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Oct 12, 2011

Which beaches to choose?

The glamorous island of St Barts is one of the Caribbean's top beach destinations. Ringing the island are immaculate strips of sand and ethereal turquoise waters. The shallow reefs that encircle the island help to protect these renowned beaches, and they also provide excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities. Only adding to the allure of the St Barts beaches is the fact that they are rarely overcrowded, and it certainly doesn't hurt that the island gets more than 300 sunny days a year on average.

St Barts is one of four French overseas territories that help to make up the Leeward Islands. It is one of the most upscale destinations in the area, catering mostly to wealthy travelers. It has an elegant yet casual appeal, and many liken the island to the French Riviera.

Resorts that know how to satisfy their discerning guests are in good supply in St Barts, and as you might expect, the very best are found right on the sand. The island's lodging scene isn't all about the beachfront resorts, however. Villa and apartment rentals are plentiful, and while most are found in the hills as opposed to on the sand, guests are never very far from a world-class strip of sand.

Due mostly to its connection with France, St Barts has a rather liberal edge to it. This is especially true on the island's beaches. Topless sunbathing is very common, and two of the best beaches in St Barts often see visitors shedding all forms of clothing. These two beaches are Anse de Grande Saline and Gouverneur Beach. Other beaches here aren’t as free spirited. These beaches include the very popular St Jean Beach and Flamands Beach. There is a beach to suit nearly every taste and preference in St Barts, so visitors should have little trouble finding one or more that fits their desires.

St Barts gets a healthy amount of visitors on an annual basis. These visitors are predominantly of the upscale crowd, and they come looking to relax on white-sand beaches and to cruise their yachts through the area waters. High-end shopping and dining at quality restaurants are just some of the other options for things to do in this northeast Caribbean destination, and the growing nightlife industry caters to those who wish to keep the fun going after the sun goes down. But still, beaches are one of the top draws and there are approximately forteen that can be found around St Barts.



Saline Beach

Saline Beach in St BartsSaline is one of the best-known beaches in St Barts. A bit out of the way, Anse de Grande Saline Beach maintains an undeveloped and isolated appeal that is hard to match. The fact that the ocean bottom is shallow makes for some excellent swimming when the wind and surf are down. On windier days, the surf can get quite rough, and blowing sand can present some issues. There also isn’t much shade to speak of, but the sheer beauty of Anse de Grande Saline is reason enough to drop by. This beach ranks high among the best beaches in the Caribbean, which is testament to its all-around appeal. Nude sunbathing is common at Anse de Grande Saline.



Gouverneur Beach

Gouverneur Beach in St BartsNot too far west of Anse de Grande Saline is another beautiful south coast beach that St Barts visitors might consider moving to the top of their lists. At Gouverneur Beach, scenic cliffs ring the sand, and it’s possible to catch glimpses of St. Kitts in the distance. Snorkeling off the Gouverneur Beach point can be a joy for those who wish to explore the underwater realms, and a restaurant that can be found on the road in makes for a great place to grab something to eat or drink on the side. Perhaps a sunset drink or meal will be in order after a fun day at the beach. As is true of Anse de Grande Saline, this beach gets its fair share of visitors that like to go au natural, so visitors might make note.



St Jean Beach

St. Jean Beach in St. BarthsIf full nudity at the beach isn’t your thing, all of the other beaches in St Barts prohibit the very liberal practice, limiting their policy to topless sunbathing only. St Jean Beach is one such example, and it’s also an example of one of the best beaches in St Barts. Actually two beaches in one, St Jean Beach is split in two by a prominent promontory that is known as Eden Rock. Thanks in part to the resident hotels, there is no lack of watersports activity options at St Jean Beach, and there are restaurants to dine at. Shops are relatively easy to access from St Jean Beach, as is the airport, and overall it is the most popular beach on the island. This results in a lively atmosphere on most days. A lovely villa, Eden Island, is very close to St. Jean Beach



Flamands Beach

Flamands Beach in St. BartsTo the west of St Jean Beach is a less crowded beach that many St Barts visitors have come to love. This beach is Flamands Beach, and it presents a wide and long swath of sand for beach enthusiasts to enjoy. A few hotels, including the Hotel Saint Barth Isle de France, provide tempting accommodations near the water, as do some enticing villa rentals. As is true of the other St Barts beaches, the water at Flamands Beach is of a stunning turquoise hue, and on most days, the surf is invitingly subdued. There are some shaded areas, and winter is when the surf is usually at its roughest.



Colombier Beach

Colombier Beach in St. BartsEasily one of the best St Barts beaches, Colombier Beach is perhaps best known for its seclusion. The only way to get there is to take a boat or walk approximately 30 minutes along a rather rugged trail. The walking trail is actually a goat path, and it passes Flamands Beach. Those who choose to arrive by way of the path are treated to some stunning views along the way, and the journey is certainly worth it. The usually calm waters result in some good snorkeling conditions, and since there aren’t any services, the beach has a very tranquil appeal. Many visitors bring food and drinks along with them. As a side note, Colombier Beach is also commonly referred to as Rockefeller’s Beach.



Lorient Beach

Lorient Beach in St. BarthsSituated on the north shore of St Barts is a delightful, reef-protected stretch of sand that many tourists somehow miss. This beach is Lorient Beach. The surf is usually calm at Lorient Beach, though the breakers that sometimes rise up on the western side attract surfers from time to time. Development is at a minimum, which lends to the low key nature of Lorient Beach, and there are shady areas where beachgoers can seek some relief from the hot Caribbean sun when they aren’t swimming.



Grand Cul-de-Sac Beach

Grand Cul de Sac Beach in St. BarthsOver on the northeast coast of St Barts, Grand Cul-de-Sac Beach offers more in the way of facilities and amenities than Lorient Beach. Watersports equipment can be rented with ease, for example, and both hotels and restaurants team up to take care of many a tourist’s lodging and dining needs. Due to the fact that it is often windy at Grand Cul-de-Sac Beach, it is an especially desirable destination for those who are looking to do some kite surfing or wind surfing. Sailing is also popular at Grand Cul-de-Sac Beach, and since the water is quite shallow a far distance out, families with younger children will do well to keep it in mind when looking for good places to play.





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