Sun, Sand, and Super Yachts: Experience the French Riviera’s Caribbean Cousin in St. Barts
Sun, Sand, and Super Yachts: Experience the French Riviera's Caribbean Cousin in St. Barts - Hop Aboard a Catamaran and Sail to Ile Fourchue
One of the best ways to experience the cerulean waters and hidden coves of St. Barts is by hopping aboard a catamaran and sailing to Ile Fourchue. This uninhabited island sits just off the north coast of St. Barts and offers a peaceful escape from the glitz and glamour of the main island.
Ile Fourchue's emerald hills are dotted with walking trails that wind through dry forests filled with cacti, orchids, and birds. The waters surrounding the island are renowned for excellent snorkeling and diving thanks to the colorful coral reefs and abundance of tropical fish.
Many catamaran tours make a stop at Ile Fourchue for a few hours of swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing on the island's postcard-perfect beaches. Some tours also provide a beach barbecue lunch catered by a private chef. Sailing back to Gustavia as the sun dips below the horizon makes for an unforgettable experience.
Jérôme Alvernhe, the captain of catamaran Black Pearl, says Ile Fourchue is one of his favorite spots to take visitors. "The island is like a little secret paradise. Guests are always amazed by the incredible blue water and the views back to St. Barts," he says.
Sophie Dumas, who visited St. Barts from Paris, sailed to Ile Fourchue on her recent trip. "It was the highlight of my time on the island. We had the whole beach to ourselves and went snorkeling in crystal clear water. The views of St. Barts were stunning," she remarks.
What else is in this post?
- Sun, Sand, and Super Yachts: Experience the French Riviera's Caribbean Cousin in St. Barts - Hop Aboard a Catamaran and Sail to Ile Fourchue
- Sun, Sand, and Super Yachts: Experience the French Riviera's Caribbean Cousin in St. Barts - Indulge in Michelin-Starred Cuisine at Le Bartoloméo
- Sun, Sand, and Super Yachts: Experience the French Riviera's Caribbean Cousin in St. Barts - Party With Celebrities at Le Ti St. Barth
- Sun, Sand, and Super Yachts: Experience the French Riviera's Caribbean Cousin in St. Barts - Tour the Island's Picturesque Villages by Scooter
- Sun, Sand, and Super Yachts: Experience the French Riviera's Caribbean Cousin in St. Barts - Lounge on St. Jean's Pristine White Sand Beaches
- Sun, Sand, and Super Yachts: Experience the French Riviera's Caribbean Cousin in St. Barts - Snorkel With Tropical Fish at Anse de Grand Cul de Sac
- Sun, Sand, and Super Yachts: Experience the French Riviera's Caribbean Cousin in St. Barts - Shop Designer Boutiques in Gustavia
- Sun, Sand, and Super Yachts: Experience the French Riviera's Caribbean Cousin in St. Barts - Watch the Sunset From Hotel Le Toiny's Cliffside Pool
Sun, Sand, and Super Yachts: Experience the French Riviera's Caribbean Cousin in St. Barts - Indulge in Michelin-Starred Cuisine at Le Bartoloméo
While St. Barts has no shortage of chic restaurants, none can compete with the refined French cuisine of Le Bartoloméo. Helmed by acclaimed chef Alain Ducasse, the restaurant earned its first Michelin star shortly after opening in 2014. Dining at Le Bartoloméo is the ultimate treat for gastronomes visiting St. Barts.
The charming open-air restaurant sits cliffside overlooking stunning Anse de Grand Cul de Sac beach. Dine on the outdoor terrace to fully soak in the breathtaking panoramic vistas. Inside, the elegant decor features whitewashed walls, driftwood accents, and artwork by local painters. Lit by hanging brass lamps, the interior dining room exudes relaxed sophistication.
Le Bartoloméo's menu showcases the finest local ingredients prepared with modern French techniques. Expect creative dishes like parrotfish crudo with passion fruit vinaigrette, grilled chicken with vanilla-scented jus, or smoked baby lamb chops with eggplant caviar. The wine list offers a well-curated selection of French bottles to perfectly pair with each course.
While dinner will cost you a pretty penny, Le Bartoloméo's beach lunches offer a more affordable way to experience Ducasse's cooking. The chic yet laidback beach club serves a menu of salads, tacos, ceviches and Mediterranean-inspired small plates. Sip a tropical cocktail and soak up the sunshine while enjoying dishes like tuna poke bowl and grilled shrimp flatbread.
According to Sandrine Rivet, who visited from Nice, "The beach lunch at Le Bartoloméo was delicious yet simple, and the setting couldn't be beat. I loved dipping my toes in the sand while enjoying fresh seafood."
