The French Island of St Bart’s, the Jewel of the Caribbean
The French Island of St Bart’s was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493. He named it after his brother Bartolommeo. In 1648, French colonists from the neighboring St Kits Islands attempted to settle on the Island. But, the attempt failed. The Knights of Malta bought the island in 1651. In 1656, Carib Indians raided the Island, killing all the settlers. In 1763, another attempt was made to settle on the island by the French mariners from Brittany and Normandy. And this time the settlement was a success.
The French mariners found the place hospitable. They also improved the economy with huge quantities of plunder from the Spanish galleons. The famous Monbars the Exterminator, a French buccaneer of noble birth, is said to have kept his headquarters in St Bart’s. In fact, his vast treasure is believed to be still buried in the sands of Saline or among the Anse du Gouverneur. In 1784, St Bart’s was sold to Sweden. It also became a free port under Swedish rule. Moreover, it played the key role as a trade and supply center in the colonial wars of the 18th century.
In 1878, France repurchased the St Bart’s island and it remained a free port. In fact, it is free port even today. The American millionaire David Rockefeller purchased a property in 1957. This transformed the Island into an upmarket tourist destination. St Bart’s is famous for its beautiful uncrowded beaches, world class restaurants and its casual French culture.
Where to Stay in St Bart’s
Today, St Bart’s is the most elegant and exclusive holiday destination in the Caribbean. Holiday villa rentals are the main form of accommodation here. Moreover, many of them offer panoramic views of the yacht crowded harbors and the picturesque ocean. In fact, St Bart’s has a wide variety of holiday villa rentals to choose from. So, there is something to suit your taste. These include modern villas with infinity swimming pools, West Indian style cottages and hilltop colonial retreats. Moreover, the colonial retreats overlook the beach and offer amazing views.
These holiday villa rentals give you a home close to the island’s beautiful beaches. From here you can venture into the beaches, or enjoy a wide variety of water sports. The water sports include Jet Skiing, sailing, windsurfing, diving, and much more. You can also go horse riding, hiking, to play tennis or shopping. Besides, you can go to check out the beachfront bistros and world class restaurants. St Bart’s also has chic and casual designer shopping boutiques. You will find these boutiques in the two main villages of Gustavia and St Jean.
5 Popular Places to Stay in St Bart’s;
St Bart’s is the destination to choose if you want peace, super stylish accommodation and gourmet restaurants. It is also the place to go if you want uncrowded pristine white sand beaches and calm aqua waters. Some of popular places to stay include:
This is the first hotel to open in St Bart’s. So it has an experience of more than 60 years. In fact, many celebrities grace the hotel’s hallways. It is unique, with private entrances and simple neutral tones. Eden Rock is on the St Jean Bay on St Bart’s northern coast. So you will have access to silky, pristine sands and a coral reef. It is a specialty villa, which will also give you access to a recording studio or a private art gallery. Besides, you can enjoy an in room Spa treatment and there is a world class restaurant. Moreover, this is a Relais&Chateaux property. So if you are a Club 5C member you can earn and use your rewards here.
Hotel Christopher is on the island’s northern coast. This hotel offers luxury seekers with an intimate getaway. Its rooms are large. They also have crisp Egyptian cotton linen and L’Occitane en Provence toiletries. They also have private patios. In fact, here you will enjoy top end amenities that will help you relax and unwind. These include a stunning seaside infinity swimming pool and full service Spa Sisley. There is also Wi-Fi connectivity. Moreover, there are two restaurants where you can enjoy hearty portions of seafood and other local foods.
This is an exclusive hotel. In fact, it only has 36 suites and 3 large villas. It sits on the north-eastern coast flanking Anse de Grand Cul de Sac’s beach. This hotel is ultra chic, and the rooms have dark wooden accents and bright white hues. Moreover, the accommodations have private entrances and gardens. You also get access to deep soaking tubs and iPod docking stations. If you are on honeymoon, upon arrival you will receive a complimentary bottle of Champagne. While here you can enjoy a relaxing holiday by indulging in a refreshing Spa treatment or stretching across the chalky white sand. There is also a world class restaurant, with a romantic atmosphere and breathtaking ocean views.
Cheval Blanc St Barth
While here you will enjoy breathtaking views of the northern Flamands beach. This is a high end hotel with white washed walls and marble foyers that make it feel palatial. The accommodations here have a bright décor and hardwood floors. Besides, if you take the villa you will have a private infinity pool. You can also indulge in a refreshing Spa treatment at the Cheval Blanc Spa. Moreover, at the La Case de l’Isle restaurant you can enjoy fresh seafood and amazing ocean views.
This is a great place to stay if you are on a family holiday. Le Guanahani sits on the north-eastern coast of the island. In fact, it overlooks Anse de Grand Cul de Sac’s and Anse de Marigot sands. It has pastel décor and plush cotton linens. The hotel can accommodate couples and families in cottages of various sizes. The cottages have hardwood floors, and plush furniture. They also have private terraces with gardens. You can enjoy Spa treatment while your kids take part in Le Guanahani’s kid oriented programs.
Moreover, you can participate in activities such as windsurfing, snorkeling and Jet Ski. In fact, these are available for all ages. There are also two restaurants here where you can enjoy fresh seafood and other local foods.
