What are the five best things to see and do in St. Barts?

Hayley Bosch

Tiny, charming Saint Barthelemy, more popularly known as St. Barts, has a host of things to do while visiting. From shopping at designer boutiques to hitting the see-and-be-seen beach clubs, this small but ultra-luxurious island has a lively atmosphere tailor-made for the international celebrities and tycoons who flock here year-round. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editor’s picks for the five best things to see and do in St. Barts:

1.     Swim at Saline. The best beach is a trek up and around dunes, but up at the top it’s the sweep of cerulean blue sea will leave you breathless, not the walk. The cove’s gentle waves are fun for body surfing, and the water always seems to be the perfect temperature. Saline is a naturist beach, so leave your inhibitions at your hotel.

2.     Hit the shops. Gustavia, the island’s capital, is the place to shop. You’ll find everything from Hermès to one-of-a-kind jewelry shops. Walking down Quai de la République, shopaholics will drool over names like Eres, Vuitton, Cartier and Dior. Follow the insiders to Saint-Barth Stock Exchange for vintage finds from high-end shops.

3.     Bask in the sun at Eden Rock resort. Snag a table at the Sand Bar and watch the scene on the beach. While people watching and admiring kite-surfers, sip a tropical drink and enjoy the best burger and “frites” in the Caribbean.

4.     Dinner at Le Ti. Book a late table and wait for the party to unfold — it could be one of the legendary full-moon parties or a theme night. The staff is sexy, the music is sultry, and you could find yourself dancing on a table by the end of the night.

5.    Hike to Colombier Beach. The rocky path is a bit rugged, so don’t try it in flip-flops, but at the end you will find an idyllic deserted cove and one of the island’s best snorkeling spots. Bring water and a snack with you because its nothing but nature here.

  • On September 18, 2012
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    What are the five best beaches in St. Barts?

    If you’re going to St. Barts, you’re going to want to hit the beach, and with more than 20 pristine beaches around the island, it’s hard to decide which one. Here are Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for the five best beaches in St. Barts:
    1. St. Jean Beach. It’s really two beaches — one on either side of the exclusive resort of Eden Rock — each with its own beach club. Nikki Beach is the place to see and be seen, while Tom Beach is the spot to go for watersports like paddle boarding.
    2. Flamands Beach. The rolling surf makes Flamands Beach a great place for boogie boarding and body surfing. It’s also one of the largest beaches on the island. With Hôtel Saint-Barth Isle de France as a backdrop, you won’t have to leave the beach for a great bite to eat.
    3. Saline Beach. Park your car by the pond and make your way over the dunes to this intimate beach. You should know that the left side of the path is the unofficial nudist beach, so we suggest you stick to the right. The water is a bit rough at this stretch of sand and there’s no beachside service, but the privacy of Saline Beach is worth the visit.
    4. Shell Beach. Located a short walk from Gustavia Harbor, Shell Beach is great for the whole family. Overflowing with beautiful shells, you can spend the morning building your collection and the afternoon playing in the calm water. Dõ Brazil, the beachfront restaurant, adds to the allure of Shell Beach.
    5. Colombier Beach. Accessible by boat or foot, this secluded beach was once owned by the Rockefellers. Colombier Beach is calm, making it a prime snorkeling spot. Like Saline, you won’t find any beach services here, so pack a cooler with snacks and plenty to drink.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    What is the best thing to bring home from St. Barts?

    With its world-class shopping and sophisticated fashion sense, St. Barts is the kind of place you can’t go leave without buying a single thing. Your best bet for souvenirs is Gustavia, the island’s capital and main shopping district. You’ll find all the big designers there — from Ralph Lauren to Hermès — but we suggest going for something local. Head to Sea Memory, located a few streets away from the harbor, for one-of-a-kind jewelry and other local art. Crafted from precious materials such as silver, bronze, pewter and horn, the pieces are one-of-a-kind, from a horn inlaid champagne bucket to a colored shagreen bracelet made of stingray.
    At local boutique Pati de St Barth you’ll find soft, cotton t-shirts and apparel that fit the bill of souvenir wear without being kitschy. The flagship store is right on the harbor in Gustavia and also sells hats, shorts and cover-ups. Finally, visit the first outpost of beachy-chic women’s retailer Calypso St. Barth, where you’ll find dresses, caftans and jewelry that once worn at home, will make you feel like you’re seaside, even when you’re not.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    What are the five best St. Barts food experiences?

