Lessons Learned on a Clothing Optional Beach in St. Maarten

In 28 years of tending bar on the Caribbean Island of St. Maarten, Willy deKleine has seen it all.  Literally.

Willy works at the Perch Bar on Orient Bay Beach.  Yes. THAT beach – the one where swimsuits are not required.

"Don't say we didn't warn you!"

In fact, no clothing is required at all.

“I’ve never tended bar anywhere else, so I don’t know how this compares to other bar tending jobs,” she told me.  “I have to wear clothes, because, you know…”  About that time, she started the blender on yet another frozen beach drink.  Ooh, yes, the blender – definitely a work hazard for unprotected body parts.

In Your Bucket Because…

  • You loved skinny dipping as a child and nothing feels so good as the Caribbean sun and surf on your skin.
  • Nobody at home will believe you really did it, and you will never tell your kids that you did.
  • Good for those who just don’t really worry about what others think or look like.

When Clothes Are Appropriate

When not at work, Willy likes the freedom that clothing optional offers.

“I love to swim and sunbathe in the nude, but some things are just more comfortable with clothes on,” she said.  “Volleyball and tennis, you really should have clothes on for that.”

Willy deKleine

Dining is another activity that requires clothes, according to Willy.  The Perch Bar serves a mighty fine cheeseburger and fries – nothing saggy about the size of those all-beef patties.  Most customers carry their burgers and drinks back to their beach chairs, but if they choose to sit at the wooden tables and benches inside the bar, Willie insists they first put down a towel.

Willy is Dutch, and like most Europeans, she is  less inhibited about those things than most Americans.  They come by the dozens the days cruise ships are in port at Philipsburg, fully clothed but looking while trying not to look like they’re looking.

“Most of them just sit and have a drink and then leave,” Willy said, “but you know, some of them end up taking their clothes off and really enjoying themselves.”

“We’re All the Same Underneath”

That’s all well and good if you’re 20-something and in great shape, I told her, but face it – about two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese and kind of disgusting fully clothed.

So I asked, “Don’t you think some people should really keep their clothes on?”

I thought she might laugh, maybe point to a particularly large gentleman in our midst, but instead she frowned and shook her finger at me.

“Not at all,” she said.  “Everyone is beautiful and with their clothes off, we see that we really are just the same underneath.”

She continued telling me about a woman with a double mastectomy strolling the beach right alongside a woman whose breasts could have made a Playboy centerfold.  “Do you know which woman I thought was most beautiful? The one who had the courage to realize her beauty was on the inside.”

Feeling ashamed, I looked away, out at the human beings of various shapes and sizes enjoying the Caribbean sun as much as I.  Sure enough, as I pondered Willy’s words, a man walked by with a prosthetic leg. Another man with a scar so jagged across his midsection left no doubt he had led an extraordinary life.  Each body told a story about the person inside.

No Giggling Or Sex Allowed

Willy's Work Environment

I turned back to our conversation. “But surely, you’ve seen things here that make you uncomfortable?”

Her answer was the about the only thing that startled me that day.

“Yes, it bothers me when people start having intercourse at my bar.”

After I recovered from choking on my rum punch, Willy explained that about once a week, some young couple with too much too drink and no understanding of the nudist lifestyle will begin to engage in sex right there in public.

“They are such idiots,” she said.  “I would rather have the prudish gawkers giggling like school children.”

Fortunately, the beach employs a number of security guards who immediately ban those individuals and anyone else with a camera, binoculars or cell phones.  (Yes, I received permission to take these photos).

Enjoying our conversation very much, I continued to quiz Willy.   “Can you tell when it’s someone’s first time going nude?”

“Sure,” she responded, “the tan lines are a good indicator.”

“Oh,” I said, looking down.

“But you’re doing just fine,” and she smiled as she mixed another drink.

Practicalities

  • Most cruise ships with a port of call in Philipsburg offer a shore excursion to Orient Bay Beach.
  • It will cost you about $20 to rent an umbrella and beach chairs for the day. Don’t worry about finding a booth or stand to pay. Someone will come around and give your chair a tag when you’ve paid.
  • The other end of the beach is one that requires clothes and includes numerous beach bars and water sports.
  • Spend your entire vacation without clothes at Club Orient. 

 

 

 

 

 

Average rating for this trip

About 

From riding camels in Egypt and climbing glaciers in Alaska, Diana Lambdin Meyer has found the adventure she had always dreamed a job and life could provide. Sharing those adventures and stories with Diana is her husband, Bruce, a photographer who, if possible, has greater wanderlust than Diana. Together, they have been published in just about any medium known to human kind. Members of the Society of American Travel Writers, Bruce and Diana are based in Kansas City, Missouri. Check out their iPhone app "Kansas City Uncovered."

Comments

  1. Robbie says

    We LOVE Willy! We see her every year when we’re on beautiful Orient Beach. She is a wonderful bartender and takes good care of everyone at The Perch Bar- especially at Happy Hour! Willy- we’ll see you in October! We can’t wait to have one of your BBC’s!

    0
  2. Lori-2fingers on ttol says

    Love SXM, Perch and WIlly. Go every year, but i did have a new drink with Willy this year and forgot to right down ingredients, so if anyone is ther please email me for ALL OVER TAN. enjoy our favorite place!~~~~~~!!!!!

    0
  3. Stuart says

    I rented the perch for my 60th birthday party, with Willie serving drinks, a disco, a big buffet and 37 close friends – the best birthday ever. This is the best bar in the Caribbean.

    5
  4. Howard says

    Yes I was at Stuart’s 60th party, it was an absolute hoot. Willy kept bar and the drinks kept flowing, she was amazing and a great time was had by all

    0
  5. David says

    We LOVE Willy! She is the nicest, hardest working bartender I have ever met. I am sure that working at the Perch for so long, she has seen it all, but she always has a smile and has never met a stranger. She also has the right attitude about nudity. Its not about showing it off, its about enjoying a beautiful beach and being comfortable with your own body.

    Remember, during happy hour at the Perch, one finger means two drinks and two fingers means four drinks! Very important, right Willy?

    0
  6. Woody says

    My wife and I love SXM, Orient Beach and Willy at the Perch Bar. Whether on a cruise ship stop or when we stay on SXM, OB is are favorite spot. We’ve meet some great people there of all shapes and sizes. I always feel a little bad for the people who don’t get it or the guys who walk down the beach expecting an eyeful and only really see average people just enjoying themselves. For my wife and I it’s always a great experience. Some of or most memorable days as a couple who’ve been married for 32 years have been there. I could go on and on.
    Willy makes a great rum punch and Happy Hour is always a treat but nothing beats having a fresh grilled cheeseburger and a bottle of ice cold champagne while looking out over beautiful Orient Bay. One of life’s favorite moments all while au natural.

    5
    • Connie n Dave says

      we loved our stay at Club Orient, Willy is real friendly at the Perch Bar and always remembers what you drink.

      0
  7. Shane & Robin says

    We love Willy!! She is the greatest and knows how to make some mean drinks. She is a lot of fun to talk to and has some great stories. We look forward to seeing her in two weeks!!

    0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title="" rel=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>