Home » Travel » The Ultimate St Barts Travel Guide
I am passionate about St Barts and get excited every time I visit to look at the newest homes, restaurants, hotels and shops on the island. When I am asked where I choose to go on vacation, my answer is always St Barts in the Winter and Italy in the Summer. My Ultimate Italy Travel Guide is coming soon but, for now, here is my ultimate St Barts Travel Guide.
St Barts is a Caribbean island like no other. Whenever I am asked to describe this beautiful island in one sentence, I would say that it has all the stunning beauty that comes with a tropical paradise island combined with all the chicness and glamour that comes with a visit to the south of France.
St Barts is truly one of my all-time favourite islands in the Caribbean and in fact, I can honestly say it is one of my personal favourite destinations in the world. The island is home to some of the best villas in the world, and each year St Barts Villas get bigger and better and more beautiful.
1. Why Go To St Barts?
The official name of the island is Saint-Barthélemy, but it is often called St Barths, and in the United States it is more often referred to as St Barts. The locals all call it St Barth!
St Barts is also considered to be the safest island in the Caribbean. I have personally never heard of any crime on the island. Locals say you can leave your handbag in your open-top car when you go shopping, and it will be there when you return!!
St Barts is without a doubt the chicest of all the Caribbean islands. The island is full of French “Je ne sais quoi”. There are stylish and beautiful people everywhere. St Barts has more celebrities visiting per square mile than in any other place in the world. There are many famous people who own one of the luxury St Barts villas including the billionaire investor Roman Abramovich.
The legendary ballet dancerRudolph Nureyev was one of the first people to own a St Barts villa. Pippa Middleton’s in-laws own the famous Eden Rock Hotel where two of the island’s best villas are located; Villa Nina and Villa Rockstar. Johnny Hallyday owned one of my personal favourites St Barts Villas called Villa Jade.
Gustavia which is the capital is full of well-known designer brand names. It is also full of enormous mega yachts. Some of the yachts are so big, they must moor offshore. You also literally cannot get a bad meal in St Barts. From the most casual options to the fine dining gourmet restaurants, they all serve delicious fresh food.
Hamburgers are rare in St Barts except at Le Select Bar in the centre of Gustavia which does a famous designer one! Le Select is where Jimmy Buffet was reported to have written the famous song “Cheeseburger in Paradise”. He also has a house on the island.
Another reason to visit St Barts is that the island is just so natural and breathtakingly beautiful.
People talk about the colours of blue that you can find in St Barts, it is different from anywhere else in the world, and it is very true.
The views everywhere are breathtaking, and the beaches are amongst the best in the world.
5. How do I get around St Barts?
There is no public transportation in St Barts so renting a car is an essential for visitors to the island staying in one of the St Barts Villas. The complimentary in-house concierge at Exceptional Villas will be delighted to organize cars for you at preferential rates. For night time, there are taxis on the island which will pick you up and bring you to your restaurant. Once you are on the island, you can get to most parts in less than 20 minutes.
9. Which are the best restaurants in St Barts?
The island of St Barts has some of the best restaurants and best gourmet food in the Caribbean. There is an incredible amount of high-quality foods available on the island due to the fact that Air France has a daily flight from Paris to the local island of St Martin bringing with it lots of wines and gourmet food not found on most of the other islands. This combined with some of the freshest seafood on the planet is a recipe for success.
Guests frequently ask for restaurant recommendations, or for our concierge to book meals out for them, so i’ve expanded on the topic of restaurants in my article about the best places to eat in St Barts.
Not only do the restaurants have wonderful food, but you will also find the food in many of the St Barts Villas and the local supermarkets to be totally outstanding. There are more than 80 restaurants on the island and too many great restaurants to mention but here are a few of my firm favourites:
La Plage is located on St Jean Beach between the Eden Rock Hotel and the Airport. The restaurant has a stunning location just feet from the sea. The cuisine is a unique blend of French culinary art and Japanese lightness and flavours. La Plage is not just about food, however. There are daily fashion shows on the beach and nighttime entertainment with bands, DJ’s, fire shows and artistic pole dancing.
Le Ti St Barth
10. What is the shopping in St Barts like?
The island of St Barts brings shopping to a whole new level. Forbes has even named the island one of the world’s top 12 shopping destinations. If you like a little retail therapy on holidays, then St Barts is simply unbeatable.
There are three main shopping spots on the island.
The capital Gustavia is where you will find a mix of designer shops and unique boutiques. St Jean is where you will find beautiful shops full of island chic. The La Savane commercial centre which is located directly opposite the airport terminal has some fabulous little shops to explore. In addition, many of the hotels and restaurants have boutiques full of treasures. St Barts takes fashion so seriously that many of the restaurants and hotels have daily and weekly fashion shows.
In Gustavia, there are three main shopping streets. Most of the designer boutiques are located on the harbour-side road called the Quai de la République. The road is often referred to as the rue du Couturier as most of the islands high-end designer brands including Louis Vuitton, Roberto Cavalli, Hermès, Cartier, Ralph Lauren, Dolce et Gabbana, Tod’s, Bulgari, Chopard and Calypso St Barth.
There are several little side roads and small shopping centres off the main Quai de la République, and these are full of treasures and worth wandering into. My personal favourite is Le Carré d’Or Shopping Center which is full of gorgeous individual boutiques such The Free in St Barts Shop. The next street to wander down in St Barts is the Rue du Roi Oscar II, Gustavia. One of my personal favourite boutiques on this street is called Appunto.
The other centre for fashion retail is in St Jean.
The shopping is in two sections. One is close to St Jean Beach beside the location for Nikki Beach, and the other is in the centre of St Jean within the St Jean Commercial Centre. If you are looking for island-chic style, then St Jean is the best spot.
St Barts has many of the world’s well-known brands, but it also has more than 10 of its own original designer brands that were inspired and designed on the island. My personal favourite is Vanita Rosa. The artist behind this amazing fashion brand is designer Valérie Bourdin who has been living in St Barts since 2002. The designs are extremely feminine in bright colours created from the best silks and linens.
Other local shops include Calypso St Barth, Lolita Jaca, Donna Del Sol, Fabienne Miot, Bijoux De La Mer, Poupette St Barth, Sunbarth, Calypso St Barth and Ligne St Barth.
Ligne St Barth is worth a special mention as this is the gorgeous product you will have the pleasure of using when you book one of the VIP St Barts Rentals.
The island of St Barts is not only hard to beat in terms of natural beauty, but it also has some of the world’s best beaches, shops and restaurants. To top it all St Barts Villas are among the most luxurious and beautiful in the world. There is literally no bad villa on the island. They are all different and all exceptional.
Ironically some of the best parts of St Barts is about the things it doesn’t have. There are no cruise ship ports; there are no casinos and no golf course. There is just natural beauty and the ultimate in chicness.
We would love to hear from you, so please do leave a comment or send us a message on your St Barts experience. If you would like to have more information on the villas, our St Barts specialist at Exceptional will provide you with an unbiased assessment of the villas for you and match the perfect one to your taste. We look forward to hearing from you.