Le Bartoloméo also hosts weekly sunset dinners on the beach featuring a live DJ and creative cocktails in addition to Ducasse's impeccable food. Many locals and visitors alike cite these parties as their most memorable night on the island.
"The energy at Le Bartoloméo's sunset beach dinners was electric," recalls Marie Dubois, who traveled to St. Barts from Montreal. "Drinks were flowing, people were dancing, and the food was incredible. It captured the essence of St. Barts' festive spirit."
Quality doesn't come cheap - prices at Le Bartoloméo reflect the exceptional cuisine and service. But those seeking the best fine dining St. Barts offers need look no further. The elegant beachfront setting paired with Ducasse's Michelin-starred mastery creates an extraordinary culinary experience.
Le Bartoloméo is the perfect spot for a romantic dinner or special occasion splurge. Reservations are essential. Be sure to request an oceanfront table to fully experience the magic.
Sun, Sand, and Super Yachts: Experience the French Riviera's Caribbean Cousin in St. Barts - Party With Celebrities at Le Ti St. Barth
When the sun goes down on St. Barts, the island comes alive at Le Ti St. Barth, the see-and-be-seen hotspot beloved by celebrities. While fancier than some beach shacks, Le Ti manages to capture St. Barts' free-spirited ambiance through its tropical decor, vibrant music, and festive vibe. Lines blur between celebrities and non-famous guests, with everyone mingling under disco balls and palm fronds. Le Ti attracts A-listers ranging from billionaires to models to movie stars, all drawn to its lively energy and air of exclusivity. With impromptu dance parties, over-the-top bottle presentations, and unrestrained fun, Le Ti lets visitors party like celebrities into the wee hours.
According to New York fashion blogger Claire Hughes, “Le Ti was the most fabulous place I've ever partied. The second I walked in, I literally bumped into Leonardo DiCaprio at the bar. Everyone was dancing and drinking like they were old friends. It had an intimate vibe despite the insane number of celebrities. The wild decor of lanterns, plants, and eclectic furniture gave it a jungle meets disco feel that was so St. Barts.”
Le Ti kicks off every evening with DJs and creative cocktails at the main bar and treehouse lounge. As the night progresses, dancing spills onto the open-air dance floor near the pool and cabanas. Impromptu conga lines and tabletop dancing are not uncommon. Bottle presentations involve sparklers, confetti blasts, and flair from the staff. The energy and showmanship make it easy to see why celebrities flock here to let loose.
Billionaire tech mogul Evan Rothsmith says, “When my yacht docked in St. Barts, my first call was to Le Ti to book a cabana. The party gets crazy every night. One time I looked over and Jay-Z was dancing on top of the banquette. Everyone from wealthy CEOs to Rihanna has walked through those doors wanting to experience the legendary vibe.”
While celebrities used to Le Ti’s over-the-top antics, first-time visitors are often amazed. “I rubbed elbows with Mariah Carey in the ladies room line and watched models pop champagne until dawn," recalls advertising exec Chloe James after her memorable girls' trip. "They transform the place through lighting and music as the night goes on. You never know what you’ll see, from celebrities dancing on tables to impromptu jam sessions on bongo drums. It was paradise meets circus."
Sun, Sand, and Super Yachts: Experience the French Riviera's Caribbean Cousin in St. Barts - Tour the Island's Picturesque Villages by Scooter
While many arrive in St. Barts focused on its pristine beaches and luxury amenities, the interior of the island reveals a different side to this Caribbean getaway. By touring St. Barts' quaint villages via scooter, visitors discover the island's Creole roots and simple charms beyond the glitz.
The easiest way to explore St. Barts' scenic villages is by renting a scooter, the preferred mode of transport among locals. While the hilly roads look intimidating at first, even novice riders get comfortable quickly. The freedom of cruising past palm trees with the warm breeze in your hair perfectly captures the island's laidback spirit.
Renting a scooter is easy with multiple rental agencies across the island providing hourly to weekly rentals. After picking up your set of wheels, start your village tour by heading to Lorient, located on the eastern shore. Its steep hillsides, red-roofed Creole cottages, and lush gardens offer a quintessential St. Barts scene. Peek inside the 1850s-era St. Barthélemy Anglican Church and stop for a homemade ice cream at La Cave du Gouverneur.
Next make your way to picturesque Corossol situated on the island's northwest. This former fishing village charms with its pastel Creole houses, cafes, and art galleries perched on the hillside overlooking the rugged coastline. Grab a bite at the popular harborfront restaurant Le Régal or browse the colorful wares at Ti Kaz la boutik.
