With 22 beautiful beaches, lush green hills, and colonial charm, St. Barths is an ideal island to spend your vacation. Furthermore, if you’re looking for a less-visited, more secluded Caribbean island, St. Barths is the place for you.
However, you might be wondering exactly what there is to do in St. Barths, since it’s such a tiny island. With an area of only 9.7 square miles, you can get from one side to the other in a flash. So is there really enough to keep you occupied for your entire vacation?
We can assure you that there is, and a visit to St. Barths is well worth your time and money. Take a look at these 10 things to do in St. Barths, and we’re sure you’ll agree.
1. Bask on a beautiful beach
This island may have a shortage of space, but there’s no shortage of beaches on St. Barths. And here’s some great news: all of them are public beaches.
What’s more, most of them aren’t overrun with “tourist-trap” shops, peddlers, or restaurants. Instead, they are quiet, secluded paradise retreats, with soft, white sand and turquoise-blue water. Here are a few of our favorite St. Barth beaches:
Also known as “Baie des Flamands”, this beach is easily one of the best on the entire island. Measuring about half a mile long, it’s the longest walkable beach in St. Barths.
The water is normally calm and free of seaweed, the air is warm, and the sand is soft. In addition, there’s a public parking lot near the entrance, and a few restaurants to grab a drink and a snack after a few hours of fun. What more could we ask for in a beach?
This beach gets its name from the tiny shell fragments that basically replace the sand entirely. You’ll find some excellent specimens for your shell collection, but you’ll definitely need to wear some sandals or water shoes while walking along the coast.
2. Spend a relaxing day at the spa
Vacations are all about relaxation, so why not head to one of St. Barth’s many spas for a massage and some rejuvenating Caribbean skin treatments? The Cheval Spa, located near Flamands Beach (mentioned above) offers a unique outdoor spa experience that you won’t want to miss.
3. Visit a historic site
St. Barth is home to many interesting historic sites, due to its varied cultural history. Originally inhabited by indigenous islanders called Caribs and Taínos, the island was first discovered by Europeans in the 1600s, and settled by the French around 1648. Sweden also had a colony there for a time.
If you visit the capital, Gustavia, you’ll see evidence of the Swedish colony. The Swedish Clock Tower is one example, and it’s worth a look if you’re in Gustavia.
Other historic sites include the St. Barth Municipal Museum, where you can learn more about the island’s history, and the Wall House Museum.
4. Enjoy water sports
You’ll have plenty of opportunities to indulge in water sports if you visit St. Barth. There is a great variety of sports to practice.
St. Barth’s healthy coral reefs make it an ideal island for scuba diving and snorkeling. Some sites even have caves to explore. There are also at least two nearby shipwrecks that divers frequent. Allegedly the best known diving site is Pain de Sucre, located near Gustavia harbor.
On St. Barths, you’ll find many different types of boats to rent or boating tours and excursions to book. Among them are catamarans, sunset cruises, dinghies, yachts, and kayaks.
5. Hike to an incredible lookout spot
A semi-difficult, but short hike to the top of Fort Karl in Gustavia will let you feast your eyes on the most impressive view in St. Barths. You’ll need to climb a good number of stairs, but the slight exertion is worth it when you see the gorgeous Shell Beach area below.
Fort Karl is not really a fort at all, but rather a lookout spot. From there you can see several nearby islands, including St. Martin, St. Kitts and Nevis, plus the sailboats and yachts coming in from the open sea.
6. Shop for beautiful handmade St. Barths souvenirs
St. Barths is known for high end shopping– no China-made plastic gifts here! You’ll find a multitude of jewelry items, including both seawater and freshwater pearls. In many of the shops, artists will craft jewelry and other handmade items to your liking, while you wait.
In one store in particular, Kalinas and Tainos (located in Gustavia), all items are 100% handmade by local artists. You can also find fossils, gemstones, and minerals for sale.
7. Swim in a natural pool
The Piscines Naturelles, also known as Natural Pools Grand Fond, are a collection of natural pools located in Grand Fond on the south side of the island. You’ll need to hike for about 15-30 minutes to reach them, but the path is not difficult.
The pools are relatively shallow and are known to be home to a few creatures, such as sea urchins. For that reason, and because the region can be rough and rocky, you’ll need to wear some sturdy shoes. The pools are filled by wave surges, but the sea water they contain is calm and perfect for swimming or floating in.
Make sure you bring your (waterproof) camera along to capture the breathtaking views!
8. Enjoy a mountain retreat on Morne du Vitet
With an elevation of 286 metres (938 ft), Morne du Vitet is the highest mountain on St. Barths. The mountain stands right over the ocean, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea. The views are spectacular, especially at sunset.
It’s a great place to rent a mountain villa and enjoy nature far from the lights and noise of the city. Although it’s a very quiet area, there are restaurants and bakeries with delicious goods and food for sale.
Ready to plan your trip to St. Barths? Check out luxury accommodations here.