Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, the island of St. Maarten is a prime vacation spot known for being home to 37 gorgeous beaches with crystal blue water, powdery white sand, and breathtaking sunsets.
Each beach that lies on the 70 km coastline offers a unique experience, from the quiet and more tranquil beaches in French Saint Martin to the more lively tourist-filled beaches in Dutch Sint Maarten. Each beach on St. Maarten is special and has something amazing to offer to each traveler. The beaches that stand out as the best beaches on the island of St. Maarten are listed below.
- Orient Beach
- Mullet Bay
- Tintamarre Island
- Grand Case Beach
- Cupecoy Beach
- Dawn Beach
- Little Bay Beach
- Kim Sha Beach
- Friar’s Bay Beach
- Indigo Bay Beach
- Great Bay Beach
- Guana Bay Beach
- Burgeaux Beach
- Pinel Island
- Happy Bay Beach
- Baie Rouge
- Maho Beach
- Geneve Bay Beach
- Simpson Bay Beach
Table of Contents
- 1. Orient Beach
- 2. Mullet Bay
- 3. Tintamarre Island
- 4. Grand Case Beach
- 5. Cupecoy Beach
- 6. Dawn Beach
- 7. Little Bay Beach
- 8. Kim Sha Beach
- 9. Friar’s Bay Beach
- 10. Indigo Bay Beach
- 11. Great Bay Beach
- 12. Guana Bay Beach
- 13. Burgeaux Beach
- 14. Pinel Island
- 15. Happy Bay Beach
- 16. Baie Rouge
- 17. Maho Beach
- 18. Geneve Bay Beach
- 19. Simpson Bay Beach
- Map of St. Maarten island beaches
- What should you know before visiting the beaches in St. Maarten?
- Are the beaches in St. Maarten suitable for snorkeling?
- What are the best hotels near the beaches in St. Maarten?
- What are the best beach tours in St. Maarten?
- Does St. Maarten have clear water?
- What is the nicest beach in St. Maarten?
- Which places provide the best beaches in St. Maarten for kids and families?
- Are there sharks in St. Maarten?
- Are there jellyfish in St. Maarten?
1. Orient Beach
Located on the northeastern coast of French Saint Martin, Orient Bay, also known as Baie Orientale, is nicknamed the “Saint Tropez of the Caribbean”. Known for its crystal blue water and fluffy white sand, this tourist hotspot is one of the biggest and most popular beaches in St. Martin and is great for those looking for a fun and action-packed day or night out.
Along the Orient Beach, you will find many beach clubs, bars, hotels, and incredible restaurants. Entry onto the beach is free and beachgoers are given the option to rent umbrellas and beach chairs for $25 for the day. There are also water sports that are available for beachgoers such as jet skiing, parasailing, and banana boating. Depending on the time you decide to visit, the water can be a bit rough. For calmer water, the best time to visit Orient Beach is between the months of April and September.
Although Orient Beach is not considered a nudist beach, there is a nudist resort located on the southernmost part of the beach called Club Orient. Those with families might find this beach unsuitable for this reason.
2. Mullet Bay
Located 1.4 km west of the famous Maho Beach, Mullet Bay is a quieter and less crowded beach situated near the popular Mullet Bay golf course and resort area. The waves on this beach are usually a little rougher than other beaches on the island. This makes it a popular location for tourists and locals who enjoy surfing or other water sports.
Entry onto the beach at Mullet Bay is free. You will find many local vendors on the beach selling refreshments such as coconuts, burgers, drinks, etc. The southern end of the beach is lined with sea grape trees that provide nice shade from the sun, there are also chair and umbrella rentals available for around $15 per day.
3. Tintamarre Island
Tintamarre Island, also known as île Tintarree is a secluded and uninhabited island lying off the coast of French St. Maarten. This small island with its rugged red cliffs and sparkling blue waters teeming with colorful marine life is a prime spot for snorkeling and hiking.
Tintamarre Island is located 4 km off the coast of St. Maarten. In order to reach the island, you will need to schedule a boat tour in advance. Usually, these tours cost around $130 per person. The boat tours will usually include an open bar, snacks, lunch, transport, and snorkel gear.
4. Grand Case Beach
Located in northern French Saint Martin in the culinary capital of the island, Grand Case Beach is home to many gourmet restaurants, beachfront bars and is known among tourists for its fantastic nightlife.
Grand Case Beach is protected from the winds and waves of the ocean making for some of the calmest waters on the island. The minimal waves make the beach very suitable for people and children who aren’t the best swimmers. A great place for a family beach day.
5. Cupecoy Beach
Cupecoy Beach is located on the southwestern tip of St. Maarten and is very close to the French-Dutch border. Cupecoy Beach is a collective of 3 small beaches with golden sands that are surrounded by rugged limestone cliffs.
