St. Maarten Beaches with Attitude
Beautiful beaches are what make Dutch St. Maarten such a popular destination.
Guana Bay Beach
A long white sandy strip near the eastern border with French St. Martin, this beach is divided into two sections. The northern end is called Dawn Beach because of its spectacular sunrises. This is one of the best spots on all of St. Maarten for snorkeling.
The reefs, just offshore, are easy to locate since the surface reflects an amazing array of green and blue colors as the bottom changes from sand to coral.
Guana Beach, just south of Dawn Beach, is open to the full force of the Atlantic. Those big ocean rollers make this the favorite spot to wind surf, boogie board or body surf. No rentals are available at the moment, so you'll have to tote your own equipment.
To find Guana Bay: From Philipsburg, take the road on the northeast side of Salt Pond. Go for about 2 miles and turn right.
After ascending a steep hill, the road will lead you down to the beach. You won't find any shade trees, so bring an umbrella unless you like to bake. Refreshments are available, but pack a cooler with drinks and lunch if you plan to spend the day.
Great Bay Beach
This mile-long arc of sand that fronts the cruise ship and shopping center of Philipsburg is not a beach which at first glance might be appealing. But Great Bay Beach has a lot going for it. After all, it borders Front Street, St. Maarten's famed duty free shopping area.
Although it gets busy at the cruise ship dock in Philipsburg, you'll find plenty of elbow room at the ends of Great Bay Beach. There you'll be situated well away from the crowds and be able to float in the almost always calm bay waters, which are well suited for small children.
Mile-long Great Bay Beach also provides an excellent shoreline stroll; best time for a walk is in early morning if it's a cruise ship day. From either end of the beach, you're within a 10-minute walk to many of the restaurants in the heart of brightly painted, toy-like Philipsburg.
Places to stay include the Great Bay Beach Resort and Casino, a large all-inclusive at the southern end of the beach, and the Pasanggrahan Royal Guest House located near the northern end, on the mountain side of Front Street.