Straddling the entire length of Philipsburg, Great Bay Beach is one of St. Maarten’s longest and widest beaches. Along its 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) stretch are lively beach bars, rum shacks, and street carts serving ice-cold beers and some of the capital’s best spots for dining and duty-free shopping.
Catch the cosmopolitan feel of this Dutch Caribbean city along the beach’s boardwalk, where tourists and locals stroll or zip by on bikes or Segways. Travelers may explore Great Bay Beach as part of a sightseeing tour. Island tours typically stop at St. Maarten’s most beautiful spots, including Maho Beach where planes fly at a low overhead, and some may include water-based fun such as Jet Skiing and snorkeling.
Things to Know Before You Go
- With long stretches of sand, beach bars, fine dining, and plenty of shopping, Great Bay Beach has something to appeal to most any traveler.
- Tours may include roundtrip hotel transfers, food and drinks, and Jet Ski rental. Check tours for specific details.
- Don’t forget to pack sun protection, swimwear, and water.
- Beach loungers and chairs are available for rent.
How to Get There
While in Philipsburg, Great Bay Beach is impossible to miss—just walk south for one or two blocks at the most. From Princess Juliana International Airport, the drive is about 15 minutes, and from the cruise ship dock, about five minutes.
When to Get There
The sunbathing crowds are largest in early morning. Weather is pleasant year-round, but warmest in summer. Spring and fall in St. Martin/St. Maarten mean cheaper rates and less chance of rain. A bonus of traveling in February through June: it’s when humpback whales are often seen.
The Boardwalk and Front Street
Just opposite the beach is the boardwalk, which abuts Front Street, the main street of Philipsburg. No visit to Great Bay is complete without spending time at both. Make a day of it by shopping for jewelry in the duty-free shops, enjoying a meal at one of the capital’s best restaurants, or trying your luck at one of the casinos.