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The Top Reasons to Visit St Barts

Known for its delightful climate and flawless coastline, St Barts has an abundance of reasons for you to pay a visit
Known for its delightful climate and flawless coastline, St Barts has an abundance of reasons for you to pay a visit | © Brian Jannsen / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Laura Hampson
25 October 2021
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With a level of exclusivity not found in many of its Caribbean neighbours, it’s no wonder that the well-to-do choose​​ St Barts as their summer vacation destination of choice. Alongside ribbons of white sand beaches and azure-hued waters peppered with luxury superyachts, guests will love the charming gingerbread buildings of its capital, Gustavia. The island also has a temperate climate – April to June is the best time to visit – and you can indulge in some retail therapy here, too. Read on for our top reasons to visit St Barts.

Go sailing around St Barts

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Boats floating beyond the harbor at Gustavia, St Barts
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What’s a visit to St Barts without a sail on its cerulean seas? Live like the well-heeled with a private yacht charter which can lead you to parts of the island you’re not able to reach by car. Hidden bays? Yes, please.

With SamBoat, you can charter a yacht for a full-day sailing trip from nearby Saint-Martin. Ideal for wowing your other half, if you’re on a romantic holiday.

Try French and Creole cuisine on St Barts

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Salt cod fritters (accras de morue) on a plate with habanero peppers in St Barts
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There’s a reason foodies flock to St Barts – with a smattering of fine dining restaurants to choose from, you can spend your days dining on everything from French to African to Creole-inspired cuisine. Signature dishes here include accras – salt cod fritters in a spicy sauce – and seafood such as mahi-mahi and red snapper. If you’re visiting during the high season, make restaurant reservations well in advance so you don’t miss out.

Bask in the warm weather of St Barts

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Anse de Grande Saline on St Barts, Caribbean
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With the average temperature varying between 23ºC and 31ºC during the year, you’re always going to have a warm-weather holiday in St Barts. Late November through early January is peak tourist season – because who doesn’t want to spend their holidays on the beach? – but if you’d prefer to avoid the crowds, book between February and June. The end of June to November is hurricane season, so it’s best to avoid booking your trip during this time.

Learn about the history of the island of St Barts

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The beauty of Gustavia and it harbour on St Barts
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The name St Barthélemy dates back to when Christopher Colombus arrived on the island in 1493 and named it after his brother, Bartoloméo. France traded the island to Sweden in 1784, who then declared it a free port and named the capital, Gustavia – after the King of Sweden at the time, Gustavia III. The island was sold back to France in 1878 but some of its Scandinavian heritage still remains in the street signs and the Swedish cemetery.

Book tickets to a festival on St Barts

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Onboard a Super Yacht in the St Barts Regatta in the Caribbean
© Onne van der Wal / Alamy Stock Photo
Start the year off on the right foot by rubbing shoulders with the jet-set at the New Years festivities in St Barts. The island has a number of festivals to attend throughout the year – from the St Barts Bucket Regatta and the Les Voiles de Saint-Barth which is held annually in April. Foodies should note November on their calendars for the St Barts Gourmet Festival – where you’ll dine at the island’s finest establishments and Michelin-star chefs from France pay a week-long visit.

Watch the St Barts Bucket Regatta

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A Super Yacht sailing in the St Barts Regatta, Caribbean
© Onne van der Wal / Alamy Stock Photo
A world-renowned nautical event since the first race took place in 1995, the St Barts Bucket Regatta sees a series of races take place over three days. Often held annually in March, the iconic superyacht regatta is super exclusive – it’s invitation-only – but it’s worth paying the island a visit during this time as, following a day of racing, evenings are usually filled with glamorous festivities.

Go snorkelling and scuba diving in the ocean of St Barts

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An underwater shipwreck near St Barts in the Caribbean
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With a multitude of dive sites dotted around the island, there’s plenty of underwater life to see for novices through to experienced snorkellers and divers. Clear Caribbean waters offer fantastic visibility for divers to explore the colourful coral reefs and there’s even a wreck to dive to, as well: the Kaïali. Visitors here can expect to see stingrays, angelfish and even some sharks in the deeper waters.

Visit the beautiful beaches of St Barts

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Beachgoers sit on the Anse Le Gouverneur Beach on St Barts, Caribbean
© Danita Delimont / Alamy Stock Photo
For an island so small – it’s just 25sqkm (9.6sqmi) – St Barts packs in some spectacular beaches. ​​St-Jean Beach, parallel to Gustavia, is the most visited while Flamands Beach is one of the longest – you’ll be sure to find a pristine patch of white sand all to yourself. Or, if you want to go off the beaten track, head to Gouverneur beach on the southernmost part of the island.

Admire the local wildlife on St Barts

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While St Barts is home to more sea animals than land, it doesn’t mean you won’t see some fascinating creatures on your stroll around the island. Look out for Cuban tree frogs and whistling frogs, geckos and iguanas. If you’re visiting over the winter months, be sure to keep an eye on the coastline as humpback whales migrate to the warm waters between St Barts and St Martin to reproduce.

Shop in Gustavia and St Jean, St Barts

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With over 200 boutiques to choose from, it’s easy to see why St Barts is a favourite destination among the style set. The two main shopping areas can be found in Gustavia and St Jean – but head to Quai de la République in Gustavia for high-end designer wear from Swiss, French and Italian brands like Hermès, Chopard, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Bulgari and Erès.

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