The first sight of the water at Grande Saline peeking through the arid dunes is something out of a dream. No villas in sight… just pure wilderness. I am continually amazed by the vibrant shades of blue emerging over the crest of the sand, past the cacti, aloe plants, and rugged mountainside. Perhaps the most secluded and vastly open of all the beaches in St. Barths, it is instantly apparent that Saline is well-deserving of its ranking as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Saline’s crystal clear water is ideal for swimming and body surfing.
To get there, I usually take the route which brings me through St. Jean from the roundabout, bringing me up through a short mountain pass and soon back down to sea level. There are a handful of other ways to get there (the Route de Lurin, the back road that begins right across from the surf shack at Lorient beach, and the long, winding road through Toiny and Grande Fond), all of which will take you out of the hustle and bustle of town. Whichever way you choose to go, signs will lead the way to Saline, and, eventually, you will arrive at the once mined salt flats, now a nature reserve populated with unique shorebirds and many other native species. After parking, I like to take a moment to appreciate the panorama of clay colored cliffs, green sloping hillsides, and the beautiful shades produced by the salt collecting in the shallow water of the flats.
A sandy path through dunes leads you to spectacularly blue ocean.
To get to the beach, follow the marked path that brings you in about 3 minutes to a rocky incline- it’s easily negotiable, but not recommended for those with unstable footing. After another 2 minutes or so, you will find yourself atop an undisturbed dune instead of the sandy path. Incredible emerald and sapphire colored seas will greet you with the most shockingly beautiful soft white sand. Walking down the dune towards the water gives me chills… even in the hot sun. The wide open sand against the gentle, sometimes active waves is continually entrancing, and it becomes clear why this is a favorite beach of locals and visitors alike.
Saline is one of the largest beaches on St. Barths.
The beach itself is quite long, and it takes about 20 minutes to walk from one end to the other. By the way, the extreme left and right are unofficially reserved for those who like to sunbathe au naturel, although, this is not mandatory. The rest of the beach is a perfect spot for families and couples; the broad reach of the sand ideal for picnics and the usually gentle waves perfect for body surfing. I like to get there in the morning or early afternoon as the wind can get strong in later in the day. After taking a few hours to enjoy the serenity of my surroundings, I like to make the short walk back to the car taking time to appreciate the unique perspective offered by this very special location. If I’ve worked up a nice appetite, I usually stop in to Le Grain de Sel for a quick bite and aperitif; the perfect end to an always spectacular day at Saline.