I just went to St. Barth’s for a dear friend’s wedding, and I can say almost with certainty I wouldn’t have had it on my future travel plans list unless I had that distinct reason to go. And now I absolutely cannot wait to start planning my next trip.
- amazing beaches – crystal clear, cerulean water and SO MANY BEACHES
- the softest sand you can imagine
- very friendly people
- unreal food scene
- no time change/jet lag for me
- the food is expensive
- if you go in season (October-May), very busy
- took awhile to get there (lots of connecting flights)
- not a very walkable city, you must rent a car (cabs are very hard to procure)
- narrow roads/parking spaces while driving
- helpful to have a French speaker with you, though not necessary
I never expect every place I visit to be perfect, but we had such a nice time here. It is a trip I will remember so, so fondly.
Considering we booked our flights only 2-3 months before going, I was expecting a lot worse. We flew from Boston to Charlotte to St. Martin to St. Barths.
However you’re getting there, you will have to go through customs in St. Martin and then take either a ferry or jumper plane to St. Barths. The ferry is $45 minutes and is around $60-75. Flights are 15 minutes and will cost about $120. If you have a fear of flying, the plane is quite small so ferry may be a better option.
We weren’t sure how much time to leave between getting to St. Martin and flying to St. Barth’s. I would plan to leave about 2 hours if you get there mid-day. If you get in earlier, and if you didn’t check a bag, you can get away less time. There’s no TSA pre-check and the airport is small, meaning if there are a lot of people, it takes some time to go through customs and security. On the way back however, our flight form St. Barth’s to St. Martin was at 10am. We were fully at St. Martin and through security by 10:25 (lol). So there isn’t much consistency and because I’ve only been once, it’s hard to say.
To be safe, I would allow for 2 hours. It’s pretty easy to hop on an earlier flight to St. Barth’s if you get to St. Martin early. Though because the airport is so small, you’ll want to give yourself enough time. The airport food is pretty good and they have plenty of beers/wine so you can comfortably chill if that’s your thing.
Renting a car
This is a must. Getting cabs in St. Barth’s (at least during off season) was really a challenge. I would also definitely recommend getting the smallest car you can. We got one of the smart cars and it was such a good choice. The roads are narrow + windy and the parking spots are small. A lot of locals use scooters and they’re constantly zipping around you. Also interestingly, when you rent a car they put a $1000 hold on your credit card. Jump scare!
I’m not someone who always gets the car insurance, but if you were ever considering it, this would be a good place to get it. The driving is…interesting! Luckily the island is small so you can see a fair amount of it in a short amount of time. From one end of the island to the other, it takes about 20 minutes.
Renting a car is also important because we did have to go to the grocery store a few times and buy waters in bulk (we were told not to drink the tap water). This would have been really challenging to carry back to our AirBnb especially since the city is not very walkable (like at all!). Curvy roads, fast drivers, minimal side walks.
Where we stayed
There are a ton of luxury resorts in St. Barth’s. Our first night there we sat next to a famous Beverly Hills plastic surgeon and his equally famous Bravo star wife (lol). It’s definitely a scene. If you want to go for luxury, you will absolutely find it in St. Barth’s. Though there are tons of more affordable AirBnbs. We went during off seasons so I suspect there was a discount on our AirBnb, but it was absolutely perfect. It’s right on the beach and parking was a bit iffy, but the host was so responsive and actually held a parking spot for us when we arrived. It’s on a small beach where locals would bring their kids after school. At night it was our own private beach!! We did many a night swims and it was just so absolutely out of this world indescribably incredible. At around $160/night (split between two people), this was the reason we decided to stay for the whole week.
If luxury is the name of your game, the wedding we went to was at Hotel Christopher (amazing). Eden Rock was also unreal. We got a day pass at Hotel Manapay and this was beautiful too! Honestly can’t go wrong, though would definitely recommend staying somewhere more affordable and getting day passes at the resorts. We were noting that if we stayed at somewhere more expensive, we would feel inclined to stay at the resort all day, rather than explore different parts of the island. Though totally acknowledge everyone has different goals when traveling! Do what feels good.
