In this essential guide to St Barts, I am sharing all my tips on the things to do in St Barts and how to make the most of your vacation on this spectacular island.
FIRST TIME IN ST. BARTH? HERE IS MY TOP TRAVEL TIPS
✅ TOP THINGS TO DO IN ST BARTS
- 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.
So here are my most heartfelt suggestions on the things you should do and visit.
READ ALSO : HOW TO TRAVEL TO ST BARTS
5 UNMISSABLE THINGS TO DO IN ST BARTS
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, plenty of them.
Or if you get there by boat, you can arrange it in advance, 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 car rental booked by the concierge and delivered to the hotel.
They are very flexible.
Only be aware that there is a large excess on the insurance, of around 700 Euros.
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.
The island tourism authority of St Barth has an official Web site, where you can find detailed information on how to get there: airlines, ferries and their websites, accommodation, things to do, where to eat, and so on…
However, my 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:
ENJOY THE STUNNING ST BARTS BEACHES
There are many beaches that you can explore, and on the website above you will find all of them in detail, but this is my experience:
Anse du Colombier
This is where I went when hiking. I was in awe. To me, it is one of the best beaches in the Caribbean (and I have seen quite a good number). It is all worth the hike (it’s a short one anyway).
To get there you have 2 hiking options from 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.
Bay St Jean
Bay St Jean is the most popular one, for its famous ‘Nikki Beach Bar’, and for the iconic Hotel Eden Rock (which is now closed for renovations), although the accommodation options are quite wide, and 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Anse de Grand Cul-de-Sac
This is where the hotel I was staying at was situated – Le Guanahani.
It is a huge bay where Le Sereno Hotel is also located, and they are building a third one called Le Bartholomé.
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.
There is a water sports hut where you can rent your equipment.
It’ s a secluded little bay if you seek privacy, but is not among the ones I would recommend.
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.
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; this is another spot I missed out on but please don’t do the same!
I was told it is awesome.
Maybe it is better to hike with somebody else, just in case.
HIKE ON THE HILLS OF ST BARTH AND ENJOY THE SPECTACULAR VIEWS
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.
Also, I normally like to know about the flora and fauna of the island. Apparently, the only guide on the whole island is Helene but she was not available when I was there, and I couldn’t get a hold of her. Here are her contact details: FB EMAIL [email protected]
Good luck and let me know how it goes, please 🙂
If you cannot find her 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:
Hike to Anse Colombier
There are 2 hike options.
The first is from the top of the hill, driving through Route Colombier till you reach the end of the road.
You can park the car there and climb down to the beach. It is a 30-minute walk down and, of course, you will have to climb up afterward, but the beautiful beach makes it all worthwhile.
The second option and milder hike, you drive down as you go to Flamand Beach but continuing on the left until the road ends, and you will see the indications for Anse Colombier, this is a mild hike since you just walk around the hill, you won’t go uphill ( I didn’t do it, for the record)
Hike to the natural pools
From Anse Grand fond you should look right and start walking on the pebbles, climb up the hill onto the other side until you find the natural pools. I wish I had gone. Let me know about that, please.
ENJOY ALL THE POSSIBLE WATERSPORTS
I didn’t know kite surfing was such a big thing in St Barth. It’s so beautiful to see those kites flying in the sky; kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling and also diving, which is a good option if you want to explore further.
SPLURGE IN ONE OF THE MOST ELEGANT HOTELS OF THE CARIBBEAN
St Barth is known as one of the coolest islands, where the jet setters go. The result is high-end properties where luxury and top service is a priority.
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 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.
Isle de France
The finest hotel on the island. I cannot believe I spent one night there.
Set on Flamands beach, this iconic hotel has just reopened from the tremendous hit by the latest hurricane a couple of years ago. The renewed suites and villas are even more spectacular than before, if possible. Some of them have amazing views on the ocean, while others enjoy the privacy of the lush immaculate garden.
The French designer Jacques Grange is the artist behind this work of art and was able to masterly blend the West Indies’ colonial charm with a contemporary style.
The restaurant is also on top of its game with a Caribbean-French cuisine. The personalized service will also impress you.
Read reviews on TripAdvisor
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 Sysley Spa addition. The room boasts a modern and minimal style and boasts designer decor, high-quality amenities and, of course, a top-notch service. If I had to describe it in two words I would say “casually elegant”.
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.
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 relaxed vacation. The hotel is also located at a 5 minutes drive from the airport and from the charming town of Gustavia.
Eden Roc is an iconic hotel whose name is known among brand-conscious travelers. It’s located in the bay of Saint Jean, the coolest spot of the island, a must for the Jet setters.
Read reviews on TripAdvisor
Great insight on St Barts lifestyle and hotel options can be found in this article. I couldn’t have described it any better (otherwise I would be writing for Forbes :))
Enjoy your trip and let me know about your experience. I would love to hear from you.
FOR FURTHER READING
- 20 Delicious Negril Restaurant Options For The Best Jamaican Food
- The Coolest 13 Airbnb in Antigua
- 19 exciting things to do in Antigua & Barbuda
- 21 interesting facts about Antigua and Barbuda that you must know
- 13 Things You Must Know About Driving In Antigua
Your Basic Travel Resources
- Book your transfers between destinations on the trusted booking platform Bookaway
- Store your bags in the main cities and walk around freely hands and weight free with Bounce
- Check if you need a visa and get help processing it with iVisa
- Never ever leave without travel insurance. Get complete coverage from World Nomads or long term insurance from Safety Wing
- I find all of my flights on Skyscanner, Kiwi.com, Google flights, Scott’s Cheap Flights, and always remember to compare
- Book your daily tours locally to support local businesses, or if you don’t find any reliable company, or you prefer to book in advance, check out GetYourGuide or Viator. Some of their tours are refundable up to 24h in advance.
- I rent my long and mid-term apartments on VRBO
- Book hotels with Booking.com or Hotels.com
- Compare car rental prices at Auto Europe, Discover Car Rentals
- Check out my travel planning guide if you are planning your trip and feeling overwhelmed