Things to do in St Bart’s
St Bart’s is an exclusive and elegant island with a wide range of activities to suit your holiday needs. So you can enjoy a relaxed or an active holiday. In fact, there are many activities on the island to keep you busy and happy. In St Bart’s you will enjoy:
This is the greatest attraction in St Bart’s. The island has pristine, silky white sand beaches. In fact, there are around 14 beaches, and they are all public and free. These beautiful beaches are not crowded, even in the high tourist season. So you can enjoy walking barefoot on the white sands, play on the beach or enjoy a sun bath. They also have calm aqua waters. So you will enjoy swimming at the beach. Moreover, the beaches are ideal for a romantic or honeymoon holiday. You will spend quality time with your loved one.
There are a wide variety of water sports you can enjoy in St Bart’s. The beaches here are suitable for any number of tantalizing water sports. The windward beaches are ideal for windsurfing, while the leeward beaches are calmer because there are more protected by the land. Some of the most popular sports are:
- Scuba Diving
In St Bart’s each Bay has a reef to you can explore. Also all islets have walls and caves. Moreover, the massive corals are full bloom and have multicolored coral fish all over. The best dives are around l’Ane Rouge, a small cape of Colombier bay or around Pain de Sucre, off the Gustavia harbor.
Windsurfing is a popular sport in St Bart’s. Besides, the winds are often blowing at moderate speed. This allows amateur windsurfers to develop their technique. In fact, you can hire windsurfing equipment at the Grand Cul de Sac and in St Jean beach clubs.
The windward beaches are excellent for surfing. So surfing is best practiced in Lorient, Toiny, St Jean, and Anse des Cayes beaches.
- Kite Surfing
Winter in St Bart’s has consistent winds averaging 18 knots. The temperature is 79 F and the water temperature is 75 F. You can kite surf in most places. However, the eastern beaches are the best for kite surfing.
- Sailing and Fishing
You can choose from a wide variety of sea vessels. These range from humble dinghies that you can sail yourself to the crewed mega yachts.
Other popular water sports include water-skiing, and Wake-boarding. You can also enjoy kayaking and paddle boats.
You can also go for a colorful underwater excursion without getting wet. In fact, there is a semi submersible boat that will allow you to enjoy the wonders of St Bart’s sea life. Besides, the vessel allows you to sit on the deck and enjoy the beautiful ocean.
Hiking and Horse Riding
Hiking is a good way to discover St Bart’s. There are several trails to and from out of the way places. So if you can enjoy hiking wear heavy soled shoes, sunscreen and a hat. Also remember to stay hydrated and carry enough water. The most famous trail will take you from Petite Anse to the breathtaking Colombier bay. You can also go on horseback.
Spa and Well Being
Spa and Massages are popular in St Bart’s. This is because people come here to relax. Several hotels also have fitness centers and there are three independent fitness clubs. These have a wide range of equipment and air conditioned rooms. There are yoga teachers to guide you. Judo and Tae Kwon Do are also practiced here. You can also enjoy aerobics, dance classes and team sports.
St Bart’s has some interesting historical places to visit. These will enable you to know more about the island. These include;
- Inter Oceans Museum
This museum has a collection of over 9000 seashells from all over the world. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday. Besides, the timings are convenient. It is open from 9 am to 12.30 pm, and also from 2 to 5 pm.
- The municipal Museum
This museum houses a collection of Portraits, watercolors, and photographs. Also on display are costumes, artifacts and historical documents. In fact, these relate to the island’s history. It includes the indigenous Arawak Indians. It also tells of the colonial battles between the Swedes and the French. Moreover, there is a display of the island marine life, plants and flowers. The museum is open Monday to Thursday. The timings are from 8.30 am to 12.30 pm, and again from 2.20 to 6 pm. On Fridays, it is open from 8.30 am to 12.30 pm. On Saturdays it is open from 9 to 11 pm.
- Le Manor
Le Manor is one of the islands treasured secrets. In 1984, this 1610 Norman manor was carefully shipped from France. It was then rebuilt here. In fact, this was done in tribute to the islands Viking for bearers by Jeanne Audy Rowland.
The first French settlement was on this site. Moreover, it is a favorite for locals that surf. Lorient is also one of St Bart’s two parishes. Besides, it hosts St Bart’s only movie cinema and two markets.
At Toiny you will see is a beautiful yet rugged shoreline. In fact, there are stone fences that line the slopes of morne Vitet. This is also one of the many hills on St Bart’s. Besides, the rocky coast is similar to the rugged shore of Normandy.
Duty Free Shopping
First of all, St Bart’s is a free port. So here, the range and number of boutiques and shops will delight you. In fact, Gustavia has the majority of the island’s boutiques. St Jean also has several shopping centers. It is easy venturing all the narrow streets in a few hours. In St Bart’s shops close from 12.00 to 2 PM. So plan your lunch with that in mind. It is also a good idea to use several afternoons to see and appreciate the place.
So enjoy your time in St Bart’s and explore wisely. Also remember to stay hydrated and to protect yourself from the sun. In fact, it is wise to drink a lot of water.