Things to Do in St Barts
The island of St Barths is known for its casual chic vibe, the pristine beaches, fun beach bars like Nikki Beach and Gypsea, lively bistros like Bagatelle, and highly-rated, yet relaxed restaurants, such as Robuchon, Isola and Bonito.
For the active travelers, there are tennis courts, snorkeling and scuba diving, surfing and kiteboarding, sailing all manner of craft, and hiking up the craggy volcanic hills.
Of course, no French island would be complete without offering excellent food and shopping. You can find high-end boutiques featuring designers from Paris and New York alongside more casual island wares in the pedestrian-friendly village of Gustavia.
The dining scene in St Barts is also excellent. By day there are exceptional beach bars for those long lazy, feet in the sand lunches. For those who want to eat or picnic, there are a dozen excellent markets, boulangeries and patisseries to stock up in. By night the island is home to many highly rated restaurants. For those looking for late-night entertainment, there are lively bars like Le Ti, Bagatelle, Casa and Mojito that are active well into the night.
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Top Activities on St Barts
For such a small island, St Barts offers a wealth of things to see and do, at day time and by night, whether you are visiting the island for the first time or are a repeat visitor. Families and couples will both find plenty to interest them.
Go Sailing - Charter a Catamaran Cruiser or Motor Boat
Let the wind power your adventure in St Barts. You can charter a half-day, full-day, sunset or even a week-long cruise on a catamaran or sports cruiser. Enjoy lunch on the nearby Pinel Island, Columbier beach, or a nearby deserted island. You can even have a chef-prepared meal onboard, or arrange for cocktails at sunset.
You boaters can rent a luxury yacht and explore the waters nearby, using your yacht as a base. In the spring the island plays host to two major sailing regattas; The St Barth Bucket in mid-March, and Les Voiles de St Barth in mid-April.
For those looking for a bit of a thrill, Grand cul de Sac is the kite boarding center, and you can also reserve a wind surfing lesson there.
Tours on the Land and Sea
Tours don't have to be long and boring. Try the guided Seabob or Jet Ski tour departing from the gorgeous lagoon of Grand Cul de Sac. Or join a guided ATV tour and enjoy an open-air ride around the island, stopping at the most beautiful beaches and visit some of the most beautiful vistas.
Go Fishing - Fishing Guides and Fishing Charters
The waters around the island provide some fantastic Caribbean fishing. Surfcasting and shore fishing is a wonderful way to relax. You can also opt-in for deep-sea fishing, charter a fishing boat and guide in Gustavia, and head out past the reefs to go after a larger sport-fish. May through September are the best months for Marlin fishing, and this area produces some huge fish.
Foodie Heaven - Pamper Your Taste Buds
Other than beach hopping, the primary activity on St Barts is sampling the island's many excellent restaurants. It's amazing how many world-class restaurants you can find on this small island of fewer than 8,000 residents.
Whether you are looking for a simple café au lait and croissant for breakfast, a sushi platter and Rose wine for lunch, or a multi-course gourmet tasting dinner, there is a restaurant for you in St Barts. See our St Barts restaurant page for more details.
Shop 'til You Drop
Shopping on St Barts is a combination of designer stores and stores with locally-made items. It's an intriguing melange. Look for good prices on French luxury items, such as brandy and perfume, as well as interesting, one-of-a-kind items like intricate, hand-braided purses, hats and bowls.
There are two main shopping areas on St Barts -- Gustavia and St Jean. Both have high-end boutiques featuring luxury items from Hermes, Louis Vuitton and other French designers. You'll also find items unique to St Barts, such as locally-made vanilla rum and woven items made by the women of Corossol.
On the gourmet front, you’ll find several well-stocked grocery stores and specialty food stores offering the best of what France has to offer from fine wines to cheeses, to foie gras and pate.
Enjoy the Beaches & Nature
St Barts island is home to twelve main beaches, and most of them have little to no development. We recommend the 20-minute flat hike from Flamands to the protected natural reserve land at Colombier beach for those seeking a hike through a nature preserve. The entire length of Saline beach and its dunes is also a nature zone protected from development.
For those seeking out more traditional urban parks, Gustavia has two of them, one at the western end of Gustavia harbor on the waterfront for those seeking out more traditional urban parks. And the other running along the coast on the oceanside of the village, near the medical clinic. Both have paths for walking, and benches for resting and relaxing.
Discover the Nightlife in St Barts
The island comes alive at night, especially in Gustavia. Nightclubs generally open around 9pm, but don't really get going until 10pm or 11pm. Some of the best places to dance include Casa, Sky Bar and Bagatelle in Gustavia, and Modjo in St Jean. Try Le Ti Cabaret and its Moulin-Rouge-style revue, located in Pointe Milou for something a little different.
Kitesurfing or Jet-skiing in the Grand Cul-de-Sac
You will find two water sports rental companies on the beach, good for jet ski-, kitesurf- and windsurf- rentals. If you are new to kitesurfing, you can take a lesson with SXM Kiteschool.
