The tiny island of St Barths (pronounced ‘bar-tz’) takes the ambiance and attitude of the French countryside and drops it into the Caribbean. Its beaches merge with crystal clear aqua water, its streets are lined with flower bushes and houses, and it’s easy to see why this French West Indies hotspot is such a favourite.
The island’s enticing allure has enticed Hollywood A-listers, hedgies and trend-setters to its shores for years. Millionaire businessmen, legendary artists and musicians, iconic muses and top sportspeople are also regular visitors, each with their own reason for choosing the idyll.
This is a place where “stylish and rigorously exacting hotels and restaurants rub shoulders with an inclusive and renegade spirit,” writes socialite and journalist Vassi Chamberlain in her book St Barths Freedom, published by prestigious French luxury publisher Assouline. Her words capture the essence of this tropical idyll that boasts 22 picturesque beaches, a dozen five-star hotels including Eden Rock St Barths and Le Sereno, and 800 luxurious villas. It’s a retreat that’s attracted the likes of Jay-Z and Beyonce, Cindy Crawford, Leo DiCaprio, and the Kardashian family.
For many travelers, the most enchanting thing about St Barths is its beaches. Located in a cove and surrounded by coral reefs, the beaches are pristine, allowing you to soak up the sun without worrying about water-borne diseases or parasites.
But there are plenty of other things to do on the island, from taking a sailing excursion to exploring the enigmatic interior of the Sainte Barthelemy Nature Reserve. A boat day is a great way to explore the stunning coastline, and the staff at Eden Rock have several itineraries they can recommend.
The high season runs from mid-December to early February, and the weather is at its most pleasant and warmest. This is when the most activities take place, and bookings for accommodation are at their highest.
If you’re hoping to avoid the crowds, late summer and fall are a good time to visit St Barths. However, this does coincide with hurricane season and a large number of resorts, beaches and activities close down during this period.
If you’re a keen shopper, make sure to stop by Pati de St Barths, where the branded boutiques carry a stylish collection of shirts, dresses and accessories. Larus Miani, a local label founded in 1992, is another must-visit for its expertly crafted clothing and bags. Designed with the island in mind, the label combines Italian elegance with strict craftsmanship. Its pieces are ideal for the vacation wardrobe. In addition to its clothing, the brand offers perfumes and jewelry boxes made from natural materials.