On a recent trip to St. Bart's, I spotted the owner of the Revlon empire, Ron Perelman, on his yacht in Gustavia Harbor, a Rockefeller or two shopping in the village of St. Jean, and Jon Bon Jovi having dinner at Eden Rock. Sure, they can afford the prices here—it's the winter getaway of the rich and famous, after all. But what about we normal, not-so-recession-proof folk?Here's my short list for how to do the island affordably:
STAY: The Hôtel Baie des Anges, on the northwest corner of the island, is on one of the prettiest beaches around—it also shares its sands with the tony Hotel Isle de France. The people watching here is great. The really good news?Rates here dropped significantly on Apr. 1 (from $415 to $230 for a double room). (Flamands; 590/27-63-61; doubles from $230)
EAT: The year-old beach-front shack O'Corail is run by a local sister/brother team. He's a fisherman. She runs the restaurant. They serve the freshest-caught fish, straight from his boat. (This is big for St. Barts: seasonality and eating local is just catching on here; neighboring Le Sereno hotel brags about its Madagascar prawns, to illustrate my point.) O'Corail does lunch all week and dinner only on weekends. At lunch, order a rum punch and the spiny lobster salad and watch the dozens of kite surfers fly across the Grand Cul de Sac. (Grand Cul de Sac; 590/29-33-27; lunch for two $60)
DO: Rent snorkle gear at Marine Service and head to Gouverneur Beach. It's secluded, with crystal blue water and the some of the best snorkling on the island: My boyfriend and I spotted French anglefish, sargeant majors, sea turtles, rays, and a nurse shark. (Quai du Yacht Club, Gustavia; 590/590-27-70-34; daily gear rentals, from $20)
Clark Mitchell is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure.