Travels, Hotels, Resorts

St. Martin - French West Indies

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Alerts subject to change without notice and are not guaranteed.

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Club Orient is closed until further notice and the staff has been dismissed due to damage from Hurricane Irma 2017.      

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See tourism info St. Martin Tourist Office website.  

This report focuses more on lodging and dining options in St Martin other than Club Orient itself.  Restaurants and the commercial center on Orient Beach are open for business in the center of Orient Beach.

Content of the report is subject to change.  See the official St. Martin Tourist Office site above (French side).

A historical report on Club Orient is available here
And another complete report on St Martin's Garden Villas is here

 

Resort Overview

St. Martin/St. Maarten is a small island, roughly 5 x 8 miles, St. Martin can be traversed in an hour or two by car, but getting through Marigot on the French side or Philipsburg on the Dutch side can be a challenge due to traffic.

Even though nudity is allegedly unlawful in some areas of the island, some parts of St. Martin, on both the Dutch and French side, may nude-friendly beaches. and accommodations  ALERT: Check the local situation before you drop your drawers at a public beach since you never know when a gendarme may show up and issue a citation to you/  Photo Courtesy Alamanda Resort located on Orient Beach.

ALERT: Here is an old comment (but still an applicable warning) from a former Club Orient manager about nudity on Orient Beach:  One of the most erroneously repeated statements has been that if you wish to walk without clothes past the rocks (north end of Club Orient property line), all you have to do is make sure you're finished by 8:00 AM. The Gendarmes were out in force and ticketed 17 people for being nude beyond Club Orient boundary…..at 7:00 AM. The government has required Club Orient to place a sign at end of Club Orient's beach stating that, "Nudity beyond this point is illegal and violators are subject to penalties." So if you still wish to take your morning stroll in the buff, be aware that the Gendarmes are enforcing this rule and you could be stopped and fined.

Orient Beach status: Says the owner of the Garden Villas: Almost all restaurants are open. More choices of good places than people have time to try each one during vacation! Anse Marcel beach restaurant (where we ate together)has opened. And Kontiki and Kakao, the 2 most famous beach restaurants in Orient Bay are better than ever! A lot of places sold and then bought to open new restaurants.

Here is a recent report from a client couple who visited the French side:

Yes we are back to reality. St Martin was really nice this spring. We ended up going with 2 other couples so we rented a villa on Grand Case right in between Capt. Frenchy's and Rainbow Cafe.

It was perfect as we went to party and have a good time.  I did visit Orient Beach one morning. The facilities on the beach all look good (much better than before the hurricane in my view).

I did venture down to the Club Orient side where au naturel was allowed. There were chairs and umbrellas for rent. The Club Orient property is still in a bad state as I don't think anything has been done since the hurricane in 2017.
St Martin really is a lovely place and one of my favorites as there are things to do for everyone. You could be active or relax as you wish.  JS Couple

 

 

NOTE:  Some material used is prior to the 2017 hurricane season.  See this resource On-Line at Drone Shots of Orient Beach, by Travelwithdrone.com

There are numerous beaches to choose from for nude beachcombing and sunbathing including Cupecoy Beach, Long Baie and Baie Rouge on the west side to Orient Beach on the east. We like them all for different reasons.

There are villas and guest houses on or near the western beaches and hotels and resorts on or adjacent to Orient Beach on the French east side. Here are some properties to consider in the Orient Bay area:

Club Orient Nudist Resort--south end of Orient Bay   This resort is closed until further notice due to damage suffered from Hurricane Irma in 2017.  It was reported failure to collect payments from the French insurance company caused the closure.

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Here is a shot of the once-popular Papagayos Restaurant in the Club Orient property on the south end of Orient Beach.   Our photo is from Winter 2019 after previous hurricanes visited the Caribbean and destroyed most of the small structures on Orient Beach including Club Orient.  Many Orient Beach clubs, bars and restaurants have been rebuilt and the commercial center of Orient Beach is alive and well.  Club Orient has not been re-built.

