A Postcard from St. Barths

First published on harpersbazaar.com, April 2014. Reprinted with permission from Joyann King.

April, 2014 - I am just back from a week's vacation in St. Barths, where I fell in love with the magical (and often celeb-studded) Caribbean getaway. The volcanic island, whose very official-sounding name is Saint Barthelemy, is a French territory, so that means that two of my favorite things—fresh croissants and the ocean—were merged into one fabulous location. Two flights (the last one a small eight-seater jet that our Tradewind pilot Scudder handled flawlessly) and a treacherous drive on the narrow and hilly roads and we were poolside sipping vanilla rum (an island favorite) at Wimco's Festival Villa in Pointe Milou overlooking the gorgeous sea before the sun even went down. Here, my short list to a chic stay in St. Barths:

How to Get There: St Barths is a great escape for any East Coaster. Hop an easy flight to San Juan, then you simply take one of Tradewind Aviation's daily flights to Gustaf Airport. Less than an hour in the air and you will be landing on one of the most thrilling and gorgeous runways I have ever seen. Tradewind makes the whole process effortless with their private-like lounge in San Juan, on-board spirits (a glass of Veuve is a must with the heart-racing landing) and well-trained, friendly pilots. I met two of the owners of Tradewind while on my trip (both of whom are named David) and their passion for aviation and travel was contagious. You are in safe hands here—besides, the thrilling flight is half the fun!

Villa WV RGR
Villa WV RGR

Where to Stay: While there are a myriad of hotels on the island, the real experience comes from staying at a villa. To wake up to the gorgeous sunrise and have coffee by your private infinity pool, then later watch the rising moon at night with a cocktail in hand, is when true relaxation really sets in—a must when in St. Barths. Wimco Villas, which has over 300 villas on the island (they also own gorgeous ones in St. Tropez), is the ultimate resource for finding the perfect home for your liking. Upon landing we were greeted with our 24-hour concierge (ours was a dutiful, lovely man named Moe), treated to a fully-stocked fridge of Maya's To Go (more on that below) and scheduled with private Ligne St. Barth, and massages at our villa for the following day. We were also lucky enough to take an exclusive tour of some of the most stunning homes on the island a few days into our trip. The architecture is truly inspiring.

Where to Eat and Drink: We had a lovely rosé-filled lunch at Do Brazil, which is right on the water. Maya's To Go is great for stocking up for a house party, while the restaurant is great for delicious, classic Caribbean fare. We also enjoyed dinner outside at Bagatelle, which overlooks the dock and is great for boat-watching. Sunset drinks or lunch at Nikki Beach is an island right of passage, and so is a super late night spent partying at Le Ti! Otherwise, enjoy stocking the kitchen from the amazing French markets and bakeries, where cheeses that cost $20 in the U.S. are under $5 and the baguettes and almond croissants are perfection.

Where to Shop: In St. Jean, our favorite stores were Terra, for over-the-top island prints, chiffon caftans and statement accessories, and the Eden Rock Hotel shop for gorgeous scarves and jewelry. We also stopped in St. Jean's local pharmacie to stock up on our favorite French beauty essentials and bought $15 espadrilles and classic panama hats at a store across the street. In Gustavia, Poupette is a feminine boho's dream store, Lolita Jaca has the most gorgeous cover-ups but is quite expensive, while Marisa is where I landed on a reasonably-priced yet beautiful white crochet number.

What to Do: Hike to Columbier beach and bring a picnic, take an extra-long dip at Saline Beach (true to its name, the water is so, so salty and leaves your skin feeling amazing), and charter a boat for a day to really see the island and its surroundings. But most of all, relax!

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