THINGS TO DO
Many people have heard of it, but aren’t sure exactly where it is. They know it’s an island,
someplace in the Antilles archipelago. Do they imagine it to be hip and sophisticated, or more authentic, discreet, and laidback?
This tiny rock, smaller and less populated than many villages in the French countryside, has few resources other than its charm, its perpetual sunshine, the underwater wealth of its Marine Park, and its protected landscapes.
St Barts island is an excellent tourist destination: one of the most varied and upscale, with villas, hotels, spas, some of the best restaurants in the Caribbean, a wide choice of leisure activities and nautical sports, prestigious sailing regattas, a full calendar of cultural events, and the irresistible allure of great shopping… and of course the St Barts beaches with cristal water.
ST BARTS BEACHES
Perfect arcs of white sand bordering warm turquoise waters, with a richness of underwater fauna sheltered by plant beds and coral, the St Barts beaches are all different, each with its own seductive charms and decided personality.
14 stunning beaches lined with white sand
Shell beach at first view is a stretch of shells that all look the same. But there is the occasional surprise of finding a rare shell, sending you off on a treasure hunt for more! This unusual, one-of-a-kind beach is perfect for those tired of the cliché “white sand beach.” It is also one of the best spots to to watch the sunset and the closest to the center of Gustavia (5 minutes) and one can have lunch or dinner almost at the water’s edge.
Public Beach close to the Port of Gustavia, the neighborhood of Public has its own beach, which houses the island’s yacht club (sailing school). The water is calm and pleasant for swimming.
Corossol Beach and its slightly brownish sand gives this beach a certain charm. The bay of Corossol is home to many traditional fishing boats or dories.
Colombier Beach is accessible only by boat or a foot-path from la Petite Anse or Colombier, the beach of Colombier boasts one of the most beautiful panoramic views on the island. The clear, turquoise water is ideal for snorkeling.
La Petite Anse Beach or Little Cove Creek is an ideal beach for the family, the water is shallow and in addition to its white sand, rocks, on either side of the beach conceal a fascinating underwater life.
Flamands Beach is the largest on the island with fine white sand and rolling waves. The beach gets busier in the summer when students home from school get together to play soccer or volley-ball in the sand.
Anse des Cayes Beach is like its name suggests, a “cayes” which refers to coral reef. It is also one of the more popular beaches for surfers with its big waves rolling in.
Saint-Jean Beach is second only to Gustavia, as the most active area on the island. Its beach is split into two sections, divided by the Eden Rock Hotel. The first part is near the airport and one can see the planes taking off and landing: One must be prudent and stay out of their way! And make sure to respect the signs. There is also easy access to nautical activities here. The second part, on the far side of the hotel, is calmer and better suited to swimming or snorkeling.
Lorient Beach or as the locals call it the “little pools” is on one side calm enough to swim safely (the little pools) and is frequented by families since the area is protected by a coral reef that offers extra security for children. The other end of the beach is popular with surfers as there are large waves that come in over the rocks and coral.
Marigot Beach, is so tranquil time seems to have stopped. In spite of numerous hurricanes, there is still a healthy coconut grove near the beach.
Grand Cul-de-Sac Beach is protected by a large natural barrier reef a few hundreds of yards off-shore, which offers calm water great for water activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, kite and wind-surfing.
Petit Cul-de-Sac Beach is the spot where friends and families often gather for picnics.
Toiny Beach is idea for those who love surfing and challenging waves (especially with the winter currents). Although swimming is discouraged here due to strong cur-rents, surfing is the principal activity on this beach. The coastline also offers some good hiking and pristine viewpoints.
Grand Fond Beach remains the most mysterious, and swim-ming is not encouraged due to the rocky coast and stones in the water, but the shoreline is the perfect place to take a long walk on the rocks with the wind blowing in your hair.
Gouverneur Beach off the beaten path and undeveloped, the beach in Gouverneur looks like a picture postcard with its white sand, vegetation, and turquoise water. It is said that the pirate Monbars hid his treasure nearby.
The true leader for gourmet French dining in the tropics, St Barths appeases the appetites of its guests and residents with a large choice of high-quality restaurants. The island has a collage of various culinary traditions that combines a seductive French life-style with the laidback attitude of the Caribbean, mixing expected flavors with unexpected Asian or European accents to create a fusion of tastes that exceeds any expectations. Starting with the simplicity of fresh fish of the day, on the grill with a littlle local lime…
LA DÉTENTE AND LE SHOPPING
Saint Barts has developed its own lifestyle that seamlessly blends luxury and nonchalance. The goal of everyone on the island is to satisfy the dreams and desires of their guests, so that each trip to Saint Barthélemy is a moment of peacefulness far from anxi-ety and stress. Saint Barthélemy is the ideal island to go shopping with total serenity in Gustavia, the most prestigious luxury brands rub shoulders with young designers whose collections are inspired by life on the island, with informal receptions, memorable parties, and elegant relaxation. Interior design boutiques are filled objects often found on expeditions to the four corners of the world. Most of the boutiques are located in Gustavia or Saint Jean, and offer duty-free prices.
