One of my favorite morning rituals is to grab a café latte and pain chocolat early in the morning (usually at Maya’s To Go) and head to the beach at St. Jean. Centrally located, it’s likely to be the first beach that you see as you arrive by plane (it’s at the end of the runway, after-all).
After getting my caffeine and pastry fix, I usually stroll down alongside the runway until I arrive at the little entrance at the end. A small path shaded by sea grapes leads the way, and I am greeted by gleaming white sand and bright turquoise water. Perfectly contrasting orange buoys mark the “no swim zone” in the water that the departing and arriving airplanes fly low over, and, to either side, small waves lap along the shore calling me to go for a swim.
The mornings are usually peaceful, and the sun inviting, so I pick my spot and head for the water. I usually go to the far left along the dunes so I can get a good look at the planes as they take off; although, either side is good for viewing. To the right is La Plage, a restaurant and bar where beach chairs can be rented for the day. Many enjoy their signature frozen cocktails, which are served right at your lounge on the sand. You can also rent surfboards, kayaks, windsurfing equipment and more just a few meters down the beach. While the water can be calm and glassy, it is often ideal for watersports; I always enjoy watching the neon sails of the windsurfers gliding up and down the beach.
If you continue down to the right, the beach is divided by Eden Rock (another great spot for lunch and dinner), and on the other side there is still more beach to explore. To access this end of the beach, I use the entrance just past Nikki Beach and the surrounding boutiques. This side of St. Jean is equally spectacular, offering a different perspective on the coastline. The farthest corner on the right is one of my favorite places to snorkel, as it is usually very calm and crystal clear. Swimming around the moorings and along the far corner, I’m almost guaranteed to see a sea turtle (my record is 7 in 20 minutes!) and sometimes spotted rays.
Although I try to not pick favorites, St. Jean is definitely ranked highly on my list of beaches in St. Barths. From sunbathing and watersports to beach-side dining, there is something for everyone.