I am excited to bring to you my very first guest post contributed by my sister. She is incredibly selective and thorough so I was thrilled when she volunteered to tell all about her favorite island in the sun. Immediately below is the bullet-point version. Read on for the details.
Travel – Fly to St. Martin or San Juan and then take a short flight on WinAir (http://www.fly-winair.com/) or St. Barth’s Commuter (http://www.stbarthcommuter.com/) to St. Barth’s. You can also take a 45-minute ferry ride from St. Martin (http://www.sbhonline.com/St-Barts-Transportation/St-Barts-Ferry-Schedules.htm). Easyway-VIP Services (http://www.easyway-sbh.com/) can assist with the particulars.
Hotels – Most luxurious are Guanahani (http://leguanahani.com/en), Eden Rock (http://www.edenrockhotel.com/) and Isle-de-France (http://www.isle-de-france.com/eng/welcome/). Smaller and more charming are Hotel Les Ondines (http://www.st-barths.com/hotel-les-ondines/en/home.html), Le Manapany (http://www.lemanapany.com/) or Hotel Baie-des-Anges (http://hotel-baie-des-anges.com/). Chic boutique hotels are Le Sereno (http://www.lesereno.com/), Le Christopher (http://www.hotelchristopher.com/), Le Toiny (http://www.letoiny.com/) and Carl Gustaf (amazing champagne bar and gorgeous views of the harbor) (http://www.hotelcarlgustaf.com/index.php?lang=en). Villas are also a popular option. Sibarth.com and Stbarthproperties.com are good resources if you’re in the market for a villa.
Restaurant Highlights – Nikki Beach (http://www.nikkibeach.com/stbarth/), Do Brazil (http://www.dobrazil.com/), La Plage (http://www.st-barths.com/tom-beach-hotel/en/restaurant.html), Isle de France (http://www.isle-de-france.com/eng/restaurant/), L’Esprit, La Langouste (http://hotel-baie-des-anges.com/), Jo-Jo Burger, Kiki and Mo (http://www.st-barths.com/kiki-e-mo/), Maya’s To Go (http://mayastogo.com/), Le Ti http://www.letistbarth.com/), Baz Bar (http://www.st-barths.com/bazbar/en/home.html), Bagatelle (http://www.bistrotbagatelle.com/)
Beaches – Gouvernor’s and Saline Beaches for white sand, clear water and waves. Colombier Beach if you want to hike to your destination. Flamands Beach for boogie boarders/surfers. Shell Beach, St. Jean Beach and Grand Cul-de-Sac are calmer.
Shopping – Designer boutiques abound in the main town of Gustavia. Also, Lili Belle, Poupette, Lolita Jacca and Kiwi. The St. Barth’s Exchange is a bit off the beaten path but worthwhile for more unique designs. Mandarine for pearl necklaces popular on the island.
If you’re looking for a true European vibe in the Caribbean, head to St. Barth’s. Although it’s not a straight shot from NY (you need to fly through St. Martin or San Juan, Puerto Rico to get there), Easyway-VIP Services is a great resource and will assist you with the challenges of getting there on WinAir and St. Barth’s Commuter, the local airlines that fly from St. Martin and Puerto Rico. A 30-minute ferry ride or private jet from these islands is also an option. While I will not even attempt to underestimate the inconvenience of the travel, the moment you step out of your tiny commuter plane, ferry boat or private jet, a certain “je ne sais quoi” instantly takes over and you’ll feel like you’re in the south of France.
St. Barth’s is all about its beaches, and the options are bountiful. Head to Gouvernor’s or Saline Beach if you’re looking for white sand, clear water and rolling waves. If you’re feeling really adventurous, take a 30-minute hike up and over a couple of steep hills and sometimes narrow passages to Colombier. After working up a sweat you will arrive at a stunning beach with small whirlpools where boats often anchor for a picnic lunch and relaxing swim. The only drawback is the hike back with the wet towels and the afternoon heat so you may want to go early.
One of my favorite beaches is Flamands Beach at Ile-de-France. If you are a strong swimmer or looking to boogie board, this is your destination. However, it is not ideal for small children because of the heavy undertow and strong waves. Here you can have a drink at the beachside bar or get a table at the restaurant for a wonderful meal. Other beach options are Shell Beach (true to its moniker) in town and St. Jean (great for small children), as well as Grand Cul de Sac. Note: To get to all of the incredible beaches, you’ll definitely want to rent a car as there is no public transportation on the island.
There is no shortage of good food in St. Barth’s. Lunches tend to be long and relaxing. Some destinations you might want to hit are Nikki Beach (very child-friendly despite the reputation), La Plage, Ile-de-France and Do Brazil (where you might want to hang out until sunset).
Another top choice is L’Esprit. I love the sophisticated cuisine set under the palm trees. Expect the checks to be hefty, especially if you add rosé, which seems to flow quite freely around the island. One great deal for terrific seafood is La Langouste-go for the pasta with lobster as it never disappoints, except that they sometimes they run out early. For a great burger, there’s JoJo Burger or Maya’s-To-Go across from the airport for a picnic lunch. Pizzas are also an option but prices vary wildly; we once ordered pies from L’Isoletta, and although they were delicious, they cost $40 per pie….and they were practically individual size! You won’t run into this problem if you stop by the roadside pizza parlor near the shopping area of St. Jean or opt for an Italian panini at Kiki and Mo. Don’t miss Bar L’Oubli (http://www.loubligourmetbar.com/Loubli/Welcome.html) for a real French treat – Caribe Beer, Menthe a l’eau or Liptique, with a side of french fries (bien sur)!
If you want to experience the pleasure of food shopping as if you were in France, great options are Marché U (across from the airport), Oasis, JoJo Market in St. Jean or the conveniently located market on the main street in Gustavia. Gustavia is the island’s hub for shopping and restaurants and also has a beautiful scenic port.
For adult soirée fun, hire a babysitter for the kids and go to Le Ti (make reservations ) where you will find plenty of entertainment. Without giving away too much, you should expect to dance, don a costume (once there-they provide!) and rub elbows with the fancies on island. La Plage also hosts some cool entertainment from fire dancers and pole dancers (mildly erotic) to hip musical talent. Baz Bar on the port is THE place to go for sushi and music. Other choices for nightlife include bbq’s at Nikki Beach, Bagatelle (same as in NYC) and a more bohemian vibe at Do Brazil.
Note: If you’re visiting at the end of March, do not miss the Bucket Race, where you will see some of the most incredible sailboats and yachts, not to mention celebrities and other eye candy.