> Destinations > St. Barts > Trip Reports > Trip Report
My wife and I just spent our 15th wedding anniversary in St Barth - and had a fantastic experience. It was our second trip to this beautiful and sexy island - but won't be our last. The weather in July was excellent - low 90's during the day, not overly humid, a few brief showers, scattered clouds. Really nice if you love the beach. Here is a summary of our activities and observations:
No surprises here - US Air got us to St Martin by 3pm as scheduled - but we had to wait in some long lines and came very close to missing the 4:15 Win Air flight into St Barts. Thankfully, the clerk at the Win Air ticket counter noticed us and saw the concern on our faces. She moved us up to the front of the line so we could make the flight. Our bags were over the official win air limit, but nobody said a thing about it. We had one large suitcase that weighed about 80 pounds and another "box" that contained our beach chairs and snorkeling equipment that weighed about 45 pounds. (We got some nice beach chairs on the web - and while it is sometimes a pain to box them and lug them to the airport, we always appreciate them when we are there. Chairs make it easier to sit on the beach, I think.)
The Win Air people seem so disorganized sometimes. But they kept assuring us that they were the "dependable" airline. A little generous, but whatever. When we got on the plane, the pilot announced that we weren't going directly to St Barts - but instead we were going to Anguilla first, then St Barts. It took about 6 minutes to get to Anguilla, where we picked up a couple of folks. Then, it was on to St Barts - about a 10 minute trip. But because we were the last ones to get on the plane, our luggage was still in St Martin. We were assured that it would arrive on the next trip over - and it did - at around 5:45. The extra time allowed us to see our villa with the ST Barth Properties representative and then go back to Match supermarket to buy some supplies: wine, cheese, sandwich meat, milk, beer and coffee.
For the second time, we used St Barth Properties, a first class operation. Kathy is an excellent representative who has helped us make good choices. This time, we had originally picked a villa in Pt Milou. But at the last minute, due to some construction nearby, Kathy thought it would be in our best interest to move to another, more quiet villa. We stayed at Mon Cheri - on Lurin. It is a new villa, well decorated with all the amenities one would hope to have. Tile floors, luxurious tile bathrooms, beautiful 4 poster beds with mosquito netting, beautiful terrace overlooking Gouverneur, well equipped kitchen, totally private deck and pool. The bedroom(s) open right onto the pool deck and patio. We spent much time on the patio - especially a night - drinking wine or scotch, reading, relaxing. (I had some cuban cigars that were exceptional). I brought some CDs from home and there was a great CD player at the villa. It was nice to be able to relax by the pool, with great music and great beverages after a long day and night in St Barts. The villa was totally secluded - no one could see us and we could see no one.
I had not previously considered Lurin as an ideal location - but it was perfect. From our location, we could drive to Gouveneur Beach in 3 minutes, Saline Beach in 5 minutes, Gustavia in 5 minutes and St Jean in about 6 minutes. Since these were the areas we liked the most - we found Lurin to be a most convenient location.
As much as we tried not to be "on a schedule," our activities were very predictable and we eased into a nice routine - got up around 8am each day, started the coffee maker, drove into Gustavia and got some fresh quiche from the bakery, ate breakfast by the pool (and read the english section of the daily "news" which consisted of about 5 headlines and a sentence below each headline), put on sunscreen, packed up our cooler, headed to either Saline or Gouveneur Beach from about 10am-12:30pm, went somewhere for lunch, came back to the villa to reorganize, went to the other beach for the afternoon 2pm-5pm, came back for a splash in the villa pool, took a nice long nap (5:30-7:30), had a great dinner and came back to the villa for some quiet time before going to bed around midnight or later. We took beer and water to the beach in the morning and took some wine in the afternoon. We would open the wine on the beach at around 4pm and maybe have a baguette with some cheese - we called it afternoon "social time" and found it to be a remarkably relaxing experience.perfect prelude to a long nap.
Both Gouveneur and Saline were spectacular. We spent a few minutes on St Jean beach, but it just can't measure up to these two. There were a good number of people on the beaches every day - especially in the afternoons. I was amazed to see so many children - local children mostly - frolicking around on Saline. One day, I counted more than 25 youngsters on the beach or in the water. The local St Barth teenagers seem to congregate at the far right side of Saline where the concrete barrier and rocks are. We found it amusing to see some younger kids fully naked in the water with their parents. It is such a culture shock to see mom, dad and little kid running around nude at the beach - but it didn't bother us. Speaking of nudity, I'd say the nude/clothed ratio on either beach was around 40 percent to 60 percent. Most all women were topless. Everyone was discreet and respectful - with the exception of this one couple on Saline (an older guy and a young, blonde, you can imagine.) who looked like they just got off a cruise ship. They were both stark naked - and she was laughing and giggling and splashing around trying to get as much attention as possible. Then, they started getting a little intimate - and at first seemed to enjoy the audience. But then they disappeared to the other side of the rocks. This spectacle was the exception, not the norm.
One other thing about Saline - someone has cut a hole in the fence where the gate is - and if you're small enough, you can climb through the hole and follow the path that leads to the far right side (looking toward the ocean) of the beach. So, if you want to be at that end and don't want to climb the rocky path, you can use the "short cut" route - at least until they repair the fence. We did this a couple of times and found it much less "work" than the rocky path route, although not nearly as spectacular.
