St. Barthelemy is a taste of European chic in the tropical Caribbean. Affectionately known as St. Barts, this island is a French protectorate that combines the sophistication of Europe with a carefree island mentality. As a result, it has grown into a playground for the rich and famous, but remains affordable and accessible to everyday folks looking for a unique vacation experience. French flair is evident everywhere, from the boulangeries to the joie de vivre wafting in the air.
The island's top attractions and activities include:
-Beautiful beaches: Some of the world's most celebrated beaches are in St. Barts. Top visitor favorites include Shell Beach, Colombier Beach, Grande Saline Beach and the Toiny Coast. Whether you're on a St. Barts honeymoon or just enjoying a vacation, take in the sights and soak up the sunshine.
-Scuba diving: With some of the most scenic coastline in the entire Caribbean, St. Barts and scuba diving go hand-in-hand. The waters around the island are filled with blossoming reefs and tropical fish, making for a one-of-a-kind experience.
-Surfing: St. Barts is a surfer's paradise, but even novices can take advantage of the gentle waves that wash endlessly against the island's shore.
-Gustavia: The main city on the island is built along the resplendent coast, with quaint shops and striking Gallic architecture lining its streets. As part of its appeal to the world's elite, Gustavia is also home to many high-end retailers and gourmet restaurants, and St. Barts' spas are the stuff of modern legend.
-Sightseeing: The island of St. Barts is small and full of scenic roads. Car rentals are widely available and affordable, so pack your camera and take a day trip to experience the island's unique tropical beauty.
St. Barts' holidays are popular in winter; the island's annual Carnival is held in February, and Christmas and New Year's are celebrated with fervor. Bastille Day, a French national holiday, is also a sight to behold if you happen to be visiting in July.
Vacation rentals are ideal for a stay in St. Barts as they offer more privacy and comfort than the crowded hotels and tourist resorts. Villas and condos are widely available in all prices ranges throughout the island. If you want to explore the Caribbean further, St. Barts is a stone's throw from Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla and Saint Martin. Boat travel to these locations is easily facilitated from Gustavia.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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