05 Jul 2013Blog

Sandy Lane Beach

by Catherine

The opulent five star Sandy Lane Hotel in St. James is the exclusive domain of its privileged, pedigreed and paparazzied guests, but the public beach out front is free for anyone to enjoy. Even us mere mortals could conceivably rub shoulders with or at least catch a glimpse of some royal, celebrity or VIP taking an ocean dip or sunbathing on a signature pink lounger cooled by an Evian mister (yes, really). But don’t just come here for the potential star gazing as the beach itself is enough of a draw.

Sadly, security won’t just let you cut through the hotel lobby to stroll onto the sand. For that honour you’ll need an advanced reservation at one of their restaurants, but be forewarned, even the informal beachside dining spot will set you back a pretty penny. The best way to access this beach is through a path to the south of the hotel right beside One Sandy Lane, a Palladian-style property so large and imposing you can’t miss it. You can usually find parking on the side of the road. This edifice is on the neighbouring beach of Paynes Bay, but if you walk about 5 minutes around the corner to the right you will be on Sandy Lane Beach – the pink umbrellas will give it away. Note, during high tide it can be challenging to get around the point so time your trip well or prepare to get wet.

The turquoise waters around here are relatively calm and inviting. Gentle waves with little undertow make it ideal for swimming and one of the safer choices for families with children. Jet skis and watercraft can easily be flagged down if you’re looking for some aqua action, but you won’t be inundated with pesky offers. The arc of sand is fringed with shady palms, mahogany and manchineel trees (stay clear of the small apple-like fruit as the sap can deliver a nasty sting). A few posh villas and stately homes line the beach on either side of the hotel but most are well hidden with landscaping to shield them from beach walkers/gawkers.

Nearby Holetown has quite a few places to grab a quick meal or pick up picnic fixings to go. At the swanky Limegrove complex try Lemongrass for top-notch Thai take-out, Relish for a deluxe sandwich or Zoola Cafe for coffee and a light bite. Posh Nosh in the the small complex beside Super Centre has assorted salads, rotis and nibbles to assemble a gourmet spread, or the Super Centre itself has a full range of grocery items. Carizma in the centre of the Chattle House Village is good for breakfast, lunch and occasional tapas in the evening.

Sandy Lane Beach is a nesting site for Hawksbill turtles during the July to October nesting season, and it’s not uncommon to see one while swimming or snorkeling in the sheltered bay. Of course, there are no guarantees you’ll spot a turtle or a celebrity, but it’s worth a try.