About St. Maarten

About St. Maarten

St. Maarten is a tropical island in the northeast Caribbean, approximately 300 km (186 miles) east of Puerto Rico. It is the Caribbean's only true fully duty-free destination. It means the price you pay does not include government taxes imposed on imported foreign luxury items. There is also no capital gain tax and no property tax. The main towns are Philipsburg (Dutch side) and Marigot (French side).

St. Maarten Beaches

There is no such thing as a bad beach on St. Maarten.  There is a diversity of beaches ranging from those which have virtually no amenities to those which have everything a tourist or resident could want within a few steps.  All beaches on the island are public beaches, so you don’t have to worry about restricted access.  On the windward side of the island, the waves are larger and tend to attract surfers and windsurfers.  On the leeward side, families tend to migrate to the calmer waters. A number of the French beaches (north) also cater to the topless or nude sunbather.  And, of course, any type of watersports equipment can be rented.

Dutch Sint Maarten (South island)

Simpson Bay Beach – Simpson Bay Beach sits along the thin strip along the southwestern part of the island that connects the airport to the rest of St. Maarten.  It is a quiet, long expanse of white sand, bordered by condos and low buildings, and removed from the shops, restaurants and bars.   Perfect for a pleasant, relaxing family day on a gorgeous beach.

Maho Beach – The attraction of this beach is that it sits at the end of the major runway at Princess Julianna International Airport, and you can lie on the beach and watch the underbellies of aircraft fly just a few feet over you as they take off and land.  Warm, inviting sand, but a bit noisy.  The scouring action from jet engines has pretty much blown all the vegetation off the beach.  Neat stuff for kids, but you may not want to stay there all day.

Mullet Bay Beach – Just north and west of Maho Beach, Mullet Bay Beach sits on a half-moon bay, with white sand stretching along its coast.  It is popular with surfers and windsurfers, and a small, rocky area on one end provides some snorkeling opportunities.  It is just a short distance from hotels and condos in the Maho Bay area and Cupecoy.

Cupecoy Beach – Cupecoy Beach is just west of Mullet Bay Beach, and is partially enclosed by natural cliffs which makes it more private than other beaches.  Because of this privacy, the western end is open to nude sunworshipers, so families may want to be cautious about visiting this beach.

Dawn Beach – Dawn Beach lies on the east of the island, so it is a bit of a drive to get there.  However, it has some of the best beach sand and climate on the island, including snorkeling opportunities along the coral reef (a hardy swim to get there).  The surrounding beach area is being developed, so it is becoming more popular, and you can indulge in whatever amenities suits your tastes without having to worry about forgetting something, if you are staying at the other end of the island.

Oyster Pond – Not really a beach, but it is a popular marina area just north of Dawn Beach.  It is the homebase for sailboats that cruise the eastern side of the island.  There are a number of fine restaurants, and the view is quite picturesque. 

French Saint-Martin (North island)

Baie Longue Beach – Just over the western border between the Dutch and French sides of the island from Cupecoy Beach is Baie Longue Beach, the longest beach on St. Maarten.  This is a beach that is very undeveloped.  In other words, you need to bring your own equipment, food, drinks and other amenities to enjoy the day.  However, it is an excellent stretch of white sand, with swimming and a bit of snorkeling available – but the surf can be a little rough at times.  Clothes are optional.

Baie Rouge – Circling around the western point of the island, Bay Rouge sits on the north.  As the name indicates, it has a slightly pinkish tone to the beach sand, the result of corals washing up.  It is secluded, beautiful and, once again, clothing is optional.

Baie de Grand Case – Going further north and east along the French side, Grand Case is an attractive, one-mile-long beach with condos and hotels dotting the perimeter.  Its calm waters are ideal for swimming and other water sports, but the main attraction of Grand Case is that it hosts some of the best restaurants on St. Maarten. 

Baie Orientale – Orient Bay is the premier beach area on the French side of St. Maarten, and draws many people looking for different beach experiences.  Orient Bay Beach extends for about a mile, and has every possible amenity available, including horseback riding.  Another note of caution, however.  Part of the beach at one end is open to nude sunbathing – in fact, the Club Orient is the most popular nudist accommodation in the Caribbean!

Le Galion Beach – Located just south of Oriental Bay, this is a very popular family beach.  It is protected by a coral reef, so the waters are very calm and ideal for swimming, particularly for youngsters.  In fact, you can wade for 20 to 30 yards, and the water would not reach your waist.  Beach equipment and windsurfing are for rent, so you can enjoy a safe, fun-filled day with the family.  Traditionally, clothing and swimwear are worn.
Tintemarre & Ilet Pinel - These are two islands off the northeast point of St. Maarten, commonly reached by boat or ferry.  They are mostly undeveloped, and you just want to experience a quiet piece of solitude, away from any hustle or bustle, these are the choices.  Great beaches and snorkeling make these an attractive day trip.