Planning to travel to one of the most exclusive and gorgeous Caribbean islands? Look no further.
In this article, I am sharing all things to do in St Barts and useful practical tips so that you can plan a flawless trip to this spectacular island.
St Barts, full name Saint-Barthélemy, is a small island of the Lesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean Sea. It’s been an overseas collectivity of France since 2007, and together with Saint-Martin, an arrondissement of the French overseas département of Guadeloupe.
The official language is in fact French, but everybody speaks English, so you don’t have to worry.
The tiny island is reachable either by a 10 minutes flight from the nearby St marteen, Guadalupe or Puerto Rico or by a 30 minutes ferry ride either from St Martin. More about that further below in this St Barts Travel Guide.
First time in St Barts? Here are my top things to do in St Barts + tips
- Hike to St. Colombier
- Take a stroll in Gustavia in the evening after admiring the sunset from Fort Karl.
- Rent a car and explore the spectacular beaches.
- Splurge in one of the top luxury beach hotels
- Enjoy top dining options in Gustavia.
I spent two weekends there, the first one was for work and I checked all the possible hotels on the island, which turned out well now so that I can share with you my personal reviews.
On the second weekend, I was on a vacation, staying in a spectacular hotel,Rosewood – Le Guanahani resort while making the most of my time around the island and discovering its spectacular secret corners.
So here below my St Barths Guide with all my persona suggestions on the things you should do and visit.
Unmissable things to do in St Barts: travel guide!
1. Rent a Car
The first thing you need to do when you get to St Barth and get out of the plane is to get a car.
This is not just a recommendation, it is MUST!
Driving around the island is super safe and easy. And the island is so small you cannot get lost.
You will find rentals on the way out of the Airport, plenty of them.
Or if you get there by boat, you can arrange it in advance, (search for st barthelemy or St Bartelemy) and they will bring the car to the harbor when you arrive.
Alternatively, you can have your hotel concierge organize a transfer for you and have the
They are very flexible.
Only be aware that there is a large excess on the insurance, of around 700 Euros or more.
Together with the payment, they authorize this amount as a deposit on your credit card, which will be released 3 or 4 weeks after you return the car if there are no extra charges due.
Of course, it varies between each rental company but this is more or less the way it works.
The drop-off can be arranged at your hotel or at the airport as you please.
I will give you tips on where to go and things you cannot miss, but my best advice is to drive around, be curious, discover, appreciate, get lost (well, this is very difficult to get lost in St Barth).
That’s what I normally do, especially if I know the place is so safe and that you will always find somebody on the road to help you with directions.
Yes, I know the GPS is useful as well, but trust me you don’t need it.
A map is sufficient in order for you to understand what you are looking at.
Driving around St Barth is also fun because of the winding roads, where you suddenly find yourself at a curve on top of the hill with a stunning view, but you can’t stop the car because there’s no side road and you have other vehicles behind you; consequently, you miss that amazing shooting opportunity.
No worries, you can always go back. Everything is so close.
You can even see the entire island in one day, even though I suggest you take at least 3 full days, 4 nights, to really enjoy it fully.
There is so much to see and do in St Barth. Here is a list of what I did and what I missed, but you shouldn’t.
2. Visit Anse du Colombier
There are many beaches that you can explore, but Anse du Colombier is my favorite, because you can combine a small hike with stunning views and the pristine waters of this beach.
When I saw that I thought it was one of the best beaches in the Caribbean (and I have seen quite a bit of them). It is all worth the hike (it’s a short one anyway).
To get there you have 2 hiking options from the top of the hill, climbing down and back up. This is a bit more challenging but the view you get from the top is amazing. You drive up until the end of Colombier Road, park the car, and climb down to the beach.
The hard part is the way back, but it’s a short hike. Or you can drive to la Petite Anse and from there you can walk on the side of the hill, with no ups and downs, and you would get there easily and smoothly.
I did the first one only, and I loved the challenge and the view. If you are fortunate enough to be on a boat, particularly a sailing boat, you can get also there by sea. How awesome!
On the sides of the bay, by the rocks, it is really good for snorkeling, so remember to bring your mask and fins. There is no bar on the beach so make sure you bring your own water and food if you plan to stay a few hours.
3. Spend some time on Bay St Jean
Although the accommodation options are quite wide, I believe you can find a lot of properties equal or superior in their level.
This beach is also the closest to the airport and it is fun to watch the little planes landing and taking off. This is the cool spot of St Barth.
4. Plage du Gouvernor
It seems I missed a great spot here.
I totally skipped it and I really need to go back and check it out.
