March 4, 2020 I was on a plane headed to St Barths for the first time, a trip I had wanted to take for about 20 years.
While I wish I was on a plane headed back to St Barths now, I’m going to relive it through my pictures. The trip was one of the best vacations I have been on and I can’t wait to go back.
St Barths is one of those places I had heard about and wanted to go for years, but the connecting flights and so many other places to go for holidays, it just hadn’t happened.
As I do with everything else in my life, I had asked friends who had been before for recommendations and some social media friends who I had seen post recent trips to the island for advice. All were kind enough to send me their favorites which I made into a big list and tried to pack as much into the short 4 days we had there, but we will definitely need another trip…or two…or three to get to everything. My husband actually said he could see himself coming back yearly...so could I…It was a vacation that lived up to the hype and then some. It’s unlike any other Carribean Island I’ve been to, because it is truly a slice of the European Riviera just much closer. Little did we know, it would be the last trip we’d take for a while…
How to Get There
There are no direct flights (unless you fly private).
There are two ways to get to St Barths, via San Juan or St Maartin. We flew through San Juan on an evening flight, slept near the airport and departed early the next morning on the quick flight to St Barths. We loved flying via San Juan and taking a Tradewind Aviation shuttle flight straight into St Barths. The plane was comfortable and the connection was easy. There’s no clearing customs because SJU is part of the US.
It’s not cheap, but then again, nothing in St Barths is.
The other way to fly is via St Martin and then take a puddle jumper to St Barth’s (WinAir). This option is definitely less expensive; the planes are much smaller. We took one of these planes on a trip to Anguilla a few years ago and felt like the inside of my SUV was larger. There’s also a ferry you can take from St Martin but it's much longer and less comfortable.
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Cheval Blanc, after much deliberation and I’m so glad we did. There are so many beautiful hotels on the island and I’d love to visit them all, but the Cheval Blanc was truly the epitome of sophisticated luxury and impeccable service. I would go back in a heartbeat. It’s elegant, private and pretty much the perfect romantic getaway. I would definitely NOT bring my kids here even though they say they are family friendly…and I love my kids, but that would turn it into a family trip and NOT a vacation, and this was not the place.
Spending an afternoon at different resorts and beach clubs is a great way to experience a different vibe on vacation. Each beach and hotel have a different feel and energy as well as beautiful restaurants and shops to discover new things.
Eden Roc – iconic happening scene; this might be the most well known of the hotels; fun to watch the planes land from their beach. We spent a day at the Sand Bar, rented chairs for the day and enjoyed the Frose cart and fabulous people and plane watching.
Le Toiny – private and understated. We had hoped to get to their beach club for lunch, but that will go onto next year’s trip itinerary.
Le Barthelemy – chic and modern, beautiful beach with watersports.
Le Sereno – all the suites and villas are in a nature centric setting.
Christopher – known to have the most beautiful sunset; their position on the island has views like no other, but there is no beach.
Gouverneur is one of the favorite beaches for a picnic and swimming. It’s a bit of a drive but it's secluded and private. That is somewhere we hope to visit on our next trip.
You definitely want to rent a car on St Barths. But not just any car…a convertible or a Moke for open air driving. It's too beautiful to go anywhere on the island without the top down. The roads are narrow and winding so the smaller the car, the better.
Besides beautiful beaches, relaxation and people watching, St Barths is famous for its excellent dining options. Here’s the list of places that were recommended – we managed to make it to a few and those are starred, the rest will have to wait until next time:
- *La Guerite upscale Mediteranean in a chic setting
- *Bonito beautiful ambiance with incredible fusion food and drinks that glow in the dark
- *Cheval Blanc
- *Pearl Beach Hotel
- *Shellona open air restaurant/ beach club great place to spend an afternoon
- Le Toiny
- *Sand Bar at the Eden Roc
- *Nikki Beach (for a weekend brunch)
Gustavia - all of the high-end luxury brands have flagships in Gustavia with beautiful and unique pieces. Gustavia is also full of beautifully curated boutiques where you can find different and unique things. I managed to hit them all. If you can’t make it to St Barths just yet, you can let your fingers do the shopping (all links below):
Most stores take a siesta in the afternoon. Best to go 10 - 1 or 3 - 7.
All the hotels have beautiful boutiques! I actually bought a few great pieces at both the Eden Roc when we spent the afternoon and at Cheval Blanc boutique where we stayed. The best place to get resort wear is often at a resort.
There’s a famous hike to Columbier with rocky terrain and a beautiful beach at the end. The hike has some challenging parts. I went alone and felt completely safe.
Shoutout to Maggie Stein from @intheknowexperiences who planned our trip to a tee.
And a big thank you to Fortune Dushey, LivLight, The Finished Home & The Modlin Group for sharing their own personal best of St Barths with me. Another great resource for ideas was Lindsay Silberman St Barth Ultimate Travel Guide, a former travel editor who has been many times and her blog post on St Barths was very informative.
What beach destination is your favorite? Be sure to read my other blog post on travel and share your experiences.