These are some of the most private beaches that you can find on the island, this makes it ideal for couples looking for a romantic getaway. The seclusion of the beaches also makes it popular among tourists who prefer a clothing-optional beach experience.
Cupecoy Beach is known for its gorgeous sunsets and its breathtaking views of the neighboring island, Saba. There are no food vendors, umbrellas, or chairs to rent on either of the three beaches, so be sure to bring all of your necessities for the day.
6. Dawn Beach
Located on the far eastern coast of Sint Maarten, close to the French border is Dawn Beach. This beach is framed by the lush green mountains and lined with luxurious homes, yacht clubs, and beach clubs.
Dawn Beach is known for and named after its stunning sunrises and views of Saint-Barthélemy island to the east. The waters can be a little rough and don’t offer the most ideal swimming conditions, because the eastern side of the island faces the waves and currents of the Atlantic Ocean.
7. Little Bay Beach
Located in the southern tip of the island near historical Fort Amsterdam is Little Bay beach. This kid-friendly beach is separated from Great Bay Beach by a peninsula, making it well-protected from the elements. It has perfect white sand and calm and clear waters with a great variety of fish.
Little Bay Beach is far less of a tourist attraction than other beaches on the island and is usually visited by guests from the nearby resorts and a few divers and snorkelers. This destination is known to be one of the safest beaches for kids on the island since the waters are current-free and there are a lot of aquatic and kid-friendly activities available. This makes it an ideal spot for families looking to do some underwater exploration.
8. Kim Sha Beach
Kim Sha Beach is in the southwestern region of the island in Dutch Sint Maarten. This beach is famous for being packed with action and offers all types of activities for beachgoers including sailing, kayaking, and other water sports. It’s known for its vibrant nightlife and is a perfect spot for party-goers.
Kim Sha Beach is also a nice location to sunbathe while enjoying a refreshing cocktail and tasty food from one of the famous local beach bars such as “The Buccaneer Bar” or “The GreenHouse Restaurant”.
Entry onto the Kim Sha Beach is free and Beach chairs and umbrellas are also offered by the shore for free. The waters are known for being rough and not very swimmable. This makes Kim Sha beach a hotspot for tourists who enjoy water sports such as kayaking, sailing, and jet skiing.
9. Friar’s Bay Beach
Located on the northwestern side of the island between Marigot and Grand case lies Friars Bay Beach. Friar’s Bay Beach is known for having a more family-friendly atmosphere than some of the other beaches that are clothing optional. This beach has soft sands and very swimmable waves that are easy for anyone to handle.
Entry onto the beach is free, and umbrellas and chairs can be rented for $20 for the day. Two famous restaurants are along the beach as well, Friar’s Bay Beach Café and Kali’s Beach Bar, both of which serve quality Caribbean cuisine.
10. Indigo Bay Beach
Located between Phillipsburg and Simpson bay is Indigo Bay Beach, formerly known as Cay Bay. This beach is managed by an environmentally conscious developer who maintains the integrity of the environment of the beach by building ecologically friendly homes and structures.
Indigo Bay Beach is great for those who would like to escape the crowds and relax in the brilliantly blue waters and soft sands. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available to rent on the beach. Not far from the beach is the famous Indigo bay beach restaurant. The beach also has an abundance of water sports available such as kayaking and snorkeling.
11. Great Bay Beach
Located in the Dutch capital of Phillipsburg, Great Bay Beach is one of the most famous beaches on the island of St Martin. With its location being close to the harbor, Great Bay Beach has thousands of visitors from cruise ships pass through every day.
This tourist hotspot has a mile-long boardwalk, shopping centers, numerous bars, restaurants, and casinos, all of which contribute to the famously vibrant atmosphere of Great Bay Beach.
Great Bay Beach is very well kept and pristine with golden sand and seawater that is clean and refreshing. The beachside bars offer rental of lounge chairs, umbrellas, restrooms, and showers and even have deals where they offer a drink along with your purchase.
12. Guana Bay Beach
Located on the southeastern side of the island, Guana Bay Beach is one of the island’s best-kept secrets. Guana Bay Beach is a secluded and unspoiled beach, with a lovely view of St. Barts. Despite its picturesque appearance, few tourists visit this beach because of the very strong undercurrent. The beach is popular with experienced swimmers and surfers trying to catch some waves.
Entry onto the beach is free, and there is free parking nearby. It’s important to bring your own towels, chairs, and umbrellas as there are no facilities that sell these on the beach. Phillipsburg is located 2 miles away so amenities can be purchased before coming onto this secluded oasis.
13. Burgeaux Beach
Located in southwestern St. Maarten, where Simpson Bay meets Point Burgeaux, is Burgeaux Beach. This beach along with being known for its lovely sunsets, abundant seashells on the sandy shore, and large waves is also famous among adventurous tourists and surfers who are looking to catch a thrill.
