St Barts 101
St Bart, St Barths, Saint-Barth, or however you want to say it is a delightful French island located in the southern Caribbean.
What’s it like?
Since it’s a French territory, the residents are French citizens, speak French, and the currency is the Euro. Because of these factors, St. Barts is one of the more expensive Caribbean islands. The people are warm and friendly (they live in the Caribbean!) and are usually younger. The island is very hilly and mountainous with a fabulous breeze everywhere you go. Water is clear but not calm and the beaches are a mix of brown and cream soft sand. One side of the island seems more arid while the other is more lush. The town of Gustavia is the main port area and has a feel of St Thomas with luxury shopping and plenty of restaurants. Saint-Jean is where the airport and most of the commercial activity is located and a few of the luxury resorts. Flamands Beach is one of the larger beaches where several luxury resorts are located.
How to get there?
You can’t fly directly from a major US city because the airport is so small (one short runway and no lights) so you will need to fly a commuter airline from one of several Caribbean Islands. St. Barth Commuter has daily flights from St. Martin (SXM and SGF) and Antigua (ANU). Winair has daily flights from St Martin (SXM). You could also take a 45 minutes ferry ride from St Martin but the trip across could be quite rough and it’s not much cheaper than the 15 minute commuter flight which starts around 70E each way.
Where to stay:
You can stay in a private villa or a luxury resort during your visit so it really depends on who you are with and what you would like.
Many villas come with private pools and a chef which is a great option for a multi-generational family, several couples, or a group of friends.
If you want more services and it’s just you and your family or loved one, then I recommend a luxury resort. There are 5 Virtuoso properties on St Barth but I’ve only stayed at Cheval Blanc – Isle de France located on Flamands Beach and you can read more about my stay HERE. Eden Rock is located in Saint-Jean as is Le Sereno and Le Guanahani isn’t too far from those. Hotel Le Toiny is located in Grand cul de Sac on the northeastern part of the island. All these properties are small and intimate.
Where to eat?
Food, like everything else, is pricey on the island but it’s very good. A few of my favorite restaurants are listed below.
La Creperie – Gustavia
JoJo Burger (order the old fashioned)
La Gloriette (pizza, etc) – Gran cul de sac
La Petite Columbe (bakery, b’fast or lunch) located in Gustavia
L’Isola (Italian) located in Gustavia
Order the starter which is fried polenta in cream sauce and it’s amazing.
In order to save a few Euros, stop off at the grocery store across from the airport upon arrival and stock up on snacks and beverages. Be sure to bring your own bags or look for empty boxes at the exit because the store doesn’t provide bags.
What to do?
Go to the beach – with 22 public beaches (15 suitable for swimming) you can swim, surf, wind surf, or just relax. Beware there is one that is clothing-optional (Saline Beach).
Shop – Many popular luxury brands are located on the island as well as many local boutiques.
Eat – Just as you would expect in France, the food here is amazing as well as the abundance of bubbly.
Nights – the clubs and restaurants can heat up in the evening so bring your fashionable clothes and best shoes for a night on the town.
Anything else I should know?
Definitely rent a car, but be sure it’s the smallest car on the lot. The roads are more or less glorified sidewalks with not a lot of room for two cars to be on them at one time. You won’t find a single traffic light on the island with only a few stop signs. Be aware that everyone smokes everywhere.