The Best St. Barths Vacation

Saint-Barthélemy » Saint-Barthélemy

By Sarah Johnson

The 2016 Guide to St. Barths, because on an Island where things can change from year to year, we happily head back to bring you the newest intel!

Quick Hits Too busy to read it all? We have some highlights here

  • Eat...

    L'Esprit Jean Claude Dufour

  • Lunch...

    at La Plage and get the lobster pasta

  • Breakfast...

    at the Petite Colombe Bakery where you can get a croissant

  • Sleep...

    at a private villa procured by Wimco

  • Splurge...

    on dinner at Le Toiny

  • Visit...

    Saline Beach and Gouverneur Beach for a swim and beach day

  • See...

    and experience a wild night Le Ti, where everyone will end up dancing on the tables

  • Shop...

    in Gustavia

  • Tip...

    Relax, have fun and enjoy this magical island

The Best Vacation In The World

St. Barths is a gorgeous island possessing 22 postcard worthy beaches, hundreds of restaurants, fantastic shopping, incredible views, amazing villa's to rent, a plethora of five star hotels, all surronded by a yacht filled harbour! Yes, it has a reputation of a jetsetting rich and famous crowd, but I promise you don't need to be Roman Abramovich to enjoy this island. This French island is high on charm, beauty and fun. As with many destinations you can make it as casual and low key or all about the "Rum Puches" at lunch. 

A Little Slice of Paradise

The best part of St. Barths in my mind is exploring the island, and why you definitely need to rent a car. Ideal day goes like this: drive to a bakery in the morning for coffee and crossiants, followed by the morning spent lazing around the villa or shopping in Gustavia, follow by lunch. Lunch is my favorite part of the day in St. Barths with their fun long leisurely lunches in paradise enjoyed with a cocktail or two or a bottle of rose. After lunch head to the beach, and try a new one every day because they are all different. Spend a few hours on the beach and then head back in the afternoon to prepare for the nights activities, whether it be a night out or a casual night in. Then repeat, I promise this is a no fail plan! 

Get your Bearings:

To Get there: Fly into Saint Martin and you hop on a small plane that will have you happily on St. Barths in 15 minutes. The two airlines (or charters) to take are St Barths Commuter or Winair (there is a boat option but I advise against if you can get seasick). 

I think you have to have a car in St. Barths, and you can easily rent one at the airport (I use hertz). 

Make restaurant reservation in advance for both lunch and dinner. 

Favorite Beaches:

Saline is a gorgeous secluded and fantastic beach to spend an afternoon swimming. The waves can become a little bigger in the afternoon and sometimes be a little rough and also there is no place to seek shade - so remeber to bring your own towels, umbrella and rosé

Govenuer is one of my favorite beaches to swim where I can easily spend the entire afternoon enjoying. You will see snorkelers here as well as more free spirited "nude or topless" beachgoers. 

Flamands is another one of my favorite beaches to swim at and also grab a drink at the nearby hotels. Gorgeous turquiose waters and the secludedness of this beach make it a winner in my book (Pro Tip: order some drinks and put your credit card down at Cheval Blanc 'Isle de France' and they will let you enjoy their beach umbrella's and chairs while you enjoy the beach)

Colombier Beach is only accessible by walking hiking to or by boat. This beach unlike the others has unusually calm waters and is a favorite of snorklers.

The Hotels

All About The Villa

The Hotels in St Barths are fantastic, but really it is all about the villa. We recommend Wimco Villas if you are looking to go down that route, but if you are thinking of doing a hotel, we do our best to outline the top spots below.

Hotel Le Toiny

Le Toiny is a secluded, private five star Relais Chateaux property made up of just fifteen villas, that has long been famous for honeymooners and celebrities. Located on a more secluded part of the island this is hotel where you can relax and truly get away. Le Toiny is member of Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts and is considered by many to be the most elite and discrete five start hotel on the island. They also are home to one of St. Barths best restaurants.

Hotel Christopher Saint-Barth

Hotel Christopher is perfectly located on the gorgeous and glamour Pointe Milou and is dangerously close to the famous Le Ti restaurant and bar. This hotel with its gorgeous pool, killer views and better price point make it a favorite among stylish travelers.

Eden Rock Hotel

Totally chic and luxurious, Relais and Chateaux property Eden Rock is a perennial favorite on the St. Barths scene. Perfectly located at St. Jean beach, Eden Rock is at the center of the St. Barths scene.

Le Guanahani

Le Guanahani is the largest luxury resort on the island. A truly gorgeous property with a mix of couples and families. Le Guanahani is also a member of the American Express FHR program. I would note this is not the best beach for swimming, and people tend to comment on the amount of seaweed that piles up on the beach.

The Food

Too Much Fun In The Sun

For me, St. Barths dining is all about lunch. I am usually the kind of person who needs to have 3 meals a day, each of which builds up towards a delicious dinner. In St Barths however, the main event is in the middle of the day. Nikki Beach and La Plage are the most fun with music blarring and "fashion shows" during meals, but Tamarin and L'Espirit are also fantastic spots. The major exception to the lunch rule (in my mind at least) is Le Ti. I wrote a further description down below, but this is one of the wildest restaurants I have ever been to and SO much fun. I would recommend the seafood for meals, its great, but generally speaking the food everywhere was impressive (especially given its on a tiny island!)

Le Ti

One of the most fun restaurants in the world, you will have a wild time dancing on tables and drinking champagne at this insane island party. We recommend heading to dinner on the later side so you can catch the "fashion shows" where girls come out dancing in scantily clad ensembles with techno music blasting. The food is great, not that I remember it that well, but the atmosphere is really what sets this place apart. Pro-Tip try to book a table in the front room by the stage.

