Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond
St. Maarten

Best St. Maarten Beaches

Any advice about St. Maarten beaches starts with two of them -- Great Bay Beach and Orient Beach. But there are many more worth visiting.

Great Bay Beach
Great Bay Beach; © St. Maarten Tourism Bureau
St. Maarten is one of the most popular destinations for a southern Caribbean cruise, so cruise visitors need to know that Great Bay Beach is the first one for them to consider.

The reason why is that the beach is right there by the cruise docks. Visitors can walk off the boat and right onto the beach.

The beach has rental chairs and umbrellas available for the day. Even better, this white-sand, two-mile beach is right in front of Philipsburg, capital of the Dutch side of the island.

The Philipsburg boardwalk lies between the beach and the shopping district of the city. It is easy to spend the day going back and forth between the beach and shopping or dining.

Numerous restaurants line the boardwalk; many more restaurants plus plenty of shopping lie only one block over on Philipsburg's popular Front Street

Orient Bay

Orient Beach
Orient Beach; © St. Maarten Tourism Bureau
Anyone visiting St. Maarten by cruise ship or to stay at the resorts should consider Orient Bay Beach as another one worth visiting.

Orient Bay, which is located on the French side of the island, is arguably the island's most famous and popular beach.

It often gets ranked as one of the best in the Caribbean. As a result, it often draws large crowds.

Orient Bay is a fairly quick drive by taxi, rental car or excursion bus from Philipsburg.

Note that the beach is on the French side and therefore clothing is optional.

Maho Beach

Maho Beach is famous because it is located so close to the airport that landing planes will swoop so close over the heads of beachgoers that some of them get knocked off their feet.

As a result, it is hugely popular with visitors taking photos and videos. But be aware that some people have been hurt by the jet blasts.

Cupecoy Beach

Cupecoy Beach
Cupecoy Beach; © St. Maarten Tourism Bureau
One of the more interesting beaches on St. Maarten is Cupecoy because of its white sand, sandstone cliffs and small caves along the shore.

The high rocks block most of the wind, so it's a good choice when the Caribbean trade winds are strong that day.

Clothing is optional because it is secluded and located by the French St. Martin border.

Little Bay and Kim Sha

Anyone with an interest in diving might consider either Little Bay or Kim Sha beaches.

Little Bay, located near Fort Amsterdam, is a beach dive location with calm waters and rock beach breaks.

Snorkeling and diving equipment are available for rent as well as jet skis.

Kim Sha is a popular starting point for dive and excursion boats. A certified PADI dive shop is located at the center of the beach.

Quiet and Private

Several beaches receive far fewer crowds than Orient or Great Bay and are worth seeing for people with extra time available.

Simpson Bay Beach is a long half-moon of white sand located by a fishing village. Few facilities or commercial establishments are available nearby.

Guana Bay Beach, located on the southeast coast of the island, offers great views of St. Barthelemy and is used for wind and kite surfing.

Visitors who take a 20-minute hike from Cole Bay Hill will reach Cove Bay, located between Cole Bay and Little Bay. It is popular with hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers.

Burgeaux Beach, just beyond Simpson Bay, offers a cove and is a favorite of shell collectors and surfers.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

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February 17, 2020
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