St. Martin – French West Indies
ALERT: Hurricane Irma – September 2017
We received a report from one of the chalet owners at Club Orient on the south end of Orient Beach: Club Orient suffered major damage and destruction according to the eyewitness report. The owner also indicated a “new beach” has been formed about 200 feet deep back from the shore line which took over the area where the wooden chalet studios used to be. The owner provided few details that can be substantiated other than an eyewitness account.
Club Orient suffered similar destruction in 1995 due to a September hurricane and the owners rebuilt.
This report focuses more on lodging and dining options in St Martin OTHER than Club Orient itself.
Resort Overview • Getting There • Services • Ambiance • Group Trips
Sightseeing • Dining • Rates • Impressions • Photo Album • Trip Reports
Shop or Book On Line: See below
St. Martin/St. Maarten boasts more nude friendly beach opportunities to enjoy yourself than virtually any other Caribbean island, even comparing favorably with its larger competitor, Jamaica. 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, many parts of St. Martin, on both the Dutch and French side, are nude-friendly mainly because, as my villa rental friend, Xavier, says: “we just don’t care!” Which is true. Photo Courtesy Alamanda Resort located on Orient Beach.
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 terrific villas and guest houses on or near the western beaches and great 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 most popular family nudist resort is back from the dead after a 1995 hurricane, on the south end of Orient Beach. You can choose accommodations from either concrete block buildings or the traditional wooden chalets in garden view or beachfront locations.
Starting at about $200-300 USD/night, you can enjoy all life has to offer nude at Club Orient. Rates are 40%-50% higher during high season (December 15-April 15). NOTE: Rates are charged in Euros by the resort and dollar equivalent fluctuates. Rates not guaranteed; subject to change without notice. Chalets include a living area, kitchen, sleeping area, private bath and dining area with air conditioning and fan. Restaurant Papagayo’s is open air. Rates include car parking and use of of umbrellas/chairs at the unit and on the beach. Tax is 5% on hotel costs. For purposes of this report, rates are expressed in USD $ but all amounts are actually charged in Euros. *NOTE: Rates are not guaranteed and will change without notice.
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, too.
You can see more of this property in the Castaways website page for: Garden Villas in St. Martin
Note: Here is a recent comment from Club Orient about nudity on the beach beyond its boundary:
Walking past Pedros….nude: Over the years one of the most erroneously repeated statements has been that if you wish to walk without clothes past the rocks by Pedro’s bar (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…..at 7:00 AM. The government has required Club Orient to place a new 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
Esmeralda Resort – north end of Orient Bay A really fine, upscale quality resort, with each guesthouse containing 3-4 private bedrooms built around its own pool is just a few yards from Orient Beach. You can rent a room or the entire guesthouse. With 54 total rooms, this charming place gives you more of a plantation feel that a resort hotel. It is NOT a nudist resort but topless sunbathing is possible and Orient Beach is steps away. The Astrolab restaurant is beautifully appointed and the grounds are well maintained. Rates can vary from $150-$250+/person/night but seasonal specials often offer 7 nights for the price of 5. Rates do not include meals.
Green Caye – central section of Orient Bay Just up the hill from St. Tropez and near Esmeralda, it is similarly located up the hill from Orient Beach and priced like Esmeralda with beautiful grounds and nicely appointed like its neighbor. The 16 separate villas have a private plunge pools.
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 at the villa which includes a freshwater pool overlooking Orient Bay plus a large hot tub, dining area and BBQ which you can use.
Cap Caraibes Hotel – Near St. Tropez and south of Esmeralda. Cap Caraibes is a 35 room hotel with independent suites faces Orient Beach. Garden View rooms open to the pool area. Ocean View rooms have private terraces; Third floor suites include views of the entire bay with the islands of Green Cay, Tintamarre and Pinel on the horizon. Rates range from $150-$200+ per night, subject to change without notice.
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: This info. is not guaranteed and will change without notice: Palm Beach, Coco Beach, Waikiki Beach, Bikini, Beach Kontiki, Sun Beach, Club Orient, 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 for less than $1,000-1,500/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 au naturale. Villas during high season are usually booked up in advance so plan ahead.
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, round trip so it’s not cheap to get there. Rates vary seasonally. American Airlines dominates the market (and 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.
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.
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.
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
We have occasional group trips scheduled for St Martin/Orient Beach, check here for availability. But even if we don’t have any listed 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 trip deals we might be able to package especially for you.
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, Ranbow, 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 power boats.
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. Papagayos Restaurant at Club Orient is a completely nude restaurant, open air and anchors the south end of the beach. You don’t have to be a guest to dine there.
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.
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 compete 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 ‘n rice, coleslaw and fried plaintain.
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 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: This list is subject to change and is not guaranteed as establishments change hands, close or change cuisine.
St Martin – Island wide
L’Escargot-Dutch St. Martin Philipsburg
Loterie Farm-Orient Bay
Lolos (food stalls) in Grand Case
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 Ti Provencale
Shop L’Epicerie de Marie
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.
▲▼ 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.
▲▼ 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.
▲ The beaches are still some of the best to choose from in the Caribbean, if not the world.
You will find both families with kids and adults, singles and couples all over the island at resorts everywhere. Families are usually 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.
• Build better roads through Marigot
• Downplay the fast food franchises, but progress marches on.
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 you 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
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
March 2013 – 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,
2010 – B.H.
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.