    Being a French island, it’s no surprise that St. Barts has some outstanding food. While just about every corner of the island has its noteworthy cuisine, there are a few restaurants worth seeking out. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s five best food experiences in St. Barts:
    1. Le Ti St. Barth. The food is at this restaurant is just fine, and ranges from steak to seafood, but it’s the nightly cabaret show makes it an institution. The classic showgirl performance makes Le Ti of the hottest spots on the island, and reservations are essential. Reserve a table in the VIP room (a minimum of 250 Euros per person) for the best seats and service. While watching the performers, dig into yellowtail sashimi topped with caviar, or ribeye steak spiced with green pepper.
    2. K’fe Massai. The lodge-style interior of this restaurant is reminiscent of a safari camp in Africa, with its tribal art and dim lighting, but the menu is delightfully dominated by French cuisine. It’s another one of the island’s themed restaurants, which makes for an entertaining experience.
    3. Nikki Beach. It’s a beach club and restaurant in one, and you don’t want to miss it. Nikki Beach is a frequent haunt of visiting celebrities who come to feast on fresh sushi and the views of Baie de St. Jean.
    4. Eddy’s. Most tourists don’t even know about this spot, but locals love Eddy’s. Located in Gustavia, this restaurant will give you a taste of St. Barts without much fuss. The menu focuses on Creole takes on fresh seafood; regulars rave about the green papaya salad and rum punch.
    5. Maya’s. This eponymous bistro has a constantly changing menu filled with the freshest ingredients its chef/owner can find. The creole cuisine is simple and clean — think wahoo tartare and grilled Dorado. The waterfront location just adds to the allure of this charming restaurant.
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  • On September 18, 2012
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    Where is the best nightlife in St. Barts?

    If there’s one thing people in St. Barts know how to do, it’s party. Whether you are at a private villa or a beach club, the champagne will be flowing and music will be blasting. Most of the island’s bars and nightclubs are filled with chic, well-heeled travelers, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t overflowing with island flavor.
    Perhaps the most unique locale on the island, Le Ti St. Barth is a quasi-supper club, but with a hefty dose of Moulin Rouge in the mix. As you enjoy your dinner, you’ll be serenaded by dancers — both male and female — in a burlesque show. While the performances can be a bit risqué and are not recommended for kids, it’s far from inappropriate. Once the dinner show is over and the plates are cleared, diners and performers alike dance the night away on tables and throughout the red-draped restaurant. Check to the schedule once you’re in town to see if one of the theme parties are taking place — they are legendary.
    If you’re looking for a beach club, head straight to Nikki Beach. Set on Baie de St. Jean, this world-famous club (which has locations around the world) is a place to sun during the day and party at night. Reserve ahead to for lounge chairs during the day, and to be sure to get past the velvet rope at night.
    Across the way in Gustavia is Baz Bar, which doubles as a sushi restaurant and nightclub. Live music, including jazz, soul and blues, makes the harbor-side bar an eclectic place with an even more diverse crowd — you’ll spot everyone from models to sailors.
    Also in Gustavia, the Yacht Club is not filled with your average pastel-wearing yachters — instead, this nightclub is the place to party afterhours and into the dawn. Owned by the same woman behind Le Ti, the Yacht Club is filled with house music and attractive people dancing the night away.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    What is the best way to see St. Barts in one day?

    Those island hopping in the Leeward Islands could easily see the tiny island of St. Barts in one day, but we guarantee you’ll want to stay longer. Start your morning with a delicious crêpe, sweet or savory at La Crêperie. Located at the top of a hill in Gustavia, this little eatery will satisfy your French cravings. You can order freshly-made crêpes filled with everything from fried eggs with ham and Swiss to Nutella.
    Once you’ve got your energy for the morning, head back to the harbor for some of the best shopping in the Caribbean — St. Barts is a French island after all. The charming streets are lined with designer stores flaunting names like Bulgari, Cartier and Hermès. Men should stop in at French label Vilebrequin for colorful retro-chic swimsuits. You’ll also find unique jewelry stores selling everything from black pearls at Kalinas Perles to shagreen bracelets made from stingray hide at Sea Memory.
    After shopping, pack up and head across the island to Baie de St. Jean for lunch and sunning at Nikki Beach. Be sure to reserve your lounge chairs ahead of time, as this chic beach club is the place to see and be seen. Once you’ve claimed your chairs, sit down in the beachfront restaurant for a delicious seafood-filled lunch.
    Spend a few hours soaking up the sun at Nikki Beach, then embark on your next adventure. The intimate surroundings and uncanny views make the 30-minute hike to Colombier totally worth it. If you’ve rented a car or have a driver, park at Flamands Beach; otherwise, you can take your boat there. Colombier Beach, which was once owned by the Rockefellers, is secluded and has great snorkeling.
    End your day with dinner at Le Ti St. Barth. The Moulin Rouge-like caberet dinner show keeps the party going late into the night. During dinner, dancers serenade the restaurant and once the plates are cleared, the whole restaurant breaks into song and dance.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    Where is the best shopping in St. Barts?

