St. Barthélemy (St. Barts) Island Guide
If you cannot decide whether you would like to vacation in Paris or the tropics, then St. Barthélemy (St. Barts) might be the perfect destination. This French speaking island in the Lesser Antilles is the place to be if you are into luxurious leisure with a European feel, and the dining and shopping are superb. From the capital of Gustavia to the remote beaches, this island provides an array of refined activities in an alluring locale.
While ashore in Gustavia, a stroll down the Quai de la République is the island version of browsing Paris’ Rue Saint Honoré. Here you can shop for haute couture, upscale knockoffs, or locally crafted merchandise. Nestled among designers such as Cartier and Louis Vuitton, are boutiques such as Lolita Jaca which combines elegance and leisure in their unique designs. If you are looking for unique jewelry to commemorate your voyage, Mignot is a must stop and they are especially noted for their pearl jewelry. If sightseeing is on the agenda, Fort Gustav and the intimate Wall House Museum are a couple of options.
If after your tour of Gustavia you have developed an appetite, there are many cafes and bistros to pop into for a bite to eat. Crêperie St Barth is a notable option with excellent food and amazing service. If you are ready to transition to a more island vibe, Le Select is an upscale “dive-bar” that was the inspiration for Jimmy Buffet’s song Cheeseburger in Paradise and should not be missed.
If shopping is not your thing, Gustavia has many other offerings including the Baie de St-Jean, a bucolic slice of beach known for windsurfing, snorkeling, or people watching. For an upbeat and upscale waterfront experience, Nikki Beach is a storied beach club where you can lounge in luxury while savoring a glass of champagne, a classic cocktail, or a more creative mixture such as the Kitty at the Cocobongo.
Since this French Leeward Island is known for its fine dining, dinner ashore while in Gustavia would definitely be in order. Some notable establishments that require planning for and making reservations are Bonito, a “cosy chic” French South American fusion restaurant; L’Isola, a fashionable Italian eatery; Orega, a gourmet Japanese restaurant with glowing reviews and French influences; and Tamarin, a blend of local, French, and International cuisines with a number of vegetarian and vegan options in a lush garden setting. After dinner, if you would like to sample the nightlife on St. Barts, again multiple options abound. Bar de L’Oubli is a local favorite with a casual feel and an extensive drink menu and Le Ti St-Barth is a nightclub that must be experienced. Beginning every evening with a burlesque show, this colorful and vibrant establishment is a place to shelve your inhibitions and if you happen to be there when the moon is full, the Full Moon party is outrageous.
Among the more than fifteen beaches on St. Barts, there are options to suit multiple preferences. If you are looking for a beach that combines a celebratory atmosphere with a dazzling sandy shore, Shell Beach provides a protected cove for swimming, sunbathing and shelling, and on Sundays visitors and locals gather for an all day beach party. There are also locales that showcase a more relaxed side to this genteel island paradise. Pick up a mooring ball in remote Anse de Colombier and snorkel surrounded by turtles and tropical fish; or head to shore and sunbathe or hike over to the bay of Flamands; or take the dinghy and explore the dive sites amidst the rocks. Likewise, Anse des Flamands, just three miles north of Gustavia is a quieter shoreline also with hiking trails but offers more amenities. After sipping a glass of wine in the sun, take a walk from the beach to the dormant volcano believed to have formed St. Barts. Another option is Anse de Grand Saline along the southern coastline, which is a more secluded and clothing optional beach.
St. Barts, an island collectivity of France, is only eight square miles in area but is packed full of activities and sites that keeps visitors enthralled whether you are here for a few hours or a few days. Laid-back or raucous, glamorous or refined you can stay as busy or as relaxed as you desire in this luxurious playground of yachts and celebrities between the Atlantic Ocean and the clear blue Caribbean Sea.