Orient Beach is the most well known spot on the island of St. Martin/St. Maarten, it is located on the French side of the island and is well known, I assume, because it has a nude beach. We were dropped off right at the entrance to the Club Orient which is the resort behind the nude beach.
This small fort is actually largest historical monument in St.Martin. It is also the best viewing vistas on the whole of the shared island. This includes the absolute best place to view sunsets. It would also be the most likely place to build a fort. It was erected in 1767 on the direct orders of King Louis XVI. This was obviously previous to the French Revolution and the loss of his head in 1793. In fact the Dutch seized the fort after the start of the Revolution in 1789 to head off any sort of anti-royalist elements from Guadeloupe getting subversive ideas.
It was originally built to to protect the settlement at Marigot and its done a very good job. Today Marigot is a beautiful village and bay. Not only do you get panoramic view of the island, you can also see the British island of Anguilla.
The fort is a steep climb and is open every day from 8:00am to 12:00pm and 1:00pm to 6:00pm.
This gorgeous beach is, in my opinion, ruined by the extraordinary amount of peddlers that are allowed to swarm people who are just trying to enjoy the place.
It's set-up is very European with a series of individual clusters of beach chairs that are accompanied by a restaurant/bar/snack-bar (they vary). They're all comfortable chez lounge chairs, facing the gorgeous water which is rich in tones of sky and aqua blue.
However, you can't enjoy the view when standing between you and it is someone who'd like you to buy a necklace, bracelet, sarong, dress, scarf, aloe or regular massage. When I first realized that this is how things were going to be the thought that crossed my mind was "Are you f**king kidding me?" At one point I was laying on my stomach and one vendor who noticed the sunburn on my back just started rubbing aloe on it while trying to sell me a $30 massage. The aloe felt wonderful of course, but I had not solicited this massage and I felt more anger than relief.
The owners of the restaurants must be getting a kick-back from them. The only respite from this madness is to swim. The water was gorgeous and the waves were wonderful so I greatly enjoyed that.
I'm sorry that this review is so negative and that's not my usual style, but I was so disappointed in this beach.
World famous Caribbean artist Roland Richardson has a gallery in Marigot. In fact, he w
See my comments on the main page for more info. in fact, he was born right next door. Original Paintings are for sale and Mr. Richardson will even do a portrait of you if you want. Ot you can just browse around if you like with no pressure to buy.
On Thursday's Roland has a meet and greet in the early afternoon.
We were fortunate enough to bump into him and have a long chat. See my blurb on the opening page for more details.
Grand Case is the gourmet capitol of the world, second to Paris. Located in the north on the French side of the island. Le petite favorite is a small shopping centre, restaurant, and more. Beautiful to look at with all the gingerbread trim.
While staying at Orient Bay, this was a natural visit for me--I love animals and stuff like that, so my next door lady friend and I went up the driveway to the Butterfly Farm---a huge tented area full of beautiful butterflies, and folk who are willing to take the time to discuss them with you. There is a fee to enter, but well worth it, once you get inside. There are many species fluttering around the enclosed area, as well as places where you can view pupae and cocoons and hear info on their lifestyles.....Many photo oportunities abound in here so take your cameras. The gift shop at the end is wonderful as well, with butterfly gifts for anyone at reasonable prices....
This is a very cool, very large beach on the eastern side of the French part of the island. There's a decent, but overpriced, bar area and plenty of places to rent any type of water fun item you might desire.
The water here is much too rough for any snorkeling, so if thats your thing you'll want to go elsewhere.
Also, there is a section of the beach here that is clothing optional so beware you may see some 'stuff a sagging'.
There is an outdoor market in Marigot that has some pretty good deals. I should also list this under tourist traps, but its still a good way to kill a couple of hours and pick up some souvenirs for all of the suckers that couldn't come with you on your trip.
Bikini Beach has great things to do. Lots of watersports available (ex. waverunners $90/hr or $45 for 1/2 hour). Massages at the Buddha Garden ($75 hour or $45 1/2 hour). Not to mention the people watching and just lying in the Caribbean sun. This beach is also European style, so you will be able to go topless if you like, we opted not to but did see one woman walking down the bbeach. Club Orient is located at the far right of the beach where you can go fully nude.
Beach is free but if you want lounge chairs, it will cost you $7/each chair and an umbrella is $3.
Dubbed the “Culinary capital of the Caribbean,” Grand Case is without question the best place for dining on St. Martin/Sint Maarten. The town’s main drag is essentially a long row of restaurants, ranging from inexpensive lolos serving barbeque to high-end places serving traditional French cuisine. Reservations are typically unnecessary, as most diners simply walk the street and view the specials highlighted on chalkboards before choosing a restaurant. The restaurants front a somewhat unspectacular but not altogether unworthy beach.
Orient Beach is the most developed, most popular, and busiest beach on the island of St. Martin/Sint Maarten. Protected from Atlantic rollers by a reef, the beach is a two-mile long swath of sugary white sand surrounded by turquoise waters. It is reputed both for its natural beauty and setting and for being the island’s foremost swimsuit optional beach.
Located two miles west of Sandy Ground and within walking distance of Marigot (if you like long walks), Baie Rouge is home to one of St. Martin’s most popular beaches. After spending several days in Anguilla, it was difficult to be impressed by the golden sand which had the texture and color of cornmeal, or somewhat choppy seas. But it isn’t a bad beach, and the area is said to be good for snorkeling. Be warned – Orient Beach isn’t the only beach with nudists; there are plenty at Baie Rouge as well.
Just west of Marigot in Sandy Ground, Baie Nettle features a decent beach. The beach is fronted by a number of hotels and restaurants but is relatively uncrowded. Looking back toward the Marigot marina and the surrounding hills, it features a nice backdrop as well. Unfortunately, the far end of the beach is excessively littered with rubbish and is popular only with foraging stray dogs.
Constructed in 1767 by order of French King Louis XVI to protect Marigot from pirates of British and Dutch descent, Fort Louis is not much more today than a few crumbling rock walls and some left-over cannons. But it is worth climbing up to see for the sweeping view of Marigot, its harbor, and nearby Anguilla. Although not particularly well marked, it is impossible to miss the fort if you simply look up from the Marigot waterfront.
The capital of French St. Martin, Marigot has a bit of a southern European flavor. Home to a public market, souvenir stalls, a handful of lolos, and other restaurants, Marigot’s harborfront is the city’s main commercial area. Not surprisingly, it is a good place to people watch, browse, and graze. High-end shoppers will prefer the trendy boutiques surrounding the nearby Port La Royale Marina and along the roads linking the marina and the harborfront. The marina also is home to scores of tourist restaurants, and is a comfortable place to have dinner. One of the town’s highlights is the panoramic view from Fort Louis. A day in Marigot is more than enough to take it all in at a reasonable pace.