“..with a sea the colour of a Bombay gin advertisement, refreshingly retro buildings and harbours overflowing with undeniably glamorous yachts, it is no wonder that St Barths is the ultimate destination for fashion and publicity photo shoots. At least one world-famous photographer has a home here and glamorous celebrities queue to be photographed on one of the sensational beaches.”
Getting to St Barths is not entirely straightforward, but then who said that entering Paradise would be easy? This tiny island in the Leewards has room only for a small airport and the final stage of the journey involves an economy-size inter-island aircraft and a quite spectacular landing – a worthy introduction to an island that is in a class of its own.
One of the islands belonging to the French West Indies, St Barths is a small slice of the South of France, magically transported to the Caribbean where it sits in a benign and blazingly turquoise sea, girdled by 21 immaculate beaches of fine white sand. Justifiably renowned for its beach life, the island offers perfect swimming, snorkelling and scuba-diving, and is the ideal place to learn windsurfing or practice already honed skills. The gentle green hills are easily explored on foot or by bike. Strict regulations have imposed limits on the amount and size of development and the island thus retains a charmingly unspoiled appearance. The ‘Riviera’ lifestyle however, is probably the main attraction and visitors are drawn here by the island’s restaurants that have been called the best in the Caribbean and have been compared favourably to the best in the world. The cuisine is heavily influenced by French and Caribbean cooking, though Asian and Italian restaurants are also to be found – seafood features strongly, with daily offshore catches of fresh lobster and shellfish. Don’t expect to eat out cheaply, but the reward is high quality of food, service and atmosphere. On the entertainment scene there is no excuse for an early night, with a choice of heady nightspots and imaginative drinks on offer.
St Barths is a duty-free island and the shopping is one of the main attractions – especially when it comes to fashion and accessories with a high level of bling.
A visit to St Barths will soon reveal why it was for so long considered the playground of the rich and famous – a little piece of France in the Caribbean.