We have visited St. Martin in December 2021. Our trip was amazing, with probably the most delicious food, superb service, and with no question some of the best Caribean beaches. St. Martin is divided into the French and Dutch sides. The way we saw them, the French side is more about boutique hotels, beautiful beaches, and great food, whereas the Dutch side is shinier, bigger hotels, busier with Casinos and some shopping areas. We have really enjoyed the French side and prefer it over the Dutch. The island itself is not big, and you can easily drive around to each corner and experience it. We rented a car, and each day we picked a different beach to go to. It is an affordable option, and driving around was not a problem. If you avoid morning drive from 8-9 am and evenings from 4-5 pm, it should be a short and pretty fast drive.
Since we opted to stay on the French side, we booked the Esmeralda hotel on Orient Beach. It is a 4-star hotel consisting of a small bungalow with 4 apartments/rooms each and each having its own pool. The price was totally ok and had a continental breakfast included (note we booked through Agoda and with was much cheaper than on Booking.com). Overall, not a luxury accommodation, but decent and conveniently located on the beach. The resort doesn't have its own beach, but you can use 5 different beach clubs that offer free sunbeds for Esmeralda guests.
Orient bay Beach - is the biggest beach we've been to in St. Martin, located on the French side. It is a nice beach, pretty long and wide with many beach clubs. Most of the beach bars close around 6 pm. (at least the time while we were there). We did not enjoy this beach as it was very windy with big waves. For some, this is good news, but for us that like the calm waters for recreational swimming not so much. The cost of the 2 sunbeds and umbrella was 25e (unless you were from the participating hotels). There is a popular Coco Beach Club, where you can have great cocktails, breakfast, and lunch. If you are looking for calm, turquoise ocean colors, you can just go across to a little island called Pinel Island. And if you are a lover of sunsets, you will not see them on this beach. All the great sunsets you will find on the opposite side of the island like Grand Case, Long Beach, Plum Beach, and Cupecoy beach among the others.
Pinel Island Beaches - this is the beach we enjoyed the most. It is a 5min ferry ride, with two way cost of 10e per person. There are two beach clubs; Karibuni and Yellow beach. Pretty shallow. perfectly calm water with gorgeous colors. Both clubs have great services, similar costs, but the food at Karibuni was out of this world. It is situated better, right on the water as well. We had grilled lobster, exotic salad, grilled fish that I will remember forever. Bottle of rose and carmelized pineapple were perfect meal additions. I can't say enough about this place.
La Samanna Resort and Long beach - is another amazing beach on the French side of the island. Beautiful setting, white sand, calm, clear, and blue water. Absolutely magnificent. If you are not a guest of the hotel, it might be a little bit challenging to get to the hotel directly. The best bet is to call the hotel and make a reservation to spend the day on the beach. The 2 sunbeds were at 80e, including two drinks and a bottle of water, plus 4 towels. The service was perfect, and our meals were excellent. Just behind the main beach restaurant, there is an infinity pool, that makes a perfect setting for a beautiful sunset.
Grand Case Beach - is located in the little town of Grand Case. We found it had 2 nice areas. The first one is Sunset Cafe which has amazing views and is perfect for a sunset dinner. The second one is on the other side of the Grand Case beach, in front of Captain Frenchy and Rainbow Cafe. Both bars seemed to attract younger visitors and had a more vibrant vibe. The area in between is not great for the beach experience, but great at night with a few great restaurants and bars.
Anse Marcel Beach - is a small and beautiful spot in the bay. Clear, blue water with white sand beach. It was not busy at all and we felt the place was ours completely. Very nice restaurant with great service. The restaurant closed a little bit before 3 pm and before we managed to order our meals, but the snacks and drinks we had were delicious. This is a perfect spot for the day, regardless of whether you are looking for a romantic spot or an easy-going family beach day.
Cupecoy Beach - is a lovely and pretty secluded beach. It has interesting rock formations and little cliffs. I didn't find it best for swimming but definitely a spot to relax in the afternoon and enjoy the beautiful sunsets. No activities or restaurants directly on the beach.
Plum Beach - similar experience as Cupecoy beach. Absolutely gorgeous sunset. You will definitely charge your batteries just sitting on the beach and listening to the waves with a breeze