Just because you’re an adventure traveller doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in luxury every once in a while. The Caribbean island of St Barthélemy, more commonly known as St Barts (or St Barth), is the ideal spot for some serious “me” time.
The island is well known as an upscale retreat for the chic and famous, complete with with ritzy French cuisine and designer shopping. If it isn’t already, a vacation in St Barts should be on your bucket list!
St Barts also has 22 fabulous beaches arrayed around the volcanic peak of More du Vitet. With water sports and hiking in the mix, there’s more than enough to keep adventure-seekers occupied on St Barts.
Here’s our list of the 10 best things to do in St Barts, for thrill-seekers, partiers, and people who just want to just kick back on the beach.
WINDSURF IN A CUL DE SAC
If you’re looking for active things to do in St Barts, Grand Cul de Sac Beach is the ideal spot for windsurfing and kitesurfing. The shallow, sheltered bay keeps the water warm and calm but the winds bluster strongly enough to fulfill a need for speed.
Lessons are readily available if you’re new to water sports, and paddle boards and kayaks are also available for rent if you want a more peaceful way to enjoy the bay.
After you’ve spent all those calories on the water, pop into one of the small cafes along Cul de Sac Beach for a restorative glass of beer.
PICNIC ON A SECLUDED BEACH
Perched on the northwest end of the island, Colombier Beach can only be reached from the water or by a half-hour scramble over steep and rocky terrain.
Once you’re there, the reward is a secluded powdered coral beach with waters so turquoise you won’t believe they’re not PhotoShopped.
On your way to the beach, Maya’s To Go or Kiki-é Mo to buy picnic supplies. Also bring lots of water and sunscreen, as Colombier Beach offers very little in the way of shade.
PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR OF GUSTAVIA
When you tire of taking photos of pristine blue waters and white sandy beaches, step into the St Barts’ capital city, Gustavia. Snap the glitzy designer boutiques and capture ramshackle fishing boats nestled up against gargantuan yachts in the harbour.
Disappear into the quiet backstreets to experience another side of Gustavia, where locals go about their daily business. From there, climb up 29m Hill to get sweeping views of Shell Beach and the perfect shot to make all your friends back home jealous!
Shell Beach by Joanna Kalafatis.
SCUBA AT KAYLI
Much of the water surrounding St Barts is protected by the Nature Reserve of Saint-Barthélemy, a marine reserve that is divided into five zones around the island.
These waters make SCUBA diving one of the unmissable things to do in St Barts. The best spot for exploring is the Kayali Wreck, a 30m dive where vast schools of tropical fish swerve and soar through the water.
Keep your eyes open for sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, and even reef sharks!
SURFING AT LORIENT
For those who prefer to stay above the waves, St Barts offers some pretty magical surfing. The best surf is at Lorient beach, on the north side of the island. There are plenty of challenging breaks for experienced surfers and some calmer spots if it’s your first time on a board. Lorient is not the only spot to surf – there are rental shops dotted all around the island.
Take a break from chic French cuisine to seek out some of the local-owned eateries around St Barts. Visit O’Corail, a casual beach hut at Grand Cul de Sac Beach to sample fish that has been plucked from the sea that day.
Or seek out Le-Select St-Barth which is rumoured to be the inspiration for Jimmy Buffet’s hit Cheeseburger in Paradise. Definitely one of the cheesiest things to do in St Barts!
Gustavia Harbour by Joanna Kalafatis.
HIKE TO A WASHING MACHINE
This half-hour hike starts in Grand Fond and will lead you along a rocky beach and then high up on dramatic cliffs overlooking the ocean. From there, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of a small beach where the water churns and crashes dangerously against the shore. This is known locally as the Washing Machine.
You won’t be able to swim there, but the hike continues to another famous spot on St Barts, the Piscines Naturalles. These natural pools are the perfect place to splash around and cool off before the hot hike back to Grand Fond.
SHOP WITH SOPHISTICATES
People-watching in St Barts may leave you feeling a little shabby — I know my travel clothes are not up to the glamour. Luckily, if you’re in the mood for a little credit card therapy, shopping is one of the best things to do in St Barts.
Whether you’re after shoes, swimsuits, linens, lingerie, or handcrafted jewellery, designer gear of every kind is plentiful in St Barts. There’s are not many bargains to be found, so be prepared for designer price tags, too!
Shell Beach by Joanna Kalafatis.
PARTY ALL NIGHT…
Have you ever seen a too-glamorous-to-be-believed party in a movie and thought, “Those parties don’t happen in real life!” Well, in St Barts they do! All-night-parties are one of the most legendary things to do in St Barts — people talk about them for years afterwards.
At Le Ti St. Barth, the evening starts with a luxurious meal and then slowly unravels into a wild all-nighter of dancing to celebrity DJs and rubbing shoulders with the crème de la crème of St Barts society.
At Nikki Beach Saint Barth, where events like Super-Hero Party Day and Wild Wild West are just par for the course, things can go from chilled to crazy in a matter of moments. You’ll wonder what the hell just happened. Don’t question it. Dive in and enjoy!
…AND SLEEP NAKED ALL DAY!
After a legendary St Barts party, you’ll need some serious chill time. Sleeping in the nude on Saline Beach is one of the most relaxing things to do in St Barts. A short hike over rolling sand dunes brings you to this secluded arc of soft white sand.
Though nudity is officially forbidden on the island, Saline Beach is the place for baring it all, and many sunbathers are not shy. This gorgeous stretch on the south coast is the perfect place to recharge, get rid of your tan lines, and get ready for another all-nighter.
Beaches, shopping, water sports and legendary parties are all part of the St Barts way of life. So whether you’re a typical beach bum, an adventurer, or a luxury-seeker, you won’t be short on things to do in St Barts.