    Walking down Saint Barthelemy’s Quai de la République is like a dream come true for shoppers. With names such as Hermès, Bulgari, Cartier and Dior lining the street, it’s hard to believe you’re in the Caribbean. Needless to say, St. Bart’s is a shopper’s paradise. The best shopping — and most diverse — is in Gustavia, the island’s capital. You’ll find those designer goods as well as unique island-influenced fashion that you can only find in St. Barts.
    If you’re looking for something a bit less touristy, head to St. Jean where you’ll find small shopping centers along the main road. Make a stop at the original Calypso St. Barth boutique in St. Jean, where you can stock up on chic women’s apparel and jewelry.
    Many of the island’s restaurants and hotels have shops that are also worth the visit. There’s a fabulous beachwear shop at both Tom Beach Hotel and beach club Nikki Beach. Keep in mind that many of the stores close during the off-season (between June and November).
  • On September 18, 2012
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    What are the five best things to do with kids in St. Barts?

    Like any island destination, St. Barts has plenty of kid-friendly activities. Of course, these are mainly water-based activities, but this is the perfect place to get your youngsters acquainted with the sea. Here are the five best things to do with kids in St. Barts:
    1.     Swim at Shell Beach. The calm waters are great for little kids to swim in without worry. The beach is overflowing with shells, as you might expect, so it’s a great place to start a collection.
    2.     Snorkel in Petit Cul de Sac. The calm waters and gorgeous reef make Petit Cul de Sac one of the best snorkeling spots on the island. It’s a protected lagoon on the northeast corner of St. Barts and is fun for kids of all ages.
    3.     Shop in town. Head to Gustavia to make sure your youngster is the best-dressed kid at school when you return home. From designer shops to quirky island boutiques, you’ll find something for your kids and even yourself.
    4.     Picnic at the Marine Park. Pair a visit with snorkeling at Petit Cul de Sac, which offers a beautiful picnic locale. The kids will love the wildlife and you can soak up the sun and the views.
    5.    Hop aboard the Yellow Submarine. If your little ones need a break from swimming, book an adventure on the Yellow Submarine. You’ll see the underwater life from the comfort of a quasi-submarine — the seats are situated six feet below the surface.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    What are the five best things to see and do in St. Barts?

    Tiny, charming Saint Barthelemy, more popularly known as St. Barts, is stocked with great things to see and do, no matter what time of year you visit. From shopping at the many designer stores to hitting the see-and-be-seen beach clubs, this compact but affluent island has a lively atmosphere that other sleepy Caribbean islands lack. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editor’s picks for the five best things to see and do in St. Barts:
    1.     Lounge at Nikki Beach. Head to the popular Nikki Beach for a celeb-filled day in the sun. The boutique-style beach club (which got its start in Miami and now has several outposts around the world) has a limited number of chairs, so be sure to reserve in advance. Come sunset, Nikki Beach turns into a posh party scene.
    2.     Hit the shops. Gustavia, the island’s capital, is the place to shop. You’ll find everything from Hermès to one-of-a-kind jewelry shops. Walking down Quai de la République, shopaholics will be drooling with names like Bulgari, Cartier and Dior.
    3.     Bask in the sun at Tom Beach. Snag a table at Tom Beach Hotel’s La Plage restaurant for some delicious local seafood. Once you’ve had your fair share of spiny lobster, move to the beach to catch some rays.
    4.     Dinner at Le Ti. It’s an experience to be had — this Moulin Rouge-esque dinner theater. The food is decent, but it’s all about the burlesque show. Though it’s not recommended for kids, it is a place that’s fun for almost everyone. Following the show, the entire restaurant dances late into the night.
    5.    Hike to Colombier Beach. It’s a bit difficult to get to — you have to take a boat or 30-minute walk on a rugged path — but it’s worth it. The beautiful cove at Colombier Beach is a prime spot for snorkeling and swimming.
  • On May 24, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best places to eat in St. Barts?

