Saint Barthélemy, more commonly known as St. Barts, is a French-speaking Caribbean island. It’s famous for its white-sand beaches, designer shops and celebrity spotting! The capital, Gustavia, encircles a fabulous yacht-filled harbor.
Is St Barts worth visiting?
St Barts was everything I imagined it would be!
To be honest, I didn’t know a huge deal about the island; I’d heard it was a bit fancier and Frenchier than other islands and heard rumors of celebrity sightings. I was excited just to see what it was really like in person.
The port as you come in is filled with beautiful yachts and this theme continues as you wander into Gustavia, the capital. The street running parallel to the sea is full of designer boutiques. Even the smaller boutiques were a bit out of our price range – thankfully, I’d forgotten my credit card on the ship so I couldn’t splurge even if I wanted to! The streets are really pretty to wander around; plenty of good people watching and window shopping opportunities.
How to get to Colombier Beach
I had read about a gorgeous beach with great snorkeling that I wanted to explore – Colombier. However, it was a bit of a challenge to get to! It’s only accessible via boat (Wind Surf offered an excursion for about $180 per person) or a 20-30 minute hike down the hillside. So, armed with a Google map print-out, we took a taxi 5km north-west of Gustavia, up and down steep hills and streets. The taxi dropped us at the top of a hill, as far as he could go, with promises that he would pick us up in a couple of hours. We took his card, just in case. And off we set, down a paved path and then down, down, down a path cut into the hillside.
The path is an obvious one and it wasn’t ridiculously steep, just a bit rocky and slippery in places. There were a few other groups making their way down at the same time (including some people out for a jog along the trail!), as well as some four and eight-legged companions! It took us about 30 minutes to get down.
We finally made it to Colombier beach – it was a bit of a scramble and an adventure but it was totally worth it. Uncrowded, a few boats dotted offshore, golden sand, crystal clear water …. bliss.
We did some snorkeling; it wasn’t the best and I wouldn’t recommend bothering to bring your snorkeling gear if you’re walking.
I could have stayed all day but we were due to meet our taxi and knew this was our only chance to make it back into Gustavia. Back at the top of the hill (a hot climb uphill by this point in the day), we waited .. and waited … I went to phone the guy only to find I’d lost his card when my beach bag had fallen over – oops! He eventually came, half an hour late. Caribbean time?!
That afternoon, we went back to have a wander around Gustavia and made our way to Shell Beach, an easy walk through the town.
True to its name, the beach is made up of tiny little bits of shell. We had brought our water shoes and were glad of them for getting in and out of the water. It was a lovely place to spend the afternoon!
St Barts is less like a Caribbean island and more like the south of France. I loved this (having lived away from Europe for more than a decade); my brother, who lives in London and travels a lot in Europe, found it less of an experience than other, more ‘true Caribbean’, islands.
Interested in a Wind Star or Wind Surf cruise, or just want to find out about the islands on the itinerary? Read my posts on Sint Maarten, Barbuda, Domenica, St Lucia, Les Saintes, St Kitts, and St Martin.