The 8-square miles of volcanic land known as St. Barth is a perfect fusion of French culture and Caribbean atmosphere. The best way to experience this majestic composite is on the beaches and through the tastebuds. While the New York Times will give you 36 hours in one place, we at Somewhere Or Bust give you 37. Without further ado, here’s how to spend 37 hours in St. Barth. (Since the New York Times’ 36 Hours never adds up to a day and a half, neither will this, if you’re keeping score at home.)
37 Hours in St. Barth
FRIDAY 2:00 PM
Since you survived the flight, there’s no sense in running around the island (since the winding roads are actually more dangerous than the daredevil landing). Instead, stop by the closest beach to the airport, St. Jean beach, which has everything the island has on offer, from watersports to waterfront bars. You can take a stroll down the kilometer-long beach, where ignored model shoots, the half-hourly launch of single-engine planes, and speeding windsurfers are the most exciting things happening on the island. My highlights included surfing the outer reef and then sitting on the lounge chairs in front of my hotel, the Tom Beach Hotel, where I sipped cocktails (and where Marissa drank fresh-squeezed juice) until sunset.
FRIDAY 7:00 PM
Since we weren’t up for navigating the winding roads, especially after a few Dark and Stormies, we spent the evening at our hotel’s restaurant, La Plage, where the “I Love Fridays” party was in full swing. Besides incredible French cuisine infused with island ingredients, like tropical fish tartar and foie gras with Caribbean-style chutney, the French scene was aggrandized by the Parisian models showcasing the owner’s clothing line, the French DJs showering the diners with beats, and the copious amounts of Bordeaux that flowed as freely as the owner’s garage-made vanilla rum.
SATURDAY 9:00 AM
After breakfast, head over to the peak above Colombier Bay for some of the most spectacular views across the island. Then head down to hike into the bay below, which is only accessible by foot or by boat. The thirty-minute hike over the island’s volcanic land will yield an empty beach with some of the island’s best snorkeling and most ideal picnic setting. (You’ll need to pack the picnic, however, as civilization never made its way into the secluded bay).
SATURDAY 2:00 PM
After a morning at Colombier, head into the port town of Gustavia. The high-end French boutiques are all clustered together. And if shopping isn’t your thing, there are numerous places to grab a day-time drink, such as Le Carre’s outdoor bar in the center of the shops or at the island’s oldest pub, Le Select.
SATURDAY 5:00 PM
A ten-minute walk from Gustavia is Shell Beach and the bar at Do Brazil. Enjoy cocktails at this beachside hut as the tranquil turquoise waters surrounding the island are pierced by cliff divers. Alternatively, if you’re looking for upscale-imbibing, visit the lounge farther up the hill at the Carl Gustaf Hotel, which overlooks the palms, Manchineel trees, and masts docked in the red-roofed Gustavia.
SATURDAY 8:00 PM
To be honest, I had dinner every night at La Plage, so I couldn’t tell you about another location for dining. But if you’re looking for a taste of the island’s history, which interestingly includes a half dozen cultures, including the Swedes who controlled St. Barth for nearly a century, head over to the Wall House. A small museum (though I’m told the signs are not in English), is annexed from the supposed fine-dining restaurant.
SUNDAY 9:00 AM
Begin your day at the beach–surfers should head to Toiny, nudists can visit Salines, historians should head to Coupe Gorge, where a band of original colonists were beheaded by a tribe of Carib natives.
SUNDAY 12:00 PM
Don’t lose your appetite at the beach because one of the gastronomic highlights of the island is the brunch at Le Gaiac at Hotel La Toiny, which has a dining room (and cliffside pool) that overlooks the island’s best wave. From fish to fruits to French pastries, this is a Francophile’s and foodie’s fantasy.
SUNDAY 3:00 PM
Au revoir, as they say. But don’t race to the airport. Even though you’re flying internationally, this airport is unlike any airport on the planet. Staffed with friendly agents who don’t do passport checks and ignore water bottles that could potentially contain water, this place might be the gem of the island. (Worriers, fear not, they treat you like a potential terrorist again once you arrive to St. Martin.)
Note: While the Tom Beach Hotel hosted me in St. Barth, this review is honest.