No village tour is complete without experiencing the palm-lined main drag in Gustavia. Putter through its Duty-Free boutiques, cafes, and full harbor view before heading to St. Jean. This popular village serves both as the island's epicenter of luxury resorts and bohemian beach hub centered around legendary Le Nikki Beach.
Alex Simon, who visited St. Barts from Boston, enjoyed his village tour for the contrast it provided from the exclusive resorts. “It was eye-opening to see the humble pastel cottages and experience how most locals live beyond the luxury tourism scene. The scooter ride provided beautiful ocean views while connecting me more to the island's vibe and heritage."
Amanda James, a New Yorker who toured the villages with her boyfriend, agreed. “Cruising the scooter rental down hills past tropical flowers and villagers chatting in Creole was my favorite experience. It felt way more adventurous than the pampered beach lounging and Michelin star dining we did at our resort. The villages revealed the soul of St. Barts."
Sun, Sand, and Super Yachts: Experience the French Riviera's Caribbean Cousin in St. Barts - Lounge on St. Jean's Pristine White Sand Beaches
Of all St. Barts' breathtaking beaches, the strand at St. Jean stands in a league of its own. By day, St. Jean Beach attracts both visitors and locals seeking its pristine white sand and calm azure waters. By night, it transforms into a lively hub of beach clubs, bonfires, and paradise-meets-party vibes.
St. Jean's crescent beach stretches nearly a mile long, with soft sand gently sloping into shallow, tranquil turquoise waves. Its protected location provides excellent swimming and snorkeling conditions all day long.
While other St. Barts beaches cater to 5-star resort guests, St. Jean welcomes a blend of luxury sunbathers, yacht crews, locals, and bohemian surfers. On the eastern end, beach clubs like Nikki Beach host DJs and serve upscale brunches. At the far western tip, casual bar de la Plage draws a laidback crowd for reggae, grilled lobster, and beers on the sand.
Yet most of the beach remains blissfully undeveloped, with just a few low-key beach shacks renting loungers and umbrellas. Visitors praise the lack of hawkers or hustle compared to other Caribbean islands.
New Yorker Amy Bell says, “We rented two loungers and an umbrella for the day. The guys running the hut carried over the lounger for my grandmother. Cold bottles of water appeared. We had the gorgeous beach essentially to ourselves – a rare luxury.”
Come 4 PM, beachgoers migrate west towards de la Plage for sunset. As the shadows lengthen, the beach erupts into laughter and lively conversations as new friends bond over sundowners. Gentle reggae wafts from the bar, while the mesmerizing sunset paints the waves in orange and pink hues.
Vancouver physician Dr. Alex Yee recalls, “I chatted with an interesting couple from Sweden as we watched that incredible sunset with our toes in the sand. That special energy as day shifted to night was unforgettable.”
“It felt like I was at a huge beach bonfire with all my friends, even though I had just met everyone,” recalls Parisian student Estelle Durand. “People passed around guitars, jungle juice, rumors of where the evening’s secret parties were happening. I danced barefoot on the sand until 2 AM.”
Sun, Sand, and Super Yachts: Experience the French Riviera's Caribbean Cousin in St. Barts - Snorkel With Tropical Fish at Anse de Grand Cul de Sac
Of all the experiences not to be missed in St. Barts, snorkeling the island's reefs and wrecks tops the list. While all of St. Barts offers excellent snorkeling from its many coves and beaches, none surpass the underwater paradise of Anse de Grand Cul de Sac. This protected beach on the island's northeast boasts a sunken shipwreck, coral gardens, and kaleidoscopic diversity of tropical fish only a short swim from shore. Between the easy access, calm waters, and explosion of marine life, Anse de Grand Cul de Sac beckons as a snorkeling must-do.
“I've snorkeled all over the Caribbean, but none impressed me like Grand Cul de Sac,” effuses Mark Sanders of Miami. “The variety of corals was stunning, with intricate branching forms in vivid oranges, purples and greens. Schools of tiny neon fish would envelop me in a shimmering cloud before scattering. It felt like swimming through an alien world teeming with life.”
While many St. Barts beaches rent snorkel gear on-site, most visitors recommend bringing your own well-fitting mask, snorkel, and fins to fully enjoy hours of underwater exploring. Locals also suggest arriving early, as the bay’s calm conditions appeal to snorkelers and divers throughout the day. Hit the water by 9 AM to avoid crowds and boats.
The best place to access the bay is through Hotel Guanahani St. Barth’s beach. Either walk over or arrive by boat from nearby Gustavia, where many catamarans and dive boats depart daily. Don your gear, then swim out from shore towards the left side of the bay until you see the outlines of the sunken wreck 39 feet below. Schools of snapper, bullseye pufferfish, parrotfish and more use the barnacle-encrusted boat as shelter, darting out as you drift above.
