What do you get when you mix a little Beverly Hills with a little Caribbean island? St. Barthélemy,  known as St. Barth to the French and St. Barts to Americans. No matter what you call it, it’s indisputably the posh headquarters of the Caribbean. Although it’s known for being a French locale, the capital town of Gustavia actually has Swedish origins.

This travel writer arrived in St. Barths by cruise ship tender  – a perfect crescendo of anticipation along the gleaming sea to the port. Super yachts in view also helped define the glamor of this tropical haven. Although it is said that St. Barts is where “the billionaires go to get away from the millionaires,” there are many polite, friendly locals who dispel that image. Every shop you enter, you’re greeted with a heartfelt “Bonjour!” and the merchants at even the highest end shops are happy to help you.

Designer label stores define the shopping area, along with local boutiques showcasing trendy and whimsical wares. You instantly become a part of the vibe of all things posh in St. Barts. Patisseries, creperies and cafes adorn the sidewalks, as well as a modest tavern or two. Find the perfect spot in the shade after some time on the beach, or visit a wine cellar, like the Lounge Barons de Rothschilds. A spoonful of caviar with a chilled glass of white wine or champagne is the ultimate way to relax and absorb the joie de vive of the locals. The winery and restaurant owners can give a delightful “tutorial” on your wine or caviar choices.

Spend time on the white, sandy beaches, or better yet visit, on Shell Beach. The tiny, smooth shells are entrancing to look at and step on as you enter the most buoyant water that keeps you constantly afloat. The cove set within its boulders is magical. Cactus trees growing on the boulders where goats perch is quite the tableau for the sunbathers below. A profusion of tiny, yellow butterflies emerges from the boulder while iguanas slither in and out of crevices. 

Just as you’re reveling in all the natural beauty, you’ll start to notice the beauty of the people, too. Schoolchildren with their teachers carry kayaks out onto the beach for a field trip. Angelic faces astound you as they walk hand in hand across the street following their guides. 

St. Barts is not only a playground for the glitterati but it’s also where New Year’s Eve is celebrated in grand style. The extravagant vessels in the marina prove this exclusivity. 

One of the reasons why St. Barts is so popular is because of the water, which is considered perfect for sailing. With more than 300 sunny days a year, the island offers several beaches along less than eight square miles of land. The crystalline, turquoise waters are inviting for snorkeling or swimming. Even in November, the water is walk-in ready temperature.

Amble through the streets to enjoy the neighborhoods and architecture. Do some people-watching, buy exotic cigars, and let the magic of St. Barts sink into your spirit. You’ll soon be planning your next vacation there – whether it’s a couples getaway, friends trip or solitary retreat. The island is also known as an idyllic honeymoon destination. No matter what the reason to visit – just do it!

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