The lush, secluded Caribbean island of St Barths has no shortage of dazzling beauty. Secluded beaches, azure seas, and postcard-perfect headlands beckon from every corner. The island’s fabled French colonial heritage is served up in fantastic bistros and upscale boutique hotels. Its buccaneer-inspired culture has influenced artists and writers from the era of Christopher Columbus to today’s rum runners and pirate-inspired cocktails.
A Caribbean idyll, St Barths is a trove of natural wonders—a pristine reef system that is among the best in the world; towering volcanic mountains; and colorful fishing villages tucked into picturesque coves. But its people and cuisine are equally impressive. It’s no surprise that the island has become a mecca for haute cuisine, and that it regularly welcomes celebrity chefs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Unlike many Caribbean islands, there are no mega-hotels or all-inclusive resorts on St Barths. Instead, you’ll find a handful of five-star boutique hotels and 800 private villas scattered throughout the island. These properties attract a diverse clientele. Some come for glitz and glamour, dining and partying with the likes of Jay-Z and Beyonce, Leo DiCaprio, Jeff Bezos, Cindy Crawford, Dua Lipa, and front-page-news movie stars and moguls. Others come for rest and relaxation, swimming and sunning at the secluded beaches and strolling the quaint capital of Gustavia.
Then there are the locals. The inhabitants of St Barths are deeply rooted in family and community. Traditions are a big part of life here, especially during big family celebrations like weddings and funerals. It’s also common to see locals dressed in colorful traditional fabrics.
St Barths is also known for its world-class food and wine. You can taste it in the island’s more than 80 eateries, from upscale French and Italian to Creole and Mediterranean. You can also get a taste of the cuisine during the annual Gourmet Festival, which brings 10 Michelin-starred chefs from France to the island.
Despite damage from Hurricane Irma in late 2017, the vast majority of hotels, restaurants, and villas are open and ready to host you. In fact, it’s never been a better time to visit St Barths. With prices lower than ever and more hotel rooms and villas available than ever, now is a great time to book your next Caribbean vacation. AFAR will continue to monitor the status of the island’s recovery and update you as properties reopen.