St Barths is an island of stunning beaches, atmospheric fishing villages, towering coastal mountains and windswept, postcard-perfect headlands that ring the pristine sea. It is a Caribbean wonderland that boasts French colonial heritage, upscale boutique hotels offering R&R in spades and a distinctly unmistakable personality.
A World of Wonders
A visit to this island is a feast for the senses with its volcanic wonderland, glistening beaches and ethereal natural beauty. But it’s also a place where you can truly lose yourself.
First inhabited by the Arawak Indians who gave the island its name, “Ouanalao” (perhaps referring to the iguanas that once lived here), it was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and given the title Saint Barthelemy. Throughout the centuries, many nations attempted to colonize and control this island, and it remains a fiercely fought for place today.
Eventually, it was settled by the French in 1648 but they were unsuccessful and the settlements were quickly destroyed by the Carib Indians. It was later sold to the Knights of Malta who made attempts to grow cotton and indigo, while the French buccaneers helped improve the economy through provision of loot from Spanish galleons.
Sweden acquired the island in 1784. It was then incorporated into their empire and developed as a trading port for Sweden’s other islands.
It was a long time before the island gained its own identity, and it was only after its acquisition by France in 1946 that St Barths became an independent department of France. Under this system, the island has all the rights and obligations of a state.
The best way to experience the island is by boat, and with so much to see and do by land, a day-long excursion on a schooner is a must. A cruise is the perfect way to enjoy the most popular sights, like Colombier, where the water is so clear and the beaches so white that you can see your fingers on them.
You can rent a kayak or a pedalboat for the day, too. And if you’re looking for a little extra privacy, consider booking one of the island’s secluded cottages or villas that are dotted throughout its white-sand beaches.
Staying in St Barths is easy, thanks to a wide range of accommodations, from budget-friendly beach houses and clifftop villas to posh hotels and sprawling resorts. Some are right next to their own private beach, and some have a spectacular view of the bay they’re on.
Top Hotels and Resorts
From the legendary Eden Rock to the iconic Le Sereno, the island’s best properties are awash in designer details that make your stay in St Barths luxurious. From Jean-Georges Vongerichten eateries to spacious rooms with stunning bay views and cosseting service, they’re all a cut above the rest.
Le Sereno – sister hotel to the luxury outpost on Lake Como – brings the Mediterranean spirit of its Italian sibling to St Barths, down to the prosciutto di Parma served alongside croissants and baguettes for breakfast. It also features a custom humidor and a curated retail boutique dedicated to high-end humidors, cutters and lighters.