FRIAR’S BAY ★★★★☆
FO BE R L AC UC H IN RE DA VI ’S EW
Beach Review, Friar’s Bay, St. Martin
Just the Facts
Overall Rating ★★★★☆
Beach Type: Hidden gem
Parking: Nearby lot
Surf Type: Calm
Good for: Kids, Groups
Amenities: Chairs, umbrellas, restaurants Location: Friar’s Bay
Other Beach Info: Careful driving to parking lot
Pros Small, quiet, relatively uncrowded beach, great swimming and snorkeling Friar's Bay Beach Cafe offers phenomenally solid French bistro food Kali’s Beach Bar has fun atmosphere and decent food
Cons Only two restaurant options; stones at the water entrance
Friar’s Bay Beach is one of those hidden little gems you might miss if you don’t do your research. It had been recommended to us by several other travelers, and we were thrilled when we finally checked it out for ourselves. It’s a little off the beaten path: you have to navigate a boulder-strewn dirt road to get there, and I use the term “road” more loosely than your rental car company would. So, be careful, go slow. You don’t want to get stuck, but it’s worth the risk to check out this magical little cove. (Note: I later realized most beach roads are similarly lacking in pavement). Once you park in the rock field, you walk onto a beautiful little beach. There are only two restaurants, and a handful of boats anchored in the pristine inlet. Because it’s on the leeward and Caribbean side of the
Friar’s Beach !
of a dolphin.
island, the surf is small, and the water infinitely swimmable. There’s also good snorkeling on the left hand side especially, just near the rocks and reef. I saw a turtle while I was just swimming along, though sadly he darted away when he saw my pathetic impersonation
On our first trip to Friar’s Beach during high season, we ate at Kali’s Cafe, and on our second trip during low season, we went for the other restaurant, Friar’s Bay Beach Cafe.
Relaxation ★★★★★ Fun
Beach size ★★★★☆ Cleanliness★★★★☆ Swimming ★★★★★ Snorkeling ★★★★☆ Surfing
Between the two restaurants there, you’re Chairs ★★★☆☆ bound to get a decent meal and a proper Equipment ★★☆☆☆ chair/umbrella set-up. Since it’s out of the way, it wasn’t too crowded during either season, Parking ★★★★☆ though I will say that one of those pesky daytripper tour catamarans did pull up for a while when we were there in March. In August, there was nary a boat to be seen, and the water was practically empty.
Beauty of Friar’s Bay Beach The primary reason I rate the beach high on the beauty scale is the fact that it is such a tucked away, quiet gem. While we were there, I was able to take one of those Corona pictures – you know the ones where they have the secluded beach chair and thatch umbrella, with the solitary bottle of beer? It is that beautiful. And empty. Even during high season, it’s calm atmosphere will call to you. Friar’s Bay is a quiet little cove. The water is calm and protected from the surf, and since it’s a little out of the way, it’s protected (mostly) from the rampant
Friar’s Beach !
Beautiful, calm waters: We spent hours just floating in the water, watching the fish circle our feet, and swaying with the gentle swells.
tourists at the larger beaches. It faces West, giving it a nice sunset opportunity, though you can’t see Anguilla or other islands from this spot. The sand is typical of St. Martins – perfect, pristine, soft, white sand. There are some stones in the water, especially the further North you go along the beach, but since the surf is low, it’s not a problem getting in/out of the water.
Snorkeling tip: Great snorkeling on the southern end of the beach, near the rocks. Don't miss the full moon party! Big bonfire, tons of people, great event.
The Water of Friar’s Bay Friar’s Bay is a particularly calm stretch of the Caribbean, making it a great little snorkeling and swimming spot. The visibility there is better than average, and I had a fantastic swim – even saw a turtle while I was swimming, not even looking for him. And, judging by his abrupt departure, he wasn’t looking for me either (it’s possible I swim like a wounded animal). There isn’t usually much surf, being on the leeward side, though I will say that on a stormy and windy day, it will be as uncalm as anywhere else. But this isn’t your surfing, or even boogie boarding destination. It’s far better if you’re looking for a quiet, uncrowded swim or snorkel.
