My best friend, Elicia (formerly Zank) Evans, got married in St Barths this November. Elicia grew up visiting the island of St. Barths year after year. Since she is the St. Barths expert, it was only fitting to have her curate this St Barths Travel Guide! Enjoy.
Getting to St Barths.
By Plane: The most common way to arrive on the island is by flying into nearby St. Maarten (SXM) and taking a 12-minute connecting flight to St. Barths' (SBH). You can also reach St. Barths by connecting though San Juan (SJU) and taking a 60-minute flight to the island. St. Barths' short runway and steep, hill-diving approach is famously and undeniably fun. If you can keep your eyes open for the landing, we promise it will be a collectible travel experience. From St. Maarten (SXM), two local airline companies (linked below) provide hourly connections to St. Barths: St. Barth Commuter and Winair.
Note: Budget a two hour layover in St. Maarten's airport to ensure ample time before your flight to St. Barths and try to avoid flights that land in St. Maarten after 4:30pm as the St. Barths' airport closes each day at sunset.
By Boat: If small planes scare you rather than thrill you, there are two ferry companies (linked below) that offer service between St. Maarten and St. Barths. The ferry ride is about 40 minutes each way, but please be advised the passage can be choppy and seasickness is quite common. Ferry companies: Voyager Ferry from/ to Marigot (French Side of St. Maarten) or Great Bay Ferry from/to Philipsburg (Dutch Side of St. Maarten)
Hotel Le Toiny: Situated in an area of the island referred to as the "Côte Sauvage," Hotel Le Toiny's has it’s very own secluded beach. The resort's restaurant is nestled high in the cliffs above the beach. There are 23 villa suites set on a gentle slope overlooking the Bay of Toiny and the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Hotel Christopher: We stayed here. Set out on a promontory in tony Pointe Milou, the hotel offers panoramic views, one of the best pools on the island, and a clean and modern design aesthetic. There are a total of 42 rooms and suites that arc above the dramatic rocky coastline. (Note from Marissa: The hotel is pricey, while the service is less than satisfactory)
Pearl Beach: Located on the beautiful white sandy beach of St. Jean and close to hottest night spots, Pearl Beach's personalized service and trendy beach bar make this hotel the perfect place for those looking to be in the middle of the action in a social atmosphere while also finding time for relaxation and rejuvenation. There are a variety of accommodation choices, and rates here are more affordable than Le Toiny and Hotel Christopher. (Note from Marissa: I wish we stayed here! You can also take a fun surf lesson right next to the hotel)
If you’re a larger group— look into an AIRBNB. There are some incredible villas.
Black Ginger (€€): Serving authentic and refined Thai cuisine in Gustavia. Gustavia • 0590 29 21 03 • Dinner 7 PM to 12 AM. Closed on Tuesdays
Bonito (€€€€): A hotspot in town with unmatched views of the harbour, serving Venezuelan inspired foods such as ceviche, tiraditos, and tartars. Romantic place for a drink facing the sunset. Gustavia • 0590 27 96 96 • Dinner 7 PM to 12 AM. Closed on Wednesdays
Choisy (€): Wonderful bakery in Lorient. Arrive early if you’re keen on croissants and baguettes – they can sell out fast! Choisy also offers pre-made sandwiches, tarts, and pastries, as well as coffee. Lorient • 0590 29 76 78 • Breakfast and Lunch Daily Until 1 PM
L’Isola (€€€€): Superb Italian, but also very expensive. Perfect for a candle-lit, romantic night. Gustavia • 0590 51 00 05 • reservations@firstname.lastname@example.org • Dinner 6-11PM, Closed Mondays
L’Isoletta (€€): Isola’s little sister, this “Roman Style” pizzeria serves a variety of delicious pizzas at any hour of the day and late into the evening. Sweet and savory Italian-style breakfasts on the terrace make for a great morning in town.
