St. Barthelemy

St. Barthelemy

A luxuriant villa and an immaculate beach. Leisurely dinners alongside movie stars and supermodels. A vacation could be worse.

But wanting a vacation on St. Barthelemy and having one are different things. This island’s beauty, luxury and exclusive company come with a steep price tag. And should you have what it takes for a holiday on St. Barthelemy, a word of warning: If you are lucky enough to recognize a celebrity behind a pair of sunglasses, don’t expect to collect an autograph. Those breaking the island’s law of studied nonchalance will likely be deported.

St. Barthelemy (better known as St. Barts or St. Barth) first came into the spotlight back in the 1950s when David Rockefeller and a few other prosperous individuals built holiday homes there. Slowly but surely, jet-setters from two continents followed suit, and St. Barts was on its way to becoming the fashionable getaway for the rich and the famous.

They don’t choose St. Barts for the company, though that’s certainly part of the allure: The beaches are secluded, the water is warm, and the landscape of hills and ravines is lovely. The island is sophisticated yet laid-back, with a decidedly French ambience. The people of St. Barts are adept at providing comfort, quiet and security to their well-heeled visitors.

St. Barts’ foremost activities include beaches, sunbathing, leisurely dining, shopping, boating, windsurfing, diving, snorkeling, relaxing, and seeing and being seen.

Those seeking high-class food and accommodations, relaxed elegance and lovely tropical surroundings will enjoy the island. Also, women can feel free and secure in the absence of male harassment that is sometimes a feature of Caribbean vacations.

Although there are some hot spots for cabaret and dancing, travelers seeking fast-paced nightlife and things to do away from the beach will probably find other Caribbean islands more to their liking. Those on a tight budget, Francophobes and those irritated by lavish lifestyles should steer clear.

Geography

St. Barts is a small and hilly island, with an area of just 8 sq mi/20 sq km. It has an arid climate that favors cacti and other low-profile plant life. You won’t find any volcanoes, but numerous small coves line its shores, many of them cradling exquisite beaches. Gustavia, the principal town, is tucked into the southwest shore, and several other villages are scattered around the island, including Corossol, Public, Lorient and Colombier.