The Best Things to Do in St Barts

Known for its tropical vibe and gastronomical wonders, St Barts has some really incredible things to experience
Known for its tropical vibe and gastronomical wonders, St Barts has some really incredible things to experience | © Debra Behr / Alamy Stock Photo
Claire Dodd

While St Barts is understandably famous for its sun-soaked beaches – including the charming Corossol, unique Shell Beach and the isolated haven of Colombier – there’s so much more to discover on this Caribbean island. From tropical landscapes and gastronomic delights to empty bays and steep volcanic slopes, there’s an abundance of things to do here. Sample the good life with drinks and dancing at the island’s top nightlife spots or go full-glitz and join the super-rich on a charter yacht for the day. Whichever you decide, rest assured you’re in for a good time on St Barts.

Spend a week sailing around St Barts.

Sunbathe on Corossol Beach

Grab your beach towel and seek a spot of shade between the dories –otherwise known as traditional fishing boats that are pulled up onto the sand when not in use and are only found in Corossol Bay. Be sure to bring enough cash with you for a walk past the cluster of houses here – many locals sell an array of homemade straw crafts from sun hats to woven bags.

Explore the nature reserves of St. Martin, including Tintamarre and Ilet Pinel. Stop at Anse de Colombier – a spectacular crescent bay, only reachable by boat or foot.

Dance the night away at Le Ti

When a restaurant has a fancy dress room, you know it’s not going to be your average night out. Boudoir-themed – with a naughty cabaret show to match º and dancing on the tables once dinner is done, Le Ti has been St Barts’ nightspot of choice since 1995. Choose from a sit-down dinner, followed by a cabaret show, or visit the busy bar area – which caters for those who come just for the cocktails and entertainment. Get here before 7pm for Happy Hour and tapas – order the menu staple of prime rib and a Ruby Margarita, select yourself a costume and be sure to take a pic.

Shop in Gustavia

From luxurious linens that gently shift in the breeze to designer shoes and handbags – to walk the streets of St Barths’ capital is to be tempted by the wares displayed in its abundance of stylish emporiums. In line with St Barts’ reputation as a playground for the rich, you’ll find a disproportionate array of luxury brands for an island so small: think Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Bulgari, Chloé, Missoni et al. But Gustavia also boasts its fair share of boho boutiques with rustic, artisanal homeware and locally made wide-brimmed hats. Don’t forget to check opening hours before you head out – many stores close from between 12 and 2pm and on Wednesdays.

Sunset drinks at Tamarin

Luxury dining in a jungle setting, the Tamarin restaurant’s open-sided dining space emerges from a canopy of palms, hibiscus flowers and lily ponds. You’ll find at its centre the ancient tamarind tree from where the place gets its name. Verdant and relaxed, order from a wine list with over 200 vintages and take your pick from the diverse menu with dishes like yellow tuna ceviche and fresh pasta with black truffle. Cap the day off at nearby Anse de Grande Saline with sundowner cocktails – think lychee, ginger, and champagne – as the light begins to fade.

Guided hike with Hélène Bernier

Take the path less travelled and discover the nooks and crannies of the island. Born on St Barts – where her family has lived since the 17th century – Hélène Bernier guides visitors across little-known trails through the jungle and along the coastline. This is to highlight the island’s secret spots and help her guests discover blooming pink trumpet trees and watch pelicans diving for their dinner.

Admire the view from Fort Karl

Once one of three forts that surrounded Gustavia, there’s not much remaining today of this defensive structure. However, the 30m-high (98ft) hill on which it sits is a popular hike. Reach the top for views across to Shell Beach and over the red rooftops and harbour of Gustavia.

Learn to scuba dive around Colombier

Caves, canyons, towering peaks of corals, rocky outcrops and sponges sit alongside wrecks in the depths surrounding the island. The protected Marine Park is home to an abundance of tropical fish, as well as endangered turtles, while the shallow waters between St Barts and St Martin – which reach no deeper than 30m (98ft) – have vivid coloured corals on the sandy ocean floor. In short, it’s an ideal spot for trying your hand at scuba diving for the first time. Book a course to catch a glimpse of life below the waves.

Explore underwater with a Seabob

Like a jet ski for your hands, Seabobs are a form of underwater scooter that allows you to glide with ease, above or below the waves. After a quick course in how to use them, go for a snorkel tour, head to picturesque spots to view rays and tropical fish and cruise the bays. Moving at speed, Seabobs are an adrenaline rush – so if you prefer a slower-paced look at wildlife, be sure to add a traditional snorkel tour to your trip, too.

Try French and Creole cuisine at Eddy’s Ghetto

Walk through the stretching palm fronds and take a seat below the wooden canopy. Located amid a tropical garden in the heart of Gustavia, Eddy’s Ghetto is a well-known fixture in St Barts. The menu blends French and Creole flavours for a rich, flavoursome take on fresh local ingredients. Try the mahi-mahi with passion sauce, or the seared wahoo with ginger sauce and Thai basil – our top pick has to be the Creole curry goat, though.

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