St. Bart's

Things to do in St. Bart's

This tony tropical island has long been referred to as the St.-Tropez of the Caribbean, but there are plenty of things to do on St. Bart’s, for jet-setters and value-seekers. From retail pilgrimages to Calypso, the island’s most famous boutique, and chic mobile spas to scenic sunset drinks and snorkeling at secluded Anse du Gouverneur beach, activities and attractions abound.
Not surprisingly, travelers look to the rich and famous for what to do on St. Bart’s. Travel + Leisure is on the trail of the well-heeled, guiding you to the best activities and attractions in and around Gustavia, St. Jean, and Corossol—designer “beach chic” shops, markets for gourmet French picnic fixings, and buzzy boîtes where you can rub elbows with champagne in hand. Our St. Bart’s travel guide also has information on more under-the-radar spots—a museum dedicated to shells, a hidden beach accessible only by boat, and more.
Whether you’re ogling the yachts and the One Percent on vacation or in search of a luxurious getaway of your own, look no further for things to do on St. Bart’s, a veritable Paris by the Sea.

A misnomer, Shell Beach has, sadly, few shells. The sand itself (gray, rough) isn't top-quality, but the placid cove is ideal for kids. For a lunch of lemongrass shrimp, book a table on the second floor of the Asian-influenced Do Brazil (590-590/290-666).

This hole-in-the-wall jewelry shop carries sea-themed baubles and antique pieces from around the globe.

A short hike over a rocky path opens onto a wide, white-sand stretch. Depending on the winds, the water can be rough. For lunch, head to the open-air restaurant Le Grain de Sel (Grand Saline Beach; 590-590/524-605; lunch for two $80), a five-minute drive away.

 

Owners Fabienne and Virginie Jaca are known for the kimono-sleeve dresses rendered in sexy silk or pretty block-print cotton sold in this sliver of a boutique in Gustavia's Carré d'Or shopping complex.

Lined with some of the island's top hotels (Eden Rock) and loudest clubs (Nikki Beach), this high-wattage strand is the place for people-watching.

You need to look good at all times on St. Bart's—particularly on the beach. So come here for mix-and-match bathing suits in a rainbow of colors and patterns.

Rarely crowded, Gouverneur is located over a mountain pass and down a steep hill on the island's south end. It's no-frills, so pack snacks.

 

Even if you're not in the market for a 150-year-old wooden Buddha from Mandalay or a $10,880 vintage Vespa, this shop, in an antique former residence, is worth stopping by. It also stocks embroidered Indian bedcovers and bright silk pillows.

 

With its soft sand and placid water, Flamands gets our vote. Reserve a beachside table at Le Case de l'Isle (590-590/276-181), at tony Hôtel St.-Barth Isle de France.

In the sleek, cementfloored space, you'll find tunics and wrap dresses in crinkled silk that are perfect for travel.

 

This secluded spot appeals to adventurous types, since you can only get here by boat or on foot. Hint: rather than starting from the hilltop in Columbier (a 20-minute hike), it's easier to take the path that begins just past Flamands Beach, near the Auberge de la Petite Anse.

 

The shop carries bold pink tops and white Turkish towels edged with multicolored pom-poms.

The island's best-known shop was opened in 1992 by Christiane Celle—but she sold the brand name here and opened another shop. These days, Calypso carries big lines like Missoni and YSL.

 

The mobile spa uses ingredients sourced from the area, such as roucou oil, a natural sun protectant.

Check out the shells from around the world, collected by a wizened old man who claims he hasn’t found anything on St. Bart’s since tourism took off in the 1970’s.