• St Barths
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Saint Barths

By Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin Section editor Profile
Saint-Barts often has the reputation of being frequented by show-offs. It is a known fact that people who go to Saint Barts, (mostly Americans), take great care of the way they dress and of their appearance in general. However, Saint Barts does have a very friendly, carnival atmosphere where you can hop from one night club to another on the same night without paying an entrance fee, and where everybody dares to mingle, chat and dance together. Despite initial appearances, the people are very approachable.
The island's hotels combine refinement and elegance in a hilly, even mountainous, landscape, and all the hotel's sea views are stunning.

Saint Barthelemy is a tiny island of nine square miles with 22 beautiful beaches. The most popular beaches are those of the Governor and Grande Saline, two semi-wild inlets, which are long enough not to feel overcrowded. The Grand Fond cove is also superb, you can't swim there, but the place is amazing: jagged cliffs, stone walls and hills, recalling scenery in Ireland. Make a trip to the Cove of Flamingos, a long spit of white sand bordered by the Atlantic or visit the crescent formed by the Bay of Saint-Jean which is the most lively seaside spot in Saint-Barth with all its hotels and bars. Otherwise have a drink at the Pelican or at the Beach, on a comfortable sofa, with your feet in the sand. It is on the Bay of Saint-Jean and at the Grand Cul de Sac, to the east, that water sports (windsurfing, pedalos, canoeing, kayaking and sea scooters) are offered. There is scuba diving in the Grand Cul de Sac and the coves of Cayes and Toiny and surfing in Lorient and the Cayes bay. Indeed, Saint Barthélemy - which has a fairly similar climate all year round, though drier than in Martinique and Guadeloupe, is very pleasant from May to August, even though it is warmer in winter (air: 30 °C water: 29 °C). Moreover, the days are longer (sunrise at 5:00 am., sunset at 7:00 pm compared to 6:00 am. and 6:00 pm. in winter). In addition, between March and June you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the whales.

Those who travel to Saint Barts are often jet setters, and the island accommodates everything that that implies: an intimate, no access ?show off' ambiance. While it is true that the port of Gustavia is overcrowded with huge yachts, it often only lasts for the two weeks between Christmas and New Year's Day. Thus, altthough the island can be crowded with a festive ?party atmosphere' reminiscent of Saint-Tropez on occasions, the rest of the time the celebrities who come here remain discreet and the hotels (mostly 4* luxury hotels) also host both ?Mr and Mrs everybody', mostly American, with strong purchasing power. Since the American "high end" is not so formal, the atmosphere follows suit. If you want though, you can also stay in a charming 3 star hotel, which is much more affordable but you will pay a lot for your meals and leisure activities.

Please note: since the island has no source of fresh water, drinking water is obtained from desalinated water or rain collected in tanks. So be eco-friendly: save water.

Our Editorial team's advice

- It is possible to tour the island in half a day. Find your bearings on the first day by driving through Gustavia, Lorient, Marigot, Grand and Petit Cul-de-Sac and Grand Fond. If you like being alone, go to Gouverneur beach, if you like water sports go to Cayes and Grand Cul-de-Sac beaches.

- To get around the island, it is essential to rent a car. Avoid renting a scooter as the island is very hilly and roads are not in good condition.

- The cyclone season (December-January) should be avoided.

pros

  • +The beautiful beaches make it a destination dedicated to beach holidays.
  • +The tax free system makes it possible to (sometimes) get a good deal.
  • +It is France in the tropics.

cons

  • -There is not a lot to do other than the beach activities.
  • -This destination is not affordable for everyone.

Traditions

Saint Barts is a modern island where traditions are slowly disappearing. In the village of Corossol however, inhabited by the descendants of the French settlers originally from Brittany, the women sometimes still wear the traditional costume of Brittany on Sundays - satin dresses decorated with lace, and protuberant bonnets called chiquenottes.
Traditional wickerwork is also very vibrant here: latanier palm leaves are sun-dried and platted into baskets, hats and all sorts of objects.

Food

You will find many chic restaurants offering quality cuisine in an atmosphere quite remote from the usual Caribbean ambience. The most popular cuisine is French cuisine, enjoyed by the many American visitors of the island. It would be a shame not to taste the Creole specialities though, particularly since many restaurants, in Gustavia as well as on the rest of the island, still serve them. Blaff, a fresh fish dish macerated in lemon and spice juice and crabs, fed and stuffed with tropical fruits, are both excellent. Grilled shark, lobsters and other seashells, as well as Creole pork pudding and rice are good enough reasons to take a break from French cuisine for a while.

Ideal Weather Search

Find weekly weather forecasts for Saint Barths . Different criteria make it possible to predict with precision the best time of year to go to Saint Barths . A comprehensive weather score, made up of temperature indicators, bad weather predictions, sunshine levels and wind speeds, will allow you to choose the activities best suited to the weather conditions and therefore make the most of your holiday in Saint Barths .

Reviewed hotels

Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin

Our journalists' reviews for you 16 hotels St Barths . Take a look at our hotels, their facilities or their value-for-money score according to your departure dates so that we can find the best offer to suit you St Barths . Book a hotel St Barths it's never been so simple !

Souvenirs

Saint Barthelemy is a free port and thus a tax-free island. Most luxury brand names have a boutique near the port and the prices are often lower than in Britain. Haute couture, jewellery, perfume, cigarettes and liquors, watches, cameras and video camcorders are supposedly cheaper than elsewhere, however, this is not always the case. The shops set their prices on the purchasing power of the Americans' pricing which are rather high. Only alcohol and cigarettes are much cheaper.
Far away from haute couture, there is also a lively handicraft tradition here: you will find various kinds of basketry, and the famous Panama hat in particular, which is still made by traditional workers.
Shops are open from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm and from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm on week days and from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm on Saturdays. Some shops are open on Saturday afternoons.