St. Barts reveals a destination perfect for the most sophisticated of travelers. St. Barts, also known as, St. Barth (officially St. Barthelemy) is by far one of the safest and most friendly of all Caribbean destinations. From your luxury charter yacht you will have quick access to the many splendid beaches, fine restaurants and upscale shops on the island. While staying at St. Barts on your luxury charter yacht, it is imperative that you visit St. Jean Beach which features world class cuisine and a posh atmosphere all in a beautiful white sandy setting. The island has only 7,500 residents and is relatively small in size, making St. Barts a very intimate destination.
In the days prior to the Europeans, the Carib Indians were native to St. Barts Island for hundreds of years. The small island was called St. Barts Ouanaloa, but Christopher Columbus changed the name after arriving in 1493. The current name of the small island came from his take on the original name, St. Bartholomé, after his brother. The French were the first major European power to take an interest in St. Barts Island. The French were intrigued by St. Barts Island's special location within the West Indian Trade Route. Despite the lack of agricultural prosperity, the well-situated island post offered access to shipping lanes in a tumultuous and profitable part of the world. Disputes with natives on St. Barts Island were finally extinquished in the late 17th century with the establishment of a more formal colony.
St. Barts Island's protected harbor through the 17th century until the island came to be worth more to others. France took the opportunity to trade St. Barts Island to Sweden in 1794 for port rights to Goteborg. King Gustav III took a first-hand role in developing the port and island (as it was their only outlet within the profitable Caribbean trade triangle). St. Barts Island grew exponentially. Gustavia (named for Gustav) turned to a thriving shipping and trading port within years of the massive investment. A series of setbacks, including fire and earthquake, in the 19th century sidetracked St. Barts Island's growth. The resulting impact to St. Barts Island's economy turned the small colony into a terrible financial burden to Sweden; Oscar II decided to take action and St. Barts Island was eventually sold back to France, who renamed it once again, Saint-Barthélemy.
Many of St. Barts Island few thousand residents are descendent from the original Norman and Breton settlers who first came to in the 1600s. The island also provides an outlet for many native French working in the Travel & Leisure industry. Tourism is an the most integral part of the island's economy, yet local government officials have done much to control the growth on St. Barts Island in an attempt to preserve the natural beauty of this Caribbean paradise.
St. Barts Island is a dependency island of Guadeloupe, which in turn is an Overseas Department and Region of France. As such, St. Barts Island participates in French elections. It has its own mayor, who is elected every seven years, a town constable, and a security force consisting of six policemen and 13 gendarmes. The latter are sent from France on tours of duty lasting two years. St. Barts Island and neighboring St. Martin comprise a Sous- Préfecture of Guadeloupe, which is administered by a Sous-Préfect who resides in St. Martin and has a representative on St. Barts.
St. Barts is a duty free port. Shopping at this islands over 200 boutiques is a true delight as stylish fashion sits side-by-side with island crafts. You can find beachwear, accessories, jewelry and casual wear at many of the shops in Gustavia. Guests say shopping for decorative items for the home is better in St. Barts than anywhere else in the Caribbean because of the French influence. New shops are opening all the time, so there is always something new to discover; walk the quaint streets and find out for yourself what makes St. Barts shopping so fun!
In Gustavia, boutiques line the two major shopping streets. There is also a cluster of shops in the La Savane Commercial Center (across from the airport), La Villa Creole (in St. Jean), and Espace Neptune (along the road to Lorient).
There are nearly twenty St. Barts beaches dotted along the island's coasts. All St. Barts beaches are open to the public, though not all are that easily accessible. There is a very different character and feel to the different St. Barts beaches and it is easily noticed upon any visit. Most guests to the island try to have a little sample of several St. Barts beaches during their trip, finding one or two that suit their style and personality.
St. Jean is one of the liveliest St. Barts beaches. This strip of sand runs right from right at the runway that brings new guests to the island. Located on this St. Barts beach are some of the best restaurants and hot spots (including La Plage and Nikki Beach). For those who prefer a bit more serenity while soaking in the sun, Anse a Colombier and Marigot are St. Barts beaches a little more your style. Many visitors say that the soft sand on St. Barts beaches is the best at Saline, while a steady flow of small-capped waves at Lorient makes it a popular destination with local surfers. Anse du Gouverneur and Grande Saline are two St. Barts beaches where many sunbathers go nude or topless.
St. Barts is very informal. Casual sport clothes in cotton and other light fabrics are fine by day as are jeans and T-shirts, etc. At night, women usually dress up in light cotton dresses. Ties and jackets are never required for men.
The "In" clubs change from season to season. There is more nightlife than ever before. There are places for quiet conversation and sunset watching to a cabaret and disco. There are establishments that rock from lunch through its late night closing with the young and beautiful. Many of the establishments that are open late into the night are located on the harbor at Gustavia. Discotheques such as The Yacht Club, Casa Nikki, and Pumpkin all are located within walking distance of each other and offer late-night drinks and dancing.
One of the best parts about the French West Indies has to be the dining. St. Barts restaurants on their own are capable of drawing new guests every year. Many claim that St. Barts restaurants are the best in the Caribbean (some would say St. Barts restaurants are comparable on a world-wide scale!). Dining is one of the many amazing experiences provided on this tiny island, as St. Barts restaurants serve up an eclectic variety of flavors and styles. French cuisine is clearly the focus, as fresh ingredients are shipped in to this dining refuge on a daily basis. Restaurants in St. Barts also offer Caribbean-influenced dishes that figure prominently on the menus across the island. Asian and Italian cuisine have also become popular choices in many St. Barts restaurants. Seafood is the center feature of most St. Barts restaurants, as spiny Caribbean lobster and other mouthwatering catches are brought in fresh daily. Though St. Barts restaurants are one of the best dining experience to be found in the Caribbean, they can be a bit expensive. Finding a good-valued meal is easy to do as well. The main road running from Gustavia to St. Jean has many smaller shops and restaurants that are less fine-dining and more quick-bite oriented.