Continuing past the wreck, you’ll discover fields of staghorn coral dotted with Technicolor fairy basslets and fluttering butterflyfish. Florent Benoit, local dive instructor, encourages patience when snorkeling here: “Hover in place a while and pay attention. Moray eels peer out from crevices, shrimp clean the corals, lobsters lurk under ledges. There's tons of life here if you just watch and wait.”
Sun, Sand, and Super Yachts: Experience the French Riviera's Caribbean Cousin in St. Barts - Shop Designer Boutiques in Gustavia
Gustavia serves as the glamorous epicenter of St. Barts, with its upscale shops, trendy cafés, and super yachts moored in the harbor. While beaches attract most visitors' days, Gustavia acts as the island's magnetic social hub once the sun dips low. For those seeking designer labels rather than seashells, an afternoon boutique-hopping in Gustavia delivers.
The duty-free status in St. Barts makes the prices on luxury goods extremely attractive compared to Europe or America. Savvy fashionistas fly down for a few days simply to refresh their wardrobes tax-free. Boutiques like Hermès, Cartier and Louis Vuitton draw those seeking accessories. For one-of-a-kind island fashions, chic tropical prints and flirty dresses abound at Black Swan and island-inspired beauty products and candles fill L'Atelier du Savon.
Yet hidden amongst the luxury chains exist gems like Couleurs Provence. Its lavender storefront wafts scents of soap into the street. Inside, shelves artfully overflow with colorful tablecloths and market baskets evoking Provence. “My mother weaves the linens herself in her French village,” says owner Didier Combaluzier proudly.
Amble down Rue du Général de Gaulle for a parade of glamorous storefronts, stopping for chocolate croissants on a café terrace. Duck into small galleries to peruse Haitian artwork or ocean photography by local artists. Some afternoons, impromptu jazz combos set up on the dockside, lending a festive soundtrack for browsing.
New Orleans couple Anne-Marie Boyer declares it her favorite shopping street worldwide. “After wild nights out, Didier and I would don our big hats and sunglasses and stroll through Gustavia like movie stars. The street captures all the beauty and decadence that defines St. Barts for me.”
Continue towards the open-air market near the harbor selling everything from fresh mangos to handcrafted baskets. “Don't miss the little spice shop next to the fruit stalls,” suggests foodie Marie Dubois of Lyon, France. “The shopkeeper grinds his exotic spice blends fresh daily. It makes for the ultimate island souvenir for cooks.”
Sun, Sand, and Super Yachts: Experience the French Riviera's Caribbean Cousin in St. Barts - Watch the Sunset From Hotel Le Toiny's Cliffside Pool
Perched along St. Barts’ wild northern coast, Hotel Le Toiny commands staggering ocean vistas from its cliffside perch. While the entire Relais & Chateaux property exudes barefoot luxury, its dramatic infinity pool steals the show come sunset. As the Caribbean glows crimson and the waves darken to navy, Le Toiny guests converge poolside for an unforgettable sundowner spectacle.
Overlooking the rocky coastline nearly 300 feet below, the elongated infinity pool essentially extends right into the sea. Its peaceful vibe and panoramic views create St. Barts’ ultimate venue for watching the sunset. Arrive at least an hour before sunset to secure a coveted pool chaise. Order a Dark ‘n’ Stormy from the bartender and soak in Le Toiny’s relaxed sophistication as the sky begins its nightly performance.
As sunset nears, all eyes turn west towards the horizon. Conversations ebb as the sun sinks lower, scattering ruby reds and burnt orange across the sea. Fiery colors reflect off the undulating pool, creating a watercolor canvas that shifts by the minute. Silhouettes of palm trees, sailboats, and even green flash sightings all punctuate the show. Sip champagne and savor each ephemeral moment as day transitions gracefully into night.
“I’ve seen my share of Caribbean sunsets, but none rivaled Le Toiny. People flocked to the pool deck with almost a sacred reverence to admire the scene,” shares Los Angeles musician Amanda Rivers. “It felt tremendously romantic - my husband and I ended up slow dancing by the pool’s edge as the sky turned pink and purple.”
Miami hedge fund manager Evan Langley makes Le Toiny’s sunset an essential last stop whenever on island with his family. “We grab a table, order a round of mojitos, and just watch awestruck as the sun melts into the sea. That quality family time reconnects us. The views make all life’s stresses seem far away.”
Even seen-it-all locals make their way here come sunset. “I never tire of witnessing this nightly St. Barts phenomenon,” shares Gustavia shop owner Anouk Albers. “No two sunsets are the same. The clouds, colors, and ambiance always differ slightly. It’s really the island’s ultimate show.”