Kali’s Beach Bar: With bright colors and reasonably priced food, Kali’s is a fun way to spend the day at Friar’s Beach.
Amenities on Friar’s Bay Beach There are only two restaurants at Friar’s Bay: Kali’s Cafe and Friar’s Bay Beach Cafe. The first time we walked into Kali’s, we were greeted by what I like to call the “scent of the isles.” Jamaican owners. It was 4:20… anyway, you get the picture if you get the picture. But I digress. There are only two restaurants, and they’re not both always open, so this isn’t a place with lots of options. That said, Kali’s served a lovely lunch in a beautiful beach setting – they offer both lounge chairs/umbrellas, as well as brightly painted picnic tables for dining. The service out to the beach was actually rather good, if rambunctious. The one caution: don’t drink their special rum. It tasted more like tequila than rum. !After I surreptitiously tossed it in the sand, they brought me another round… probably because they were so excited to see someone who actually finished their shot.
Friar’s Beach !
Friar’s Bay Beach Cafe: One of the best salads I had on the island, and great breakfast too!
On our second trip to Friar’s Beach, my mother and I sequestered ourselves at Friar’s Bay Beach Cafe. The cushioned chairs were only $6 total for the pair, and we talked the beach gentleman into throwing us two umbrellas for free. Of course, this was low season, when you can bargain for anything, but even during high season they were far more reasonable than someplace like Orient Beach. For lunch, we meandered into the open air, shaded dining room, and were treated to a spectacularly good meal, albeit a little pricey for lunch. My tuna nicoise was the best I’ve had on the island – fresh, ripe tomatoes, a perfectly seared tuna steak (no chopped up canned stuff here!), potatoes, eggs, haricots verts (green beans), anchovies, roasted red peppers. Everything was fresh and perfectly prepared, and nicely separated out for those who like their salads segregated. My mother’s salad was a delightful frisee with balls of Breakfast Tip: bacon wrapped goat cheese. Yum! And of course we had the Friar’s Bay Beach Cafe serves a full perfect complement of a basket American breakfast (or continental) of french fries (frites!), fried to till 11am, plus a fabulous lunch golden goodness. Overall, a menu. wonderfully refreshing and
Friar’s Beach !
Friar’s Bay Beach Cafe: During low season, the beach was incredibly empty, and they only charged us $6 for two chairs and two umbrellas. Comfy chairs, with proper cushions even! satisfying meal, especially for a beach bar. We were also treated to some “entertainment” while we were there – the chickens help pick up the scraps, as do the cute little pet pigs! On subsequent trips to Friar’s Bay, we discovered that Friar’s Bay Beach Cafe also serves up breakfast. They have two options: continental (for the slim europeans) and american (for us gluttons). I opted for the american breakfast because sometimes you just need it. It was absolutely fabulous – perfectly fried eggs, sausage, hash browns, white toast, bacon, juice, coffee… and a nice little tomato provencal just to make sure they French’d it up for you. It was delicious, and definitely one of the more scenic places to have breakfast. Served 9am – 11am. Special note: See our review of Happy Bay, a beautiful deserted beach just 10 minutes away by footpath from Friar’s Beach. No amenities, but even fewer people!
Bottom line Friar’s Beach is the best of all worlds: off the beaten path, and yet proper amenities. Between the less expensive beach chairs, the lack of crowds and the high end food at the Cafe, it’s far and away my favorite beach in St. Martin. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that you get to have close encounters with the wild life as well, that definitely lends some island authenticity to the experience.
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Published on Aug 25, 2010
Published on Aug 25, 2010
With two amazing restaurants in a small, protected cove, Friar's Beach is the perfect balance of quiet, mellow beach but with proper ameniti...