Garden Villas - Just off the main road at the round about headed from the Orient Beach zone towards Grand Case....about 5-10 minutes from Orient Beach itself.    Resort includes five(5) wonderful private patio villas, 3 of which have Jacuzzis plus the main compound has a wonderful pool, (see photo here).  Each villa is a fully equipped apartment with bedroom, bath, full kitchen, patio, some with Jacuzzi, living area and amenities.

A French couple, Lydia & Lionel from Britanny, own the resort and are a delight to be around.  They know where to go, what to do, how to get where ever you're going and have lots of ideas about how to spend your time on St. Martin.  Ask them for tips about Orient Beach and Anse Marcel near their property for great dining.

You can see more of this property in the Castaways website for:  Garden Villas in St. Martin

Book On-Line:  Esmeralda  Faces Orient Beach.   Esmeralda's Coco Beach bar is on Orient Beach.

Book On-Line:  Alamanda    Faces Orient Beach

Book On-Line:  La Plantation  Parts of Hotel faces Orient Bay

Here's an informal list of the more popular sections of the beach from Mount Vernon on the north end to Club Orient on the south end: This info. is not guaranteed and will change without notice especially due to the rebuilding effort after Hurricane Irma in 2017:  Palm Beach, Coco Beach, Waikiki Beach, Bikini, Beach Kontiki, Sun Beach, and other beaches on the island known as Cupecoy, Long Baie and Baie Rouge Beaches--west side of the island.   Many properties are located near these beaches but our favorite places are the luxury villas you can rent on the beaches or on the hills overlooking the beaches. For a villa that sleeps 3-6 couples, you get accommodations, cook and caretaker starting about USD $1,000-2,000/person/week (subject to change without notice, not guaranteed).  There, you can sunbathe or play as you wish or visit the beach of your choice. Villas during high season are usually booked up in advance so plan ahead.

Orient Beach Status: Essential news for those seeking bar service, fun in the sand, snacks, dining and adult beverages at Orient Beach, our friends who own Garden Villas there report these three watering holes are open for business on the beach:  Bikini Beach restaurant, Kakao Beach Bar and Kontiki Beach Bar. Almost all the restaurants are open. More choices of good places than people have time to try each one during vacation!   Anse Marcel beach restaurant (where we ate together) has opened since last December. And Kontiki and Kakao, the 2 most famous beach restaurants in Orient bay are better than ever!   A lot of places sold and then bought to open new restaurants

Getting There

Planes, boats, and ferries can get you to St. Martin daily from just about anywhere in the world. Airfare from the US on scheduled airlines can run from $500-$700/person, the round trip so it's not cheap to get there. Rates vary seasonally. American Airlines dominates the market (and the Caribbean for that matter), so don't expect a benevolent rate from them. Check with us for charters to St. Martin, primarily from certain eastern U.S. markets.

Rental cars are plentiful, jeeps and cars can rent for $35-50/day and taxis are fairly inexpensive. Ask first before you sign on.

You can also visit Anguilla, Saba and St. Eustatius, all nearby and accessible by boat, ferry or commuter plane.

U.S. Citizens: Passports are required for international air travel to all destinations outside the USA.

Services

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Most all of the better hotels and resorts include clean, well appointed rooms, full maid service, restaurant, bars and sports opportunities.

The island, especially Philipsburg on the Dutch side, is a shopper's paradise, perhaps eclipsed only by St. Thomas as the charge card capital of the Caribbean. The numerous cruise ship passengers help keep it that way, too.

St. Martin is one of the more progressive of the islands so you will find just about everything you need for your vacation there. Tourist traps, fast-food franchises, and real estate companies mix with some of the quaint areas to drag this island into the 21st century.

Villas are usually fully stocked with complimentary staples before check-in and personal supplies plus food can be ordered for delivery prior to arrival, really a nice luxury touch by the villa rental companies.

