Saint Barthelemy—also commonly known as “Saint Bart”s or “Saint Barths”—is another 1493 discovery by Christopher Columbus (who also gave the island its name) and is considered equally as popular as nearby Anguilla.
Once known as Carenage, the town of Gustavia is home to about 3000 people and also functions as the capital of Saint Barthelemy, its name coming from King Gustav III of Sweden. Gustavia is home to Saint Barthelemy’s seaport and ship harbor and contains a popular hiking trail as well as a museum and a large selection of shops which function as an important source of funding for the island.
The people of Saint Barthelemy are often referred to as “St. Bartians” and have a rich Swedish and French ancestry; many are of Breton and Norman descent. Caucasians comprise only a very small portion of the population and tend to live near the northern areas of Guadeloupe or the southeastern areas of St. Martin.
This Norman descent can often be evidenced in the French dialects spoken by local St. Barthians which is often tinged with the Norman language. Many locals also conduct their everyday activities dressed in the attire of Normandy. For a historic glimpse of the customs of yesteryear, be sure to visit the tiny village of Corossol where several of its inhabitants can be seen still practicing seventeenth century French customs such as women wearing “quichenottes” which are bonnets intended to deflect Swedish and English male attention. During celebrations many of these women will create handmade baskets and headgear to sell to visitors.
Several famous names like actors Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise and dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov call or have once called Saint Barthelemy their home. Rockefeller family patriarch David Rockefeller once kept a home near the northwestern Saint Barthelemy shore and French philanthropist Edmond de Rothschild was also a notable resident with a multiple acreage home on the opposite end of the island. However, Saint Barthelemy is known just as much for its famous inhabitants as it is for its continually burgeoning tourism which has given way to more and more Saint Barthelemy hotel developments.
Saint Barthelemy is also renowned for its beaches such as Grand Saline Beach, a popular option for people who appreciate the clothing optional atmosphere. Celebrities often keep private vacation villas on or around the beach which has attracted the attention of paparazzi so it’s not uncommon to see photographers following around a VIP of some kind during their stay.
Villas and estates are prevalent throughout Saint Barthelemy and remain among the top choices for those seeking a vacation villa escape or perhaps a new permanent home.
Estates can come in varieties offering up to six bedrooms and bathrooms which are often divided into two individual villas and a bungalow. The villas have their own living area, two or three bedrooms and bathrooms, a fully-equipped kitchen, a large patio, and a private terrace and pool. The bungalows are intended as sleeping quarters and also have their own bedroom and bathrooms and living areas. The larger estates can encompass nearly an entire acre of land.
There are smaller three bedroom, two bathroom secluded villas available which also have terraces separating the living areas and swimming pool with accompanying Jacuzzi. These villas often have several influences within their design and the bedrooms often overlook the sea and come with king size beds.
Vacant land in Saint Barthelemy tends to be about the average sizes one would find in the Caribbean. The key is finding empty land near a desirable location and Saint Barthelemy offers plenty of vacant land near the waterfront for building a custom home.
Saint Barthelemy vacation rentals come in equal abundance as the many villas available for sale. A majority of these island rental properties are located on or near the hillside just slightly tucked away from the city activity but remaining close enough to reach the activities available within minutes, if not seconds. The properties also vary in bedroom size depending on one’s individual’s needs and come with full size kitchens and patios. Additionally, satellite television, maid service and airport transportation are often included as part of the package.
Hotel Guanahani and Spa
Calling Code: (590)
Top Level Domain: (.bl) or (.fr)
Cable providers: Undersea fiber-optic cable provides voice and data connectivity.
St. Barthelemy is an overseas collectivity of France.
Valid Travel Documents: Required Exit/Entry
Government Issued Photo ID: Required
Tropical, with practically no variation in temperature; has two seasons (dry and humid)
Language: French and English
Tips when you get there:
When arriving on the island whether by plane or boat it's highly recommended to tour the island. Taxi services are convenient for their comfort and knowledgeable drivers who can show you the island from a resident's point of view. Another more adventurous way to tour the island is to rent a scooter or motorbike. This will give you the opportunity to explore interesting areas with the freedom of your own vehicle.
What to do
Saint Barthelemy has many different options in terms of activities for visitors to participate. Their twenty different beaches offer a variety of styles for families, singles and couples seeking tranquility and fun. Shell Beach is particularly popular with families as it has no surf. You can also spend time on Grand-Cul-de-Sac Beach which has hotels and establishments lining it for diverse entertainment. Then there's Grand Saline, which is a secluded beach with no development in sight.
St. Barthelemy also has shopping, restaurants and an active nightlife that can be a nice break from relaxing at the beach all day. This island's other unique qualities include a Museum of Rum, national park, an underwater reserve and bars throughout the island.
And finally, the marine activities include snorkeling, scuba diving and fishing. Scuba and snorkeling are particularly popular due to the twenty dive sites available in the waters surrounding the island to explore. Fishing both offshore and deep sea is available and offer opportunities to catch tropical fish like marlin and barracuda.