St Barths is the type of place that when you think about it, a series of incredible images pop into your mind—even if you’ve never been there. The small Caribbean island is known for its calm blue water, luxurious hotel and villas, and upscale restaurants frequented by celebrities and the rich.
The island is also a photographer’s dream, thanks to the natural beauty that surrounds it. “Famous photographers such as [Maxim Special Creative Adviser] Gilles Bensimon, Patrick Demarchelier and Johnny Pigozzi have been the main chroniclers of the Island’s modern history,” writes Chamberlain.
There’s a little bit of something for everyone in this tiny paradise, which is why it’s such a popular destination year-round. Visitors can stroll the streets of Gustavia, popping in and out of art galleries and designer shops (think Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Hermes) and soaking up the local Caribbean culture.
And while the beaches are a draw, there’s so much more to do. St Barths is known for its enormous variety of both traditional and upper-end recreational activities, including scuba diving, snorkeling (wonderful coral reefs), sailing, deep-sea fishing, kayaking and windsurfing. Then there’s the food: French, Creole and West Indian cuisine is well represented, and a number of famed chefs have villas on the island, making for some impressive dining experiences.
Those who prefer to get away from it all can hike and walk through the island’s hills, valleys and gorges, taking in its lush, tropical landscape. And despite its size, St Barths has an incredible amount of variety when it comes to its flora and fauna—the wild trumpet flowers, the flamboyant trees, the manchineel and sabal palms and the frangipanis are just some of the many indigenous species.
As for the culture, there’s a lot to love: calypso, merengue, soca and zouk music are widely played, and the international St. Barths Music Festival is a one-of-a-kind event. And if you’re lucky, you might just see a celebrity or two on your visit—they’re not uncommon to spot in St. Barths!
There are less than 30 hotels on the island, but the deluxe villas that the island is famous for comprise about five times as many rooms. The villas are designed to complement the landscape, not dominate it—which, in turn, gives the island a rare and photogenic cohesion. Even the most opulent resorts aren’t over-the-top; the largest property on the island, Rosewood Le Guanahani, is so intimate that it would be called a boutique hotel anywhere else.