Please don’t make the same mistake, it sounds amazing! It’s supposedly behind Gustavia, so you are supposed to drive past the town, or from Le Saline there is another road.
5. Lorient Beach
In my opinion, it is not one of the best, but it has its charm. Located in the quaint neighborhood of Laurent, it is a long and narrow stretch of beach, quiet and with shallow water.
6. Le Saline
Coming from Airport, past St Jean, turn right at the roundabout and keep going, following the sign. It is an amazing spot with a pretty, popular restaurant Grain de Sel for a quick lunch. The beach has no shade and it’s wide. So make sure you wear sunscreen.
7. Shell beach
Driving through Gustavia, the capital city of St Barth and onwards, this is a much-protected bay enclosed by steep rocks.
It is one of the cool spots, besides Nikki beach, where you can also have lunch in the popular restaurant, or have your aperitif while the sun is setting beyond the surrounding hills.
This beach is situated on the side of Fort Karl, which is a must-see during sunset.
The popular restaurant on site is ‘Do Brasil’, definitely not French, but very trendy on the island.
8. Anse de Grand Cul-de-Sac
This is where the hotel I was staying at was situated – Rosewood – Le Guanahani . If you feel like splurgin g I would recommend it.
The bay is really extensive and well-protected, a great spot for kite surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking and windsurfing, and of course snorkeling; along the rocks is particularly great.
Each hotel has a water sports hut where you can rent your equipment, but I would go for the Rosewood – Le Guanahani.
9. Petite Cul-de-Sac
It’ s a secluded little bay if you seek privacy. The water is calm so it’s easy to swim but it’s a pebble and you have to walk on the rocks to get there. So not one of the most comfortable to reach.
The best part of this place is a secret spot that I didn’t manage to visit because I didn’t feel like venturing out alone along the coast. It was very isolated but if you feel like, just walk along the rocky beach on the right until you will find some gorgeous natural pool with crystal clear water and spectacular views.
It’s only a short 30-minute hike along the coast but you need to get there to see the pools as they are hidden behind the rocks.
10. Anse Toiny
This is where surfers go, so you can imagine what it’s like. Fascinating to see but probably not so good if you are not a great swimmer.
11. Anse Grand Fond
It’s a pebble beach, not ideal for swimming, but this is where you should leave your car and set off for your hike to the natural pools ( the same ones that you can reach from Petit cul-de-sac) this is another spot I missed out on but please don’t do the same!
12. Go on a hike
If you have read my other post on St Barth you will know how much I wanted to hike all over the place. The island is hilly, which is what makes it so beautiful in my eyes. I love to see white sand beaches surrounded by lush greenery, steep mountains, and cliffs.
It is so fascinating and provides great subjects for photography.
Well, if you are a professional hiker you might want to go on your own, and it is generally possible once you know where to go; however, there are some hikes that are longer and steeper where you would need a guide.
If you cannot find a guide I am sure you will get good tips from the hotel where you are staying, otherwise, you definitely need to do the two which were suggested to me:
13. Enjoy all the possible watersports
Among the many activities in St Barts, kite surfing is really big. It’s so beautiful to see those kites flying in the sky.
However kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, and also diving, are other activities that you can do in st Barts. You can arrange any of them with the concierge of your hotel.
14. Watch the sunset from Fort Karl
Fort Karl, was one of the three forts that surrounded Gustavia built during the Swedish occupation, in the 18th and 19th century, together with Forts Gustav and Octav to protect Gustavia against pirates attacks.
It was then abandoned and covered with growing wild vegetation until the Nature Reserve association became in charge of the cleaning and tidying of the place which is now a great historical landmark and observation platform.
It is located on a small hill 29m high and overlooks Shell Beach offering spectacular views of Gustavia, especially at sunset.
At the bottom of the steps, pay attention to a few Manchineel, as they are poisonous threes. Their fruits, leaves and trunk contain an extremely toxic milky sap. Here is their picture for you to avoid them.
15. Take a walk in the elegant Gustavia
Either in the day or after enjoying the stunning sunset views from Karl Gustave, among the top things to do in Gustavia, make sure you save some time to check out the pretty elegant town, walk around the hilly lanes and stop by in one of the fancy restaurants for a drink and a fine dinner.
St Barts Interactive Map
Where to stay in St Barts: luxury hotels
The glamorous island is known as one of the coolest islands, where many Hollywood stars go. Therefore there are many luxury hotels in St Barts.
You will be pampered and well looked after in minimal chic decor, where luxury is not an ordinary display of gold but is instead perceived as minimalism and essentiality, soft colors, and genuinely heartfelt service. It’s a lifestyle, and I love it. Who wouldn’t?