NOTE: Please take care of your valuables, cash, airline tickets, and passports while on vacation. Some vacation destinations are considered "third world" countries and experience petty theft. Recommendation: Do not take precious jewelry unless you wear it all times; keep your cash, valuables, watches, travel documentation and cameras with you and don't expect your in-room safe to be "safe." Just a word of caution to make sure you remember to practice common sense with your valuables while you're on vacation.

Ambiance

NOTE:  Due to Hurricane Irma in 2017, some properties may not have re-opened.

St. Martin's Dutch and French sides are probably the best combination of nightlife, dining, resorts, beaches and casinos anywhere in the Caribbean. There is literally something for everyone from laid back, no-nonsense resorts to the finest villas in the Caribbean.

For club hopping around Marigot, our fearless clients and explorers have suggested Club Alibi, Club 1, Pasha, all for late night mischief and dancing.....after about 11 PM. Others have suggested a fun little club near the airport called Club Cheri, for local entertainment earlier in the evening, including island talent, skits and reviews.   Due to Hurricane Irma in 2017, some properties may not have re-opened.

You don't lack for anything on this island.

Here's an informal list of the more popular sections of the beach from Mont Vernon on the north end to Club Orient on the south end: Boo Boo Jam area (had a fire in 2012), Palm Beach, Coco Beach, Waikiki Beach, Kakao Bikini, Beach Kontiki, Sun Beach and Club Orient

Ambiance

NOTE:  Due to Hurricane Irma in 2017, some properties may not have re-opened.

St. Martin's Dutch and French sides are probably the best combination of nightlife, dining, resorts, beaches, and casinos anywhere in the Caribbean. There is literally something for everyone from laid back, no-nonsense resorts to the finest villas in the Caribbean.

For club hopping around Marigot, our fearless clients and explorers have suggested Club Alibi, Club 1, Pasha, all for late-night mischief and dancing.....after about 11 PM. Others have suggested a fun little club near the airport called Club Cheri, for local entertainment earlier in the evening, including island talent, skits, and reviews.   Due to Hurricane Irma in 2017, some properties may not have re-opened.

You don't lack for anything on this island.

Here's an informal list of the more popular sections of the beach from Mount Vernon on the north end to Club Orient on the south end: Boo Boo Jam area (had a fire in 2012), Palm Beach, Coco Beach, Waikiki Beach, Kakao Bikini, Beach Kontiki, Sun Beach, and Club Orient

Group Trips

When you're planning on going,  that doesn't mean its not a great place for two, three or even dozens of couples to get together for a group trip.  If you have other couples that might want to join you, please contact us and see what kind of group villa deals we might be able to package especially for you.

Sightseeing

Although the island is small, you have a variety of hillside, town, country and beach locations to enjoy. You are just minutes away by air from Anguilla, Saba and St. Eustatius. Shopping in Philipsburg is some of the best in the Caribbean besides perhaps St. Thomas to the west.

Contributed by TM from the UK: Happy Bay is on the French side - it is the very next bay south of Grand Case. Cannot be reached by road except via a 10-minute hike from the Friars Bay (Beach) parking lot which is why it is somewhat deserted. We got there via a 10 minute (maybe less) water taxi service directly from Grand Case Beach Club resort for $15 per head, round trip. Tell the boat guy when you want to be picked up. We found that 4 hours was just about right as there are no facilities/amenities on the beach so you need to take water and a snack with you.

With thanks to Caribbean Travel & Life: For terrific French cuisine meals in Grand Case, stay at Grand Case Beach Club and walk to town to L'Auberge Gourmande, Le Pressoir, Rainbow, Le Cottage, and Le California. NOTE: Restaurants and offers subject to change without notice.

For nude day tripper cruises, you can also contact the folks at www.nudetrips.net they offer local nude cruises on their powerboats. This for your information but not guaranteed.

