Saint Barth is a tiny island in the north east Caribbean, one of the Leeward Islands and, until quite recently, part of France.
Largely autonomous today, the main language is still French, and customs and culture dating back centuries are more European than Caribbean. Two words are always used here: expensive and exclusive. And that’s a fair description, because almost everything’s designed for the wealthiest world travellers. If you want complete escapism, gorgeous beaches, chic restaurants and exquisite resorts, few other places do them so well. But, unless kids are passionate sailors or young enough to play on the sand all day, you may find you reach the limit of family holiday fun quite quickly in this peaceful patch of paradise.
Flights from London to Saint Barth take between 13 and 15 hours and include one to two stops.
Year round temperatures of between 25 and 30˚ with heaviest rainfall from June to December.
January to May is high season in Saint Barth the time to catch annual events like the Saint Barth Music Festival and Caribbean Film Festival.
Quite a few of the world’s most celebrated hotels are Saint Barth residents including Eden Rock – known for its art gallery and connections to young British Royals.
Almost all of Saint Barth’s 14 beaches are public and most resorts have their own private beaches too.
Four of the world’s seven sea turtle species have protected nesting sites on Saint Barth.
Between December to May large schools of migrating whales can be seen around the island and there are dolphins are regularly sighted all year round.
Gustavia might be the island capital but it could never be described as a city. More like a delightfully pretty 19th century French seaside town, it concedes to the Caribbean in its cheerfully painted architecture, gloriously lush gardens and ever-present sea views over the idiosyncratic harbour. Few ports in the world are as packed with luxury yachts in high-season; even more reason to walk the elegant promenade. Exploring the 18th century Swedish era’s interesting and if you dig a little deeper into the heart of town, you’ll come across traces of Creole heritage too.
Nestled round a sheltered and sandy horseshoe bay, Saint Jean is inarguably, ‘the’, place to stay in Saint Barth. Legendary Eden Rock set the tone here in the early 1960s and continues to define the rarefied atmosphere of wealth and privilege. A collection of beautifully designed boutique hotels; gorgeous beachfront villas with private docks; and the chicest versions of international luxury resort brands are what to expect. Prices are high to, ‘if you have to ask you can’t afford them’, extortionate and nowhere else, not even the capital, has quite such glamorous shops, restaurants and smart little cafés.
Saint Barth is a small island but, if you want to explore and visit every one of its 14 beaches, hiring a car is the best way to get about. Taxis are expensive and public transport’s non-existent. On the plus side, many resorts have their own mini-buses and private boats to ferry guests round the island.