There is a very good choice of accommodation whether you prefer hotels or villas. I stayed at Rosewood – Le Guanahani and had an amazing luxury experience.
But there are so many other spectacular properties and I am listing here the one I have visited. Here below I am going to share the top luxury hotels in St Barts.
► Hotel Christopher
Nestled at the secluded Pointe Milou on st. Barths, Hotel Christopher just reopened after the hurricane damages with an even better enthusiasm for pampering its guests with the new Sisley Spa addition.
The room boasts a modern and minimal style and boasts designer decor, high-quality amenities, and, of course, top-notch service. If I had to describe it in two words I would say “casually elegant”.
► Le Sereno
Located on the spectacular cul de sac bay, the elegant hotel Le Sereno, part of the Leading Hotel of the World, features 39 suites and 3 astounding villas all facing the spectacular bay.
At the beach, guests are offered any sort of watersport activity.
What guests praise the most is the exceptional service and genuine kindness of the staff and management alike.
► Le Manapany
Set on the tranquil Anses des Cayes bay, the cute Manapany hotel offers 43 rooms & suites right in front of the ocean.
The apparently laid-back style creates a cozy ambiance for a tranquil relaxing vacation. The hotel is also located a 5 minutes drive from the airport and from the charming town of Gustavia.
► Eden Rock
Eden Rock is an iconic hotel whose name is known among brand-conscious travelers. It’s located in the bay of Saint Jean, the coolest spot on the island, a must in St. Barts.
↳ Check rates & availability: Expedia
► Le Toiny
Located at only 15 minute walks from Petit cul the sac beach, Hotel Le Tony is a spectacular luxury hotels in St Barts.
The hotel features only 22 spacious rooms with elegant decor and the finest amenities, offering an intimate peaceful stay.
Besides the exceptional service guests can enjoy extra pampering with the superb body treatments offered in the Hotel exclusive Spa and two outdoor pools with sunloungers and umbrellas.
Best time to visit St Barts
There is no absolute worst or best time to visit St Barts. It all depends on what you are looking for.
As with any Caribbean island, St Barts has tropical weather which means it’s hot all year round but more humid in the summer with more risks of rains and hurricanes. It is very rare, but it happened.
In the shoulder seasons around May and June, September and October is when you can find the best travel deals and also the best time to travel for the climate and to find fewer people.
In the above-linked guide, I am sharing more information on the best time to travel to St Barts.
How to get to St Barts
As I was mentioning above to reach st Barths you have two options either by ferry from St Marteen or by flight from St Marteen, Puerto Rico or Guadalupa Island.
I tried both ways and here are my recommendations.
Flying into St Barts
I loved flying, but keep in mind that it’s kind of thrilling (aka scary) because you are on a small plane and it has to make an extremely dramatic turn which makes you feel you are going to crash into the mountain, but you wont’ because the pilots are very well trained and no what they are doing.
I just wanted to give you the heads up about the experience. So much fun!
👉 You can check flight availability and prices on Expedia
Getting to St Barts by ferry
The ferry ride is 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on what kind of ferry you are on. If you are easily subject to sea-sicknes, keep in mind that it can be choppy. I was sitting beside a lady who threw up. Not fun!
Here below I am including the ferry schedule of difference companies for your convenience, but please refer to their website for updated schedule and prices.
Also please note:
✅ There a port tax of 15 Euro to pay before boarding beside the ferry ticket
✅ Once you get to St Barth you need to present your passport and relevant docs to clear immigration, just as if you were flying
See below the two major companies that provide Ferry service from St Marteen and St Barts
Voyager Ferry Schedule and prices
Great Bay Express Schedule
Great Bay Express Prices
About the Author
Hello there! This is Isabella, this blog’s author, and a cat lover. I am an Italian expatriate with a Mexican Residence. After 7 years of living in Cancun, I have decided to leave my job and explore my beloved Mexico and the rest of this beautiful world, starting from South America, while sharing my travel stories and offering useful travel tips about traveling as a solo female traveler and digital nomad.
Planning a trip soon? Here are My Recommended
- TRAVEL INSURANCE – Safety Wing or TRAVEL INSURANCE MASTER
- BOOK FLIGHTS – Expedia, Scott’s Cheap Flights, and always remember to compare
- BOOK TOURS – GetYourGuide or Viator. Some of their tours are refundable up to 24h in advance.
- HOTELS & HOMES – Booking.com – Expedia – VRBO
- CAR RENTALS: Discover Car Rentals