Le Tamarin

Fantastic for both lunch and dinner! Great fresh local cuisine under the shade of a large tree. Also, great for dinner. Gorgeous setting – a must visit! I recommend coming here for a long leisurely lunch with some delicious wine, then heading to Saline for a fun afternoon at the beach. They also have a great boutique on site.

La Plage - Tom Beach

La Plage is consistently our favorite lunch spot in St. Barths, and we always end up going here more than once. Great location on St. Jean, we love the vibe here and the food is always delicious. You basically (and most often do) have your feet in the sand while you enjoy an incredible leisurely lunch with beautiful views and people watching! On the weekends it tends to be more of a scene with a DJ, fashion show and fun atmosphere.

Santa Fe

Perennial favorite - amazing for lunch and dinner! Great views and incredible service!

Le Toiny

Simple yet elegant cuisine served in a beautiful setting with incredible views. This hotel is a true stunner and dining here is a fantastic way to take in the hotel if you aren't staying there. I would highly recommend going early for pre-dinner drinks and taking in the views, the decor and the whole vibe of this stunning spot.

Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle De France

Beautiful setting, incredible decor and the Flamands beach make this one of the most gorgeous spots to have lunch in St. Barths. They have two restaurants, one in the main dining area and one right on the beach (I prefer main dining room personally). This has always been a must stop, you can use their beach chairs once you have had lunch which is a HUGE bonus. As mentioned before, Flamands is one of my favorite beaches, go have lunch then spend the afternoon swimming, have drinks and enjoy their beach chairs!

L'Esprit

Perfection, all the way around from the food, to the tropical outdoor setting and the lovely people working here. Charming spot to have a romantic dinner next to Saline beach. This is always rated as one of the best meals on the Island.

Nikki Beach

A scene, very fun, and expensive. Go on a Saturday or better yet on Sunday (for their famous Sunday Brunch) to get the total effect with DJ, dancing, fashion show and a great time! They also do a lot of theme nights here and again right on the beach. Perfect place to spend a beautiful afternoon in St. Barths. Located on St. Jean beach. Fair warning, you may end up partying the entire day away here, we have ended up staying till 6pm.

L'Isola

Lovely spot for a romantic Italian dinner in Gustavia.

Hotel Christopher Saint-Barth

Lunch at Mango at the hotel Christopher makes for an unforgettable meal. Point Milou is one of the most beautiful parts of the island, and this hotel is a great place to take in the scenery. The food is delicious and you look out onto the beautiful water below.

On the Rocks

Dramatic views and a stunning setting for a truely special meal. I love to dine here on the first night of our vacation, a perfect welcome to the Island. I also highly recommend this spot for drinks, then you get the views the cocktails and don’t have to shell out for a very expensive meal.

Eden Rock St Barths

The Sand Bar is a restaurant that is part of the Eden Rock hotel and gorgeously located on the beach of St. Jean. It is in a great location and a fantastic place to have a meal.

Eddy's

Great atmosphere in a picturesque garden with amazing service and food! Love this place, also a must visit for dinner. Very romantic garden setting!

Black Ginger

Delicious, laid back and fun thai restaurant located right in Gustavia. The food was great and after a "long" day of debauchery at Nikki beach, this was the perfect place for a low key dinner.

Must See

A Day At The Beach

The best part about St. Barths is its beaches. The water is clear, the sand is beautiful and the waves are a lot of fun (especially after a "Rum Punch" or two).

Govenuer Beach

Beautiful beach, very similar to Saline with waves and beautiful sand. It is no surprise that Roman Abramovich's 90 Million dollar compound is located right here.

Saline Beach

Saline beach is one of the best beaches in St. Barths and is also popular with locals. You will see some nude or topless sunbathers. Great waves, very little access to shade.

Colombier Beach

Colombier is the most private beach in St. Barths that you can only access via a hike or by boat. It is beautiful and a favorite for snorkelers

Flamands Beach

Flammands is on the other side of the island from Saline and Goveneur. It boasts big waves and an awesome beach club from Isle De France. I highly recommend putting down your credit card with the hotel so you can get beach chairs and order drinks in between jumping in the waves.

Walk Around Gustavia

The main town in St. Barths, Gustavia, offers great shopping, food and people watching. Stroll around here after a rum punch or two and spend a little more money than you should!

St. Jean Beach

One of the longer beaches in St. Barths, St. Jean has more action with Eden Rock and the shops in St. Jean. There are no waves here either, so its nice beach to take a relaxing dip in the water.

Must Drink

Another Rum Punch

St. Barths has a great bar scene considering how small the island is and the drink of choice is a Rum Punch. We didn't go to the bars as much as the restaurants (we had plenty of drinks at the restaurants), but they definitely are fun. We added a couple below that we think are worth checking out.

Bonito Saint Barth

Bonito is located in Gustavia and has dazzling views of the harbor. You feel as though you were in a lovely beach house, and we recommend going to enjoy a cocktail here. If you are here after 9pm they have a DJ playing music, we love to come by and enjoy a nightcap.

Do Brazil

Located on Shell beach this casual restaurant and bar is the perfect place to grab a cocktail and watch the sunset.

Must Shop

Great Luxury Boutiques

Gustavia is the main shopping location in St. Barths and it has all the boutiques you could want. It is a beautiful little town that is a lot of fun to walk around.

Gustavia Shopping

Gustavia is the main shopping location in St. Barths and it has all the luxury boutiques you could want. From Hermes to Cartier, if it costs a lot of money, its probably in St. Barths. It is definitely dangerous coming from the beach after a few too many "Rum Punches" and going shopping in Gustavia.

St. Jean Shopping

St Jean shops are small, but there are a couple of great boutiques. Enjoy walking around and checking out the goods and there is also a great smoothie bar right in town.