Saturday - Le Ti - for dinner. The food was great, the atmosphere even better. We had 9:15 reservations and it was crowded. At some point, around 10:30 or 11, the DJ cranked up the disco music and people were dancing on the benches and tables. They played everything from Abba's Dancing Queen to Barry White's "You're My Everything" - and it was a very enjoyable time. We had two bottles of wine, salads and entres - and the total was about $110. We actually went back to Le Ti on the following Friday night but the crowd was smaller and we left around 11 - on this night, the dance music hadn't switched over to
dance by the time we left. We were tired the second night anyway, so it was fine.
Sunday - lunch at the Sand Bar at Eden Roc. I thought this was a rip off - My wife had a salad and I had some shrimp and pasta - one glass of wine and it was $67. Overpriced and not that good.
For dinner on Sunday, we had planned to go somewhere really nice - but learned that a lot of restaurants are closed on Sunday evening, esp in Gustavia. So we ended up at Andys Hideaway. What a fantastic little place! The goat cheese salad there is out of this world. My wife had a shrimp dish and I had a seafood plate that had everything from grilled snapper to scallops, a bottle of wine, dessert - and it came to just $72. The food was excellent - very tasty, well prepared. The service was outstanding. This wins my "best restaurant surprise" award.
Monday - lunch at Le Select. Cheeseburger in Paradise lives up to its reputation. Truly one of the best cheeseburgers I've ever had. Liked it so much, we came back for lunch on Friday. I just love the atmosphere of these little dives. Le Select has a great mixture of locals and tourists - and although you can tell which is which, this place captures the essence of laid back St Barts where everyone is just chilling out. Dinner was at Mayas - another really good place, in my opinion. Menu changes daily depending on what she gets fresh. Randy, Mayas husband, was a gracious host as he came to translate the menu for us. Unlike all the other restaurateurs, he was not French. We picked up on his lack of a French accent and figured him for a former banker from Pennsylvania who escaped the corporate world and found paradise. But he assured us that he was not from Penn, rather from Nantucket, and had not been "anything professional" before he moved to St Barts "many, many years ago" and married Maya - who is from the area, Martinique, I believe. Dinner at Mayas was $107, including a cocktail, several glasses of wine, two delicious seafood dishes and some dessert. Excellent fresh food, comfortable atmosphere.
Tuesday - lunch at Wall House. I had a fish burger with homemade tartar sauce, my wife had a nice soup and salad, plus some beer and wine - around $40. Worth it. I love this place. Overlooking the water in Gustavia, Wall House is very relaxing and the staff is excellent. Frank is the chef - a master in the kitchen. Dennis runs the front of the restaurant with charm and grace. He is a wonderful host who seems to really appreciate your business. (more on this in a minute)
Dinner was at La Languste - I wanted lobster. Grilled lobster there was good, but not outstanding. The waiter was not very friendly - seemed to have a little bit of a haughty attitude. The energy level here was very low and we were very tired when we left. The only thing interesting here was watching the lobsters in the tank as they struggled with one another, trying to position themselves as close to the bottom of the tank as possible so they wouldn't be the next on the grill. La Laguste was $117 total - with the lobster accounting for $50 of that.
Wednesday - lunch at La Piment, in St Jean. A little café with lots of personality and charm. We had Paninis (hot sandwiches) and fries. Excellent sandwich. $30 lunch. For dinner, we went back to the Wall House for what was the best dinner of the week: We started with martinis, then Dennis suggested an excellent rose. I had the lamb and my wife had a seafood dish - both were outstanding. She had an awesome salad and I ate the frog legs (a specialty of the house) for appetizers, we had coffees, dessert, rum, the whole thing - and it was $130. The food was outstanding - and Frank, the chef, came to our table to graciously receive our compliments. This place is an exceptional dining experience. Warm, charming, relaxed - it's easy to spend a couple hours here and enjoy every second. Highly recommended.
Thursday - breakfast out today, bad choice: La Plage. We had "continental breakfast - some breads and a piece of cantaloupe - for $14 each! Overpriced and not good. Lunch was on the beach, with a couple sandwiches from La Rotisserie. Dinner at La Gloriette - winner of the "best value" prize for the week. A Pina Colada, two great seafood entres, two fabulous salads (the goat cheese salad here is also outstanding) and some wine, coffee and dessert - for $72. La Gloriette is an understated place full of local character - we never met the owner but it was amazing to watch the two waitresses cover every table in the restaurant, without missing a beat. These gals really earned their money. It was the only restaurant where I felt compelled to leave an "additional tip."
Friday, as I said, was Le Select for lunch and back to Le Ti for dinner.
Driving on St Barts is so much fun. We had a Suzuki Jimny, from Budget for $168 for the week, a great value. One tank of gas lasted the whole week. And we drove A LOT. If you love driving, you will really get a thrill on the roads of this little island.
Shopping - we kept this to a minimum. Bought some shirts and hats for the children back home, I bought $100 in cuban cigars and smoked almost all of them there. My wife bought a handbag, a shirt and some lotions/perfume. I also bought a Panama hat. First one I picked up was $470. Quickly put it back down and went for the $75 version, which looked identical.
St Barts is a wonderful place for romance. For our anniversary, I gave my wife a three stone ring one evening at around 6:30pm on a blanket at Gouverneur Beach, with a bottle of chilled champagne. There was nobody else on the beach - it was very nice and romantic and memorable.
We will return.
Thanks to David for this trip report ...