime beaches are trademarks of St. Martin.
Many of our guests never leave the resort except to explore around the friendly village of Grand Case.
Other more adventurous visitors sometimes want to explore around the island. To get you started we have created this guide to our favorite Saint Martin beaches.
Grand Case Beach Club’s “Hidden” Beaches
We’re a beachfront resort after all, with two relatively “hidden” beaches for use by our guests.
Besides privacy and convenience, our beaches and the waters of the bay are placid and calm. This is because Grand Case Beach Club is on the Leeward, less windy side of the island.
Everything for everyone of any age is here: beach chairs for relaxing, beach toys for playing and snorkeling gear for exploring.
We must say this is our favorite beach on the island!
Saint Martin: Beaches for Everyone
If you want to explore our island there are beaches here for every kind of visitor: families, couples, paddlers, snorkelers and more.
If you are interested in visiting other beaches on St. Martin we have created this short guide with some of our favorite spots.
As well, please consult with our concierge when making plans. A little local knowledge goes a long way.
Also be sure to leave valuables at the hotel, or bring along a waterproof bag for your wallet and car keys.
The Geography of St. Martin: the Basics
The island of St. Martin is divided between Dutch Sint Maarten and French St. Martin. There are no border controls and it’s easy to cross between the two territories.
Generally speaking, the eastern Windward side of the island, since it is exposed to the blowing trade winds, is more suitable for body surfing and windsurfing.
The Leeward, western end of the island tends to enjoy calmer weather and more placid seas.
One thing’s for certain: there are beaches here for everyone. When planning a trip to an unknown beach, be sure to ask our concierge for help and advice.
French Side or Dutch Side: Which Has the Best Beaches on St. Martin?
We often get asked the question “what are the most popular St. Martin beaches?” It’s hard to choose, of course!
We identify beaches according to “St. Martin side” and “Sint Maarten side” .
Here are a few of our favorites on the French side of the island (aka Saint Martin):
Just around the corner from Grand Case Bay, Friar’s Bay offers a casual atmosphere that’s great for people traveling with families. This is a favorite with locals who like to barbecue here on weekends.
There are few boats, jet skis or other motorized craft to disrupt the calm. The beach’s sheltered location also means the waves are gentle and perfect for swimming. It’s best to make sure there is a lifeguard. If there is no lifeguard, be sure to keep an eye on your kids.
There is free parking here, but the parking lot is unsurfaced, so exercise caution with your rental car.
The St. Martin Tourism Association has a great guide to St. Martin beaches.
Perhaps St. Martin’s most famous beach, Orient Beach is about 10 minutes by car from our hotel in Grand Case. Despite being on the windward side of the island, the surf remains gentle thanks to a protective reef.
Besides sunbathing and swimming, parasailing is popular here and it’s a great place to get a drink. Beach umbrellas and chairs are available to rent on hot days.
Access to Orient Beach is easy, and there are several restaurants right at the water’s edge.
Note: Orient Beach is clothing optional.
Located just across the bay from Orient Beach, Pinel Island features a beautiful view of the surrounding hills and is perfect water for paddling.
In fact you can travel to the little island from Cul-de-Sac by ferry, kayak or Stand Up Paddle board (SUP).
The sandy beach is lined with palms trees, making the island a picturesque place to spend an afternoon.
Since Pinel Island and its beautiful beaches are a magnet for tourists, this beach can get a little crowded. From SUP and paddling to just playing in the waves, there is plenty to do here.
There are no cars on Pinel Island and no ATM’s.
Check out our St. Martin information page to get help planning your vacation.
The Beaches of Sint Maarten, the “Dutch Side”
Next, let’s take a look at some popular beaches on the “Dutch side” of our island, Sint Maarten.
To see some of these places, you’re going to need a car. Please contact our friends at St. Martin Prestige Car Rental for help!
Sint Maarten is our beautiful and more urban Dutch neighbor on the south side of the island.
If you don’t mind the traffic, it’s quite easy to travel from our hotel on the French side of the island to the Dutch side. Just like the European Union, there is no passport control.
The Dutch side acts as the commercial and entertainment hub of the island. However, there are many beautiful beaches to be found.
Some of the popular Sint Maarten beaches include:
Mullet Bay Beach
With sand the color and texture of golden brown sugar and the roar of incoming breakers, you’ll come to appreciate the wild, beautiful side of the Caribbean.
Close to the tourist town of Maho, the waters of Mullet Bay are generally pretty calm, but can experience intense surf at times. There are umbrellas and chairs available here for rent.
If you like swimming be aware that catamaran tours often come into the bay to drop anchor.