    As a French island, the food scene in tony St. Barts is as polished and sophisticated as the people who come here. While you can’t go wrong with just about any restaurant on the posh island, there are a few that you shouldn’t miss. Here are the five best places to eat in St. Barts:
    1. Restaurant Le Gaïac. Hôtel Le Toiny’s stellar restaurant is the go-to location for foodies visiting St. Barts. The cuisine is a perfect marriage of French and local flair, with freshly-made dishes such as conch ravioli and mahi-mahi tartare on the menu. It’s extremely hard to get reservations, so we suggest booking dinner the moment you decide to jet set to the island.
    2. Le Bête à Z’ailes. Also known as Baz Bar, this trendy sushi restaurant sits on the harbor in Gustavia. When the sun goes down and the music starts pumping, this restaurant gets crowded. But that doesn’t mean that the sushi isn’t excellent — how can’t it be when you’re on an island? Go for a late dinner and stay through the night.
    3. Restaurant Le Santa Fé. Perched on a hill in Lurin, Restaurant Le Santa Fé overlooks Gustavia and offers some of the best views of St. Barts and neighboring islands. Featuring French cuisine enhanced with local ingredients, the menu is filled with classic dishes such as lobster thermidor and escargot. You can even pick your lobster and watch the kitchen staff pluck it from the tank — that’s how fresh at this local bistro is.
    4. Le Restaurant des Pêcheurs. Located within the boutique hotel Le Sereno, Le Restaurant des Pêcheurs is known for its bouillabaisse. Each Thursday, the restaurant receives a shipment straight from France of the best Mediterranean fish. Come Friday, the bouillabaisse is ready to eat, and is the best on the island. Of course, local fishermen come to the restaurant daily to deliver their day’s catch, so you can count on fresh, grilled seafood on the menu.
    5. Bonito. A Daniel alumn, chef Laurent Cantineaux’s Bonito offers a fantastic menu to go alongside its unrivaled views of Gustavia Harbor. The Latin American cuisine is made up of a variety of ceviches, tiraditos (a cross between sashimi and carpaccio) and larger format dishes. Though seafood dominates the menu, you can eat off the land as well. Make a reservation around sunset and you’re in for a real treat.
  • On May 24, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best places to stay in St. Barts?

    Though most of the travelers who come to St. Barts rent villas on the island, there are plenty of luxurious hotels that are as sophisticated at this tony Caribbean escape. Most are boutique-style properties and very intimate — some are exclusive, others trendy. Here are the five best places to stay in St. Barts:
    1. Eden Rock – St. Barths. This intimate hotel is likely the most exclusive on the island — and for good reason. The petite property divides St. Jean Beach, with Nikki Beach on one side and Tom Beach Hotel on the other. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the 29 guest rooms take the form of private villas, or that the hotel partnered with star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten to develop the sophisticated menus served at the resort’s restaurants.
    2. Hôtel Saint-Barth Isle de France. Sitting on the beach of Baie de Flamands, Hôtel Saint-Barth Isle de France is tucked away from the action of Gustavia — but in a good and relaxing way. The boutique hotel has just 39 rooms, all of which have a beachy vibe, and some even have their own plunge pools. The beach is lined with plush lounge chairs and the restaurant is top-notch.
    3. Hôtel Guanahani & Spa. The island’s only full-service resort, Hôtel Guanahani & Spa lies on a remote peninsula between two beautiful beaches, Marigot and Grand Cul de Sac. Candy-colored cottages dot the 16-acre property, reinforcing the island flavor (those these cottages are as luxurious as can be, with oversized bathrooms and private porches overlooking the water). The property and its surrounding areas are so beautiful you won’t even notice that you’re a bit far from the center of the activity.
    4. Hôtel Le Toiny. Comprised of 15 exquisite villas, Hôtel Le Toiny is one of the island’s most chic retreats. Again, the location can be a bit isolated with its southeast coastal location, but it’s not such a bad thing when you have a top-notch restaurant at your fingertips. Reservations are tough to get at both the hotel and restaurant, so plan ahead. A spa was added a few years ago, making the boutique property that much more alluring.
    5. Tom Beach Hotel. If you’re looking for a hip hotel and prefer to avoid the secluded feel, opt for Tom Beach Hotel. It’s located just down the beach from Eden Rock and offers its own beach club. The trendy boutique property is hopping all day. Each of the rooms has a patio or terrace and from the beach, you can watch the prop planes landing on the island’s seemingly-too-short runway.