This arid, volcanic rock of just eight square miles is home to an eclectic mix of iguanas, night-blooming cactus, and fabulous beaches as well as luxury yachts, designer boutiques, and celebrities… Peopled primarily by descendents of the original French settlers and transplanted Europeans, this is an island with a strong, independent personality. Through the vagaries of its history it became a duty-free port and more recently liberated itself from the administrative yoke of Guadeloupe. It is certainly the most unusual of the French West Indies islands.
How to get to St. Barts?
There are a number of ways to wend your way to St. Barts, all of which require traveling through the air, or on the water, or both. Most of people use commercial flights.
The easiest and most comfortable way to get to St Barts is by airplane. A number of major airlines have regularly scheduled international flights into St Martin, a neighboring island to St Barts, with local companies providing the connecting flights to the island’s Gustave III Airport, located just five minutes drive from Gustavia.
The wide range of accommodations in St Barts comprises 70% luxury villas and 30% hotels. In contrast to most other Caribbean tourist destinations, St Barth has an extremely active rental market for private villas, cottages, and apartments.
The local authorities were smart and understood a long time ago that large-scale development was not in keeping with the size of the island, and seriously controlled the scale and style of building permits for hotels. As a result the island’s hotels are intimate, with a relaxed ambiance and natural elegance.
Prices range from moderate to extremely expensive, with a corresponding level of service, from good to excellent. From mid-December to mid-April, prices are considered “high-season,” and decrease considerably in “low season,” during the summer. However the prices go up and are the most expensive during the Christmas holiday season.
Villa Rentals by Owner
For the past several years, the St Barts villa rental market has continued to expand, with an inventory of almost 635 high-quality villas available for seasonal rental. They are finely appointed and designed to appeal to a clientele seeking a private, personalized vacation experience.
Approximately 30 hotels, from simple to high luxury, represent close to 500 rooms. Most offer all of the services one expects at a quality hotel, but on a smaller scale as only three of these establishments have over 40 rooms, while most have closer to 20.
Small clusters of cottages, often family run, can have a very personal character. Very popular, these cottages fill an intermediate category between hotel and villa, yet always with a touch of St Barts style.
On the island of St. Barts, many visitors spend their days on a reclining chair, baking in the sun, nodding over the book they didn't have time to read at home, wondering which restaurant to try next. There are, of course, other things to do.
Beaches - Bathing
There are fourteen beaches on St. Barths, all blessed with gleaming white sand. Few are crowded, even in peak season. All are public and free. Nudism is ostensibly prohibited and topless is not unusual.
St. Barts is a duty free port, and shoppers will be delighted with the range and number of shops: from a shaded table by the side of the road, to the elegant displays and marble floors reminiscent of Rue du Faubourg St. Honoré in Paris.