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. On St. Barths, 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.
Also, although nudity is expressly forbidden in St. Barths, it 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.
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.
Protected by a coral reef, Grand Cul-de-Sac has the calmest waters on St. Barths, which remain shallow for quite a way out into the lagoon. This makes the Grand Cul-de-Sac quite popular with families; however, the lagoon 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.
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 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.
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.
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.