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beth48 Sep 12th, 2005 11:26 AM

Where to stay--French or Dutch side of St. Martin?
We're thinking of going to St. Martin the first week of January. Since we've never been there, any recommendations on where to stay. I prefer calm water for swimming and a beach front property. Also, is this an island that's easy to explore by car? Thanks for your help.

Statia Sep 12th, 2005 11:38 AM

I definitely recommend getting a car since taxi's can become expensive for getting around the island.

As far as what your preferences are, I would recommend Grand Case Beach Club on the French side....that is if you prefer a more quiet atmosphere. There are also great restaurants in the area.

If you prefer more nightlife and shopping than quiet, then I would recommend some place on the Dutch side.

ONZGO Sep 12th, 2005 11:52 AM

We stayed on the Dutch side, but if we went back I would stay on the French side, because I think the beaches are nicer on that side and it seemed cleaner than the Dutch side. The island is fairly easy to explore by car and if I remember correctly is one main road all around the island. Anyway, I don't recall us getting lost on the island. Sorry, I can't really recommend any hotels because we haven't been for awhile.

KarenM Sep 12th, 2005 07:34 PM

we stayed on the Dutch side almost at the border with the French Princess Heights. They have 1 and 2 bedroom condos that are very nice. It was a pretty central area for accessing most everything on the island. It's just above Dawn Beach. After staying at this condo it would be hard to stay in a hotel just from the convenience of having more room and a kitchen ....even though we ate dinner out every night.

cartera Sep 13th, 2005 06:28 AM

I second the recommendation for Grand Case Beach Club - the water is perfect for swimming. The other beaches we visited all had waves of varying sizes. You can also walk to incredible restaurants and nice shops from there. We liked Marigot and probably wouldn't bother to go back to Phillipsburg, even though I did get a beautiful ring there. There is a great deli in Grand Case - Le Bounty. They have prepared foods that are great for nights that you don't want to eat out but don't want to cook either. There sandwich meats were very good too and the fresh eggs were wonderful.

kamahinaohoku Sep 13th, 2005 07:10 AM

The Grand Case was nice...but...the beaches can be tiny, especially when the tide's in. I know, there's another pie shaped section of beach close by, but that's ALSO small. I enjoyed the hotel, but if you're looking for wonderful beaches, this isn't the place. Oh, and there's no sun at the pool in the late afternoon.

cartera Sep 13th, 2005 10:17 AM

I was very disappointed when I first saw the Grand Case beach but it really grew on me. The water is very shallow and calm and many people put their chairs right in the water and read there until the water was to their chests - it was almost comical but that's how calm it was. I loved sitting in the shade under the seagrape trees by the dock. But if you want a wide beautiful beach, that is not it.

semiramis Sep 13th, 2005 12:05 PM

I enjoyed the Grand Case beach Club but overall I enjoyed staying at Orient Beach at L'Hoste more. My husband likes a lovely long beach to walk on. Neither is a bad choice.

Quizno Sep 14th, 2005 12:50 AM

The French side is great. Orient Beach was recommended to us by an Italian waiter. It is a clothing optional beach. Many topless young girls walking around. My hubby and I were walking in the surf and a guy passed us wearing nothing but a hat and a bottle of beer. Lots of small restaurants and bars right on the beach. With flush toilets and outside shower. Little sunglass hut with a french speaking clerk. Told us correct pronunciation is SAN MARTEEN, emphasis on TEEN. She was nice about our faux pas though. Have fun.

mariasch Sep 14th, 2005 10:04 AM

Without a doubt stay on the cleaner, safer, more exotic French side. We have stayed at Esmerelda Resort on Orient Beach and love it. The nude resort is at the far end of the beach (1 mile or more away) gives the beach its clothing optional reputation and the nudists are more often cute old couples. Most are topless. Whatever. We never rent a car (lots of restaurants on the beach and we are beach sitters) St. Martin is not St. Barts (its fancy french neighbor) but in some ways it is more fun.

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