There’s a reason why celebrities, models and It girls consistently escape to the tropical island of St. Barth. It has the sophistication of St.-Tropez with the laissez-fare Caribbean laid-back lifestyle — which means it’s exclusive and high end yet totally unpretentious. You can go to the beach and then straight to a beach club in sunglasses and a wrap.
The capital, Gustavia, encircles a yacht-filled harbor, where you might see a private helicopter landing on one of the many yachts in sight. Luxury retailers like Hermès, Bulgari, and Cartier are here too. You can also enjoy fabulous creperies.
The first time I went to the island I was in shock. It is breathtaking and has such a vibe. The beaches are picturesque. There are 16 and each has a distinct personality. At Saline Beach you’ll find topless women frolicking in the translucent water and yards of soft, white sand that feels like powdered sugar between your toes. What you won’t find: tourist traps hawking sugary cocktails. Saline, like most other beaches on St. Barth, is rather bare bones — no bars, no shops, no restaurants — so be sure to pack your own water and food/snacks.
If you go to St. Barth and don’t experience Le Ti St-Barth, you’re doing it totally wrong. The most memorable night for me was dressing up and dancing at this great late-night spot. Waiters whisk you into a secret room in the back of the restaurant, dress you up like you’re going to an exotic party, and send you off to the main room totally transformed.
If I were to recommend a lodging, I would say stay in a villa. The Eden Rock was damaged during the storm, but honestly the best place to stay in St. Barth is close to the port. You want to be in the action and rhythm of the village and experience its energy.
St. Barth has events all year long. Many French holidays and a handful of Swedish ones are celebrated locally; larger international events include annual music festivals in January and August, and the Caribbean Film Festival in April. St. Barth residents have an avid passion for volleyball, and the Volleyball Cup Tournament in July draws big crowds.