Where to Eat
Where to begin! We had amazing food in St. Barth’s. Listing some of our favorites below.
- Eden Rock – expensive but honestly amazing. Buffet and a la carte options and an amazing iced coffee. We also came here for drinks one night (and by drinks I mean just one single drink since it was priced at $25) and it was such a cool scene! Where we had the celebrity sighting.
- Eden To Go – right near the airport and lovely little grab and go options. “Affordable” compared to the other places
- La Petite Colombe – lovely patisserie with the BEST almond croissant. They also have sandwiches and quiches. Another spot that’s quick and more affordable compared to other options on the island.
- Beach House – an expensive lunch but worth it for the views! This the restaurant at a resort, but the views are remarkable. The Wagyu beef burger was absolutely incredible. Still thinking about it.
- GypSea or Nikki Beach – these are both in the same area. We liked GypSea a bit more (you can also rent a day bed and go in the ocean there) food wise. Nikki Beach is like a crazy brunch rave party on Sundays.
- Shellona – cool restaurant
- Le Rivage – close to wear swimming with the turtles is! Cool spot, very picturesque.
- Ti Corail (lunch)
- Kaz A Juice (juice bar)
- Arawak Cafe
(La Petite Colombe)
- Le Papillon Ivre (French) – oh how we loved this place. Wine bar and French small plates. So good we went twice.
- Sella (Israeli-inspired) – this is where the rehearsal dinner was and not only were the sunset views stunning (it’s in Gustavia, which is the downtown area where
- Black Ginger (Thai)
- L’isoletta (pizza)
- Eddy’s Ghetto
- Baz Bar (sushi)
- Fish Corner
What to Do
- Grab lunch at Eden To Go and hike to Colombier Beach (~10-15 minute hike that takes you to a private and pristine beach)
- Sunset drinks at Hotel Christopher (gorgeous sunset views)
- Hiking to Grand Fond Natural Pool – this was cool! We liked the activity and it was a fun little something to do. We saw goats on the way
- Grab the snorkel gear at Beach House and go see the turtles at Anse du Grand Cul-de-Sac
- Beaches!!!! There’s honestly everywhere. Our favorites were: Colombier beach, Marigot beach, Saline Beach, Gouverner Beach, Shell Beach
- Explore Gustavia
- Rent a day pass at Hotel Christopher or Hotel Manapany (Hotel Manapany also has really great deals for a breakfast or lunch/pool/spa day – you can do all three for around $100)
- Spa day at Hotel Christopher. Truly the most luxurious thing I’ve EVER done. Massage to the sound of waves. I’m still thinking about it and this alone is enough to get me back to St. Barth’s
- Grab a beer at Le Select (Gustavia) – this is official home of Jimmy Buffet’s Cheeseburger in Paradise. Fun/chill vibe.
- Rent a day bed at Gypsea Beach club, Nikki Beach, or Shellona
- Spend a Sunday at Nikki Beach (insane brunch/party energy)
(drinks at Christopher Hotel)
crystal clear waters at Colombier Beach
Grand Fond Natural Pools
snorkeling to see the turtles at Anse du Grand Cul-de-Sac!
When to go
There are some things that shut down during off season, but I’ve heard it’s a bit of zoo during November-May. Some of the locals we were chatting with noted it’s common for people from France to come for the entire time, and so restaurants are packed and you have to make reservations everywhere. While it was pretty hot when we went, I would still recommend going during off season. I loved that we could just walk in anywhere and didn’t have to make reservations weeks/months in advanced. We went beginning of June and maybe mid/end of May would have been a bit cooler and still not as busy.
How long to go for
As you can see, there’s a lot to do/see/eat on the island! We went for a full 6 days and I’m glad we did, especially since we were there for a wedding. I think 4 full days would have been enough if we were going without activities/festivities. Since there wasn’t a time change for us, we weren’t jet lagged which enabled us to do a bit more. Even 3 would give you a decent amount of time since the island is so small and you can do a lot in a short amount of time.
This was truly one of the most relaxing vacations I’ve ever had and can’t wait to be back!