Sightseeing highlights include window shopping in Gustavia and looking at the architecture and shops; viewing Fort Gustav, high above Gustavia Harbour; having lunch on the quay overlooking the harbor and people-watching; and exploring the Wall House Museum. On one Sunday per month you’ll find an open-air market on the pedestrian-only street of Rue General De Gaulle.
Unique St Barts Experiences
Although St Barts is a small island, there are several memorable experiences that you can only find here. Below are our favorites:
- Hanging out on St Jean beach and watching the small airplanes arrive and depart from Gustav III Airport
- Hiking through a natural preserve to Colombier Beach
- Sunday Jazz Brunch at Nikki Beach
- Cabaret Night at Le Ti St Barth
- New Years Eve in Gustavia – restaurants and bars feature special menus and entertainment, music spills out onto the streets, beautiful yachts fill the harbor and line the quays, and everyone is treated to fireworks at midnight
- Have a picnic at the lighthouse in Gustavia at sunset.
- Vanilla rum is a specialty of the island and is affordable and delicious. Visit M'bolo rum store on Rue General de Gaulle and sample many varieties of St Barths Rhum Vanille.
- Visit the fish market (Halle des Poissioneirs) on the quay in Gustavia near the ferry terminal. Go between 7-9am as fishing boats unload their catch and restaurateurs come by to purchase freshly caught fish. Side benefit, the fishmongers throw buckets of guts into the water, and well-trained Tarpons explode upward to eat it.
Take a short hike up a path to Fort Carl, at the end of Rue D'Inzy in Gustavia. From the top you'll enjoy views of Shell Beach and Gustavia.
Top Things to do in St Barts for Couples
St Barts was “designed” for couples. The island has beautiful beaches, sunset cruises, romantic restaurants and elegant hotels and villas. WIMCO's concierge department will book any experience you desire, and if you have kids, they can reserve a babysitting service. The sitter will come to your villa with her own transportation.
Dine Out – Early and Often!
Whether it’s lunch at Nikki Beach or dinner at Bonito at sunset, St Barts restaurants will take you on a unique culinary journey. Some of our favorite restaurants for couples are L'Isola, Tamarin, Santa Fe, Robuchon, Black Ginger, Orega, Le Repair and L’Esprit.
See our St Barts insider's restaurant guide.
Hike to Colombier Beach for an Afternoon in Paradise
Take the lower shore route from Flamands. Drive down to Flamands, take a left turn at the T intersection at the bottom of the hill, and continue to the end of the road, just past the small hotel named Auberge de la Petite Anse. Park on either side of the road.
The hike in takes about 20 minutes. There are no services or facilities of any kind at the beach, so plan ahead, and bring mosquito repellant, water and snacks or pack for an exquisite picnic.
Other secluded and beautiful beaches: Gouverneur and Saline.
Hike the Cote Sauvage in Toiny, and Visit the Washing Machine/Natural Pools
Drive over the mountain at Grand Fond and head down toward the sea. You will come to a dog-leg turn to the left. Do not make the turn, but park your car to your right in the small parking lot (4 cars). Walk past the turn and take the path on your right between a stone wall and the brush.
When you come out on the stone beach, turn right and follow the shoreline until you reach the end of the beach, then take the path that winds up the hill along the coast. Climb down to the natural pools when they come into view and take a dip if you're so inclined, but watch out for the black, spiny sea urchins.
Some of our other favorite short hikes for couples include the coastline trail at Le Toiny and the scenic hike of the loop road around Point Milou.
Go on a Jet Ski Tour
The best way to see St Barths is from the waters that surround it. Reserve a two-hour jet ski tour, or just rent a jet-ski and explore the island and have fun. Tours leave from Grand cul de Sac beach in front of O Corail beach bars, near Le Serena hotel.
Sail Into the Sunset on a Catamaran
Reserve a romantic, private sunset cruise with one of the local boat charter companies. You can also book a 1/2 day trip to Columbier beach with them which includes snorkeling. Both include a champagne toast. Ask your WIMCO concierge for details.
Enjoy Some Pampering
St Barts is home to several “mobile-spa” companies so you can enjoy a massage in the privacy of your villa. Or, for a more indulgent experience, visit one of the hotel spa centers. Favorites include the spas at Christopher hotel, Cheval Blanc, Le Barthélemy and the Guanahani. These spas have private treatment rooms and cooling off areas, and they book up fast. Be sure to plan ahead and book your spa or massage experience early.
Spend an Afternoon on a Chaise Lounge at a Beach Restaurant
What to indulge in a lazy, decadent afternoon? Book a table by the beach for lunch at Gyp Sea, Pearl Beach, Shellona, Nikki Beach or Lil Rock, sample their delicious cuisine and beverages. Then rent a chaise lounge after lunch and relax in the sun.
