St. Barts has been under Swedish and English authority since its discovery by Christopher Columbus in 1493, although it was predominantly a French colony. St. Barts received the equivalent of statehood from France in 1946. These centuries’ cultural and architectural effects may be traced all throughout the island. In the previous two decades, the island’s population has doubled, and it is now renowned as a luxury hideaway.
The French Caribbean island of St. Barthélemy is undeniably popular with the wealthy, yet it is sometimes out of reach for the middle class. But, as the sight of those free-roaming iguanas attests, it’s far from snobbish, and it’s also more accessible than you would imagine. If you prepare ahead of time, you can keep your vacation costs comparable to those on other Caribbean islands.
And, thankfully, all 14 of St. Barts’s (or St. Barth’s) beaches are available to the public. The island is great for people looking for a European-themed paradise with lots of beachfront for maximum relaxation. If you’re searching for a more active nightlife and off-shore activities, visit Barts’ relatives Martinique or St. Martin.
Best Time to Visit St.Barts
April through June is the ideal season to visit St. Barts. These three months are at a more cost-effective sweet spot, right after the exorbitant winter and before the storm-prone autumn. Temperatures are consistent throughout the year, hovering between the mid-70s and low 90s, but September, October, and November see significantly more rain
Showers are rare in the winter and early spring, but you’ll pay a premium to come during these months. Because the Saint Barthélemy Airport (SBH) has such a tiny runway, most people choose to fly to nearby St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) and then take a shuttle or ferry to the island.
Tips for Visiting St. Barts
Plan ahead of time. A wintertime visit discount is uncommon, but not unheard of, especially if you plan your vacation up to a year in advance.
Stay close to the beach. Also, keep away from the store. All of St. Barts’ magnificent beaches are open to the public for free. But what about St. Barts’ stunning haute couture? Not at all.
Make a picnic basket. You won’t discover café culture here (it’s too pricey), but picnics are quite popular. Before heading to the beach, stop by a deli in Gustavia or St-Jean to stock up on groceries.
Many tourists to St. Barts stay in their opulent resorts, however, there are several communities to explore for interested foreigners. The euro is the most generally recognized method of payment because the island is still a French colony. Before you go, check here for the most up-to-date exchange rate. The official language of the island is French, however, most locals also know English. Although most local restaurants will add a 15% service fee to your bill, it’s still customary to offer an additional 10% tip for prompt service. To do so, leave the tip on the table rather than adding it to your credit card bill.
Some of the island’s greatest restaurants are located on the grounds of upmarket hotels or resorts, where the cuisine blends Creole flavors with exotic indigenous fruits, fresh seafood, and classic French culinary skills. For a spectacular dining experience in an open-air environment, visit resorts along the shore, such as On the Rocks at Eden Rock (the No. 1 Best Hotel in St. Barts) and Restaurant Le Gaiac at Hotel Le Toiny. Try Maya’s in Gustavia or Le Tamarin (constructed around a more than 100-year-old tamarind tree) near Grand Saline Beach for a more local, but no less luxurious, supper. If you’re looking for a good deal, go to Le Select in Gustavia or Chez Rolande (Wishing Well).
Baie de St-Jean, St.Barts
Maybe it’s the gorgeous turquoise water or the stylish sunbathers, but the Baie de St-Jean (or Bay of St. Jean) makes you feel like you’re on the French Riviera. This picturesque stretch is also a great place to go windsurfing or snorkeling (the reef-protected waters are normally quiet), and there are a few quaint stores and bistros nearby if you need to get out of the water.
It’s also the island’s most popular beach, according to some reviews, but getting a place on the sand early ensures a fantastic people-watching vantage point. It’s also directly in front of St. Barts’ little airport, so you can see planes take off and land up close. St-Jean is also rather easy to locate. Imagine a gorgeous beach in the crook of St. Barts if the island is shaped like an elbow. On the south side of Eden Rock, which divides the beach into two portions, those searching for a more tranquil place should look.
Anse des Flamands, St.Barts
Unless you stay in a hotel on the island’s northwest side, you’re unlikely to see this beach, but it’s worth checking out if you’re searching for a calmer (and broader) beach than the one found at St. Jean. It’s only about 3 miles north of Gustavia, which is fortunate. The beach has some palm trees, which is unusual on St. Barts’ beaches, and there are lots of nearby cafés and services if you feel hungry, thirsty, or need something else. The semi-strengthening climb from the beach to the neighboring dormant volcano, which some think built St. Barts, is also a good option for anyone wishing to get some exercise.
Except if you’d rather rest on the beach, that’s OK, too — recent visitors stated this length of sand is excellent for folks who want to do nothing but walk on the beach. Those traveling to the western half of the island may locate the beach by taking the D209 or D210. Recent visitors advise arriving early in the day to get a parking place, as parking spots are scarce.
Anse de Grand Cul de Sac, St.Barts
Water sports enthusiasts can pay a visit to Anse de Grand Cul de Sac, which offers kayaking, windsurfing, kite surfing, and even fly fishing. Especially given the warm, quiet, and shallow waters are sheltered by the reef. Before you go, treat yourself to a delicious supper at one of the numerous surrounding restaurants.
Some people recommend skipping this watersports-oriented beach in favor of the magnificent Anse de Grande Saline or the more private Anse des Flamands if you’re just looking for a beautiful beach to sunbathe on. Grand Cul de Sac, like all of St. Barts’ beaches, is open to the public for free. It’s located on the island’s northeast side, just east of the town of Marigot. Take the D209 east from Gustavia or Baie de St-Jean to reach there by automobile.