Barth of gold. We had the best time in St. Barths! Even in the off-season, there are tons of things to eat, do, and see. Well, mostly eat and relax and eat and drink, but it doesn’t get old!
When my husband suggested we go to St. Barths to celebrate our first anniversary, I was immediately intrigued but a little apprehensive to travel during a pandemic. Especially since we’ve seen no one and barely left our apartment at all since March. Our last big adventure was to Costco! But when he said the tiny island is basically free of COVID-19 and everyone entering has to have a negative test, and we could take a tiny yet mildly terrifying plane ride over, I was convinced it was the vacation off the island to another island we needed.
How to get to St. Barths
We live in Puerto Rico, so it was just a 55-minute direct flight on Tradewind with us, two other passengers, and the pilots. If you don’t live in PR, you can connect here or fly through St. Martin. The flying process was one of the most pleasant, easiest travel experiences I’ve ever had. We hardly had to interact with anyone and were escorted directly to the plane. Easy! St. Barths is part of France, so don’t forget your passport.
The landing was another story. St. Barths has one of the shortest runways in the world, so the landing is something else! Basically, we flew past the island, whipped around, went between two mountains, flew very close to some houses and people, and nearly landed in the ocean. You will be awake and ready for vacation once you land. Our pilot resembled Tom Cruise in Top Gun, so I felt very extremely safe, and he was an expert flyer so we landed very smoothly. But still an experience!
When to visit St. Barths
If you are going to go to St. Barths during an off-peak time like we did (aka hurricane season), you should know that a lot of restaurants and hotels will be closed. That said, the island was quiet so we had no problem getting into restaurants and there were no crowds so it was extra relaxing! Though no Martha Stewart sightings.
Where should I stay?
There are tons of gorgeous hotels in St Barths to choose from, but many were closed during our trip and didn’t open until October or November. There are also Airbnbs, but we decided we wanted the convenience and comfort of a hotel. We stayed at Le Village, which I highly recommend. They have rooms at all price-points, a beautiful infinity pool, helpful staff, and a small but quality spa. You can easily walk to the beach and the town of St. Jean which has some restaurant and bar options. The whole island is only 10 miles long, so the hotel’s central location makes it an easy drive to anywhere else we wanted to go.
Do I need to rent a car?
In a word, yes! I am not sure the cab situation during the busy season, but we saw very few cabs. We like to be able to walk places, so it was important for us to pick a hotel in a walkable area, then we had the car to drive to Gustavia, restaurants, hiking, beaches, etc. The roads are very hilly and windy and narrow, so a small car is ideal. A lot of people ride scooters around too.
What to do on St. Barths
Beaches, eating, drinking, hiking, relaxing, repeat.
You go to St. Barths for the gorgeous beaches and scenery, amazing French cuisine, and maybe a party or two if that’s your vibe. We didn’t hit up any celebrity parties (our invite must have gotten lost in the mail) but we enjoyed our time! Most we ate, drank, beached, and a little hiking. So if those are not activities you enjoy, St. Barths is not for you!
One fun unique thing I did was get my hair cut and highlighted. It had been since January since my hairstylist is in Michigan and we haven’t traveled. People were beginning to suspect I was not a natural blonde! Though I normally love to get a blow-out when I travel. Not only so my hair looks good for the trip, but it’s a fun way to feel like you live there and meet someone local. My hairstylist was the sweetest, and we talked about everything from politics to our families. It was a great way to spend a morning!
Let’s talk about the food! Again, not everything was open but we loved most places we went to. I’ll share some highlights.
Pearl Beach is part of a hotel right on the beach (hence the name) and everything we ate and drank was perfection.
Tuna sashimi on the left and Italian tartare on the right. Amazing tartare and the best frites we had all trip (and we had a lot). And our frozen drinks were delicious and not too sweet.
I didn’t take any photos of the food at Santa Fe (left), but this was probably our favorite meal. The food, drinks, and service were all amazing. The foie gras ravioli was a standout! Go there for sure, we almost went back a second time. Fun fact, many restaurants, like Santa Fe, gave us shots to end the meal, which was a nice alternative to dessert! Zion (right) wasn’t our favorite but props for gorgeous presentation and unique flavor combos. Plus, how sexy is my husband in this photo??
Hiking! Go for at least one hike in St. Barths, because the views and naturey things just can’t be beat. Don’t be like me and not bring any hiking appropriate attire so you have to hike in a dress and Rothys. But the views were worth it! We did the popular “goat path” hike, which goes to Colombier Beach. Note that there are some rocky and steep parts so be careful!
We saw so many animals on our hike! And all over the island, really. Four goats, a million butterflies and tons of turtles. We had to stop for some turtles crossing the road as we drove around, so be aware of that!
And of course, go to the beaches! All the beaches on St. Barths are public, so just drive around and try a few different ones. They all have different vibes.
More food! A lot of the restaurants are isolated from other things, making them all feel very special. But you can walk around Gustavia and shop for fancy things and admire all the adorableness and try one of the many delicious restaurants there too. There is also a supermarket there, which we used to buy water, champagne, and French chocolate. Just the essentials. We also took out some Euros from an ATM in Gustavia; note that some restaurants are cash only, so make sure to get some.
You also must get some French desserts and baked goods in St. Barths. We liked La Petite Colombe boulangerie. They have two locations. Note that they close at 1 pm so get there early for the best selection. The raspberry dessert below was spectacular. We also had a croissant and I had a spinach and goat cheese tart pictured below.
The restaurant below in St. Barths is the inspiration for the song Cheeseburger in Paradise!
Of course, when I see smoked fish on a menu I want it. The smoked whitefish below from L’Ardoise was the perfect bite.
One of the foods I needed to eat in on this trip was a crepe. I have vivid memories of eating a spinach and cheese crepe after some bar hoping in Paris in college and it may have been the best thing I’ve ever eaten. I also had a very legit crepe in Berlin when I was there for Nosh Berlin that I still dream about. Anyway, I’m babbling, but if there is an opportunity for a crepe, I am there. On our last day we hit up Creperie St. Barth and of course, I got one with lox. That’s goat cheese in the middle, and it was amazing.
For our last dinner, we went to the picturesque L’Esprit. They had a pre-fixe menu and everything was delicious and beautifully presented.
That’s it! Let me know if you have any questions. One more thing to note, is that if mosquitos love you like they love me, buy some bug spray ASAP upon arrival. And we were told not to drink the tap water, so we drank Evian. It was a struggle but we managed!