Honeymoon travel guide to St. Barth
In this series, Katie Goldstein from Travelingpanties and Smartypanties is breaking down the best honeymoon destinations, one at a time, to help you narrow down the dizzying array of options so you can choose the one that reflects your interests, budget and style. Up today? St. Barth.
Destination: St. Barth, French West Indies
Getting to St. Barth (or St. Barthélemy) may involve a few steps, but trust us — you will be rewarded for your effort. Most flights, including those from New York, require a stopover in St. Martin's Princess Juliana International Airport before taking a quick puddle jumper (15 minutes) to your final destination. We recommend booking with St. Barth Commuter, which is extremely professional and reliable. If small planes make you uneasy, you can take a high-speed ferry (45 minutes) through Great Bay Express.
If you want to explore the many beaches around the island, you should rent a car. Although you can take taxis around the island, renting a car is more economical as taxis can get quite pricey.
About St. Barth
A trip to St. Barth is ideal for honeymooners looking to savor the good life. This magical island manages to maintain the class of the French Riviera while retaining the charm and warm atmosphere of the Caribbean. Everything on the island is chic while not being showy. The island's languorous lifestyle encourages indulgence in everything, whether you're hoping to sun yourself on one of the island's white sand beaches, treat yourself to world-class designer shopping, spoil yourself with delicious French and Creole-inspired cuisine or party until dawn at one of its many hip nightclubs. Whatever you're looking to experience, St. Barth has a certain je ne sais quoi that keeps its chi-chi clientele coming back.
When to go
The sun is almost always shining on St. Barth, which is just one of the reasons it's such a desirable locale. Peak season runs from about Thanksgiving through March, but April through June are pleasant times to visit as well. Be warned that the weather can get dicey on occasion during hurricane season, which is from July through November, so if you're looking for a good deal, we recommend visiting during May or June when the weather is still gorgeous but peak season has ended. Try to avoid visiting during the winter holidays as prices skyrocket, and it's one of the rare occasions when the island may feel overcrowded.
Where to stay
In our opinion, there is only one place to stay if you're looking to capture the true spirit of St. Barth and that is Tom Beach Hotel. It is one of the island's outstanding gems. This stylish beachside boutique hotel always has something fabulous going on at its hip restaurant, La Plage (run by an original owner of hotspot, Le Ti St. Barth). Anyone who is anyone has been here, including Demi Moore, Naomi Watts and island regular, Jimmy Buffett. The staff is extremely welcoming, attentive and kind — not to mention gorgeous. Rooms are casual yet chic and feature four-poster beds, high ceilings, modern bathrooms with rain showers, flat screen TVs and iPod docks. Nestled in St. Jean, Tom Beach Hotel has a prime location situated directly on one of the island's best beaches and is only a short walk from the small town of St. Jean. There are only 12 rooms here, and with surprisingly affordable prices (for St. Barth at least), they book up quickly.
What to do
St. Barth is the perfect place to “sea" and be seen. Enjoy its world-class beaches, designer shops and most interesting people watching.
For sun junkies
Every visitor, sun worshiper or not, must check out the pristine and picturesque beaches of St. Barth. With so many to choose from, it will be hard to pick your favorite.
- Baie de St. Jean: This is where you'll likely find the socialites sunning themselves. La Plage and The Pink Parrot are right on the beach here, making it a very lively location. The Eden Rock Hotel is located along this beach as well. The airport runway ends just before this beach, so you can enjoy watching planes take off right over the water. It's a sight to be seen!
- Saline and Gouverneur: These beaches are known for their undeveloped and picturesque scenery. You'll find the island's most dedicated sun bathers hard at work on these beaches. Both Saline and Gouverneur are great for snorkeling and swimming since the water at both is as calm as a lake.
- Shell Beach: This beach is home to lots of shells (hence the name) and is known by locals as one of the best beaches on the island. Be sure to check out Do Brazil, a cool bar right on the beach.
- Colombier: This beach can only be reached by a 25-minute hike or boat ride, but what you'll find at the end will be well worth your while. Don't forget to bring food and water with you as there is nowhere to stop and pick up these essentials along the way.
For outdoorsy types
Those looking to enjoy the open waters of St. Barth can rent jet-skis, sailboards or other water sports equipment on most of the beaches.
For fitness buffs, check out an Aquabiking class, which is basically Spinning underwater. Get fit and get a tan at the same time! Courses are now offered at Tom Beach Hotel twice a week!
- The island offers duty-free shopping, which makes it easy to justify the splurge! Head into Gustavia, the main town on the island, to get your shopping fix. Here there are designer outposts for Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Chopard and many more. If luxury designers are your thing, pop into Stephane & Bernard to browse womenswear by fashion royalty like Valentino, Missoni and Hervé Léger.
- To pamper your feet, visit Human Steps, which features shoes by designers like Prada and Miu Miu.
- We suggest also checking out the island's original and contemporary spots to pick up some boho-chic beach attire. Pick up a flowy top from Free in St. Barth, which all the locals sport. Soak up the style at Sun Barth if you're looking for unique beach attire.
- If you're looking to pick up a unique souvenir, check out Ligne St. Barth, a natural cosmetic line that features products made from and inspired by the finest ingredients on St. Barth.
- Also be sure to visit the small town of St. Jean. Visit the original Christiane Celle, Calypso St. Barth.
If you're a fan of music, you must visit during St. Barth Summer Sessions. Each year, for nearly two weeks in August, there are 40 concerts from more than 30 international musicians. Definitely a fun place to rock out with your sweetie!
If you're looking for a fabulous massage, book an appointment with Art & Bien-Etre Spa. They offer nearly every spa treatment you can think of and will come directly to you — no need to leave your hotel room or house!
Where to eat, drink and party
Our favorite restaurant on the island is La Plage, a trendy restaurant with plenty of romantic appeal. This beachfront supper club sports an authentic St. Barth vibe: a festive atmosphere, a sandy dining room floor and a gorgeous view of the water. What more could you ask for? The menu offers the same authentic island spirit: fresh, local fish, French-influenced dishes and indulgent items like creamy lobster pasta. La Plage hosts weekly theme parties and almost always has live entertainment. Friday nights offer the island's famous "I Love Fridays" party, featuring chic, upscale dining and a fire show. On Saturdays, the restaurant serves "Bikini Brunch," which is reminiscent of Nikki Beach — only more fun! On Sunday evenings, La Plage hosts "Lolo DeLuxe," a beachside barbecue with a casual, relaxed vibe and live music. Be sure to try the lobster fritters, tuna tartar and homemade sorbet. You're welcome.
For an incredibly romantic meal, La Gaiac, located in Hotel Le Toiny, offers exceptional cuisine and stunning views overlooking the hotel's infinity pool, as well as the bay of Toiny. If you go for dinner, be sure to try the truffle pasta made table-side in a giant wheel of cheese. The Sunday Brunch is also incredible — probably the best outside of Paris.
If you're looking to have a beer and a burger with the island regulars, check out Le Select. This restaurant inspired Jimmy Buffett's famous tune, “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” and you must order exactly that.
The Pink Parrot is a great beach bar that serves up sea-front cocktails and great paninis in a laid-back, casual environment.
To experience the world famous cooking by Jean-Georges Vongerichten in St. Barth, visit On The Rocks at Eden Rock Hotel. This restaurant has breathtaking views of the water and coral reefs, not to mention exquisite cocktails and cuisine.
What to watch out for
Because this is an island for the rich and famous, prepare for high prices. A vacation here doesn't come cheap, so expect to spend a pretty penny on food, drinks and especially shopping. Also, just a heads up (or down) that most beaches have a number of nude sunbathers.