The presence of a flotilla of superyachts docked stern-to along the charming waterfront of St Bart's tiny capital, Gustavia, and regular sightings of the world's rich and famous ashore and afloat, suggests there is something very special about St Barts – and there is. St Barts is a fascinating meld of Caribbean informality and French flamboyance when it comes to gastronomic delights, bars, boutiques and culture.
So with St Barts being one of THE destinations in the Caribbean that packs quite a punch into a delightfully small island here are some of our highlights and recommendations of things to do and places to visit while you are here ...
Postcard Perfect Beaches
St Barts is known for its pristine, fine white sand beaches – all are public and all have a distinct personality. These range from secluded, romantic hideaways to the classic, wide beaches home to toes-in-the-sand bars and restaurants populated by "the beautiful people". There's also beaches where you can enjoy body surfing and riding the waves as well as bays with quiet, shallow water ideal for small children and families.
Anse de Colombier is delightfully secluded and accessible only by boat or on foot and if you're in luck you'll have the chance to swim with turtles, while Flamands Beach is renown for its soft sand, crystal clear water and lovely restaurants offering seaside dining. Shell Beach offers a lovely anchorage with views of the islands of Saba and Statia while Anse de St Jean is the place to go for people-watching at the sexiest beach bars on the island!
If you fly into this island you will understand why it takes special training for pilots to land here and while the major proportion of flights land safely with no fatalities, the air-traffic controllers at St. Barts, according to rumour, do have a photo album of those who went nose over in the sand or ended up in the clear blue waters of the Baie de St. Jean.
So what is all the excitement for. The short and narrow runway is at the bottom of a hill and even if you have not flown in then waiting at the roundabout at the top of the hill to watch a plane arriving is definitely exhilarating; be prepared to duck if you are tall!
Shop 'til you Drop
As a duty-free port St Barts offers great shopping and it is small wonder that Forbes has named the island one of the "World's 10 Best Shopping Destinations". The bustling capital Gustavia has 3 major shopping streets with elegant displays in exciting designer shops with many luxury brands such as luxury brands Prada, Richard Mille, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Roberto Cavalli, Villebrequin being represented on the island. It's the perfect spot to pick up a Rolex watch or Chanel bag, while St Jean's Pelican Shops are known for their chic boutiques and locally produced beauty products and clothing. There are French and Italian fashion lines available as well as trendy beachwear, stunning jewellery, vintage wines and Cuban cigars.
Whether you're a shopper on a mission or a browsing window shopper, there's no doubt you'll find happiness stalking the latest in clothes and accessories in dozens of the Caribbean's best boutiques.
Eat, Drink & Be Seen
St Bart's is a paradise for gourmets and foodies alike. With over 80 restaurants there are lots of choices from high-end five-star establishments to funky sidewalk cafes and beachside bistros. French-inspired but with a Caribbean flair and using the freshest of local seafood along with the finest of imported ingredients eating in St Barts is a real treat.
There's plenty of nightlife with champagne and cocktail bars, nightclubs and dancing on the tables, all adding to the fun on this lovely island. Some parties start after lunch service while others are just getting started about midnight and go long into the wee hours.
There are some long-time classic favourites to visit ranging from Jimmy Buffet's Le Select, inspiration for the Cheeseburger in Paradise song to Eden Rock and Nikki Beach on the trend-setting strip of Baie de St Jean. There's also constantly new places opening up such as the French-Japanese Fusion Orega and La Guerite (sister to the restaurant of the same name near Cannes) to inspire the locals and visiting gourmands alike.
St Bart's is many things to many people with an ability to be whatever you want it to be... for some it is a non-stop party while for others it's a peaceful and refreshing escape; there is a lively social scene and shopping but also blissful beaches offering sunshine and solitude.
For further information about St Barts and luxury charter yachts available in the area please contact the Caribbean specialists at the Luxury Charter Group.