The jet set crowd has long had a love affair with the understated Caribbean beauty and chic French flavour of St Barths. Effortlessly opulent and undeniably stylish, at just eight square miles the island packs a punch, with white sands, designer boutiques, fine dining and ultra-luxe hotels. Peak season brings mega-yachts, Melissa Odabash bikinis and an exclusive Champagne lifestyle. Home to 13 red-roofed towns and over 20 stunning beaches, this is a destination where Parisians come to lounge, Americans show off golden tans and the yachtie crowd and media moguls tend to hang around.
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If you can tear yourself away from your lavish accommodation, Flamands Beach on the northwest shore is the best on St Barths. Wide creamy sands merge with rolling surf and bright blue seas for fantastic swimming, tranquil sunbathing and oceanfront dining straight from the tank at La Langouste. Sugar white Gouverneur Beach is an idyllic cove that’s perfect for snorkelling and Saline Beach has calm waters and beautiful sands. Learn how to sail at St Barth Yacht Club, bodysurf at Anse des Cayes and windsurf at Lorient. For a slice of seclusion take a catamaran to Colombier Beach, or for a day with the locals follow the 'it' crowd to St Jean for stylish bars, beachfront hotels, crystal clear waters and iconic Nikki Beach. The airport runway ends here and it’s a great place to spot small planes jetting in for the spine-tingling St Barths landing.
Shopping on St Barths is duty free, so it would almost be a sin not to have a browse. The horseshoe port of glittering Gustavia is lined with luxury boutiques, as is La Villa Créole in St Jean. From Hermès to Armani and Cartier to Christian Dior, St Barths rivals the Champs Elysées for designer chic. Gustavia is home to most of the French style bars and restaurants, and whilst the island can be an expensive eat, the culinary delights are certainly worth splashing out on. Bonito’s is decked out as a beach house living room where you’ll dine on ceviche and lobster overlooking the sparkling harbour, Le Gaïac at Le Toiny serves exquisite French-inspired cuisine, and the evening entertainment at the tavern-style Le Ti St Barth is great fun. Reservations at all are essential. You can also dine at hedonistic Nikki Beach, minimalist in style with oversized white day beds, fusion menus, fashion shows and a constant flow of Champagne on ice.