Burgeaux Beach is popular among locals and tourists alike and has beautiful tide pools where pretty seashells and sea urchins can be found. Although the waters are rough, they are also quite shallow, so it is a safer option for beginner surfers.
14. Pinel Island
Pinel Island is an uninhabited island located near the northwest coast of St. Maarten. The west side of the island has calmer waters while the east side can be very windy. With crystalline blue waters and a colorful coral reef, this beach is a great place for snorkeling and underwater exploration.
Pinel Island is accessible by ferry, which leaves from the town of Cul-de-Sac on the north shore of Saint Martin every half hour. There is free parking on the Saint Martin side before boarding the ferry. The 5–10-minute boat ride to Pinel Island costs $6 per person. Once on the island, beach chairs and umbrellas are available to rent for $18 for the day. Pinel Island is known to be quite busy on the weekends so it’s best to visit midweek if possible.
15. Happy Bay Beach
Situated on the northwestern coast of French Saint Martin near Grand Case Beach, is the small but beautiful Happy Bay beach. This secluded cove has a rugged and natural beauty and is typically uncrowded. The water is clear, and the beach is lined with lush green palm trees.
Happy Bay Beach is a 10–15-minute walk from the famous Grand Case Beach. The seclusion of this beach makes it very popular with tourists who prefer beaches that are clothing-optional.
16. Baie Rouge
Located on the northwestern side of the island in French Saint Martin is Baie Rouge, also known as Red Bay. Baie Rouge is one of the most popular beaches on St. Martin, the beach gets its name from the reddish-pink color of the sand. The pretty pink sand gets its color from the crushed coral pieces that wash up onto the shore. Not only is the sand beautiful but Baie Rouge is an amazing spot for snorkeling. It has a vibrant reef that has many kinds of fish and other sea life.
Baie Rouge rarely gets overcrowded because it is so wide and long, the beach spans about 3.2 km long (2 miles), which makes it a good choice for those who enjoy a bit more privacy. Renting a chair and umbrella can be a hassle so it’s best to bring your own equipment. Some local beachside restaurants are Chez Raymond and Gus’ Beach Bar.
17. Maho Beach
Maho Beach (Maho Bay) is easily the most famous on the island and is really unlike any location in the world. Maho Beach is located right at the end of the Princess Julianna airport runway. From this vantage point, it is possible to see airplanes flying directly overhead and landing on the runway just behind the beach. Many tourists like to take pictures of the airplanes, admire the incredible sights and feel the force of airplanes and jets taking off into the sky one after the other.
Maho Beach is small and often gets quite busy and full of tourists, not the ideal spot for relaxing. Most usually spend 30 minutes to an hour here. Be careful to secure loose items on the beach because the wind from the airplanes and jets could blow them away. Also, be sure to remain in the safe zones marked by signs on the beach. Over the years, due to entering restricted areas, some have gotten injured by the sheer force of the planes. However, if you remain in the safe zones you have nothing to worry about.
18. Geneve Bay Beach
Situated on the southeastern side of Dutch Sint Maarten is Geneve Bay Beach. This beach is very popular with tourists who enjoy hiking. The beach has some of the island’s best hiking spots including an hour-long coastal trail from Guana Bay Beach to the ruggedly beautiful Geneve Bay.
Geneve Bay Beach is known for its wild beauty and natural pools of water. The ocean water is usually quite rough but there is a calm lagoon on the beach formed by rocks that shields it from the strong waves coming in from the Atlantic Ocean.
19. Simpson Bay Beach
Located on the picturesque fishing village of Simpson Bay, Simpson Bay Beach is a 2 km long beach that is lined with luxury resorts. Known for being the epicenter of the nightlife on the Dutch side of Sint Maarten, the famous beach bars that are along the beach have delicious food and drinks, exciting activities, and live entertainment. This beach is perfect for those who are looking for a fun day or night out.
Simpson Bay Beach is near Princess Juliana airport. So, this beach presents a nice location for those who would like to watch the planes take off from a less crowded beach.
Map of St. Maarten island beaches
Below is a map of the best beaches on Saint Martin:
What should you know before visiting the beaches in St. Maarten?
Things to know about Saint Martin before visiting the beaches are listed below.
- The U.S Dollar is accepted in most places on the Dutch side of the island whereas on the French side of the island the Euro is the common currency. This is important to know if you’re going to buy refreshments or beach chairs and/or umbrellas on the beach. There are also many money exchange banks and ATMs on the island.
- Saint Martin is known for its nude beaches. These beaches are mostly located on the French side of the island.
- In Dutch Saint Martin, the energy on the beaches is known for being more upbeat while the beaches in French Saint Martin are known for being more natural and laid back.
