St. Barth’s is the French Caribbean playground of the yachts and their owners. Prices are high, tourism is limited, and it is going to stay that way.
In this series:
- Northern Caribbean Island Hopping Itinerary
- St Maarten – Caribbean Vice
- Video – Maarten Airport Golf Cart Tarmac Transfer
- St Martin – The Quiet Side
- Anguilla – Discretion Island
- Saba – Kong Island of the Caribbean
- Video: Landing at Saba Airport, Shortest Commercial Runway in the World
- St Barth’s – Gorgeous People, Pricey Hamburgers
- St Kitts – Plantation Splurge and Mega Fortress
- Nevis – Is An Hour Enough?
Accommodation is small-scale premium French guesthouses. Access is by yacht, ferry from St Maarten, and regional shot hop flights to St Barth’s Gustaf III Airport (SBH), the world’s second shortest commercial runway and a thrilling approach. The St Maarten ferry may sound appealing, though when adding in rental car or taxis to eastern St Maarten’s port, can be little or no savings over the flight on WinAir or St. Barth Commuter.
I flew in exhausted and bruised from a rough morning on Saba’s Mt Scenery and was not in a mood to savor the French milieu layered on what was once Sweden’s only colony (1784-1878).
Stubbornly avoiding taxis I made the half-hour walk from airport to the main town, Gustavia, over the hill in the blazing heat, pausing at the scenic overlook under Gustavia Lighthouse. Gustavia harbor is a pretty sight, and winding through the streets of boutiques and sleek eateries, the luxury-clad, stunning men and women lend a sense of glamor. It appears somewhat superficial as many menus, despite the dramatic surroundings, or perhaps because of them, focus on crepes or hamburgers at steep prices. I ended up skipping lunch and walking back to the airport, not finding the kind of locals’ hole in the wall where I like to eat. I felt St Martin was a more authentically a French experience, lacking the glamor of St Barth’s.
The highlight was the placard at the door to the St Bartholomew Anglican Church, “Enter rest pray.”
I only spent a couple hours, WinAir obligingly put me on an earlier flight. A car is necessary for the island and rental agencies have offerings from conventional cars down to elaborate golf carts. The scenery is stellar, Gustavia is much more upscale and orderly than its island neighbors, and the lack of mass tourism make it is a sunny destination for those looking for an intimate French island experience where the euros flow on out.