HAPPY BAY BEACH
By Teala Howell
Happy Bay, or “Anse Heureuse” in French, is one of the island’s few hidden gems. It is the twin sister to Friar’s Bay with one exception: the lack of accessibility by vehicle, which makes this beach special because it is undeveloped—like a secret sanctuary. It is a beach that even some of the locals can’t locate from land. Half the fun of going to Happy Bay is getting there and in order to go to Happy Bay you have to first go to Friar’s Bay.
Coming from the Dutch side, if you drive through Marigot and continue on the main road for about a mile, there will be a left turn and a sign that says “Rue de Friar’s Bay”. Once you’ve parked at Friar’s Bay, the simplest way to get there is to hike—for about 10 minutes—from Friar’s Bay to Happy Bay. Don’t be discouraged, this hike is really not strenuous, it is actually quite a pretty walk through the trees! In order to get to the path you walk past Kali’s Beach Bar and Friar’s Bay Café, where you will come across some orange arrows, spray painted onto the rocks. Follow the arrows up the path; although it may seem steep at first, there is only one little hill to walk up and the rest is all flat terrain.
Once you follow the path for about 5 minutes you will come to an open area and a gate, go through the gate and continue on to the shore. There may be a cow here and there along the way but there is nothing to worry about, they won’t bother anyone. Although you could do this hike in flip-lops, it might be best to wear a pair of sandals or even sneakers. Another way to get to Happy Bay is to rent a Kayak from Kali’s Beach Bar and kayak around the right side of Friar’s Bay. This is a more strenuous way to get there but you’re treated to an awe-inspiring view of the rock formations from the water.
Unpolluted by the masses, Happy Bay is a beautiful beach as well as one of the cleanest on the island. There are no amenities on the beach and there is no knowing how many people will be there at a given time; for the most part there are usually only about 20 or so people on the beach. The beach is so beautiful that a couple of the boat tours will make a stop there for a half an hour from time to time. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, there will be no one there at all and it will be as if you have a private beach all to yourself. However, bear in mind that on many French beaches clothing is optional, but the majority of the beachgoers are clothed in beach attire.
The beach is unlike any other on the island; it is exactly what should come to mind when thinking of a Caribbean vacation. Adding to the serene atmosphere is the calm ocean water, so calm that some might even compare it to that of a swimming pool. The sand at Happy Bay is blindingly white, the snorkeling is great and there are seagrape and coconut trees lining the entire beach. These trees are so large and close to the beach that they provide ample shade for the beachgoers, to the point where there’s no need to use an umbrella. It would still be wise to bring an umbrella and lots of sunscreen just in case there are already people sitting under the trees!
There is a small shack in the field just before the beach that sells snacks and drinks but it is not always open so don’t rely on it for food and beverages. However, don’t let this discourage you; there are plenty of other options. This beach is perfect for a little picnic under the trees, whether you bring your own sandwiches or buy a little something to eat at Kali’s Beach Bar before embarking on your journey to Happy Bay. Be sure to bring plenty of water because, despite the nice breeze, it does get quite hot out there!
Although there are no amenities on the beach, it is quite a lovely place to spend the day. Some might think that the lack of watersports makes for a boring day, but many find the serene atmosphere refreshing. Don’t hike out there and expect beach chairs and piña coladas, instead you should enjoy the beach’s natural beauty. Happy Bay is everything a nature lover would want in a beach. It is also a lovely escape from St. Martin/St. Maarten’s vibrant atmosphere, allowing tourists and locals alike to take a step back and appreciate nature’s beauty.
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