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-seat plane 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 Villa Festival (WV BEN) in Pont Milou overlooking the gorgeous sea before the sun even went down. Here, my short list to a chic stay in St. Barths:
Where to Stay: While there are a myriad of small hotels there, the real island experience comes from staying at a private 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 have gorgeous ones in Anguilla, St Tropez, Tuscany, Mykonos and other hot spots), is the ultimate resource for finding the perfect home for your liking…and they’ll handle all of travel stuff (flights, rental cars etc) so you don’t have to. Upon landing we were greeted by our 24-hour WIMCO concierge (ours was a dutiful, lovely man named Moe), treated to a fully-stocked fridge of Maya’s To Go provisions (more on that below) and scheduled with a private massage from the Ligne St. Barths, mobile spa team 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, and a few of my favorites are photographed below.
How to Get There: St Barths is a great escape for any East Coaster. Hop an easy flight to San Juan, then you hop on one of Tradewind Aviation‘s daily flights to Carl 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!
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 store was Terra, for over-the-top island prints, chiffon caftans and statement accessories. 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 Colombier 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!
By Joyann King
Photo Credits Courtesy & Joyann King
Originally published in HarpersBazaar