Best Things to do in St Barts for Families
While St Barts is best known as a destination for couples and groups of adults, there are plenty of kids’ activities to enjoy on the island. These range from collecting shells on the beach and playing in the surf, to taking short hikes: a great way to really absorb the beauty of St Barts.
If you're thinking of bringing your kids to St Barts, below are some of the best ideas on what you can do together.
Water activities for families include snorkeling, taking a catamaran cruise around the island, surfing, and simply enjoying time at one of the island's many beautiful beaches.
Best Beaches for Kids
St Barts is home to 12 main beaches, most of which are well-suited for toddlers and small children. However, there are a few, such as Flamands that may have rough surf on occasion. The most popular beaches for families include St Jean beach, Lorient Beach, Marigot Beach, the eastern side of St Jean Beach and Petit Cul de Sac Beach.
Don’t forget to bring a portable beach tent or beach umbrella for the kids to play under as there is very little shade on these beaches. Or you can rent beach chairs and umbrellas on some beaches, such as Shell Beach, and St. Jean Beach. See our St Barts beach page for details.
Look for Wildlife
It’s quite common to spot iguanas and tortoises all over the island. They love the hibiscus flowers. You can spot some colorful fish in Gustavia harbor from the shore, off Lorient Beach, Shell Beach and Colombier Beach. The best places to spot sea turtles are in the waters of Grand Cul de Sac, Marigot Bay, and Petite cul de Sac. Another treat is watching pelicans diving for bait fish in St Jean Bay and around Gustavia harbor.
St. Barts Playground
There’s a playground near the sports stadium in St Jean for kids between 3 to 10 years old. It’s best in the morning and late afternoons due to the heat in the middle of the day. It gets pretty busy in late afternoons.
- The capital of Gustavia is a quaint village wrapped around a harbor. There are smooth sidewalks throughout the town, including a long stretch along the waterfront (the quai). You'll find plenty of places to duck into for a snack, beverage or meal.
- There is a one-mile stretch of road from Tamarin restaurant to the trailhead to Saline beach that is well suited for pushing a stroller. Popular with joggers, this road is bordered by a salt pond on the right side and mountains on the left side. There are three restaurants along the route that you can stop into for a snack, beverage or meal - Tamarin and Grain de Sel. A third restaurant, L'Esprit is only open for dinner.
- The road from St Jean to Lorient. For those wanting a real workout, there is a smooth sidewalk that extends from the village of St Jean up over a rise then down to the village of Lorient. Take note that there are parts of the route that are not cooled by ocean breezes, so it can be a hot walk at times
Frequently Asked Questions About St Barts Attractions
What are the top attractions to visit in St. Barts?
The top attractions in St Barts, — in addition to visiting the island's many beautiful beaches, — include walking around and shopping in the Town of Gustavia; having lunch beachside at St Jean beach. Dancing the night away at Le Ti St Bart cabaret; or one of the many other nightspots. Watching the sunset from Waterfront Park in Gustavia, or enjoying one of the many watersports offered throughout the island.
What are the best outdoor activities in St Barts?
Outdoor activities are one of the highlights to any trip to St Barts. The island features a diverse collection of beaches, each with its own ambiance and unique setting. Some of the best beaches on St Barts include the popular St Jean Beach; the more remote Gouverneur Beach with its spectacular view; Shell Beach, a short walk from the Town of Gustavia; and Flamands Beach, one of the longest stretches of white sand on the island.
Other outdoor activities on the island include snorkeling and scuba, deep-sea fishing, kiteboarding, sailing, windsurfing and hiking, perhaps to the remote Colombier Beach.
What are the best day trips from St. Barts?
St Barts is centrally located, making it easy to get to several other islands for a day trip. St Barts is just a 40-minute ferry ride away from St Maarten. If you want to go further, it's a short plane ride from St Maarten to Anguilla, Saba, Guadeloupe, Virgin Gorda and St Thomas.
What are the most popular things to do in St. Barts with kids?
There are lots of fun things to do with kids on St Barts. You can spend the afternoon at one of the island's many beaches, looking for shells and sea creatures. You can hike along the shore. You can take a ride around the island in the Yellow Submarine. You can explore the Inter Oceans Museum, and you can explore the colorful streets and shops in Gustavia.
Which places provide the best tours in St. Barts for couples?
Boat charter companies can take you on snorkeling trips, or further offshore to explore the waters around St Barts. There is an ATV tour company that arranges caravan tours of the island on ATVs. We suggest you go in the morning when it’s the coolest. For the more intrepid adventurer, there are aerial tours of the island either by private plane or by helicopter.
Which places provide the most romantic tours in St. Barts?
Romance abounds on St Barts. Couples can enjoy a beachside dinner by candlelight at one of the island's many excellent restaurants, such as La Langouste or Bonito St Barth. You can walk along a secluded beach, such as Gouverneur Beach and have a picnic lunch. Or watch the sunset on Shell Beach, just steps away from the shops and restaurants of Gustavia.