For a small island, St. Barths has a wide variety of beaches, all of which are open to the public and all of which are lined with beautiful white sand. Here you'll find the typical Caribbean resort beaches with their hotels, restaurants and watersports centers, but also some hidden strands inhabited mostly by locals, celebrities -- or nobody at all. St. Barths also is one of the Caribbean's most popular destinations for topless and nude sunbathing, so even if you're not prepared to show it all, be prepared to see it all.
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Shell Beach is unique on St. Barths because it's the only major beach located "in town," in this case in the heart of the capital city of Gustavia. The beach 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 the Do Brazil restaurant -- co-owned by tennis legend Yannick Noah -- offers reasonably priced (for St. Barths, anyway) lunch, dinner, and cocktails by the sea.
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Grand Cul-de-SacProtected by a coral reef, Grand Cul-de-Sac has the calmest waters on St. Barths and thus is quite popular with families. The water remains shallow for quite a way out into the lagoon, while is also a mecca for windsurfers, kiteboarders, and sailboaters. The beach is lined with hotels and restaurants, as well as water-sports outfitters, so you'll never be lacking for something to see, do, eat or drink here.
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St Jean BeachThis is the most popular beach in St. Barths, thanks to its convenient location and plethora of beachfront hotels, restaurants, and other activities. Like all of St. Barths' beaches it has white sand, and the calm waters make for good snorkeling. The Eden Rock resort, built on a rocky prominence, splits the beach in two. Lay back and watch the occasional plane take off and land at the island's nearby airport.
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IF you like to bodysurf or boogie-board, Flamand Beach is a great choice because of its rolling (but rarely hazardous) surf. The Flamand Beach Hotel, Hotel Ile de France, and La Langouste restaurant (at the Hotel Baie des Anges) are located on Flamands, which is one of the largest beaches on St. Barths and offers plenty of shady palm trees.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
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Saline BeachThe path leading to Saline Beach is short but can be a bit tricky; however, it is well worthwhile especially if you enjoy nude sunbathing (head to the left of the path for the unofficial naturist section of the beach). There's no 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. Windier and a bit rougher than some other St. Barths beaches, so be careful if you swim on this unprotected beach.
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Colombier BeachColombier 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. Locals often camp overnight here, as well.