St. Barthelemy, commonly known as St. Barths, is a beautiful French Island tucked northeast of the Caribbean Sea. Its mountainous landscape is lined by fourteen magnificent beaches that not only appeal for those seeking a relaxing time but also to surfers. The coastal strip features bays and coves with fringes of coral reefs and gigantic swells in the water make the island a beach combers paradise.
Besides the beaches, Saint Barths is a shopper’s haven. It boasts of having a delightful shopping scene, making the island one of the best shopping destinations in the Caribbean. The areas in the quaint island feature streets littered with boutique fashion and shopping.
Shopping enthusiasts find St. Barths a paradise. Trading here is duty-free, meaning there are loads of products for the upscale shopper to explore. Its reputation as a shopping destination has made the island popular among visitors from U.S, Canada and other parts of Europe. When you plan to shop in St. Barths, expect a wide range of apparels and other interesting products that target the aristocratic travellers.
Fashion is a major drawer to Saint Barths, and you can venture out of your vacation rental and explore dozens luxurious retail stores selling different brands of clothing. As a French island, it is no doubt that fashion here is a lifestyle rather than a facet of outdoor attraction. Along the towns’ streets, you can stop at a boutique shop and select the top brands by acclaimed fashion designers. That said, St. Barths earns the top spot as the best shopping destination among other Caribbean islands.
Taking time and touring the cities of St. Jean and Gustavia provides guests with limitless chances of purchasing their preferred clothes. However, it is essential to understand the time-schedule of the retail stores. Most shops tend to go for lunch from noon to about 3 pm, which leaves most of the shops closed. But you’ll be able to shop till 7 pm, beyond which most stores are closed. On Wednesdays, it’s a tradition for shops to close during the afternoon.
Gustavia, the beautiful capital of the island, has a rich historical heritage. Its winding streets tell a story from the pioneer days, but its glory as a shopper’s choice makes it pose competition to other globally renowned destinations. As you stroll the streets, you’ll find numerous duty-free boutique stalls with the latest products. There are three major streets in Gustavia where you’ll rub shoulders with other high-end shoppers include the Quai de la Republique tucked in the harbor. Just like New York’s Madison Street, you’ll find fashion bigwigs including Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, Gucci, Cartier, and Hermes among others.
The remaining two are Rue du General de Gaulle and Rue du Roi Oscar II. Even so, the Carre d’Or street near Quai de la Republique continues to receive an influx of shoppers who go for sprees in the upscale shops selling trendy fashions for ladies.
Lorient was the first place in St. Barths to be inhabited. That was during the 17th century. The town exudes a charming and inviting atmosphere with several retail houses and shops selling non-standard goods. One must-visit attraction in the city is the factory that manufactures cosmetic products on behalf of Ligne, a popular brand in St. Barths. Some Ligne products include perfumes, oils, soaps, and skin moisturizers.
Saint Jean is conveniently set near the airport and provides visitors an opportunity to shop by the beach, or go to city streets for high-end boutique shopping. La Ville Creole plaza in St. Jean has an excellent collection of shops and stores with renowned apparel brands including St. Tropes KIWI, Lili Belle and Black Swan. Gourmands can also shop for food ingredients at Marche U and Maya’s On the Go. To have a delightful shopping experience, hop from one area to the other to have a feel of what shopping in these streets is like.
A vacation in Saint Barths won’t be complete without checking out Vanita Rosa, a designer store. Founded in 2000 by Valerie Bourdin, Vanita Rosa’s line of clothing features some of the best fabrics in the industry including silk, cashmere and linen among others. Shopping here puts you among celebrities who’ve once rocked a Vanita clothing. Examples include Ivanka Trump and Jane Fonda to mention but two.
St. Barths Island is a hidden gem in the Caribbean for beach lovers and staunch shoppers. Travellers can enjoy water sports or go shopping. Combining both is the perfect blend to have the real feel of the culture and natural beauty of the island.
The Best Time to Go Surfing on St. Barths
The most favorable time for surfing is from November all through to April. The winter mild winds move toward northeast Europe from US Eastern shores at 18 knots. Surfs can reach up to 12 feet at bay and cove breaks. In summer, surfers can find infrequent hurricane storms that cause huge waves on the southeastern exposed beaches. However, between November and March, winds tend to blow eastward. But if you wish to have the best surfing experience, try it during the wake of a storm, or after the turbulence.
There are a few kitesurfing beaches in Saint Barths. And if you’re after kitesurfing, it limits you to the Grand Cul de Sac. For an exciting holiday, explore other water sports activities especially if you go on vacation with the kids. Big Cul de Sac provides both adults and children with a great chance of learning kitesurfing, sailing and windsurfing. Located in the lagoon, water depth in bay is quite shallow with virtually no waves. The easterly trade winds blow toward the West Indies Island, rendering it the perfect place for those willing to learn kitesurfing. There are various kitesurfing schools with lesson packages for each level so learners can enjoy the fun as they gain more experience.
Besides kitesurfing and sailing, hitting the waves using only the traditional board is another way of enjoying the shores of St. Barths. While most visitors think that all the beaches on the island present the same conditions for body boarding at all levels. It is critical to always seek insights from the locals on the best beach for you.
Best Beaches for Amateur Surfers
Below is a list of the best beaches for both first-time surfers and experts.
Plage de Lorient
Lorient beach is set in a secluded and quiet part of the coast. Its green, hilly surrounding combined with clear waters and a long strip of white sand makes up a relaxing ambiance. The waves roll gently at one end, making it perfect for surfing. On the other end, calm waters invite guests to go for snorkeling adventures, swim or fish.
A fascinating aspect of Saint Jean beach is that it consists of two stunning beaches separated by Eden Rock. Both beaches offer good conditions for swimming. Besides the many amenities and services, families flock the island. Both parents and their kids can have a great time surfing.
Flamands beach has the longest shoreline on Saint Barths. With great sunshine and white sands, guests bask in the sun with their lounge beds. Albeit recommended for boogie boarding, Flamands beach has moderately rough winds. Therefore, don’t let toddlers get in the water.
Best Beaches for Professional Surfers
Beaches hidden on the eastern side of St. Barths have the most challenging conditions and only experienced surfers dare to boogie-board on such waters. Here are some options you can consider.
Only expert surfers have a chance to withstand the surfs on Washing Machine beach. Regardless, going on a trek on trails to the beach from big Cul de Sac is a memorable experience. Once at Washing Machine, wallow in the picturesque site of natural pockets of pools.
To the northeast of Plaque de Lorient lies Pointer Milou beach. Surfing here is limited to the pros. Guests come here to enjoy the sun, and sand as well as watching expert surfers gliding on raging waves.
Just next to the rather longer Flamands, Petit Anse is popular for its clear blue waters and beautiful sea floor. Besides presenting the perfect snorkeling conditions, expert surfers frequent the beach to showcase their prowess.
St. Barths beaches offer more than just surfing. There are other low-spirited water sports that you can explore when you’re in the mood for a laid back activity.
Trade winds keep on blowing on-shore and visitors can go for windsurfing all year round. From the calm Plaque de Lorient to Pointe Milou, you’ll not miss a beach that accommodates your skill level in windsurfing. There are several agencies that can organize a great windsurfing experience. Most offer lessons to amateurs, link visitors to professional surfers and recommend the best beach for you.
Surfing, to many water-sport lovers, is an activity that gets your adrenaline rushing. Saint Barths has some of the best beaches for surfing in the world. There is a great coastal vibe in the island. Combine that with the windy weather, you’ll be compelled to go boogie boarding.