Gustavia, St. Barts
“France of the Caribbean” is easy shorthand for St. Barts, but that sells the island short. There’s a great deal of Gallic savoir faire, but it also has a je ne sais quoi all its own. The cruise terminal is in Gustavia, home to luxury boutiques and some of the best restaurants. The island is small — you can drive around the whole thing in about two hours — making day trips doable.
What We Love
Grand Cul-de-Sac: This uncrowded beach has ideal conditions for novice or skilled windsurfers, with flat water (there’s a reef out at the edge of the bay) and steady winds. Plus, there’s a shop where you can rent gear or book lessons.
Celeb Spotting: The island really is a getaway for the rich and famous, from Oscar winners to titans of industry. Keep your eye out for familiar faces, but play it cool.
Best Known For
Beaches: There are 14, a lot for a tiny island, with dreamy white sand and virtually no development. Saline and Gouverneur are considered the most beautiful. Shell Beach, an easy walk from the port in Gustavia, has earned its name, so take footwear.
Nightlife All Day: On St. Barts you can pretty much expect to see dancing on a table at nightclubs like Bagatelle or Le Ti, or at a brunch party at Nikki Beach.
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Who It's Best For
Deep Pockets: High-end shopping includes Cartier, Hermès, and homegrown brands like Calypso. Several Michelin-starred chefs have restaurants here, and there’s that formidable party scene with $2,000 bottles of Champagne on the menu.
Beach Bunnies: Inhibition-free sunbathing is the thing. While nudity is officially prohibited, going topless is de rigueur.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Cha-Ching: Trying to do St. Barts on the cheap is no fun, and not even all that cheap.
Thumbs Up: Locals insist you can safely economize by hitchhiking. Not your thing? Look into day rates on rental cars, which can be less expensive than a series of taxis.
Ann Abel is a Brooklyn-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Departures.