The tiny Caribbean island of Saint Barthélemy, typically shortened to St Barth, is having a comeback. The reconstruction of the island’s infrastructure following the damage caused by 2017’s Hurricane Irma is now complete and the island is ready to welcome the superyacht crowd back to its exclusive shores. Burgess charter experts bring their inside knowledge on the best the island has to offer.
Acclimatise to ‘island time’ and pad barefoot along any of the stunning beaches that fringe St Barth. There are no fewer than 17 beaches in total whose waters lap the islands shoreline, each beach offering something slightly different.
Cosmopolitan St Jean is the place for people watching, while Gouverneur and Saline are better for chilled relaxation in seclusion. The latter is one of the island's best beaches but do come prepared for shameless nudity à la Française.
Alternatively why not anchor off Anse de Colombier for escapism par excellence. The beach is backed by a scattering of palm trees and behind them the village of Colombier peeks down. Access to the beach here is only by yacht or involves a mile-long trek over the hills, so at the right time of day you might even have the silky soft sands all to yourself. Alternatively, anchor in a deserted bay and take the tender ashore for a beach BBQ set up by your yacht crew.
With a distinctly French flavour, St Barths is known for having some of the best chefs in the Caribbean, who generally try to adapt traditional French cuisine to suit the warmer climate. Among several dozen good places to eat on the island, a few places really stand out. For French flavours try Bagatelle; an offshoot of the original in New York, Eden Rock’s The Sand Restaurant (rebuilt to Michelin Standards), Le Gaïac at Hotel Le Toiny, or Bonito (for the latter, ensure you arrive early to enjoy St Barth's spectacular sunset from its west facing terrace).
L’Esprit is one of the best restaurants on the island and has many of its recipe ingredients flown in from France. Their nightly changing French, Asian and Caribbean fusion menu is consistently delicious. Head to Bête Á Z’Ailes for sushi and live music, Black Ginger for chic Thai cuisine, and for French Creole cooking the legendary beachside restaurant Maya’s is a must-visit. If you are looking for a low-key spot between shopping (see Boutique Chic) then one of the newest additions to the island, Fish Corner, serves fresh and light seafood right in the heart of Gustavia.
More than 200 boutiques can be found on the eight square miles of St Barth, with some of the world’s leading labels creating exclusive, limited edition items that are only available to buy on the island. The charming harbor of Gustavia is duty-free and the waterfront is lined with high end boutiques: the big brands of Dior, Hermes, Cartier, Armani, Vuitton, Bvlgari are all here, sitting side-by-side with a handful of more unique stores. For more eclectic boutiques head to St Jean. Eden Being has a global collection of clothes and accessories influenced by the style of the Eden Roc brand, with designer names like Zimmermann and Chloé on offer. The island also hosts a number of homeware boutiques, including the concept store Clic and the bazaar-style Baya St Barth.
Whether you are looking to ride a horse, surf the island’s wildest beaches or dive and snorkel through calm waters, St Barth really has an activity to suit everyone. Those looking to explore both above and beneath the water's surface will be spoilt for choice. Anse Toiny is the island’s wildest beach and has good surf breaks, whilst Anse de Lorient has a good point break offshore and better suited to more advanced surfers.
Anchor off Anse de Colombier, jump into the calm waters and snorkel with the turtles sure to be found swimming around your yacht. The waters also attract grey reef sharks, eagle rays and all manner of tropical fish, making this a truly dazzling place for scuba diving or snorkeling. For those looking to explore on land, step ashore and follow the trail along the coast to Anse des Flamands, or perhaps hike the shady trail up the hill to the village for panoramic views over the bay. For more spectacular views you can even take a horseback ride along the cliffs.
The St Barth party scene is all about the laid back vibes; a casual affair where dinner smoothly slips into an evening of cocktails as the sun goes down, all with a touch of glamour. Whatever your style though, the island has something up its sleeve. Nikki Beach Saint Barth is the place to head if you are looking for daytime joviality, while nearby Pearl Beach (formerly known as Tom Beach) hosts a lively Saturday brunch. For those looking to simply sit back, relax and people watch, Lil' Rock has a toes in the sand vibe. Alternatively, you can also watch the sunset with your feet in the sand at the revamp of Do Brazil – the Brazilian-themed beach bar is an island institution. Early evening, relax with cocktails and canapés at Mango Beach Club, or head to the popular Bagatelle. For those looking to trip their dancing shoes fantastic then the raucous Le Ti St Barth is a rite of passage for anyone visiting St Barth. Think cabaret and costumery and you won’t be far off.
Contact your nearest Burgess charter broker for further information on St Barth and the opportunities for yacht charter in the wider Caribbean