Toes in the sand, drink in hand; life is good at these St. Martin and St. Maarten beach bars
It’s hard to go wrong when you combine a gorgeous Caribbean beach with a frosty beverage and some tasty bar food to boot. There are plenty of places on the two-nation island of St. Martin/St. Maarten to imbibe while you’re beaching it, each with their own special charm. Here are some of our top picks. Read on to find your perfect spot, or better yet, make the rounds and sample all five.
Mr. Busby’s, Dawn Beach, St. Maarten
This Oyster Pond-area establishment covers all the beach bar bases. Beautiful beachfront location? Check. Laid-back setting? Check. Ice-cold drinks? Check. But Mr. Busby’s doesn’t stop there. Service is prompt and friendly, and the menu combines popular local foods with bar food mainstays resulting in delicious vittles. Their perfectly crispy, flaky johnnycake with ham and cheese pairs flawlessly with a refreshing Carib. The beach bar’s covered shacks are joined by wooden walkways, built to accommodate the sea grapes and palms that add a decidedly tropical feel, and Dawn Beach beckons for a revitalizing swim once your meal is through.
Sunset Bar & Grill, Airport Runway at Sunset Beach, St. Maarten
Watching planes skim the heads of beach-goers can make you thirsty; Sunset Bar & Grill is there to help. An island institution, this famed beach bar has gained national press for its proximity to the Princess Juliana International Airport, an actual stone’s throw from Maho Beach, where visitors gather to the rhythm of flight schedules to experience the thrill of jumbo jets gliding mere feet above. During runway lulls, the fun doesn’t stop thanks to live music, crab races, and other entertainment. The food is good, the beer is cold, and the party is on— topless women drink for free.
Buccaneer Beach Bar, Kim Sha Beach, St. Maarten
Brightly colored picnic tables shaded by umbrellas lend a typical beach bar ambiance to the Buccaneer Beach Bar, but what happens here after dark is anything but typical. On Friday and Sunday evenings, large metal balls are set ablaze on the beach, their intricate carvings telling the tale of Poseidon, Zeus, and Hades. By day, Buccaneer Beach Bar is the kind of bar you’re not afraid to bring your kids to. It’s a place where locals and visitors bond over good food and drinks like old friends. Crab races, beachfront pig roasts, Friday night movies, and the beautiful Kim Sha beach setting round out the offerings at this fun, family-friendly beach bar.
Calmos Café, Grand Case, St. Martin
Calmos takes its designation as a beach bar seriously. With picnic tables so close to the waterline you can feel the waves washing over your toes, you can’t get much closer to the ocean while you’re eating or enjoying a drink. You’ll be hard-pressed to find the will to tear yourself away from Calmos’ beachfront tables and lounge chairs, and in true Grand Case fashion, the food is simply incredible. Goat cheese mousse on a beach bar menu is simultaneously surprising and unforgettably delightful. The wait staff may be barefoot, but the food they bring borders on fine dining. No beach bar is complete without an extensive drink menu, and Calmos Café delivers. Try the Calmos—a quintessential frozen fruity cocktail.
Karakter, Simpson Bay Beach, St. Maarten
As the name might suggest, this Dutch St. Maarten establishment has character. A funky old bus serves as both the kitchen and a place for patrons to belly up to the bar, while lounge-like beachfront seating evokes a modern feel. The menu is surprisingly inventive when it comes to beach bar fare; their fish cakes are perfectly crispy, and the tuna bruschetta is simple and refreshing. Lunch offerings feature inspiration from around the world, like the Indonesian chicken skewers with peanut sauce and cassava krupuk. You’ll find patrons dressed in every style from full-on glam to board shorts and bikinis, all enjoying the beautiful setting, delicious food, and perfectly strong rounds of Ti Punch.