With mega yachts, luxury-label shopping and plenty of private villas, Saint Barthelemy — casually known as St. Barts — feels more Parisian than provincial. It’s no surprise — being a former French protectorate, it’s a natural escape for French citizens who can work or visit here easily while not having to exchange their Euros for a local currency.
You’ll find designer shops in the main shopping district of Gustavia, art galleries in St. Jean and delicious French-influenced seafood all over the island.
The island has more than 20 beautiful beaches, each of which has its own personality. Many have beach clubs such as Nikki Beach, where you’ll be treated to top-notch service and great views (and likely celebrity sightings).
Be prepared to shell out for almost anything you do here — St. Barts is not inexpensive, nor is it the place to try to save your money. Best to settle in with a bottle of cold Chablis at one of the beautiful beaches and join the well-heeled in soaking in the good life.
Best Time To Go To St. Barts
November through June is the best time to visit St. Bart’s. From December through April, the sun is especially scorching. December is considered peak season and requires bookings six months in advance. Clouds and showers sometimes interrupt the warm weather, especially during the fall. Avoid the rainy season in September, October, and November, when many establishments close.
St. Barts Transportation
There is no public transportation on the island. Many travelers pick up a rental car; there are 20 agents on the island, We can provide with more information. There are also 38 licensed taxi drivers. Hotels will be able to call one for you.
There are no direct flights to St. Barth’s . . . unless you charter your own plane. If a PJ isn’t a possibility, the next best option is flying to Princess Juliana International Airport on the Dutch side of St. Maarten, where, upon landing, you’ll have to choose your own adventure for the final leg: a 15-minute plane ride or a roughly 45-minute ferry crossing. Flying will get you to paradise quickly, but the flight itself—a roughly dozen-seat puddle-jumper—is not for the faint of heart. (The runway in St. Barth’s also happens to be one of the shortest in commercial aviation, which makes for a white-knuckled landing.) Book your flights in advance on either Winair or St Barth Commuter, the only commercial airlines that provide shuttle flights to and from the island. Or there’s the ferry: an incredibly unglamorous but efficient option for nervous flyers. Buy your tickets in advance on either Great Bay Express or the Voyager to secure your seat. Both have schedules posted online.
St. Barts Beaches
One thing St. Barth’s regulars love about the island is the diversity of its beaches. There are 22 of them in total, each with its own distinct personality. At Saline Beach you’ll find topless women frolicking in the translucent azure water and stretches of soft, white sand that feels like powdered sugar between your toes. What you won’t find: tiki-style tourist traps hawking sugary cocktails. Saline, like most other beaches on St. Barth’s, is rather bare bones—no bars, no shops, no restaurants—so be sure to pack your own snacks and water.
Another local favorite is Colombier, an isolated haven accessible only by boat or a rugged, roughly 30-minute hike. Be warned: The downhill trail to get there is deceivingly easy. The way back . . . not so much. (Try going in the early morning to avoid the afternoon heat.)
If you prefer a more vibrant scene, head to St. Jean, where hot spots like Eden Rock and Nikki Beach provide ample people-watching. During the day, you’ll find the surfers at beaches like Toiny or Lorient and the snorkelers at Gouverneur or Petite Anse, but for sunset, everyone descends upon Shell Beach. It’s covered in millions of thumbnail-size shells and home to the famed Do Brazil
When the sun goes down, the island starts living up to its glamorous reputation. The swankiest spot for dinner is almost always Bonito Saint Barth, a Latin-French restaurant that has a South Beach–meets–St. Barth’s vibe and no shortage of beautiful patrons. (Order the salmon tiradito and you’ll dream about it long after you’ve left.)
Traveling as a couple? Go to Jean-Georges’s romantic On the Rocks at Eden Rock and prepare to fall in love all over again. The restaurant is perched high above St. Jean Bay with views to die for. Request a table by the ledge. While seafood tends to dominate in the area—and rightfully so—you can also get incredible Thai food (Black Ginger) and Southern Italian fare (L’Isola). French-Japanese fusion eatery Orega, located in the heart of Gustavia, is unanimously considered one of the best new additions to the local dining scene. The restaurant’s owner, Greg, will often serve guests himself (dishes like spiny lobster ravioli and wagyu beef gyoza) and warmly offers patrons a double-cheek kiss as they exit.