Gorgeous St Barts is known for its uber-luxurious resorts, yacht-dotted turquoise bays, fine white sands, designer shops and its heady mix of French sophistication combined with a laid-back Caribbean ambiance.
Officially known as Saint Barthelemy, it’s located in the southeast of the Caribbean and once belonged to both England and Sweden but is primarily a French Colony.
From gardens filled with pretty hibiscus and frangipanis to incredible diving and snorkeling spots, here are the best and most beautiful places to visit in St Barts…
1. Gustavia – the main town and gorgeous capital of the island
St Barts tours begin with its capital, Gustavia. One of the most beautiful places to visit in St Barts, the small port town is known for its chic boutiques, duty-free shops, and fine island cuisine restaurants.
No wonder Gustavia is called a paradise for millionaires! The town is where you can find the latest fashion collections, luxurious jewelry, and expensive watches.
If shopping isn’t your thing, go sightseeing.
The capital of the island, owned by Sweden from 1784 to 1878, retains the echoes of bygone eras: the old city hall, the Swedish bell tower, the ruins of a Lutheran church destroyed by a cyclone, and the fortifications of Fort Gustav. After wandering the streets of charming Gustavia, don’t hesitate to visit one of its museums or galleries.
2. Colombier Beach – the most famous snorkeling spot on the island
You’ll need to rent a yacht or a boat to get to Colombier Beach with utmost comfort. But if you’re looking for ultimate impressions, choose a narrow path across rocks.
It lies through the highest hill of the island offering breathtaking views of Petite Anse. 20 minutes of hiking and you’ll reach your destination – a beautiful, large, and solitaire beach.
Colombier is an ideal spot for snorkeling (you have to take everything with you as there is no rental service). Want to see sea turtles, rays, or starfish? Then Colombier is the place to go. It is also known as Rockefeller beach since the Rockefeller family once owned a villa here.
3. Lorient – one of the oldest villages to explore in St Barts
Thanks to the reef that separates the beach from the open sea and protects it from strong currents, Lorient is perfect for swimming.
The beach provides a spectacular view of the reef and clusters of tiny fishing boats. Surprisingly, this heavenly place still remains a secret to many beach-goers.
Instead, the unspoiled beach is a favorite spot for surfers. Just outside the reef, the waves get bigger lending themselves well to surfing practice.
White sand, the whisper of waves, and a colorful surf school building will leave the fondest memories of your holiday.
4. Anse de Grande Saline – a tranquil beauty spot
Sandwiched between two other beaches, Anse de Grande Saline, or shortly Saline Beach, lies at the southern coast of St. Barts. Rocks towering at the edges of the bay protect the beach from winds and prying eyes. Anse de Grande Saline has a reputation as the most unspoiled beach in the Caribbean.
Indeed, the strip of white sand isn’t affected by civilization. You won’t find cafes or bars here; sunbeds and canopies are nowhere to be found either, so take an umbrella with you.
Don’t be surprised if fellow beachgoers decide to part with their bikinis. Officially, there are no nudist beaches in St. Barts but Saline Beach is a safe place for those enjoying sunbathing in the birthday suit.
5. Anse des Flamands – a stunning and quiet place to visit in St Barts
The island’s largest beach, Anse des Flamands, boasts white sand, a nice choice of gastronomic delights, and a magnificent view of Ile Chevreau, one of the many satellite islands.
Flamands is home to the luxury Saint-Barth Isle De France and Taiwana hotels, as well as a couple of restaurants serving mouth-watering French cuisine.
The beach is ideal for leisurely pastimes and outdoor activities. Its waves are a lure for bodyboard and skimboard enthusiasts. If you spend your vacation with children, Anse des Flamands is not the most welcoming place due to strong winds and huge waves.
6. Piscines Naturelles – a unique tourist attraction to explore in St Barts
Looking for a mesmerizing location for photoshoots? Then drive to the rocky Grand Fond beach. Follow the path along the fields dotted with cows until you come across a large rock. A small, almost inconspicuous path through boulders will lead you to Piscines Naturelles, natural pools.
The challenging hike will take 15-20 minutes but it is absolutely worth it. The trail lends stunning sea views on the left and picturesque mountains on the right. If you’re lucky, you can even bump into mountain goats. The trail ends with a sharp descent – get ready to climb down on all fours.
In the end, you will be rewarded with fantastic, out-of-this-world views and two natural pools. Swim, take photos and don’t forget to watch your step because sea urchins are everywhere!
7. Saint Jean beach – the island’s most popular beach
Saint Jean beach is an amalgamation of nature and civilization and one of the best spots to explore in beautiful St Barts. On the one hand, it lets you enjoy the soft white sand and majestic waves.
On the other hand, the beach runs into the runway of the local airport. Take a lounger at one of the restaurants, get a cocktail, and watch light aircraft taking off and landing.
When you get tired of plane watching, you might want to join the ranks of windsurfing enthusiasts. The winds of St-Jean are favorable for water activities. The beach accommodates a variety of clubs and schools offering equipment and lessons for beginners.
8. Grand Cul de Sac Beach – one of the best spots to visit in St Barts
Of more than 20 beaches in Saint Barthélemy, the most crowded is perhaps Grand Cul de Sac. If you like combining beach holidays with shopping and fine dining, the beach has got you covered.