St. Barts compares favorably to almost anywhere in the world. Varied cuisine, a French flair is the décor, sensational wine and attentive service make for a wonderful epicurean experience. There are dozens of charming places to eat from beachfront grills to restaurants serving five-course meals. Restaurant owners take great pride in their service as well as their food. Check your restaurant bills carefully as a service charge is always added by law, but you should leave the server 5-10% extra in cash.
Le Select: (The REAL Cheeseburger in Paradise? Jimmy has even flipped burgers here himself!)
An outdoor burger place in Gustavia, purported to be the place where Jimmy Buffett ate the original "Cheeseburger in Paradise".
Review by a Buffett Fan (AKA Parrotthead)
"Now to me, Le Select of St Barth's was the Holy Grail. Yes, a closet parrot head, I had always wanted to pull up a stool at this infamous hole in the wall and have a cheeseburger in paradise, as Jimmy Buffet so aptly put it.
And I did! It was great just being there and imagining the wild times Jimmy and his friends must have had here.
I wanted to hear the truth straight from the proverbial horse's mouth. So I asked the next best thing, my waitress, if you could call her that. She stood behind a counter and took your order, then yells out your number when its ready. I asked if Mr. Buffet had really written "Cheeseburger" here and she said that he was good friends with the owner and did write it about La Select.
Now just to throw water on the whole beautiful experience, I recently read that a bar on Jost Van Dyke was claiming to be THE bar where Jimmy Buffet was really singing about. How dare they? It couldn't possibly be true. Has my Holy Grail just slipped through my fingers requiring yet another trip to another beautiful island. I hear they have absolutely the BEST New Year's Eve Party at Foxy's on Jost Van Dyke....hmmmmm."
Here is the real story about Le Select and Jimmy and the real "Cheeseburger in Paradise" location from Jimmy Buffett himself:
"LE SELECT - St.Barthelemy, French West Indies
I sort of watched this burger evolve and actually was the cook the first night the stand opened, flipping burgers for my friend Eddie Skatlborough. I overheard some people at the counter waiting for their burgers, and they said, "How sad. You know he used to be famous, but now he's cooking cheeseburgers."...
The myth of the cheeseburger in paradise goes back to a long trip on my first boat, the Euphoria. We had run into some very rough weather crossing the Mona Passage between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico and broke our bow sprit. The ice in our box had melted, and we were doing the canned-food-and-peanut-butter diet. The vision of a piping hot cheeseburger kept popping into my mind. We limped up the Sir Francis Drake Channel and into Roadtown on the island of Tortola, where a brand-new marina and bar sat on the end of the dock, like a mirage. We secured the boat, kissed the ground, and headed for the restaurant. To our amazement, we were offered a menu that featured an American cheeseburger and pina coladas. Now these were the the days when supplies in that part of the world were rather scarce-when horsemeat was more plentiful than ground beef in the tiny stores of the Third World. Anyway, we gave particular instructions to the waiter on how we wanted them cooked and what we wanted on them-to which little attention was paid. It didn't matter. The overdone burgers on the burned, toasted buns tasted like manna from heaven, for they were the realization of my fantasy burgers on the trip. That's the true story. I've heard other people and places claim that I stopped or cooked in their restaurants, but this is the way it happened."
Technically, there isn't a way to play St. Barts golf on-island, though avid golfers shouldn't necessarily forego a trip to St. Barts. The island of St. Barts is filled with world-class restaurants, dramatic views, and a trendy-chic atmosphere that offers style and sophistication. The best news for golfing fans is that St. Barts is also within a short trip to a number of premiere Caribbean golf destinations.
The closest golf course to St. Barts is just ten minutes away on St. Martin. For those who really want to have a St. Barts golf experience, the course on St. Martin makes for a nice afternoon experience on the fairways. For golfers looking for more substantial play, St. Croix and St. Thomas host a number of respected golf courses and are also a plane ride away. St. Barts is connected to the USVI by several flights daily. A round on one of the great championship courses on St. Kitts or Nevis is only forty minutes away from St. Barts with a connection on a short flight from St. Martin on Windward Island Airways.
Weddings in St. Barts have a sense of French style and sophistication with a degree of hospitality that can only be found in the Caribbean. St. Barts has the well-deserved reputation as a romantic destination. Couples can arrange for barefoot ceremonies by the sea or luxurious affairs at some of the grand hotels on-island with a history of organizing St. Barts weddings. There are many coordinators on-island who ensure that St. Barts weddings are professionally orchestrated. Weddings in St. Barts will are capable of bringing imagination to life.
There are strong legal requirements to holding St. Barts weddings; couples must have at least one member residing on-island for no less than one calendar month with documentation certifying this. Birth certificates for both members and certificates of good conduct and single status must be presented before weddings in St. Barts can legally take place. Both members should also ensure they have taken blood tests within three months of their planned St. Barts wedding. All relevant English-language documents must be translated into French before arranging weddings in St. Barts.
Fishermen are fond of the waters around St. Barts. They can catch mahi-mahi, wahoo, Atlantic bonito, barracuda and marlin. Several different companies offer boat rentals for half day and full day excursions.