alot of restaurants along the boardwalk. Or you can catch a taxi to one of the other beaches We rented jet skis right near the ship. We rented them from the beach that you can see right from the pier. Just take the water taxi. There are several different vendors along the beach. I think it was only $60. They held onto our SeaPass card (room key) as a deposit.
For great descriptions, photos and videos of the all the French and Dutch beaches : http://www.st-maarten-info.com/St-Maarten-Beaches/MulletBay.html For descriptions and a beach finder http://www.sxm-beaches.com/ http://www.experiencestmaarten.com/islandfacts/beaches.html http://www.sint-maarten.net/St-Maarten-Beaches/stmaarten_Beaches.html http://www.stmartinstmaarten.com/beaches.html St Maarten/St Martin has 37 beaches where dress codes vary from modest to nudist. Diving, snorkeling, windsurfing and sailing can be arranged from all the main beaches. Water temperatures average 70 degrees and visibility ranges from 75- 125 feet. Little Bay Beach, Dawn Beach and Maho Bay are best for snorkelers. The most popular dive spot is the wreck of the British man-of-war HMS Proselyte which sank in 1801 and lies atop a reef a mile south of Great Bay. Pinel Island sports a shallow reef area teeming with undersea life. Great Bay Beach is the closest beach from where you'll be docked in St. Maarten, but it is usually the most crowded for that reason. It's a bit of a walk from the pier. There are many bars and shops along the boardwalk by the beach. If Orient Beach is out of the question because of the nudity, be aware that you will see many topless or nude people on the other beaches as well, particularly on the French side. On the Dutch side, Mullet Bay is very nice, Dawn beach on the French side is nice too. If you want some excitement, go to Maho Beach on the Dutch side. It's not a big beach but it's right by the airport runway and it's thrilling to watch the planes fly right over the beach. This was my kids’ favorite beach. The Sunset Beach Bar is right there as well as restrooms.Orient Beach is still one of my favorite beaches in St. Maarten. It has plenty of activities for kids (water trampolines, jet skis, wind surfing, banana boats, etc.) I was a little apprehensive about bringing my kids to that beach at first, but they weren't bothered by the nudity at all (they were 12 and 8 at the time). Have not been there but heard Cupecoy is predominatly gay beach. Dawn has construction right now
Given snorkeling interest, I would recommend Dawn, Pinel (north backside of island may have nudity - although you need not go over there, that may be consideration for you), or Little Bay. Little Bay is closest - Pinel is farthest - but all are easy to get to; Pinel involves very short boat ride after the taxi. In event you would want to know, Pinel is almost certain to have topless; Dawn very probably; Divi somewhat less common than Dawn. If snorkeling is important to you, and if it appears thaere may be rough seas around island, always try to get report on water conditions at intended destination. It often can be rough with no visibility on one side of island, and great on other For the best offshore snorkeling tours, check out http://www.snorkel-trips-sxm.com/
Snorkeling: SXM is not the best island for snorkeling. However there is some limited snorkeling at Orient beach (in front of Pedro's beside the naturist resort Club Orient, there is good snorkeling at Dawn Beach (but sometimes the wave action at Dawn is just too rough), there is decent snorkeling at Divi Little Bay. Dutch: Great Bay offers watercraft rentals and along with Little Bay (further west) may be crowded. Paralleling Front Street in Philipsburg, facing South, the Great Bay beach is over a mile long and wide with plenty of fine white sand to lie on. Just cross Front Street in Philipsburg and after a few steps, you will find yourself right on the beach - bars, restaurants and entertainment all nearby. It is convenient for shoppers who´d like to combine a day of bargains and beach. Little Bay Beach lies around the bend from Great Bay, to the west and is another picture-perfect beach with fine, white, powdery sand. The waters are calm and make for high underwater visibility. The bay is a great spot for snorkeling and has a lot of other watersports. Restaurants are available on the beach as well. Dutch: Simpson Bay Beach is a ver private beach situated between a picturesque fishing village and the