We like beaches with waves. This is the best one we found on St. Maarten. The Caribbean side is very calm. Dawn beach is on the Atlantic Ocean side so had some nice waves. There is also some good snorkeling spots a bit farther out, but you will need fins as the currents, at times, can be a little bit of a factor.
Dawn beach is split in two, separated by some rocky areas. The side by the Westin has basically free chairs, the other part has chairs for rent. We did not stay at the Westin but had no problem using their chairs. You can park right by the beach edge and just walk onto the beach. Sand is nice, water clear (though sometime currents can bring some seaweed towards the shore). The best part though is the waves --- these are the kind that crash and give you a back massage or a beatdown! We found this to be the best beach of the ones we visited because we wanted waves.
It is far less busy and commercialized than Orient Beach, which is why we liked this one a lot more.
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