Gustavia • 0590 52 02 02 • email@example.com • 7 AM to 2 AM, Closed on Mondays
La Guerite (€€€): At the tip of Gustavia’s Harbor discover an authentic Mediterranean cuisine, created by one of the prodigies of Greek gastronomy: Yiannis Kioroglou.
Gustavia • 0590 27 71 83 • firstname.lastname@example.org • 7 AM to 2 AM, Closed on Sundays
Pearl Beach Restaurant (€€): Bohemian, laid-back vibe with great grilled sandwiches and a mean beach cocktail. Pearl Beach Hotel, St. Jean Beach • 0590 27 53 13 • Daily Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Les Bananiers (€€): Next door to la Petite Colombe bakery in Colombier. Low-key locals’ spot proposing traditional French cuisine with creole touches and a variety of delicious brick oven pizzas. Colombier • 0590 27 93 48 • Lunch & Dinner, Closed on Saturday Lunch & Sundays
Les Petite Colombe Bakery (€): Neighborhood bakery in Colombier and Lorient specializing in freshly baked breads and pastries, as well as sandwiches and salads to-go.
Colombier • 0590 27 95 27 • Daily Breakfast and Lunch
Maya’s To Go (€€): Dean & Deluca like take-away restaurant in St. Jean that’s great for a quick bite or grab-and-go on your way to the beach. Or, pick this up before heading to the airport for your flight home!
Colombier • 0590 27 95 27 • Daily Breakfast and Lunch
Nikki Beach (€€€): A party on the beach featuring eclectic, International cuisine. Enjoy a sushi boat and a great cocktail with your feet in the sand. (Note from Marissa: the food and sushi here was incredible! Gabe and I went twice. I got the Tuna Pizza both times.)
St. Jean • 0590 27 64 64 • email@example.com • Lunch Only
Orega (€€€): A new favorite! French Japanese fusion (trust us!) with spectacular drinks. Go for your sushi roll fix.
Gustavia • 0590 52 45 31 • Dinner Only, Closed Sundays
Shellona Beach (€€€): A musical beach house atmosphere inspired by Ibiza and Mykonos. This restaurant sits on Shell Beach – one of the best spots to watch the sunset. Mediterranean fare and speciality cocktails.
Shell Beach, Gustavia • 0590 29 06 66 • firstname.lastname@example.org • 10:30 AM to 7:00 PM Daily
François Plantation at Villa Marie (€€€): French Caribbean cuisine set amidst a Wes Anderson style lobby and restaurant. Be sure to check out the cigar and rum bar.
Colombier • 0590 77 52 52 • email@example.com • Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Daily
There are about 20 beaches (“anses”) on St. Barths, each with its own unique personality. Few are ever crowded. All are public and free. In keeping with the island’s French heritage, topless sunbathing is common at pools and beaches around the island. Sit back and enjoy the views!
Gouverneur Beach (“Anse de Gouverneur”)
Unspoiled. The white-sand at Gouverneur resembles baby powder. The cove is picture-perfect with some palm tree-provided shade. Good snorkeling by the rocks on the left. To get to Gouverneur, you drive down a twisty, narrow road from the town of Lurin and are rewarded with stunning views and plenty of space to spread out on the beach. If you’re planning on going for most of the day, pack lunch too, since there are no vendors. A legend says the pirate Daniel Montbars used the beach as his base of operations as he raided Spanish ships in the 1670s. While Jon is still looking for the buried treasure, he now understands why Roman Abramovich spent $95 million in 2009 to buy the compound next to the small public parking lot (look for the wooden gate with painted lizards).
St. Jean Beach (“Anse de St. Jean”)
This is the most popular (and probably most photographed) beach in St. Barths thanks to its convenient location and plethora of beachfront hotels, restaurants and water activities. The Eden Rock Resort, built on a rocky prominence, splits the beach in two and, depending on the afternoon, Nikki Beach will be a laid-back lounge or a rocking party. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the people watching as the occasional small plane takes off at the nearby airport. Grab lunch on the beach at Pearl Beach Hotel’s La Plage restaurant.
