The island of St Barths is known for its casual chic vibe, the pristine beaches, fun beach bars like Nikki Beach and Gypsea, lively bistros like Bagatelle, and highly-rated, yet relaxed restaurants, such as Robuchon, Isola and Bonito.
For active travelers, there are tennis courts, snorkeling and scuba diving, surfing and kiteboarding, sailing all manner of craft, and hiking up the craggy volcanic hills.
Of course, no French island would be complete without offering excellent food and shopping. You can find high-end boutiques featuring designers from Paris and New York alongside more casual island wares in the pedestrian-friendly village of Gustavia.
The dining scene in St Barts is also excellent. By day there are exceptional beach bars for those long lazy, feet in the sand lunches. For those who want to eat or picnic, there are a dozen excellent markets, boulangeries and patisseries to stock up in.
By night the island is home to many highly-rated restaurants. For those looking for late-night entertainment, there are lively bars like Le Ti, Bagatelle, Casa and Mojito that are active well into the night.
For such a small island, St Barts offers a wealth of things to see and do, at day time and by night, whether you are visiting the island for the first time or are a repeat visitor. Families and couples will both find plenty to interest them.
Let the wind power your adventure in St Barts. You can charter a half-day, full-day, sunset or even a week-long cruise on a catamaran or sports cruiser. Enjoy lunch on the nearby Pinel Island, Columbier beach, or a nearby deserted island. You can even have a chef-prepared meal onboard, or arrange for cocktails at sunset. You boaters can rent a luxury yacht and explore the waters nearby, using your yacht as a base. In the spring the island plays host to two major sailing regattas; The St Barth Bucket in mid-March, and Les Voiles de St Barth in mid-April. For those looking for a bit of a thrill, Grand cul de Sac is the kiteboarding center, and you can also reserve a windsurfing lesson there.
Tours don't have to be long and boring. Try the guided Seabob or Jet Ski tour departing from the gorgeous lagoon of Grand Cul de Sac. Or join a guided ATV tour and enjoy an open-air ride around the island, stopping at the most beautiful beaches and visit some of the most beautiful vistas.
The waters around the island provide some fantastic Caribbean fishing. Surfcasting and shore fishing is a wonderful way to relax. You can also opt-in for deep-sea fishing, charter a fishing boat and guide in Gustavia, and head out past the reefs to go after a larger sport fish. May through September are the best months for Marlin fishing, and this area produces some huge fish.
Other than beach hopping, the primary activity on St Barts is sampling the island's many excellent restaurants. It's amazing how many world-class restaurants you can find on this small island of fewer than 8,000 residents.
Whether you are looking for a simple café au lait and croissant for breakfast, a sushi platter and Rose wine for lunch, or a multi-course gourmet tasting dinner, there is a restaurant for you in St Barts. See our St Barts restaurant page for more details.
Shopping on St Barts is a combination of designer stores and stores with locally-made items. It's an intriguing melange. Look for good prices on French luxury items, such as brandy and perfume, as well as interesting, one-of-a-kind items like intricate, hand-braided purses, hats and bowls.
There are two main shopping areas on St Barts -- Gustavia and St Jean. Both have high-end boutiques featuring luxury items from Hermes, Louis Vuitton and other French designers. You'll also find items unique to St Barts, such as locally-made vanilla rum and woven items made by the women of Corossol.
On the gourmet front, you’ll find several well-stocked grocery stores and specialty food stores offering the best of what France has to offer from fine wines to cheeses, to foie gras and pate.
St Barts is home to twelve main beaches, and most of them have little to no development. We recommend the 20-minute flat hike from Flamands to the protected natural reserve land at Colombier Beach for those seeking a hike through a nature preserve. The entire length of Saline Beach and its dunes is also a nature zone protected from development.
For those seeking out more traditional urban parks, Gustavia has two of them, one at the western end of Gustavia harbor on the waterfront for those seeking out more traditional urban parks. And the other runs along the coast on the oceanside of the village, near the medical clinic. Both have paths for walking and benches for resting and relaxing.
The island comes alive at night, especially in Gustavia. Nightclubs generally open around 9pm, but don't really get going until 10pm or 11pm.
Some of the best places to dance include Casa, Sky Bar and Bagatelle in Gustavia, and Modjo in St Jean. Try Le Ti Cabaret and its Moulin-Rouge-style revue, located in Pointe Milou for something a little different.
You will find two water sports rental companies on the beach, good for jet ski-, kitesurf- and windsurf- rentals. If you are new to kitesurfing, you can take a lesson with SXM Kiteschool.
Sightseeing highlights include window shopping in Gustavia and looking at the architecture and shops; viewing Fort Gustav, high above Gustavia Harbour; having lunch on the quay overlooking the harbor and people-watching; and exploring the Wall House Museum.
