For a small island, St. Barths (also known as Saint Barthélemy or St. Barts) has a wide variety of beaches, all of which are lined with beautiful white sand and open to the public. There are no less than 14 beaches spread across the enclave, each radiating with its own singular character and charm.
The number-one reason to visit St Barths are the beaches. The best beaches are the stuff island dreams are made of. All of the island’s beaches are open to the public year-round, and even during peak season they’re never really crowded. Whether you’re looking for a place to picnic, the perfect snorkeling spot, a sunbather’s paradise, or a bit of sand to run under your toes, St Barths has you covered.
You’ll find the typical Caribbean resort hotels with private beaches, restaurants, and watersports centers, but you’ll also discover some hidden strands inhabited mostly by locals, celebrities—or nobody but yourself.
The beach at Gouverneur Bay has brilliant cobalt waters that are ideal for snorkeling or swimming. Gouverneur Beach is a fine stretch of white sand and sees relatively few visitors due to its more remote location.
The beach has great views of Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Kitts, and is another popular spot for nude sunbathing. However, it’s quite a drive from Gustavia and the closest restaurant is several miles away. If you head to Gouverneur Bay, be sure to bring all the supplies you’ll need for a day in the sun.
Colombier Beach tends to be one of St. Barths’ most deserted stretches of sand because it can only be reached by boat from Gustavia or via a half-hour hike from Flamands Beach.
Also known as Rockefeller Beach, Colombier is worlds away from the island’s bustling capital, with calm waters, good snorkeling, and privacy aplenty. It does lack services, however, so bring plenty of drinks, snacks, and other beach supplies if you plan to spend the day.
Additionally, many locals often camp overnight here, and you can as well if you bring the proper gear—and preferably a local guide.
Shell Beach is unique on St. Barths because it’s the only major beach located in a town and is known for the millions of unique shells that wash up here. Shell Beach is within walking distance of the capital city of Gustavia, which often hosts weekend festivals on the shore.
Shell Beach usually has calm waters and is a welcome respite after a day spent in the shops and boutiques in town. For a little adventure, there’s the opportunity to do some cliff-diving, and plenty of restaurants for lunch, dinner, and cocktails by the sea.
St. Jean Beach:
St. Jean Beach is the most popular of St. Baths’ many beaches, mostly due to its convenient location near an airport and the plethora of beachfront hotels, restaurants, and activities.
Like all of St. Barths’ beaches it has white sand, and its calm waters make for good snorkeling. However, St. Jean Beach is actually two separate beaches separated by Eden Rock, which is home to a resort of the same name and a place where you can lay back and watch the occasional plane take off and land at the nearby airport.
If you like to bodysurf or boogie-board, Flamand Beach is a great choice because of its rolling (but rarely hazardous) surf. It’s also one of the largest beaches on St. Barths and offers plenty of shady palm trees and space to get away from the crowds.
Additionally, Flamands is home to the Flamand Beach Hotel, Hotel Ile de France, and La Langouste restaurant (at the Hotel Baie des Anges), which are great spots for relaxation and entertainment within a short walk of the beach.
The path leading to Saline Beach is short but can be a bit tricky; however, it is well worth the trek, especially if you enjoy nude sunbathing. The left side of the beach is unofficially designated as the naturist section while the right is open to all but is more family-oriented.
Saline Beach doesn’t have any services or shade on the beach, however, so even if you leave your swimsuit at home be sure to bring your own food, drinks, umbrellas, and chairs. Saline Beach is also windier and a bit rougher than some other St. Barths beaches, so be careful if you swim on this unprotected beach.