Being a part of the French West Indies, St. Barts is located in the north of the Lesser Antilles near St. Kitts/Nevis and St. Martin/Maarten. Being located at 17.55 North and 62.50 West, this island is basking along the water on the way from Paris to New York.
It is a small island with a size of only 8 square miles. The name of its capital city is Gustavia. The main language is French along with some English spoken people.
Being a volcanic island, its rocky surface is inappropriate for agriculture. However, its craggy coastline fringed with radiant sand makes it one of the hottest tourist destinations. It has a parched tropical maritime weather with hurricane threats from July to November.
Culture and History
St. Barts has a history of being ruled by Carib Indians and then by European colonial powers. The history has a touch of Swedish heritage too, as this island was a Swedish outpost during the 18th century. However, apart from the name of the capital city Gustavia, only a few Swedish remainders can be found today. In reality, the island is heavily influenced by French style. Here, the humble locals and the monied tourists are amalgamated in a chic but discreet setting.
St. Barts does not offer superficially attractive visual images. In fact, you have to taste it in order to explore the true attractions of this place. However, it is not totally devoid of sightseeing. You can visit historic sites in Gustavia including the Fort Gustav and the Wall House Museum. In order to have a glimpse of the traditional Norman culture, you can take a visit to the fishing village of Corossol. The Inter Oceans Museum, which has a huge collection of seashell, is also worth seeing. Apart from that, St. Barts offers a number of water activities that you can enjoy at any time of the year.
It will not be an exaggeration if you call St. Barts an island of beaches. More than 20 beaches are lying in this small area. Each beach has its own attractions. So, you can choose to visit one or a few according to your mood and purpose. Here, you will have bustling beaches like Grand Cul de Sac and St. Jean; private beaches like Gouvernier, Grand Saline, and Flamands; truly secluded beaches like Anse Colombier; nudity-allowed beaches like Grand Saline and Anse du Gouverneur; and family friendly beaches like Marechal and Shell Beach.
Nudity-allowed, topless, and clothing-optional beaches are favorite tourist spots. Topless sunbathing is allowed even in family friendly beaches. However, public nudity is not allowed on the island.
Events and Festivals
In St. Barts, a few Swedish holidays along with a number of French ones are observed locally. The locals have an inclination for music, films, and sports. The annual music festivals are held in January and August and the Caribbean Film Festival is celebrated in April. The St. Barts Volleyball Cup Tournament in July also draws huge crowds. Apart from these events, Mardi Gras or costume parade in February, Book Festival in March, Voiles de St. Barts or yacht racing in April, West Indies Regatta or the Caribbean sailing festival in May, Feast of the Community in July, Sainte Barbe or grand parade in December, etc. are a few among other important festivals and events.
St. Barts offers a range of sports activities for both the tourists and the locals. You can enjoy hiking, tennis, volleyball, etc. along with participating in training of archery and martial arts. It is also a fertile ground for enjoying water activities. In fact, a St. Barts trip cannot be imagined without enjoying a range of water sports like snorkeling, jet ski, diving, sailing, bottom boat, kite surfing, and surfing. It is also a good place for big game fishing lovers.
Hotels and Resorts
The hotels in St Barts are mainly independently owned that are built on small properties with dozen rooms or more. In fact, the largest hotel of this island has not more than 76 rooms. However, St. Barts offers a special opportunity that none other Caribbean Island does. You can rent a private villa here apart from booking a hotel room. However, keep in mind that there is no bargain on the rates, which can be ranged from modest to stratospheric.
Some resorts offer a range of finest spa services of the world. Professional beauticians lead these spa parlors. So, you can expect nothing but exclusive spas from them.
As a true bridgehead of French cuisine in the tropic, St. Barts offers an array of upscale French and Creole restaurants to its residents and visitors. Apart from seductive French style and casual Caribbean, simple culinary traditions are also prevalent here. St. Barts is actually a destination for good food lovers where they can go anywhere from small family restaurants to great gourmet ones. You can taste a number of different foods ranging from traditional cuisine made of vegetables and fish to fusion cuisine prepared by blend of different cooking styles around the world. The regular dish of local people is roasted or fried pancake that is taken with fruits, vegetables, and fish found on the island.
It has some reservations-only restaurants too mainly for the celebrities who want to avoid cameras. Local markets and shops are also popular, as a number of people prefer living in rented villas and either cook themselves or employ cooking staff.
St. Barts is not popular for holding party events. However, some hotspots are there where young and rich people can spend fun time. The capital Gustavia has the famous Le Select bar in which Jimmy Buffet got the inspiration of his song ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’. Gustavia has a number of discos too including Le Petit Club, Le Feeling, Yacht Club, and Casa Nicky. However, to most people, a St. Barts nightlife means taking a late night dinner before returning to their private villa.
St. Barts is ideal for an excursion, an island trip, or a cruise at sunset. It has its own charm and personality with pure arcs of white sand fringed by turquoise warm water and rich marine life sheltered by coral beaches and seagrass beds.