Tucked among the Lesser Antilles islands 1,200 miles southeast of Miami, there’s an exclusive slice of Caribbean paradise with all the sophistication of a European-style retreat. Offering a one-of-a-kind ambiance that’s both laid-back and chic, the enchanting enclave of St. Barths beckons with its ultra-luxe boutique shopping, five-star resorts and hotels, fine French gastronomy, world-class watersports, and unparalleled natural splendor.
For those looking for a taste of this extraordinary destination, here’s how to get to St. Barths, along with an inside look at the unforgettable experiences that await.
How to Get to St. Barths
A stress-melting trip to paradise should be seamless from start to finish. Connected by virtually every major airline, book a transfer that’s both convenient and luxurious with Tradewind Aviation, which offers regularly scheduled shuttle flights to St. Barths from San Juan and Antigua. Private charters from the continental U.S. are also offered via Tradewind’s fleet of Pilatus PC-12s and Citation jets.
No matter which option they choose, travelers will enjoy a private pre-flight lounge, a VIP guided transfer option, and a comfortable flight complete with ample luggage room, air conditioning, and complimentary onboard snacks and refreshments, including beer and wine.
When flying overhead, the scintillating magic of St. Barths can first be felt as the island emerges from the sea in a spectacular heap of rolling verdant hills freckled with whimsical red-roofed cottages. Spread in the shape of a horseshoe across eight square miles, the volcanically-formed isle is roughly the same size as LAX — yet with its gently swaying palms, shimmering turquoise waters, and sun-drenched beaches, St. Barths couldn’t present more of a contrast.
The magic continues just after touching down at the iconic Rémy de Haenen Airport and opening the plane’s passenger door, when the island’s palpable energy floods in with the sea salt breeze. As visitors step onto the tarmac, they are greeted with a vibrant soirée of pastel colors declaring themselves in aqua blues, sea greens, canary yellows, and imperial reds.
The Beaches of St. Barths
The diverse coastline of St. Barths features no less than 14 swimmable beaches, boasting pristine ribbons of soft powder-white sand and impeccable aquatic conditions. It’s little wonder, then, that guests first set their sights on the island’s tide-washed shores.
As the most proximal beach to the airport, St. Jean Beach provides an inspiring setting to bask in blissful views or wade in the water while watching planes’ dramatic arrivals and departures from the adjacent runway strip. Within walking distance of the St. Barths capital of Gustavia, Shell Beach is an aptly named belt of sand replete with kaleidoscopic seashells and other unique natural treasures washed ashore by the heaving waves.
Beachgoers can also find shorelines that are secluded and serene — namely, the unspoiled crescents of Gouverneur, Saline, and Colombier beaches. Sheltered by their respective bays, each offers an idyllic respite for sunbathing, delving into the pages of a satisfying beach read, or snorkeling amid crystal-clear waters. Nestled on the southern coast, Saline Beach in particular provides an ideal vantage for soaking in vibrant Caribbean sunsets.
While watersport enthusiasts of all skill levels can find myriad opportunities to play in the seas surrounding St. Barths, Grand Cul-de-Sac’s shallow lagoon offers an ideally placid setting to develop a new hobby, such as kiteboarding, windsurfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, or sailing.
St. Barths Shopping
With more than 200 boutique shops scattered across Gustavia and beyond, St. Barths is a veritable mecca for extravagant shopping. As a favored retreat for celebrities and discerning guests, the island abounds with the latest fashions from some of the world’s most luxurious designer brands.
From bohemian-chic styles to jewel-studded opulence, the finest selections of shoes, jewelry, handbags, and clothing are all available for upscale perusing. Apart from the elegant designer offerings of Louis Vuitton, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Bulgari, and more, there are also plenty of posh products showcased throughout the island’s high-end boutiques.
Style aficionados would be remiss not to visit Libertine, a celebrated haven for sophisticated lingerie, swimsuits, and beachwear, as well as Fabienne Miot, a locally owned jewelry shop creating island-inspired pieces from pearls and other precious stones.
St. Barths Restaurants
Brimming with pleasurable dining experiences, St. Barths provides a multitude of gourmet cuisine to satisfy and delight a variety of palates. Given the island’s distinct French influence, there is an almost-ubiquitous fusion of the country’s refined gastronomy and locally sourced tropical flavors. And with over 80 restaurants to choose from, visitors have no shortage of epicurean opportunities.
Set to breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea, Restaurant Le Toiny curates an array of indulgent dishes from both land and ocean thanks to the imagination of Executive Chef Jarad McCaroll. Overlooking Gustavia, the acclaimed Bonito specializes in exquisite seafood selections as well as French-focused fare with a South American twist, all served with a side of sunset-primed panoramas.
Guests craving fresh-made food to take along on a day of adventure will find plenty of delicious options at Maya’s To Go in St. Jean. Highlighting the day’s catch, the rotating beach-ready menu might include anything from grilled filet of mahi-mahi to wahoo ceviche infused with Caribbean-derived coconut and lime.
Nightlife on St. Barths
Whether visitors are seeking a sophisticated evening nightcap or the chance to fully let loose with bottle service, they’ll be pleased to discover St. Barths’ vivacious nightlife throughout its many trendy establishments.
Equal parts sushi restaurant and nightclub, Baz Bar dazzles after dark with live music and signature cocktails, including pineapple-infused French martinis and tropical Mai Tais. Nearby, the Rhum Room is tucked into the back of Quarter Kitchen. One of the island’s best-kept secrets, the stylish speakeasy purveys the best rum collection in the Caribbean.
Renowned for its Parisian atmosphere, Bagatelle has risen through the ranks to become another of the harbor’s most prized attractions with the help of boisterous resident DJ beats and French cuisine served late. Also pairing late-night eats with high-energy entertainment, Le Ti St. Barth amuses guests with burlesque dancers who remind patrons of the Moulin Rouge as they perform their routines on floor and tabletop alike.
St. Barths Events
A cultured crossroads of art, music, entertainment, and cuisine, St. Barths is home to a perennial roster of events throughout the year, which regularly attract droves of visitors from all corners of the globe.
Each January, the island plays host to a series of live performances from prominent international musicians during the St. Barth Music Festival, and when Mardi Gras rolls around in February, the streets explode with colorful costumes, body paint, and lively music during the annual Carnival celebrations.
With its immaculate sailing conditions, springtime in St. Barths is ideally suited for several prestigious competitions, including the three-day invitational Bucket Regatta (which draws the world’s most luxurious superyachts), the beloved Les Voiles St. Barth, and the West Indies Regatta, a show of schooners and sloops paired with a spirited market on Gustavia’s harbor to commemorate the bygone days of Caribbean trade.
As the high season commences in the fall, France’s top culinary talents gather for the St. Barth Gourmet Festival, a weekend brimming with enticing multi-course menus meant to delight and capture the essence of the island.
After visitors have experienced this Caribbean enclave and all it has to offer, they can make their way back to Rémy de Haenen Airport for an easeful Tradewind departure back home.