Simpson Bay is located on the south-west coast of St. Maarten, adjacent to the Princess Juliana International Airport. The bay has calm waters most of the year as it faces south and is therefore protected from the northeastern winds. It is a great place to observe seabirds, notably the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis). The Simpson Bay beach is St. Maarten’s longest beach, being over a mile long and is one of the island’s main turtle nesting sites. Simpson Bay also has some rocky shores with significant intertidal communities, and some sections of the bay have a macro-algal bed.
Most of St. Maarten’s fisherfolk are based in Simpson Bay. The main fishing methods used are traps, hand lines and beach–seine fishing. The bay also serves as a landing site for commercial fishing boats that operate offshore on the Saba Bank.
Much development has taken place at Simpson Bay, and the area is now full of hotels, restaurants, shops and casinos. The start of the construction of the Simpson Bay Lagoon Causeway in 2012 has meant the clearing of much of the lagoon’s mangrove forest. To compensate for this loss, thousands of juvenile mangroves have been replanted in other areas of the lagoon as well as at other locations on St. Maarten. The Nature Foundation, St. Maarten’s nature conservation organisation, is also currently carrying out a research project to assess the environmental status of Simpson Bay.