Best Things To Do in St. Barts
There are 14 beaches on St. Barts, and you can usually find at least one vacationer lolling about on one of them. The best of the bunch include Anse des Flamands (for the scenery), Baie de St-Jean (for the beachside bistros) and Anse de Grand Cul de Sac (for the watersports). When you start to prune, dry off and stroll the shops and restaurants of the capital city, Gustavia. Stick around until the evening and enjoy a little laid-back island nightlife.
Updated September 27, 2018
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Perhaps it’s the brilliant aquamarine water or the glamorous sunbathers, but the Baie de St-Jean (or the Bay of St. Jean) could make you swear that you were basking on the French Riviera. This idyllic stretch is also a preferred spot for windsurfing or snorkeling (the reef-protected waters here are generally calm), and you'll find a few cute boutiques and bistros nearby for when you need a break from the water.
Some reviewers noted that it's also the most visited beach on the island, but grabbing a spot on the sand early will ensure you a prime people-watching position. It's also located right in front of St. Barts' small airport so you'll get an up-close view of the flights taking off and landing. Best of all, St-Jean is fairly easy to find. If St. Barts is shaped like an elbow, then imagine this beautiful beach located in the crook. Those looking for a more peaceful spot should look on the south side of Eden Rock, which separates the beach into two parts.
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Unless you're staying at a hotel on the northwest side of the island you may never see this beach, but travelers looking for a quieter (and wider) stretch of sand than the one found at St. Jean should make the effort to check it out. Luckily, it's only about 3 miles north of Gustavia. The beach offers a little palm-tree shade (rare on St. Barts' beaches) and is home to plenty of area eateries and facilities should you get hungry, thirsty or more. Those looking for some exercise can also try the semi-strenuous hike from the beach to the nearby dormant volcano that some believe formed St. Barts. But if you'd rather relax on the beach, that's fine too – recent visitors said this stretch of sand is ideal for those whose only desired activity is a leisurely stroll on the beach. Travelers can find the beach by taking the D209 or D210 toward the western part of the island. Recent visitors suggest securing a parking spot early in the day as spaces are limited.
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During the day, St. Barts' capital city is abuzz. The harbor town is shaped like a horseshoe, and traditional sightseeing is limited to Fort Gustav (which dates back to the Swedish period) and the small but charming Wall House Museum. Lack of sites doesn't bother most visitors since many come here to mainly shop and dine. For a serious dose of retail therapy, stroll along Quai de la République. There you'll find everything from real-life Gaultier to knockoff Gucci to locally made goods can be found inside the hallowed stores of Gustavia.
At night, the island's "nightlife" takes over. Don't be surprised if you bump into vacationing celebrities – anyone from Puff Diddy to the Kardashian family to Jimmy Buffet are known to frequent the island. Longtime popular spots include Le Select (a laid-back bar good for burgers and beer) and Yacht Club (a slightly more formal hangout for cocktails and dancing).
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Those interested in water sports – including kayaking, windsurfing, kite surfing, even fly fishing – should visit Anse de Grand Cul de Sac. Especially since its reef-protected waters are warm, calm and shallow. And before you leave, enjoy a nice meal at one of the many recommended eateries nearby.
If you're looking strictly for a picturesque shore for sunbathing, some travelers suggest you skip this watersport-centric beach in favor of the stunning Anse de Grande Saline or the more secluded Anse des Flamands. Like all beaches on St. Barts, Grand Cul de Sac is free to enjoy. You'll find it on the northeast side of the island just east of the town of Marigot. You can get there by car by taking D209 east from Gustavia or Baie de St-Jean.
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You have to seriously want privacy to visit this remote beach, which hides at the bottom of a steep, cacti-lined hike down from the main road along St. Barthélemy's northwest tip. However, many vacationers do say the effort is worth it, as the rock formations, calm waters and stunning views are what the island is known for. The beach is well loved by locals who want to stay away from the crowds in Gustavia and Baie de St-Jean. If you're boating, the natural gulf along the beach is a perfect place to dock. Travelers should note there aren't many conveniences near the trails so bring a snack and water, and don't forget your sunscreen!
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All you need to enjoy Anse de Grande Saline are sunglasses and a smile – that's because this unspoiled beach is known for its nude, but discreet, sunbathers. This is a little ironic, because Grande Saline is also known for having inadequate shade (recent visitors suggest bringing an umbrella if you sunburn easily). You also won't find any restaurants in the immediate area, and visitors seem to like it that way, saying the vistas and surrounding scenery give beachgoers a break from modern civilization.
If you're interested in Anse de Grande Saline, you'll find it stretching along the southern coast of St. Barts. You can drive here by following Rue Lubin Brin from Gustavia or taking D209 east from Baie de St-Jean. If you're looking for a more lively beach or one with a variety of of water sports, venture to Anse de Grand Cul-de-Sac or Baie de St-Jean.
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