A St. Barts Vacation Guide
By Gordon Steven
St Barths confuses you before anything else, because of the different spellings of the same name. Have you ever wondered whether St Barths, was in fact the same as St Barts, or for that matter St Barthelemy. Well in that case be reassured that all are one and one are all.
St Barthelemy is part of the French West Indies just north of the lesser Antilles near St Martin/St Maarten and St Kitts and Nevis. St Barts is a tiny island being only eight square miles in size, but like many other small things such as precious stones it is highly prized and expensive which is why it has become a retreat for the rich and famous., rock stars, pop stars, and even royalty.
This shouldn't prevent you from going because it is a stunning tiny island with lovely white sand beaches, turquoise sea, and pristine coral reefs, and yet is very much more akin to the South of France than the Caribbean.
The reason of course for this is the fact that St Barts and France have been closely connected for centuries and until this day it is still part of the French overseas region of Guadeloupe. Oddly enough St Barths was once one of Sweden's few overseas outposts nearly three hundred years ago, but other than the name of its red roofed capital Gustavia few reminders remain.
The main thing to do on a St Barths Vacation is to relax on the beach, and despite the minute size of the island there are more than twenty spectacular beaches. These range from the bustling St Jean and Grand Cul de sac to the more private Grand Saline, Gouvernier and Flamands. If what you are looking for is totally secluded bliss then go to Anse Colombier which can only be reached by boat or a half hour hike. You will find topless sunbathing, after all this is France in the Caribbean, so if it embarrasses you, then avoid Shell and Marechal Beaches.
The strong French connections also means that visitors would do well to be able to converse in French, and the currency is not the US dollar but the Euro. Apart from the language the most obvious sign of the French influence is in the cuisine, and it is remarkable to discover it has more than 60 gourmet restaurants. Another surprise is that many of the population is white and most residents are French Citizens.
There are considerable restrictions now imposed on hotel building, so no hotels can now be built with over 12 rooms and so the biggest hotel which is the Guanahani with 76 rooms won't ever be seen again. There are no big chain hotels on St Barths, and many people go for the very upmarket villas.
Probably the worst thing about a St Barts Vacation is flying into a tiny runway with very little clearance on the way in, so the descent is short and pretty scary in small aircraft only, but the good side is that the pilots are specially certified, or maybe completely certified for such a landing!!
Having landed on St Barths for your vacation, you won't feel like leaving ever again, and you won't care how it is spelled St Barts, St Barths, or St Barthelemy!!
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Gordon Steven writes about Caribbean Vacation Spots as well as authoring several articles about Worldwide Vacation Spots and he recommends in Kenya Safaris
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.