On an island with some 15 swimmable beaches and a buzzy French-forward culinary scene, it can be hard to decide where to plant your umbrella, especially if you're already thinking about your next glass of rosé. Fortunately, in this part of the French West Indies, the regulars know exactly how to mix dejeuner and soleil. Here, a week's worth of foolproof pairings from Cabell Belk, the director of content for Bon Voyaging.
Grande Saline may get all the attention, but if you haven't spent a morning at neighboring Gouverneur Beach, you've missed one of the island's loveliest — and most secluded — cerulean coves. After testing the water, head up the hill to Santa Fé (+590 590 27 61 04) for lobster clubs and a Caribbean horizon punctuated by Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Kitts.
At St. Jean's storied Nikki Beach, the DJ starts early and so does the champagne scene. Next door at Hotel Eden Rock's Jean-Georges-helmed Sand Bar, the beat's a little softer, and the casual beach fare is as chic as the crowd. Wherever you choose to watch the inbound prop planes swoop low over swimmers in the Baie de Saint Jean, be sure to order a dessert round of B.B.C.'s (Baileys, banana & coconut) before joining them.
Families love the lagoon at Grand Cul-de-Sac, which is shallow and breezy — ideal for windsurfing lessons and first-time snorkelers. Next door to the local dive center at neighborhood seafood shack O'Corail (+590 590 29 33 27), lunch is fresh and simple. Stake out a table in the sand where you can keep an eye on petite paddle-boarders while waiting for Mahi Mahi burgers to appear.
Returning island veterans head straight to Dõ Brazil for instant gratification in the form of friendly surf and strong Cachaça-based cocktails. The peace-sign-emblazoned bungalow's thatched picnic cabanas and purple umbrellas encourage all-afternoon grazing and lounging. Once you've arrived on Shell Beach, it's hard to come up with a good reason to leave, so go for lunch and stay for sunset Caipirinhas.
Haute hideaway Isle de France might be the only place in the tropics to catch a fashion show over local wahoo ceviche. Every afternoon during lunch at La Cabane de l'Isle, bronzed belles model resort looks from the hotel's colorful boutique. For a stylish postprandial snooze, leave your tab open and migrate to a serviced chaise on Flamands Beach.
The island's most serene stretch of sand lies beyond the compass of its squiggly single-track roads; unless you find yourself in possession of a yacht, the only way to Colombier Beach is on foot. The 25-minute trek begins in the village of Flamands, but pick up a picnic breakfast en route at La Petite Colombe (+590 590 27 95 27). For early risers, the reward is twofold: just-out-of-the-oven viennoiseries and a virtually private beach.