ART AND CULTURE
The quality of the artists, museum curators, writers, and collectors that the island attracts is astonishing; and many of them have chosen to make St. Barth almost a second home. A partial list of some of the most celebrated international visual artists who have chosen to create on the island: Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, Ellsworth Kelly, Brice Marden, Donald Baechler, and Francesco Clemente. Some the of the world’s most important art collectors and curators are regular visitors to St. Barth and/or have villas on the island. St Barth is the only ‘Art Island’ in the Caribbean as it has such unparalleled cultural wealth.
It is hard to imagine a trip to Saint Barths without water sports. There are a lot of options: diving, Jet Skis, kayak, catamaran, surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing… And for those who like more comfort, there are boat rental companies with their range of op-tions: sailboats or motorboats, with or without skipper, for a tour of the island, an excursion at sea, or a sunset cruise…. And then here are choices for fans of deep-sea fishing: each outing represents a 95% chance to reel in a beautiful fish, be it mahi-mahi, tuna, Wahoo, or marlin.
Saint Barts has a wide variety of sports activities: tennis of course, and horseback riding, fitness and working out…. There are also popular team sports (football, rugby, basket-ball), and martial arts and archery, which are reserved for regulars signed up for the year, but there is nothing to stop someone who practices these sports to ask for authorization to participate while on the island.
As for bicycling, the mountainous terrainmakes that a sport for a few hardy souls.
THE MARINE PARK
The Natural Reserve of Saint Barthélemy and its marine park were created to ensure the protection of the marine environment. Working in close collaboration with the local government, one of the marine park’s principal goal is to make the population, and especially children, aware of its effort. By way of special events as well as visits to the schools, the marine park staff has remarked that many people are unaware of the marine world and its importance. Work in the field is necessary to fight against poaching and direct hits to the environment. That is also why continuous observation is necessary to keep an eye on the evolution of all species, and especially the protection of those that are the most vulnerable. In this light, there are many volunteers from diving clubs that also help evaluate and protect sites around the island.
Few islands the size of Saint Barthélemy can boast a cultural and social calendar as rich and varied: festivals, nautical gatherings, and traditional fêtes accent the entire year.
From season to season, every year has its series of quality artistic and cultural events, such as the incredible St Barth Music Festival, the St. Barth Film Festival, Fashion Week, and the traditional Carnival with its parades and dancing in the streets.
As for sports, sailing takes top honors with three big events each year attracting some of the most beautiful sailboats in the world: The New Year’s Eve Regetta; The St Barth Bucket; and Les Voiles de Saint Barth.
Every two years, the island also hosts the arrival of the now classic Transat AG2R transatlantic race. An original initiative is the Swedish marathon, or Gustavialoppet, which pays homage to the Swedish presence on the island.
And finally, many hotels and restaurants add to the activities on the island by organizing various musical or festive events that help create a fun atmosphere.
A small slice of France under the Caribbean sun, and a volcanic island whose mountainous lacks even a single source of fresh water, Saint Barthélemy’s most seductive charm lies in its many contrasts. Get to know the island in order to make it your own, from what’s on the surface to local customs and traditions: discover the island’s secrets to make your visit even more enjoyable.
The island has a tropical maritime climate. The air temperature only varies between 80°F in the winter and 86°F in the summer, or as high as 90°F in July and August, while ocean temperatures can rise as high as 86°F in the summer. Saint Barthélemy does not experience
four separate seasons as in colder climes, but two major periods: the “dry season” from December 1 through May 30, when the air is cooler and the temperatures lower, and the warmer “rainy season” from June 1 through November 30. September and October are also the height of the hurricane season when there is the highest risk of tropical storms.
The official language of Saint Barthélemy is French. English is widely spoken here as well as the island’s main industry is tourism. Two other languages are spoken as well: a patois based on an old French dialect on the leeward side of the island; and Creole similar to that of Guadeloupe on the windward side. These dialects vary, as do the local accents, from village to village. In spite of almost 100 years of Swedish rule, the Swedish language is not spoken in
Saint Barthelemy (other than by a handful of recent émigrés).
In 2001, Saint Barth, like the rest of France and Europe, changed to the euro. The US dollar remains the second currency of the island.
In Saint Barthélemy the current is 220 volts/60Hz, compared to 220V/50Hz in France and 110V/60Hz in the United States. Most hotels and villas have 220V/110V transformers
Saint Barthélemy is a dry island without a natural source of fresh drinking water. City water is provided through desalination of ocean water. During the process, which consists of separating the salt from the water via evaporation, the water also loses all of its mineral qualities rendering it inadequate for human consumption.
Therefore, minerals are added before the water is transferred to large water tanks or reservoirs, and then redistributed to consumers via gravity.
The very first desalination plant appeared on the island in 1972. At the time it was capable of producing up to 50 liters per day. Since then, the population has increased considerably and along with it, the daily demand for water. In 2009, production was up to 4,300 cubic meters per day, but water still remains a precious resource to be used intelligently, without wasting a drop and with moderation at all times.
In the past, rainwater was collected in large communal cisterns, some of which still exist in certain neighborhoods. In more recent years, private homes have been built with cisterns so that water is collected privately. These private cisterns, generally built in the foundations of houses, furnish a large percentage of the water used by residents.
To call Saint Barthelemy:
• from France: the ten digit French phone number including the 0
• from the rest of the world : 00 + 590 + the phone number
To call from Saint Barthélemy:
• France: the 10-digit French phone number starting with 0
• United States: 001 plus the area code and phone number
• Europe: 00 plus country code and phone number
• Sint-Maarten: 00-721 and the phone number