The French Caribbean island of St. Barts packs a whole lot of natural beauty and serious glamour into just 8 square miles (20 square kilometers). With pristine beaches and plenty of glitzy bars and fine restaurants to keep its well-heeled visitors entertained, the island attracts those looking for a tropical getaway with style.
Short for St. Barthélemy, St. Barts lies east of Puerto Rico, near neighboring islands St. Martin and Anguilla. It’s popular with the rich and famous as a winter vacation spot but still has a laid-back feel. In fact, one of the island’s restaurants claims to be the inspiration behind the Jimmy Buffett song Cheeseburger in Paradise. In the capital, Gustavia, a mix of Swedish and French influences reflect the island’s changing ownership over the past 500 years.
The island is a popular destination for yachting and sailing trips and has several excellent beaches. Among the most popular are Baie de St.-Jean, with glamorous hotels alongshore; Saline Beach (Anse de Grande Saline), with crystal clear water; and Colombier Beach, only accessible by foot or by boat. Vacationers often combine a trip to St. Barts with a visit to the French and Dutch island of St. Martin next door.
Things to Know Before You Go
- St. Barts has many boutiques selling duty-free goods including jewelry and French perfumes.
- Accommodation on the island is a mix of hotels and private villas for rent.
- The currency here is the Euro, and US dollars are sometimes accepted too.
How to Get There
St. Barts is located in the Eastern Caribbean close to both Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The island’s airport is suitable for small charter planes only, so visitors must transfer from commercial flights to the nearby islands of Puerto Rico, St. Martin, or Guadeloupe, or take the ferry from St. Martin.
When to Get There
High season in St. Barts runs from December to March, and the island can be especially busy over the Christmas and New Year holidays. From May to October storms and high winds are possible as the island is in the Caribbean hurricane belt.
The Wall House Museum
To learn more about St. Barts’ history, head to the Wall House Museum in Gustavia, the capital. Inside an 18th-century Swedish-style house located along the harbor wall, the museum brings together documents, images, and artifacts from the island’s history to show how different influences from France, Britain, Sweden, and the US have shaped modern-day St. Barts.