- The best time to visit the island’s beaches are between the months of January to May. There is less rain during these months leaving more time to soak in the sun on the beaches.
- Some beaches do not have any vendors renting beach equipment so in those cases it’s important to bring your own chair, umbrella, and towels.
- When parking your car before entering any beach it is important not to leave valuables anywhere visible in the car, as cars are sometimes broken into on the island.
What are the nudist beaches of St. Maarten?
There aren’t many nude beaches in Sint Maarten, the island has only one official nude beach called “Orient Bay Beach”. At this beach, full nudity is expected and encouraged for all who visit the beach. There are other beaches on the island where toplessness and nudity are tolerated and practiced in good taste in certain secluded areas of the beach. Some of the beaches where nudity is commonly practiced by visitors are listed below.
- Orient Bay Beach
- Pinel Island
- Tintamarre Island
- Cupecoy Beach
- Petites Cayes
- Happy Beach
Are the beaches in St. Maarten suitable for snorkeling?
Yes, many beaches in St. Maarten offer suitable snorkeling opportunities for people of all levels of experience. The tropical climate of St. Maarten throughout the year makes it an ideal snorkeling location. Throughout the year the temperatures on the island range from 72-89 F (22-32 C). The water is pleasantly warm with temperatures being around 75-85 F (24-29 C).
The turquoise waters that surround St. Martin are bursting with a variety of marine life including tropical fish, stingrays, turtles, and colorful corals. The best beaches for snorkeling are Mullet Bay, Cupecoy Beach, Baie Rouge, Orient Bay, Indigo Bay Beach, Pinel Island, and Tintamarre Island.
What are the best hotels near the beaches in St. Maarten?
The best hotels in St. Maarten near beaches are listed below.
- The Belmond La Samanna
- Sonesta Ocean Point Resort
- Esmeralda resort
- The Westin Dawn Beach Resort and Spa
- Hotel Riu Palace St. Martin
What are the best beach tours in St. Maarten?
The best beach tours in St. Maarten are listed below.
- Captain Bob Most Popular Speed Boat, Snorkeling and Beach Tour with Lunch
- The Original Eco Tour Full-Day Around the Island of Sint Maarten
- Full-Day Snorkeling, Beach and Island Hopping Excursion/Tour
- 3 Island Adventure with a stop at Tintamarre to swim with Turtles
- St. Maarten Shore Excursion: Orient and Maho Beach Half-Day Tour
Please visit our dedicated tours article if you are seeking for some other tours to take in Sint Maarten!
Does St. Maarten have clear water?
Yes, St. Maarten is known for its crystal-clear blue water and golden sandy beaches framed by lush tropical forests and rocky mountains. The clear water makes it possible to see colorful sea life swim by in the surrounding ocean, making St. Maarten a spectacular snorkeling location.
What is the nicest beach in St. Maarten?
The nicest beach in St. Maarten is Great Bay Beach. Not only is Great Bay Beach one of the most popular on the island of Saint Martin but it is one of the most popular in the entire Caribbean. Great bay beach has something to offer everyone and is suitable for all types.
Great Bay Beach is located close to the harbor, the cruise ships that dock nearby bring in a lot of tourists which contributes to the very lively atmosphere. This tourist hotspot has a boardwalk along the beach that stretches for two miles. The boardwalk has amazing shopping, bars, casinos, restaurants and offers options for entertainment for all kinds of people.
Great Bay Beach is very well kept and has calm and clear turquoise waters and soft white sands that make it suitable for all types. Water sports are available on the beach such as snorkeling, banana boating, parasailing, jet-skiing, and more.
Great Bay beach offers the best of all worlds. Although it is close to the action it is possible to get the private time you need since the shore is 2 miles long, crowding on the beach is not common.
Which places provide the best beaches in St. Maarten for kids and families?
These are many wonderful beaches on the island of St. Maarten for all types of people, including kids and families. The best kid-friendly beaches in St. Maarten are listed below.
- Friars bay Beach
- Grand case Beach
- Little Bay Beach
- Maho Beach
Are there sharks in St. Maarten?
Yes, several species of sharks including nurse sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, tiger sharks, and bull sharks occasionally occur in the waters surrounding St. Maarten.
However, experts say that they are generally not a threat and that they most commonly are located offshore in deeper waters and are rarely located close to shore. Shark attacks are so rare on the island, there has only been one non-fatal shark attack reported in St. Maarten in the year 2005.
Are there jellyfish in St. Maarten?
Yes, there are jellyfish in St. Maarten. However, there are very few jellyfish in the waters surrounding St. Maarten, and the species that live in the waters surrounding the island are not found to be dangerous. There have been only two reports in recent years of two people being stung by jellyfish while in St. Martin, in both cases the individuals fully recovered.