Orient: The Caribbean's Most Famous Nude Beach
By Joe Mack
A Visit to Orient Beach – French St. Martin
Maybe you know and maybe you don’t, but St. Martin is an island in the Caribbean. It is divided into two parts.
The French side, St. Martin, and the Dutch side, Sint Maarten. If you have ever traveled to the island, most likely it was on a Cruise Ship.
It is a popular stop for many Cruise lines that sail in the Caribbean. Some people fly there and stay the week in a hotel or B&B.
For me, this is the preferred way to enjoy the island. And I for one prefer the French side. We have been going there for years now.
We alternate our stays between the town of Grand Case, which is considered the Gourmet Capital if the Caribbean, and the Orient Beach area. I will tell you more about Grand Case in another piece I write for www.gonomad.com .
You want Topless?
But let’s get back to what this article is about. If you know of Orient Beach you probably think it as a nude beach. Well, that’s not exactly right.
On Orient beach, you will find some topless sunbathers and swimmers, and I would say, these are almost exclusively women. They lay in their loungers coated with sun screen.
Or you may see women walking along the edge of the water in the “parade” of people that endlessly walk from one end of the crescent shaped beach to the other.
Some walk alone, some with a friend, some with their spouse or significant other. I would say, really, no more than 5% of the people there are topless. By law, topless is NOT allowed.
But here the police do not stop you. There are other beaches on St Martin/Sint Maarten where you will find topless sun worshipers, but Orient Beach gets the most publicity when it comes to nudity. Maybe because down at the end of the beach is a nude section with its own resort.
This is called Club Orient. They bill themselves as a family-friendly naturist resort. As you walk down the beach, enjoying the sun, sand, and people watching, you will come to a natural land barrier.
In front of this is a large collection of rocks, some of which just out into the ocean. This is the line of demarcation if you will. Beyond this point is the start of the “nude beach”.
Do not think of wild parties with naked men and women frolicking around doing things that should not be talked in open company.
These people just enjoy not wearing clothing. For some, this is just a one-time thing. Go on vacation and take your clothes off, and then go home and never do it again.
For others, being a naturist is a way of life. They bring their families here. You will find children swimming, and playing in the sand with their families.
This is not decadence. It is just a fun time in the sun for these folks. One thing to remember.
If your curiosity gets the best of you, and you want to venture down past the rocks into the nude section, DO NOT BRING YOUR CAMERA. No photos allowed. Please respect these folks privacy.
Getting to Orient Beach
I got a bit ahead of myself telling you about the nudity and topless women. Let’s talk about how to get there. As you leave the airport or seaport, either drive or take a taxi or bus to Orient Beach.
Its only about 30 min drive from there, if the traffic isn’t too bad. It could take an hour, depending on traffic. As you ride the main road you will pass the main town on the French side, Marigot. Great little town, again, more about that in another article.
You continue down the road and pass Grand Case. Not too much past there on the left you will see the stone walled entrance to the Orient Beach Area. You go thru a gated entrance. Security guards are there to keep an eye on your safety along with those that live there.
You go straight on this road and it will take you to the little town I mentioned before. Just past that, is the parking area. I didn’t say parking lot. It is pretty laid back here.
No blacktop, no paving, not even gravel. Just a sandy surface, usually full of pot holes, and puddles if it has just rained. No lined parking areas.
The beach is divided into sections based on which beach bar you want to stay at. So you can stop at the first one or drive further down and park at any number of places on the beach.
The Beach Bars
As I said there are many and the beach is divided into sections depending on which Beach Bar you stay at.
You have your choice of many: Aloha Beach Bar, Waikiki Beach Bar, Red Pearl Beach Bar, Ethnic Beach Bar, Orange Fever Beach Bar, Le String Beach Bar, Kakao Beach Bar, Palm Beach Beach Bar, Pedro’s Beach Bar, and Mexican Beach Bar.
The Beach Bars at the start of the beach, near town, are the most extravagant.
Here you will find more elaborate restaurants with seating at tables, and roofs to keep you out of the sun, but the sides are completely open so you never lose the feeling of being at the beach.
If you are staying at one of the hotels in the Orient Beach area, the hotel give you a card. With this card you get two important features. One, the Beach Bars are the keepers of the lounge chairs and umbrellas.
You show them the card and you get two cushioned loungers and an umbrella FOR FREE. If you are just visiting the beach for the day and want to sit here, it will cost you as much as 20 Euro. (Yes Euro, this is the French side, they use the Euro, the Dutch side is on the US dollar.)
The Beach Bars have waiters that come out to you on the beach to take drink or food orders, so if you want, you never have to leave your lounger.
Also with this card, and you order food or drinks, it goes on your bill at the hotel. So you don’t even have to carry cash when you come down to the beach. Don’t worry about towels either, if you stay at one of the hotels, before you head to the beach, you get a towel at the front desk to use for the day.
When you return to your hotel, just give them back the towel and get a fresh one the next trip to the beach.
So you want to be a sun worshiper?
Each Beach Bar is the keeper of the loungers. Each section is color coded so you won’t get lost when you wander away or join the “parade”.
Some are red, some are blue, and some are orange. Just remember your color. The loungers are arranged in rows facing the water naturally.
Unfortunately, if you did not pay and are using your card from the hotel, you will NOT get a front row seat. But second row isn’t bad either.
Most folks turn their lounger to stay facing the sun, it does more you know. Isn’t that why you are there, or was it to see the topless women? A little tip. I mentioned Pedro’s Beach Bar. It is at the far end of the beach, right near the border of the Nude Beach.
They are a bit less expensive for loungers, food and drink, only because they are so far from the main section of the beach. I might add, for all of you that must have your “device with you at all times, free Wi-Fi is included at most beach bars, sometimes you need to sit closer to the building to get it, but it's there.
If you don’t just want to lie in the sun, take your pick of sail boarding, wave runners, para sailing, and those water propelled boots that send you sailing into the air on a jet of water.
There are water trampolines for the kids and boogie boards. You can get a massage at a few of the Beach Bars.
There are some shops selling bathing suits, hats, beach covers, and any number of souvenirs. There are vendors walking the beach trying to get your attention and money.
They sell hats, scarfs, jewelry, some offer massages, there is one lady, who my wife now knows by her first who give you a foot massage using aloe vera, she tells me it is very relaxing.
Best Time to go
Don’t worry about the weather. According to statistics, the air temp is always mid 80’s and higher, the water temperature is always around 85 degrees. Money wise, I suggest the low season, all hotel rates are lower then.
We go in March or November. The crowds are smaller, and the weather is beautiful. It does rain in St Martin, but not to worry, get under your beach umbrella and wait it out. The sun will be back out in a few minutes.