Colombier Beach (“Anse de Colombier”)
Three words: paradise on earth. Colombier is the only beach on the island not served by a road and is consequently (and fortunately) often deserted. Colombier can only be reached via a half-hour hike (where you’ll likely have a friendly encounter several wild goats) or by boat. As you approach the beach from above, it is easy to see why David Rockefeller – who single-handedly turned the island into a luxury destination in the 1960s – built his family a villa on the left bluff overlooking it. While the villa was sold many years ago, the buyer has ordered it be left untouched in perpetuity to prevent further development.
Grand Cul de Sac
Protected by a coral reef, Grand Cul-de-Sac has the calmest waters on St. Barths. The water remains shallow for quite a way out into the lagoon, with crystal with clear turquoise water and schools of small fish. The beach is the top destination for water sports: kayaking, jet skiing, wind surfing, and more are all available through water-sports outfitters on the beach. Two hotels and restaurants line the beach – we recommend the Hotel Le Barthelemy for a drink or snack.
Saline Beach (“Anse de Saline”)
The most popular beach on the “savage coast” of the island. After a short walk past the salt ponds that gave this beach its name, it’s hard not be impressed by this stunning stretch of sand dunes, turquoise water and rolling green hills. Far from the hustle and bustle, Saline provides perfect tranquility. Be sure to pack a snack and drinks – there is no development on the beach, but we think that helps maintain its stunning, raw natural beauty.
Shell Beach is the only beach "in town," just a short walk from the heart of Gustavia, the capital city of St Barths. Framed by dramatic cliffs and towering mountains, Shell Beach is visually spectacular, especially for sunsets. As its name suggests, the beach is made up mainly of small sea shells that help define the unique nature of this beach. There is good snorkeling along both sides of the bay, and there is a popular jumping rock on the left side. The well-regarded Shellona restaurant is located right on the beach, serving lunch and dinner.
Flamands Beach (“Anse de Flamands”)
Beautiful and wide, with white-sand with crystal blue water, Flamands is the largest beach on the island of St Barths. Situated in a on the northwest of the island, it is very well-known for its natural beauty and rolling waves perfect for body-surfing.
From chic concept stores like Clic and Baya to one-of-a-kind boutiques like Bijoux de la Mer, St. Barths has it all. Unlike many other island destinations, you can find an incredible selection of designer clothing, caftans for the beach, home goods, jewelry, and more. Impressively, many of the goods are made on the island, so you have the opportunity to return home with souvenirs and gifts that are truly one of a kind.
The tidy capital of Gustavia, with its gingerbread-trimmed cottages, designer shops, and elegant restaurants, surrounds a yacht-ﬁlled harbor. On the opposite side of the island, near the airport, St. Jean is a diminutive strip of colorful boutiques and beach bars. You can't go wrong at either location.
*** MOST SHOPS ARE CLOSED DURING LUNCH AROUND 11 AM – 3 PM ***
Le Ti: The island’s most famous nightspot in the Pointe Milou neighborhood. Go with friends, buy a table and put on one of their over-the-top costumes.
Bagatelle (€€€): Located in the heart of Gustavia, Bagatelle brings its "joie de vivre" to the St. Barths dining scene - combining French cuisine with its legendary atmosphere.
Gustavia • 0590 27 63 77 • firstname.lastname@example.org • Daily 7 PM to 1 AM
Special Note from Marissa to Elicia: Your wedding was magical and Gabe/I can’t wait to continue to celebrate many more special moments with you/Jon. Thank you so much for creating this incredible St. Barths guide for your wedding, and allowing me to post it on FashionAmbitionist.com! I love you so much and was honored to be your MOH. <3
Have any questions?! Don’t be shy, leave a comment below.