An Island Girl’s guide to Gustavia, capital of St. Barth for the day
By The Traveling Island Girl on 7th April, 2016
St. Maarten resident and globetrotter Riselle, AKA the Traveling Island Girl shares her guide to Gustavia, the capital of the exquisite island of St. Barth.
©The Traveling Island Girl
Oh La La, St. Barth, payground of the rich and famous.
This beautiful French island lies in close proximity to St. Maarten, making it an ideal destination for a day trip. With the demand for St. Barth being quite high, especially around Christmas and New Year, there are several ferries leaving daily from different parts of St. Maarten. The reasons for visiting for the day are mostly the same; the ever so popular Plage de St. Jean, home to the infamous Nikki Beach, celebrity spotting and not to forget shopping, or at least window shopping if you’re like me and on a tight budget.
This time however I’ve decided to keep it simple. Actually I must be honest, my reason for visiting St. Barth was not only for pleasure this time, but rather I was accompanying my best friend to do some promo work for a big event. I am never one to pass on an opportunity to travel, no matter how short. It gives me the chance to document every single moment and recount it later on this blog. Being that we were on a mission we decided against renting a car or scooter and to stay in Gustavia.
Our adventure started one early Wednesday morning in December. The seas are always rough this time of the year and we were prepared. Both of us are quite prone to seasickness and we made sure to take some non-drowsy Dramamine an hour before the expected journey. The trip can take anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour depending where you board from. There are ferries leaving from Great Bay, Marigot, Pelican and Oyster Bay, this last one is the closest point to St. Barth.
BOARDING THE FERRY ©The Traveling Island Girl
The seas were super rough that day and plastic bags were distributed left and right. My friend and I, troopers that we are, stuck to what we know: stare at the horizon. It always works and before we knew it we were docking in Gustavia harbour.
ALMOST THERE ©The Traveling Island Girl
In all honesty, a day in St. Barth is enough if all you want to do is a little sightseeing and celebrity gawking, but to experience l’authentique St. Barth I encourage you to do a whole weekend or longer. If it’s a bit out of your budget range, visit in the summer when all the celebrities are gone and the population of St. Barth goes back to its normal 1,900 inhabitants. But back to our Gustavia Day Trip.
The capital of St. Barth is quite small but oh so beautiful, not to mention tranquil once you leave the busy main street. There are several things to do while in Gustavia. Here are my suggestions
Take a leisurely stroll around the town before anything else. Do some reconnaissance to get to know the area so you know where you need to be once it’s time for the trip back to St. Maarten. Familiarize yourself with all that Gustavia has to offer. It is full of little passageways and small streets. Grab a seat at one of the terraces or small cafés for a cuppa, list all the places of interest you want to visit and plan your day.
Stores like Chopard, Bulgari, Dior, Hermès and Cartier can all be seen lining up the main street of Gustavia, but what attracts me most when it comes to the shopping here are the little French boutiques selling everything from tunics and other beachwear to fashionable sandals and handmade jewelry. These are the stores I enjoy browsing when in St. Barth, probably for the Boho Chic fashion the French seem to love so much.
BULGARI STORE IN GUSTAVIA, ST. BARTH ©The Traveling Island Girl
Lunch à la Français
The French are known for their charm, passion and most of all their culinary skills. Gustavia is full of restaurants. Take your time to study the menus lined up outside on the sidewalks and pick the perfect place to sit down for a proper French lunch. Remember, you have all day. Take your time, order an appetizer before the main course, and a bottle of wine to go with it all. It’s not a race and besides, the boat isn’t leaving till 6pm.
French Island Architecture
The architecture in St. Barth is beautiful and walking is the best way to see all the historical buildings in and around the little town. Old churches, wooden houses, restored warehouses, all with an obvious story to tell. Make sure to take the time to admire it all. Get out of the tourist areas and explore the more local areas.
©The Traveling Island Girl
©The Traveling Island Girl
Joi de Vivre
By now it must be about 3 pm. Time to take this trip to another level. Walk over to Shell Beach and visit Do Brazil, a trendy beach restaurant, for a mojito and a dip in the crystal blue water. Don’t want to get your hair wet? No problem. I was quite content to just sit at the bar and take in the view. C’est magnifique!
Whether you’re a St. Maarten resident, a tourist or a potential visitor St. Barth is always a good idea. I myself am looking forward to my weekend stay on this charming island this summer. After all, that is when you experience the true St. Barth.
Have you visited St. Barth before? I’m curious to know; what was your favorite part of Gustavia?
In the meantime I am signing off. So many islands to visit and so little time. Until the next blog post. Thank you for reading.
For more information on The Traveling Island Girl and to check out her great blog, click on thetravelingislandgirl.com
Liked this guide to Gustavia and fancy some more travel inspiration? Check out The Wanderlust Effect’s guide to 24 hours in St. Barths!