Dining

NOTE:  Due to Hurricane Irma in 2017, some properties and restaurants may not have re-opened.

Eat-in or eat out as you wish. Terrific French and Dutch establishments are everywhere, so take your pick. Orient Beach resorts have on-site dining, snack shops on the beach and of course villas include cooks.

Restaurants:  Due to Hurricane Irma in 2017, some properties and restaurants may not have re-opened.

St. Martin has a terrific wealth of restaurants on both the French and Dutch sides of the island. Here are a few to consider, thanks in part to some recommendations from CARIBBEAN TRAVEL & LIFE magazine.  Bear in mind, some may have closed permanently.

On Dawn Beach, you will find Mr. Busby's Beach Bar for beaching and open-air burgers, plus it's a great place to start your snorkeling adventure.

At Oyster Pond, straddle the island's imaginary border between the men's room and the main restaurant at Captain Olivers, a good place recommended by some of our friends who live there. Stop for cappuccino and croissants at any one of the French side's superettes, where wonderful pate, fresh poulet roti (chicken rotisserie) and pastries are featured.

If you want to bar hop and do the tourist thing on Orient Beach, stop at Bongo Byrons and the Bikini Beach Bar, where few are worn. In French Marigot, stop at La Parisienne for a sidewalk cappuccino.

For the greatest concentration of French bistros and restaurants, visit Grand Case, a small town north of Marigot on the northwest side of the island. Grand Case's main waterfront street is lined with the best restaurants on the island including Le Tastevin plus many others along the street.

Set above Grand Case beach, lolos (food stalls) hold forth with local cuisine that competes taste-wise with the refined restaurants nearby on the waterfront. Choose from the following beachside fare: Conch stew, spare ribs, grilled or fried fish and numerous side dishes such as johnny cakes, stuffed christophene, macaroni & cheese, peas and rice, coleslaw and fried plantain.

Plop your butt down at any of the BBQ lolo joints (you'll know them by the 55 gal drums used as BBQ grills) including: Sky's the Limit, Talk of the Town and many others where you can stuff yourself for $10 USD (or more...add on for inflation and the Euro).

NOTE: Small beachside bistros come and go so be prepared for the name or ownership changes.

At the other end of the spectrum, try Ric's Place in Dutch Philipsburg, a great sports bar for super burgers and fries.

Here is a list of dining selections reported by Caribbean Travel & Life Magazine.  NOTE:  Due to Hurricane Irma in 2017, some properties may not have re-opened.  This list is subject to change and is not guaranteed as establishments change hands, close or change cuisine.

St Martin - Islandwide
L'Escargot-Dutch St. Martin Philipsburg
Loterie Farm-Orient Bay
Lolos (food stalls) in Grand Case
Temptation-Atlantis Casino/Cupecoy
Rare-Atlantis Casino
Fusion-Philipsburg
Aura-Westin Hotel
La Vie en Rose-Marigot
La Samana-French side
La Santal- Sandy Ground
Big Fish-Oyster Pond
The Tides at Mary Boons
Top Carrot(vegetarian) - Simpson Bay
Belgian Chocolate BoxBakery La Sucriere
Jeff de Bruges Chocolate shop
Rituals coffee shop

Grand Case (the best of dining on the island)
Le Pressoir
Le Tastevin
L'Auberge
Gourmand
Le Ti Provencale
Spicy
Mai-Vietnamese
Marrakech (Moroccan)
Shop L'Epicerie de Marie

Rates

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Rates vary at each location so contact us for an exact quote for your desired hotel or villa. Generally, most accommodations start at $100+/room/night.

Impressions

 Uppers-Downers

▲▼  St. Martin has lost some of its quaint, Caribbean ways: The island has morphed into a popular tourist mecca as traffic and crowds mix it up daily, especially when the big cruise ships visit. But St. Martin has held on to more of its traditional values than most of the other islands. The Island is unique, offering the French, the Dutch and the Caribbean cultures all on one island. It defiantly represents a little traditional Dutch, a little traditional French, and a lot Caribbean. It's still a fun place to visit.

