Exclusive and oh-so-French, St. Barths encompasses an abundance of luxury and sophistication that lends the island a decidedly continental feel. Yet its European influence isn't exclusive to France. Reflecting the Swedish culture that lingers from that country's reign here over a century ago, Gustavia is an engaging, dollhouse-like enclave of wood and stone buildings lining a shining blue harbor. The capital city has many excellent restaurants and boutiques filled with European clothing, perfumes, and jewelry. In contrast, residents of the quaint fishing village of Corossol wear traditional dress and create handmade crafts from palm fronds. All of the island's pristine beaches are public domain, and it isn't uncommon to spot a sunbathing celebrity. Along the north shore, beaches such as Bay de St. Jean are ideal for swimming and a variety of water sports, and windsurfers gather at Anse de Marigot and Grand Cul de Sac. Anse du Gouverneur is a south shore favorite, and Colombier Beach is a sanctuary of seclusion, as it can only be reached by boat or by via a rugged goat path. If your goal is to find a small, isolated bit of heaven in the middle of the ocean, your solution is St. Barths.
The celebrated handicrafts of the beautiful boutique island of St. Barths include the sweet doll-like cottages, the colorful fishing skiffs, and the woven straw. Artists exhibit their work in galleries and hotels, and you can also visit their studios. Notable annual cultural events include a music festival and an art festival. Traditional local music sets a lively tone at most social events.
Carl Gustaf - Private and picturesque, this small resort overlooking the sea is one of the island's most exclusive. Individual cottages are spacious, each with a private pool, and personal service is a resort hallmark. The hillside restaurant is known for its French and regional cuisine as well as panoramic views of Gustavia's harbor.
Hotel Guanahani & Spa - A member of the Leading Small Hotels of the World, this romantic cluster of Antillean bungalows is a Caribbean favorite. Set on two white sandy beaches surrounded by luxurious tropical gardens each bungalow provides privacy, luxury, elegance and serenity. Or if you like, mingle at the weekly lobster bakes or explore the coral reefs.
Hotel St. Barths Isle De France - Dedication to service, an optimal beachfront location, and elegant accommodations make this one of the Caribbean's top luxury hotels. Take time out for a body massage at the Molton Brown Spa, and browse around the on-site designer boutique. Cocktail hour at the open-air bar alongside the bi-level pool draws a lively social scene.
Hotel Manapany - This hotel's secluded red-roof cottages dot the hillside above the island's northern beaches. Snorkeling in the area is excellent and arranged by the concierge on request. Friday lobster barbecues and Creole cuisine are guest favorites, as are the romantic candlelit dinners served on the half-moon terrace with endless views of the sea.
Sofitel Christopher Hotel - If you prefer privacy for your vacation, you'll love this quiet waterfront hotel. Tropical gardens surround the rooms and the infinity pool, with bridges and a sundeck, is one of the largest on the island. Guests dine on International and Creole cuisine, get a full workout at the fitness center, and enjoy live music on the weekends.
St. Barths Beach Hotel - A secluded beachfront location and sea view terraced accommodations help make this hotel one of the best values on the island. There's sailboard equipment and instruction center on the beach, and the pool and sundeck overlook the shore. Exotic cocktails and French-Caribbean fare is the draw at Le Rivage restaurant.