It offers a huge selection of shops, restaurants, and bars. Located in the western part of the island, Grand Cul de Sac benefits from a sheltered lagoon providing warm, calm, and almost wave-less waters.
The paradise on earth will please families with kids and water sports enthusiasts alike. Numerous aquatic centers offer boat trips, kayaking, and snorkeling. Crystal-clear water and schools of vibrant fish transform the coastal waters into a real aquarium.
9. Toiny Coast – a unique and hidden gem to visit on St Barts
Located on the southeast side of Saint Barts, Toiny Coast is a secluded stretch of coast. You’ll have to break into a sweat to reach it.
A thirty-minute up-and-down hide across a rocky terrain requires some determination and good hiking boots. But don’t worry, the breathtaking views will enthrall you as you approach the beach.
Framed by rolling hills, Toiny is one of the most popular surfing spots.
However, if you’re lucky, you won’t meet a single person here. Toiny isn’t the best place for swimming – the waves are too strong. But if you enjoy watching ocean views in solitude, Toiny Coast is a must-visit.
10. Morne du Vitet – the highest point of Saint Barthélemy
If you only have one day on the island, spend it climbing the 286-meter peak of Morne de Vitet, the highest point of Saint Barts. The gentle east and north slopes are dotted with charming huts and designer villas.
Choosing the steeper southern and western slopes, you’ll enter the kingdom of rainforest and mountain goats.
The top of the rock opens fantastic panoramic views of Saint Barts and the many islets surrounding it. Here, you can watch the Atlantic meets the Caribbean Sea. Don’t leave early as this is the greatest spot to admire sunsets.
11. Saint Barthelemy Natural Reserve – a beautiful protected area in St Barts
The marine nature of St. Barts is gorgeous but also fragile and vulnerable. Fortunately, local environmental awareness is at a fairly high level.
In 1996, the coastal waters were declared a protected area, and three years later, the island established its single Natural Reserve.
Covering over 1,000 hectares of a protected area, the reserve is divided into five zones, one of which is for scientific research only. The best diving spots lie within the boundaries marked with white buoys. Grab a mask and flippers to watch turtles, spotted rays, reef sharks, as well as stunning corals.
12. Shell Beach – a beach known for its unusual amounts of seashells
The only beach in Gustavia stands out from the crowd. While its counterparts are strewn with white sand, Shell Beach leaves up to its name and offers the natural flooring of small seashells.
The beach is a great place for a low-budget vacation especially for those coming by catamaran or boat for a day or two. It is also the ‘chastest’ beach in Saint Barts because it has no nudists.
The pacifying and windless stretch of the coast creates the best conditions for swimming and sailing In winter, tourists flock here to witness magical sunsets – a truly stunning destination to explore in St Barts.
13. Fort Karl – a popular tourist attraction on St Barts
One of the three forts built during the reign of Sweden is conveniently located next to Shell Beach. Named after the brother of Swedish King Gustav III, Fort Karl was erected in 1789 to protect the southern side of the island from invaders.
Today, little remains of the grandeur this fortification once had – only the ruins of a powder store and a battery.
The cannons that complete the picture have no historical value – after all, carbon fibre did not exist in the 18th century. But the fort’s site is great for admiring the beauty of Gustavia.
A 29-meter hill accommodating the fort features an observation platform that provides majestic views of St. Barts’ capital.
14. Île Fourchue – an untouched and unspoilt small island
Alluring with its seclusion and unique nature, Île Fourche is located northwest of Saint Barts. The island is a magnet for divers. Not-so-deep (only 15 meters) and crystal clear waters provide world-class diving and wildlife watching too.
Colourful reef fish, stingrays, barracudas, and the unspoiled underwater world are the reasons to hire a boat or rent a kayak.
The cherry on top is sea turtles circling in a bewitching dance. The island itself boasts flora contrasting with the rainforest of Saint Barts. Grab a cap, some water, and stout shoes and go to explore the island’s hidden places.
15. Corossol – a beach with harbors dozens of colorful fishing boats
Corossol is one of the few places in St. Barts that hasn’t lost its authenticity. If you had enough of posh villas, the quiet fishing village will offer a breath of fresh air.
This is the place to go if you want to learn the history of crafts, and centuries-old traditions.
Corossol will meet your needs for the freshest fish or hats made of coconut leaves. The range of sights is not particularly impressive – houses featuring vibrant facades, an old church, and a Seashell Museum – but everything is so lovely.
The village is adjacent to the beach of the same name. A nice view of Fort Gustav and planes almost touching the hill won’t leave you cold.
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Gaby Maia – writer and photographer
Born and raised in Brazil, Gaby has always had a taste for the intriguing, the off-beat and the far flung. After traveling around most of South America, living in Spain and Italy and then moving to England, her feet have stayed continually twitchy. Studying for a degree in Spanish translation and then learning five more languages only poured more fuel onto her traveling ardor. Gaby likes nothing better than discovering new destinations in her spare time and meeting the locals, tasting the cuisine and then writing about her favourite places. Her other indulgences include French cinema, boxing, photography, colourful manicures and soaking up the rays on a sun-infused beach. The places she loves the most include Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Turkey, Barcelona, Lisbon and Cornwall. Find Gaby on Linkedin or Twitter.