Saint Barthélemy, known to most as St Barts, is perhaps the most exclusive island in the Caribbean. This paradise island is the cream of the crop, offering the very best gastronomy, parties, shopping, regattas, beaches and more.
As with most islands in this area, it has been occupied by many different settlers throughout history. The lasting influences are mainly Swedish and, of course, French, with the island now a collectivity of France. Imagine a tropical paradise with the grace and beauty of the French Riviera, and you have St Barts. It comes as no surprise that the rich and famous have chosen this as their island, with many returning year after year for all that it offers.
Visitors can enjoy high end retail and designer boutiques as they wander the streets of the capital city of Gustavia, then step out in the evening wearing their latest purchase. The nightlife here is the stuff of legend, particularly on New Year’s Eve - with the most exclusive parties enjoyed around Gustavia’s superyacht friendly harbor. No matter when you visit, the island’s clubs will have you out until the sun rises over the Caribbean Sea. Late nights can be slept off on the deck of your superyacht, at a wellness retreat or on the sandy beaches of nearby uninhabited islands. In fact, with just a short cruise, it is easy feel a thousand miles from civilization, with dozens of isolated coves, rewarding hikes, good surf beaches and stunning dive sights to enjoy.
Enjoy the dizzying beauty of this volcanic island by day, and the very best of its hospitality by night.
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Key Cruising Areas: All cruises should include time in the glitzy Gustavia, as well as anchoring out at some of the many beautiful beaches found on St Barts and its surrounding islands and islets. If you are keen to explore more of the Caribbean, it is within easy reach of the nearby Dog Island, Anguilla and St. Maarten.
Don’t Miss: The island’s superyacht regatta, St Barts Bucket. Held in late March, the island sees dozens of superyachts, including the impressive J Class, gather for a series of races.
Best Spots for Wining and Dining: The list of excellent bars and restaurants is long on St Barts. One of the highlights is the island institution of Le Ti Saint Bart, where you can expect hilltop views, great food and even better parties. Dining is superb at the soon to reopen Eden Rock and at L’Esprit Saline, where chef Jean-Claude Dufour showcases St Barts’ unique French Caribbean fusion food. For a sunset drink, head to the beachside restaurant Shellona, or the exclusive Nikki Beach.
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Local Culture: The island’s first successful European settlement was founded by French buccaneers, giving St Barts a strong French identity, but also creating legend of buried treasure, with bounty said to lie in the coves of Anse du Gouverneur and the sands of Saline. Apart from a spell as a Swedish free port (a status the island had kept) which left the capital city with its name, Gustavia, the cultural influences here have remained mainly French.
Best Beach: Anse de Grande Saline beach is one of the island’s most beautiful, with white sand, clear waters and no buildings along this stretch of coastline to break the view. A strong second is Colombier, locally known as Rockefeller’s beach. This unspoiled beach is only accessed by foot or boat and is the ideal spot for a picnic.
IYC recommends: A trip to the uninhabited islet of Île Fourchue, which lies off the northwest tip of St Barts. It sits within the Nature Reserve of Saint Bartholomew and as a result offers excellent diving when the currents are right. Take the tender to shore and hike amongst the sparse scrub-like vegetation to reach the top of the islet’s five peaks.
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