Within walking distance of the harbor in Gustavia there lies a little beach, set between to cliffs and littered with glistening pink and white shells. Appropriately named, Shell Beach is a perfect combination of seclusion and convenience- when I’m there I completely forget that I’m just a few blocks away from the buzzing and action of Gustavia. Shell Beach is a favorite among visitors and locals, and it’s quite easy to see why- a near perfect combination of convenience and relaxation make it a great place to spend the day.
Getting to Shell Beach is relatively easy- there are clearly marked signs pointing to La Plage from the streets in Gustavia Harbor. With a few turns, you will find yourself in an authentic St. Barths neighborhood, with charming houses, schools, and if your lucky you’ll be able to catch a few notes from a violin or piano at a small music school. There are usually spots to park and from there you continue forward along a dead end street that turns into the sand of the beach. Again, it is astonishing how Shell Beach is located within the liveliness and vibrance of the village but somehow when you arrive it’s as though you’ve washed ashore a deserted island- well, a deserted island with a beach bar and fabulous restaurant.
The beach itself is protected on each side by large boulders and cliffs. There are no man-made structures in sight (aside from one small residence and Do Brazil, the beach bar and restaurant I previously mentioned), just black cliffs, bright blue water, and the shells. As you may have guessed, Shell Beach is named for its abundance of small sea shells. Although there are sandy spots, much of the beach is covered by white, pink, orange, and sometimes purple sea shells, many of which are intact. Beachcombers delight in the abundance of treasure found there.
The beach extends past Do Brazil, and a series of rocky outcroppings provide natural coves where, if you choose, you can sunbathe in privacy or as many like to do set up provisions for an entire day of picnicking. I’ve had the pleasure of spending a few “Sunday Fundays” at the spot, which somewhat of a local tradition. Along with sunbathing, the beach is a well known spot for swimming and snorkeling. Generally calm waters matched with a reasonable length provide a great spot for swimming laps and the cliffs at either end are alive with fish and coral. At the farther point of the beach the cliffs jut out into the sea and you will often see cliff jumpers taking the plunge into the inviting water.
After a day of relaxation and leisurely beach activities, Shell Beach has another gift to offer… spectacular sunsets. Due to its west facing orientation, the beach is a perfect spot to see the sun dip down past the horizon and seemingly into the water. On a clear evening you can see Saba in the distance, a silhouette against the fire red and orange sky.