Trip Report to St Barthelemy
By Ellen Caywood
November 28 – December 3 2006
Just as everyone has said, St Barts is a beautiful island with its high green mountains, bright blue water, and yellow sand beaches. What I really noticed though is that for a small island, it is really diverse. There is a different feel around every corner from the wild hills of Vitet to the lush valley of Grand Fond. These are 3 of my favorite beaches that I visited:
Flamand beach: The beach was wide and long, with Isle de France hotel at one end and a few houses dotting the beachfront. The water was beautiful, but rough. It just happened that we were visiting during an unusually windy week, someone referred to it as the Christmas Winds.
Saline beach: Parking is easy for Saline, and then there is a semi-easy 5 minute walk to the beach. The beach was really lovely, enclosed by high mountains with not a building in site. If you get hungry at the beach, the restaurant Grain de Sel is right next to the beach parking lot.
Gouverneur: Whenever I asked locals and visitors, what their favorite beach is, the answer was Gouverneur. The first thing that struck me about this beach was the incredible turquoise color of the water, more extreme than any other that I had seen on the island. The second thing I noticed was all the nude sunbathers. I had to walk quite a while to find a nice spot with only views of the water. It's a pretty narrow beach but rather long and the water is really nice for swimming once you make it past the initial drop off and waves.
St Barts Villas on Beaches
I'll admit it; I love to eat, so when coming to St Barts with its near 100 restaurants, I was really excited about dining out. Unfortunately it's tough to do all 100 in 5 days, so I will have to come back for more. The flavor of the food on the island tends to be fresh with a French Creole taste. I was lucky enough to dine twice at Maya's which has a very simple atmosphere, covered but open-air, and sandwiched between a rock and the water. Maya and Randy, the owners, are who make the place so special. They care about their patrons, and offer very fresh and delicious meals on their ever changing menu.
Eden Rock Hotel has a really gorgeous restaurant, with a comfortably hip bar. There are great breezes blowing through and perfect views of the lighted bay below. The menu is varied and very creative with options like seared foie gras and frog's leg raviolis.
Do Brazil is an excellent spot for lunch. Not only does it have an outstanding view of Shell Beach, but the food is light and tasty. I had a delicious Gazpacho and a seafood salad. Others had an incredible salad that was topped with 4 giant pieces of Camembert cheese. After your lunch you can slip down to Shell Beach for a walk or a swim in the water. This is an ideal place to watch the sunset also.
Kiki-E-Mo is a great spot in St Jean to pick up a Panini and take back to your villa or the beach for lunch. Also the bakeries around the island are quick spots for a to-go lunch of a pastry or cheese croissant.
My favorite dining experience though was our in-villa dinner prepared by the husband and wife team of Cordon Bleu that we enjoyed at our friends' hilltop villa, SIB BBA. I think this would be a fabulous experience for a romantic dinner for two or a group traveling together. Christine & Jean-Jacques are a pleasure to spend the evening with. They will ensure your glasses are full and that you are dining on the freshest food. Before you arrive they create a menu based on your tastes, and it is all prepared and served in your villa. Our meal was fabulous with pate, salmon mousse, foie gras raviolis, Cajun fish, grilled lobster, and a full range of cheeses. We also had champagne and wine that was paired with the meal. For dessert we were treated to a heavenly chocolate soufflé. They are both more than willing to answer any of your questions as they prepare and serve the meal. Overall this is such a fun and comfortable experience, especially delightful for a foodie.
More St Barts Restaurants
My trip ended by attending Sunday mass at the Anglican Church in Gustavia. It was a great way to experience life on St Barts. Huge shuttered doors let breezes (as well as birds) cross through the church. We even had a little dog make his way through the pews at one point. It was peaceful and would be an incredible way to start a week on St Barts and get a feel for the people that live on and love the island.
As we flew off later that day, barely clearing the windsurfers below, I was already envisioning future trips with friends and family. A villa is a great vacation option whether you're a group of 2 or 10. Oh, and I have to come back for the 95 restaurants I wasn't able to get to on this trip.
More Resources for Travelers to St Barts
St Barts villa catalog
Hotels on St Barts
St. Barths Vacation Ideas