Maarten Beaches with Attitude
Even the beach in busy downtown Philipsburg is a standout.
Little Bay Beach
Just around the hilly finger of land that separates it from Grand Bay, Little Bay Beach is probably St. Maarten's second most popular snorkeling site. The normally calm waters provide good visibility except when the wind is out of the southeast and things do get stirred up a bit.
Being close to Philipsburg, Little Bay Beach is often crowded and it's a popular Sunday meeting spot for locals. For families who like to snorkel , the Belair Beach Hotel features spacious suites with large kitchens. It also has a grocery on the premises; a casual restaurant, too.
Cay Bay Beach
This is a beach you won't hear much about because it's not easy to access. Barely visible from the road between Philipsburg and Cole Bay, visitors normally arrive here on horseback or a mountain bike. Want quiet and seclusion? This is one of the best places for it. Bring a mask and fins, too, since snorkeling at both ends of the beach is quite good.
Simpson Bay Beach
This extensive 3-mile curve of beach borders the airport and Simpson Bay Village. The calm waters are a magnet for water skiing which is no big problem for swimmers since the beach is best known as a place to enjoy long walks. Beach-oriented facilities are surprisingly sparse compared to the immensity of the strand.
At the point farthest away from the airport is the sprawling Pelican Resort & Casino, one of St. Maarten's largest timeshares.
The Royal Palm Beach Club is an apartment complex with no amenities but direct access to the beach. Much closer to the airport are two small guest houses, Mary's Boon Beach Plantation and the Horny Toad Guesthouse, both very relaxed and informal but you have to be willing to put up with some airplane noise.
Maho Beach is alive with activity, including crashing waves, lots of swimmers, wet bikes and the opportunity to watch planes passing overhead as they land at the nearby airport.
The beach is actually located at the far end of the runway, making Maho Beach one of the first and last sights of every visitor.
Snorkeling around the rocks
on the western end is another popular pastime at this
wide, spectacular beach. Activity
is the by-word away from the beach, too, in the big gambling
and shopping areas.