When you land at the island's airstrip in St. Jean, you notice only the sparkling water and endless beach. And then you focus on the boutiques devoted to sun and sand.
Kiwi It's advisable to hit the gym before you brave this bijou swimwear shop. The outrageous collection of skimpy bikinis and thongs from St.-Tropez look stunning on beach bunnies (the tiger print is très outré). Matching spandex miniskirts in aqua, hot pink, and lemon yellow will get you past any maître d' on the island, at least before sundown; in contrast, the men's patterned cotton trunks are practically prim. Villa Cré-ole; 590/275-708.
Mia Zia Belgian-born Philippe de Nys fell in love with the souks of Morocco, so he struck a deal with Marrakesh designer Valérie Barkowski to create a vibrant line of merino knit separates for his new store. Sporty accessories include silk bungee-cord bracelets, woven straw hats from Senegal, and viscose totes, but the home run here is a clever terry djellaba that looks as if it came straight from the desert. The baby version is even more adorable. 8 Villa Créole; 590/275-548.
Terra Jewelry designer Annelisa Gee, who places rare and semiprecious rough-cut gems in dainty gold settings, has a big Park Avenue fan club. (Marie Chantal of Greece and Lauren Hutton have snapped up her informal baubles.) Team one of Gee's single-strand chokers or cocktail rings with a silk Indonesian pareu or flirty sundress by Tibi and a beaded Ipanema bag—all for sale here, too. Pelican Plage; 590/275-750.
More residential than resort, Lorient, between St. Jean and Marigot, is quieter than the island's other towns. The only time it bustles is when school lets out and roads jam as mamans pick up their kids.
Ligne St Barth Will someone please tell the French that tanning has a downside?Luckily for the beach-and-bake set, Birgit Brin left behind frigid German winters to open a skin-care lab in Lorient. Watch techs in white coats blend purified seawater with Caribbean plant and fruit extracts, and then pick up the finished product: luscious mango-butter moisturizer, avocado massage oil, papaya facial peel. While Euros slather on Brin's zero-protection coconut oil, cautious Yanks prefer the Roucou SPF 50 block. Route de Saline; 590/278-263.
SURF AND TURF
When the clock strikes noon, St. Bart's shuts down and locals heads home for lunch. Skip your hotel's overpriced salade langouste, fling your mask and flippers into the Mini Moke, and retreat to Gouverneur or Flamands beach for the afternoon, with a picnic from one of the island's epicurean emporiums. Sud, Sud . . . Etc. Galerie du Commerce, St. Jean; 590/279-875. First stop, for a large straw tote made of baobab bark to carry it all. Match Supermarché La Savane Commercial Center, St. Jean; 590/884-806. Best menu: rotisserie chicken, Brie, Parma ham, and a crisp baguette. Add a chilled six-pack of Socrema—a fizzy Caribbean grenadine soda—or browse the liquor aisles for deeply discounted Dom Pérignon. Kiki-é Mo Catering St. Jean; 590/279-065. The tiny take-out shop carries delicious salads, panini, and fruit tarts. La Rotisserie Commercial Center, St. Jean; 590/297-483. Pick up treats from Paris-based Fauchon, including chocolates and foie gras. Vit Olive Lorient; 590/529-622. This is the place for Provençal honey, anchovy paste, and truffle-infused oils, plus a briny selection of black and green olives from France, Spain, and Italy.