You are in need of a rental car to enjoy the many beaches that St. Martin boasts - from quiet and deserted to very bustling. I'll start this review at the edge of the French side near the Maho area.
BAIE LONGUE: This beauty of a beach is Hotel La Samanas romantic setting. A long trek along a dirt road filled with pot holes will reward you with a paradise almost to yourself. Lots of beach here, many beautiful homes with large properties make it very private. You'll see a few cars parked along the edge of trees with a path leading to the beach with beautiful soft sand and usually calm water. There are no services here - bring your own blanket and cooler but it's ideal for those who dream of quiet romance.
BAIE DES PRUNES: Even further along this rutted dirt road is this cove - frequented by the French - mothers with children. Not easy to get to and again no services - you're on your own here, but the sand and water are nice and it's sure to be quiet.
BAIE ROUGE: Just a little blue and white sign marks the entrance to this beach - food, drinks, chairs, and umbrellas are available. (I've written a separate journal entry dedicated solely to this lovely beach.) Good snorkeling here near the picturesque rocks at both ends. People come and go all day long here - especially when the cruise ships are in port. You can rent chairs and umbrellas and order food and drinks from two grill shacks. Don't miss it.
MATI BEACH: This beach is between Baie Rouge and Marigot. Mati Beach and Layla's have restaurants that serve lunch and dinner at times. We have always the beach deserted and lots of seaweed and washed up trash along the shore. Unless it gets cleaner, we feel there are better choices.
FRIAR'S BAY: Again access to Friar's Bay is a dirt road found between Marigot and Grand Case. There is lots of room for parking and a large restaurant/bar and decks with tables and benches. Trees provide shade. We were there for a full moon party - the band was great, the place crowded with everyone enjoying food, drinks, music, dancing, and a bonfire. The water is very calm - seemed to be a good place for families with young children.
ANSE MARCEL AT L'HABITATION: A very calm beach with talcum powder sand lined with seagrape trees, lounge chairs, and covered gazebos - for hotel guests - but no one shooed us away. The restaurant and bar are open to the public but there are no facilities on the beach. The access road is very steep and windy. The hotel has been bought by Radisson and renovations will soon begin.
ORIENT BEACH: St Martin's most popular beach with both locals and visitors. It's very crowded when ships are in. Truly a French experience - don't miss it. My other two journals explain it in detail.
DAWN BEACH: Now belongs to Westin.