On one Sunday per month, you’ll find an open-air market on the pedestrian-only street of Rue General De Gaulle.
Although St Barts is a small island, there are several memorable experiences that you can only find here. Below are our favorites:
Take a short hike up a path to Fort Carl, at the end of Rue D'Inzy in Gustavia. From the top you'll enjoy views of Shell Beach and Gustavia.
St Barts was “designed” for couples. The island has beautiful beaches, sunset cruises, romantic restaurants and elegant hotels and villas.
WIMCO's concierge department will book any experience you desire, and if you have kids, they can reserve a babysitting service. The sitter will come to your villa with her own transportation.
Whether it’s lunch at Nikki Beach or dinner at Bonito at sunset, St Barts restaurants will take you on a unique culinary journey. Some of our favorite restaurants for couples are L'Isola, Tamarin, Santa Fe, Robuchon, Black Ginger, Orega, Le Repair and L’Esprit.
Take the lower shore route from Flamands. Drive down to Flamands, take a left turn at the T intersection at the bottom of the hill, and continue to the end of the road, just past the small hotel named Auberge de la Petite Anse. Park on either side of the road.
The hike in takes about 20 minutes. There are no services or facilities of any kind at the beach, so plan ahead, and bring mosquito repellant, water and snacks or pack for an exquisite picnic.
Other secluded and beautiful beaches: Gouverneur and Saline.
Drive over the mountain at Grand Fond and head down toward the sea. You will come to a dog-leg turn to the left. Do not make the turn, but park your car to your right in the small parking lot (4 cars). Walk past the turn and take the path on your right between a stone wall and the brush.
When you come out on the stone beach, turn right and follow the shoreline until you reach the end of the beach, then take the path that winds up the hill along the coast.
Climb down to the natural pools when they come into view and take a dip if you're so inclined, but watch out for the black, spiny sea urchins.
Some of our other favorite short hikes for couples include the coastline trail at Le Toiny and the scenic hike of the loop road around Point Milou.
The best way to see St Barths is from the waters that surround it. Reserve a two-hour jet ski tour, or just rent a jet-ski and explore the island and have fun. Tours leave from Grand cul de Sac beach in front of O Corail beach bars, near Le Serena hotel.
Reserve a romantic, private sunset cruise with one of the local boat charter companies. You can also book a 1/2 day trip to Columbier Beach with them which includes snorkeling. Both include a champagne toast. Ask your WIMCO concierge for details.
St Barts is home to several “mobile-spa” companies so you can enjoy a massage in the privacy of your villa. Or, for a more indulgent experience, visit one of the hotel spa centers. Favorites include the spas at Christopher hotel, Cheval Blanc, Le Barthélemy and the Guanahani. These spas have private treatment rooms and cooling off areas, and they book up fast. Be sure to plan ahead and book your spa or massage experience early.
What to indulge in a lazy, decadent afternoon? Book a table by the beach for lunch at Gyp Sea, Pearl Beach, Shellona, Nikki Beach or Lil Rock, sample their delicious cuisine and beverages. Then rent a chaise lounge after lunch and relax in the sun.
While St Barts is best known as a destination for couples and groups of adults, there are plenty of kids’ activities to enjoy on the island. These range from collecting shells on the beach and playing in the surf, to taking short hikes: a great way to really absorb the beauty of St Barts.
If you're thinking of bringing your kids to St Barts, below are some of the best ideas on what you can do together.
Water activities for families include snorkeling, taking a catamaran cruise around the island, surfing, and simply enjoying time at one of the island's many beautiful beaches.
St Barts is home to 12 main beaches, most of which are well-suited for toddlers and small children. However, there are a few, such as Flamands that may have rough surf on occasion. The most popular beaches for families include St Jean beach, Lorient Beach, Marigot Beach, the eastern side of St Jean Beach and Petit Cul de Sac Beach.
Don’t forget to bring a portable beach tent or beach umbrella for the kids to play under as there is very little shade on these beaches. Or you can rent beach chairs and umbrellas on some beaches, such as Shell Beach, and St. Jean Beach. See our St Barts beach page for details.
It’s quite common to spot iguanas and tortoises all over the island. They love the hibiscus flowers. You can spot some colorful fish in Gustavia harbor from the shore, off Lorient Beach, Shell Beach and Colombier Beach. The best places to spot sea turtles are in the waters of Grand Cul de Sac, Marigot Bay, and Petite cul de Sac. Another treat is watching pelicans diving for bait fish in St Jean Bay and around Gustavia harbor.
There’s a playground near the sports stadium in St Jean for kids between 3 to 10 years old. It’s best in the morning and late afternoons due to the heat in the middle of the day. It gets pretty busy in late afternoons.