On days with more active surf this beach is great for body surfing. If traveling with children, be vigilant.
More sugary sand awaits visitors at wonderful Dawn Beach, one of the most popular beaches on the Dutch side. If you are an early riser, Dawn Beach is one of the best places on St. Martin to see the sunrise.
As this beach is a major tourist draw, there are rows of beach chairs and plenty of facilities, ranging from shops renting out snorkel gear to several popular eateries which sell light meals right on the beach.
Several reefs close to shore are great for getting a closeup view of the fish.
Little Bay Beach
Located just outside bustling Philipsburg, the isolated beach of Little Bay seems like a different world.
This peaceful, small and mostly private beach features great snorkeling and an amazing view of Saba Island in the distance. A beachfront restaurant operated by a resort offers kid-friendly finger food including pizza.
The peninsula protects the beach so the waves are small enough for kids to safely enjoy but still big enough to snatch your sun glasses.
Probably the most famous beach on the island, if not in the entire Caribbean, is Maho Beach.
Maho Beach is located at the end of the runway of Princess Juliana International Airport (SMX), the main airport on the island.
This crescent of beautiful beach has become a magnet for plane-watchers, although you have to watch out as the jet exhaust can create an intense blast of sand.
Hidden Beaches of St. Martin
The island of St. Martin also has a number of hidden beaches where you can experience the ultimate romantic Caribbean getaway.
Many of these secluded beaches can sometimes be challenging to access and feature few amenities. Always check with our concierge before venturing to one of these locations.
Baie Rouge is located on the Lowlands area on the northwest end of the island. The beach is about 20 minutes by car from Grand Case Beach Club and gets its name from the reddish tint to the sand.
Baie Rouge is a little difficult to see from the road and there isn’t a lot of parking. This means that people who do find their way down to the beach are treated to bathing in a secluded cove.
Note: clothing is optional at Baie Rouge.
While Happy Bay is somewhat secluded, nude sunbathing is not really a good idea because this is a family beach. The beach itself offers no amenities so it may not be the best place for a full family day at the sea.
A great feature is that Happy Bay is close to our hotel and close to other beaches. If you want more amenities you can easily go someplace else.
Plum Bay (Baie Aux Prunes)
This secluded bay on the western end of St. Martin can be difficult to find. Limited beach access makes Plum Bay a truly hidden beach.
However, for those who seek it out, spending the day at this beach is worth the effort. There is public access on one end of the beach. The other end of the beach is lined with villas, making Plum Bay quite private, peaceful and quiet.
When the waters are calm, snorkeling here is fantastic. When the wind is blowing and the waves are rough, Plum Bay is great for trying out body surfing.
While this beach lacks amenities such as umbrellas and beach chairs, Plum Bay is close to both the neighborhoods of Maho and Marigot with their bistros and shops.
Other Activities: SUP, Snorkeling and Paddling
With its many protected bays, St. Martin provides wonderful opportunities for SUP. The “windward” east side of the island may be more challenging for beginners, but the beach right here at Grand Case is a perfect place to start.
Places to try out SUP (Stand Up Paddling) on St. Martin include:
- Pinel Island
- Orient Bay
- Anse Marcel
- Le Galion
Snorkeling from the Beach
St. Martin has many other great snorkeling beaches, notably on the French side on the northern coast of the island.
Mullet Bay, Cay Bay, Little Bay, Dawn Beach, Plum Bay and Baie Rouge are all easily accessible from Grand Case.
In most of these place snorkeling is free and just steps away from the beach.
Learn more about snorkeling around St. Martin on our water activities page.
Snorkeling Creole Rock (Near Grand Case Beach Club)
Creole Rock is a very popular snorkeling spot on St. Martin and is quite close to our resort. Creole Rock is said to boast the most varied and rewarding snorkeling in and around Grand Case area.
It’s possible to swim to Creole Rock by swimming from the beach, but the distance and boat traffic make swimming out slightly risky. Instead, most snorkelers make the trip out by boat from Grand Case Beach Club with guides.
Contact our concierge for more information.
Kayaking to Pinel Island
Pinel Island is located in the heart of in the heart of St Martin’s Marine Reserve. The island can easily be reached by kayak and SUP from Cul-de-Sac, near Orient Beach, making for an adventurous and memorable outing.
Most kayakers set out for the protected leeward side of Pinel Island facing Orient Bay beach. Once you have landed on Pinel’s beach it’s time to relax or you can hike over to explore Pinel’s northern shoreline.
At the moment there are no snorkel tour operators on Pinel Island. If you want to go snorkeling, make sure you bring your own gear.
Ask the concierge at Grand Case Beach Club about arranging a kayak tour to Pinel Island.