When I started to explore St Barth, a true gem in the Caribbean, I couldn’t believe a place like this could even exist on earth.
It seemed unreal.
Impeccably clean, full of happy, kind people, and everybody so good-looking and stylish; everywhere I looked seemed so perfect, like a painting, and the best part of it was that it was contagious. You feel like you belong to this super, worry-free world, and you become instantly classy.
It was a last minute decision to fly to St Barth, and being in St Martin for work and having a weekend off, I really couldn’t have come up with a better idea then to pay a visit and discover this island. I had been there a few years before without exercising the investigating eye of a blogger, and in order to be inspired to write this article, I felt the urge to go back. What a great excuse for a trip, right?
As a hiking lover, and with only 2 days available, I decided or better said planned, to hire a guide and ask her/him to show me the best possible hikes, and fill me in on information about the local flora and fauna, and interesting tips on the island.
With that in mind, I contacted a St Barth twitter account for information, which totally ignored me. Not a good start. Still, full of excitement and determination, I contacted a St Barth official IG account which nicely offered the contact details of supposedly, the only guide on the island. I was thrilled and immediately contacted her, all the while imagining myself walking up and down the hilly island.
Well, as in all the greatest stories, nothing at all like that happened. Helene, who is indeed the only hiking guide in St Barth, also ignored my email and messages, so there was a not a chance I could stick to my original program. (This is her email address firstname.lastname@example.org – good luck, and please let me know if you find her, and how it goes).
Of course, it takes a lot more than that to dampen my spirits, and I knew I would figure out what to do once I was on the island, certain that the hotel concierge would help me.
And I was right. When I arrived at my beautiful hotel, Le Guanahani, totally recommended, I decided I wanted to enjoy the luxury that I was so lucky to experience, without stressing too much about what to see and do. I would soak up the beauty surrounding me and decide what to do as the day unfolded.
This is one of the millions of perks of traveling alone; you can change your plans according to your desire and needs, without worrying too much about disappointing your travel companion’s expectations.
So, I decided to take it easy with the hiking and not to rush around the island, enjoying it and savoring every little thing. The expert concierge suggested a couple of hikes that I could do on my own and would also lead me to beautiful places, and so I did.
See here for some more detailed tips on St Barth.
The simple elegance of my hotel tempted me to stay and laze about, but curiosity got the better of me, so the following morning, after a copious French breakfast, I was ready to hit the road, GPS in hand (even though you don’t really need one).
I normally love to just drive around and get lost unless I have limited time and a specific plan, as in this case.
The first hike I was recommended to do was to Anse Colombier, by driving to the top of the hill, where I would enjoy an amazing view, and then hike down to the stunning beach (which I had been promised). So, the plan was to get there, see the beach, take a refreshing plunge, go back and check out some other places. Again, I was “brutally” forced to change my plan.
Here is why…
I drove along Route Colombier up to where the road ends, parked the car, and after enjoying the stunning view and taking some pictures, I started the descent, as per instruction. I could see the beach but not the trail, which was covered along the way by cactus and bush trees. I was a little scared as I don’t really like to walk on my own through the bushes, as you never know, but reassured by the concierge and other passersby, I decided to ignore my silly thoughts and carry on.
The path was very well marked so you cannot possibly lose the track as I seemed to be awkwardly doing (but that’s just me), and in 15 or 20 minutes I finally got to the beach.
Oh my goodness… I was in awe before such beautiful, white sand and crystalline waters.
This is luxury in nature! As you can imagine I was captivated by this beautiful transparent water, and every time I made up my mind to go back, the pristine water called me back. In the end, I gave up. I decided to spend the morning there, relax on the beach, take a stroll along the bay and float in that blissful water. This is definitely a must stop in St Barth!
Sadly, after talking to the water sports guy the following day in the hotel, I realized I could have taken my snorkeling gear and swum further along the rocks. So, please if you love watching what’s going on underwater, don’t forget your snorkeling gear.
The water was like the chant of a siren, clear and clean, I could not take my eyes off of it, or my body out of it! The transparent turquoise shades of blue were so calming and soothing that it made me think of perfection, purity, candidness.
I finally realized why they call it paradise. I was inspired and took out my notebook to jot down some notes on the experience.
The burning feeling on my skin reminded me that it was time to go. I hiked back up the hill, which was easier than expected, and even though it was around noon, the hottest part of the day, I was protected by the shade from the bushes, so the heat was actually bearable.
At times I would turn back and have another peek at the gorgeous view of the bay, so amazing! I was in awe.
As I got to the car, I decided I would explore all the beaches of St Barth in order to classify them, which I almost completely managed to do.
Hopefully, it will be helpful for you.
The plan was to go to a few spots, take pictures, and then go to the second hike suggested, which would lead me to the natural pools. I was excited about this; little did I know that it wasn’t to be…
After checking out some beaches on the same side of the island, I took a road past the famous bay of St Jean and headed up to the hill, with the excitement of a kid and no idea where I was going.
Finally, I saw a sign for Le Saline and I thought I remembered there was a beach there…and decided to take a peek. I passed huge artificial lakes of pink water and I knew I was on the right path. I then went along a lovely road with beautiful houses, surrounded by colorful flower gardens, until I got to a very busy restaurant (must be good) and a car park.
I decided to leave the car for a moment and quickly explore the beach. There were a sandy path and lots of people coming along with a smile on their face which made me all the more curious and excited to get there.
WOW!! This island was just full of secret corners!
Another stunning beach was stretching before my very eyes, white sands surrounded by lush vegetation, which made a stunning contrast of colors. With a few groups of people scattered around, I was tempted for another dip in the water but decided to move forward and get to the other hiking spot suggested by the concierge. I looked at the map and realized it was very close, so off I went.
I found it easily, the spot was Anse Grand Fond, but I couldn’t find the trail on the hill. I decided to park the car and venture for a while and check out the place. I must have walked on a cobbled beach for a couple of hundred meters and then I started climbing.
Regrettably, I didn’t go further, I didn’t feel comfortable about climbing alone especially without a marked path, and my shoes were not very reliable, a bit slippery. Of course, now I am not happy with myself and I really suggest you go and do it, and let me know all about it…
Consequently, I was hungry and drove around back to St Jean, where I spotted a nice little restaurant, which I would hugely recommend. Lovely atmosphere and great sandwiches, salads and main dishes, all boiling down to a very European style, with great bread with tomato mozzarella! Welcome to ‘Le Piment de St. Barth’.
My plan was to walk across the hill from St Jean to Laurienne and shoot the famous St Jean beach from the top of the hill, and in the meantime do some exercising. It was 4 pm and still hot, but it was a pleasant walk. You don’t have time to observe such details when you drive; I could observe the beautiful houses and gardens, little shops, and scout out all the little lanes towards Laurent beach, another great bay to spend the day in.
Laurent is a small, quaint village where you can find tiny shops and bars, a delish boulangerie open only for breakfast, and a couple of supermarkets where you can stock up on water and snacks for the day. Be aware that the shops in St Barth don’t stay open all day; as per European custom, they close for lunch and re-open around 4, until 7.30 or so.
I did my walk up and down, took some great shots of the neighborhood, and then satisfied with my day I headed back to the car and then the hotel.
I was happy to go back and enjoy my beautiful hotel room for the rest of the day. I had actually wanted to go to Gustavia and walk around and have dinner there but I had had such a full day that I decided to enjoy the hotel and work on my notes.
When you stay in such a beautiful property you really want to make the most of it and enjoy the tranquillity and the luxury it has to offer.
Here are some technical facts on St Barth which I hope will be useful.