▲ Food and restaurant selections are outstanding all over the island.   Due to Hurricane Irma in 2017, some properties may not have re-opened.

▲▼  Crowds seem to be everywhere in town when the cruise ships dock. Try the smaller villages around the island for meals, drinks, and entertainment.

▲ Try nude sailing charters while you're there.

▲ Watch the jets land at Sunset Bar & Grill  (and beach) adjacent to the runway.  See its webcam.

▲ The beaches are still some of the best to choose from in the Caribbean, if not the world.

▼  Due to Hurricane Irma in 2017, some properties may not have re-opened.

Age Ranges

You will find both families with kids and adults, singles and couples all over the island at resorts everywhere. Families may be the exception during high season (winter) and more prevalent during the summer. When the cruise ships are in town, avoid the crowds. The nude beaches are mostly adults only, with every age represented there.

Best Time To Go

Avoid hurricane season late August to early October.

Fall, winter and early spring are drier and a little cooler (?) than the heat and humidity of summer.

Otherwise expensive resorts from December 15-April 15, you will find rates are embellished with all types of free night offers and incentives during low season, especially August-November.

Wish List

• Build better roads through Marigot

• Downplay the fast-food franchises, but progress marches on.

Photo Album

The photos were either shot by us, our clients or provided by the resort. If you have recently visited St Martin we invite you to send in your photos for us to display. To contribute your own photos (or trip reports), go to our Contribute Trip Report / Photographs page.

This report focuses more on lodging and dining options in St Martin OTHER than Club Orient itself.
A more complete report on Club Orient is available here
And another complete report on St Martin's Garden Villas is here

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Trip Reports

If you have recently visited St Martin, we would appreciate you contributing a trip report. You can contribute to this section buy using our Contribute Trip Report / Photographs page.  Here is one we have from a recent visitor

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Recent visit - J & C
Club Fantastico (just above Orient Beach). This private 6-bedroom villa is owned by an entrepreneur from New Jersey and is managed daily by a caretaker or a host couple. The villa is located up the hill immediately above the commercial shops in the middle of Orient Beach, a short walk if you don't have a car...about 10-15 minutes. The property operates as a B & B with a twist. Although breakfast is served daily, there is open bar service included for 24-hour libations with alcohol and beer included. This is a great set up for folks who want a pool and a bit more privacy than being on the beach. Plus, it's great for 2 or 3 couples to visit together where you have a separate bedroom and bath while enjoying the common areas and pool. See the photo album of shots we took while staying at the villa which includes a freshwater pool overlooking Orient Bay plus a large hot tub, dining area, and BBQ which you can use.

A bonus is that you have a choice of numerous bistros, shops, restaurants and beach bars down the hill on Orient Beach. If you have a car, it's maybe 2-3 minutes to the bottom of the hill on the street that leads directly to the commercial area and central shopping area. Nearby on the main road to Grand Case, a large store called the USA Supermarket (go figure) is about 5 minutes by car from the villa. At the market, you can buy all the provisions, beer, wine and liquor you may need at the villa for snacks or meals.

Here's a useful panorama photo of the Orient Beach area from Ed and Sandra

Here's an informal list of the more popular sections of the beach from Mont Vernon on the north end to Club Orient on the south end: Boo Boo Jam area (had a fire in 2012), Palm Beach, Coco Beach, Waikiki Beach, Kakao Bikini, Beach Kontiki, Sun Beach, Club Orient,

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B H - Couple
Restaurants in Grand Case - We love Spiga in Grand Case. We have never had a bad meal there, the food is presented with great care and service has always been good. We usually go at least twice during the week we stay there in SXM. It is well worth the visit and should be added to the list of Grand Case restaurants.

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