St. Barthelemy ~ Better Known as St. Barts

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Welcome to St. Bart’s. This tiny island in the Caribbean may remind you a little bit of the French Riviera.  Frequented by the rich and famous, this little gem is not for the budget minded traveler.  But makes a great destination for romance and honeymoon’s.

Flying into Gustavia will start your vacation with adventure.  The airport limits incoming aircraft to no more than 19 passengers.  The pilot will skim as close as safely possible between 2 hills and then will drop the plane quickly before applying the brakes on a runway that feels to short.  If this is not your idea of fun, you can easily take a ferry or catamaran from St. Martin which is about 15 miles away.

Many hotels will arrange to pick you up at the airport.  The local bus system doesn’t really meet the needs of the tourists.  Renting a car is an option and you need to decide how mobile you want to be.  If you want a car make reservations early as cars do sell out.  If you are looking to explore the different beaches around the island and try the restaurants, bistro’s and do some shopping you will want to rent a car.  Check with your hotel as some do have cars available to rent, if given a choice opt for an open air jeep, it is so much fun.

Gustavia is the only large town on the island.  You will  get a feel of the town’s Swedish history.  The street names, forts and stone houses are very reminiscent of the Swedish culture.  In town you will be tempted by all of the elegant french boutiques.

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Visit Corossol, a charming fishing village.  Many of the residents still wear the traditional clothing of 17th century Normandy.  When here if you are looking to buy local handcrafts, you will find intricately woven straw items made from the local Lantana Palm.  Also in Corossol visit Musee Interocean (Shell Museum) which is reportedly the only shell museum of its kind in the world.

Heading to St. Jean, just east of Gustavia, this settlement is the earliest on the island.  This is a town that is now full of bistro’s, boutiques and small hotels.

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There are about 20 + beaches on the island and each one has its own unique personality.

Let’s start with Lorient.  This beach is pretty popular with surfers as the surf is gently rolling.  If you want to snorkel, check oout Marigot and Marchal, they are the best spots on the island.

Grande Saline is a secluded beach and is know for it’s wild beauty.  Anse de Toiny is relatively untouched and swimming is not recommended.

Have you ever had the chance to walk ankle deep in seashells?  There are several spots on St. Bart’s where this is possible.

Food

You really learn so much about a culture and the people through their food and you won’t be disappointed here.  Dining on St. Bart’s really becomes your evening entertainment.  The restaurants and bistro’s specialize in Classic French, Nouvelle French, Creole and seafood dishes.  Many of the restaurants have outdoor terraces where you can dine, relax and linger while listening to piano music and the sound of the surf.  You will find a few jazz bars on the island, but no gambling.

While on the island, you need to visit Le Select.  Located in the heart of Gustavia, it is one of the few inexpensive places to eat.  Most of the seating is outside and is a fun place to people watch.  Le Select is one of the first restaurants on the island and opened in 1949.  It has a really fun and funky vibe and you will love it.  The food served is casual and you will find primarily salad, hot dogs, cheeseburgers and fries.  It has been said that this little place inspired Jimmy Buffet’s son “Cheeseburgers in Paradise.”

If you are traveling around the Caribbean on a cruise and want to make a stop in St. Bart’s.  You won’t find any of the larger cruise ships visiting the island.  The cruises that visit the island are the small boutique ships.  With the large ships you would have an influx of visitors and that would completely change the heart and soul of the island.

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