WHY WE LOVE IT
- A mere eight square miles (with just 8,500 residents) awash in beautiful people and stunning small hotels and villas—making Saint Barthélemy (a.k.a. St. Barth, St. Barths, St. Barts and SBH) la plûs sexy of all the Caribbean islands.
- The highest-quality restaurants (more than 80!) and shops in the Caribbean—expect your plastic to get a workout.
- The waterfront capital, Gustavia, a study in chichi-cute.
- The gorgeous beaches, most of them topless (this being a laissez-faire French isle) and some bottomless too. No pressure, though!
- Superbe windsurfing, sailing, fishing and people-watching/yacht-spotting.
WHEN TO GO
High season begins in December (which is especially busy) and extends through April; rates go up accordingly. It’s quietest and least expensive in July and August. Low season, though, means more rain and the chance of hurricanes, as well as the closure of some restaurants and businesses (sometimes even hotels) for several months.
WHAT TO PACK
Bathing suits, polarized sunglasses, sunblock, camera, U.S. passport, binoculars (for birding). Generally, for all its chicness, St. Bart’s has a very unbuttoned style. Nonetheless, bring "smart casual" clothing for evenings; a handful of the fancier restaurants request that men wear long pants and, occasionally, jackets at dinner.
WHAT TO BUY
Designer clothes, lingerie, swimwear, sandals; rhum vanille (vanilla rum); Ligne St. Barth scents and lotions; duty-free French wines; lantana straw baskets.
GETTING MARRIED ON ST. BART’S
It’s a tough job, but at least one of you has to do it—that is, live on the island for not less than a month and 10 days before the wedding. You’ll need to present your passports; official birth-certificate copies dated at least three months before the wedding; and certificates attesting that you’re single, divorced or widowed, also notarized at least three months ahead. All these documents need to be translated into French by a certified translator. For more information, contact the on-island tourism office (see below) or the Gustavia town hall’s Registration Office (590-590-29-80-43). To arrange ceremonies at the Catholic churches in Gustavia or Lorient, call 590-590-27-95-38. For the Gustavia Anglican church, call 590-590-27-89-44.
Start by logging on at st-barth.info. By phone or in person, you can inquire at France on Call (514-288-1904) or the French Government Tourist Office/Maison de France (franceguide.com), with offices in New York (825 Third Ave., 29th floor; 212-838-7800) and Los Angeles (9454 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 210; 310-271-6665), which can provide free maps and brochures. You can also contact the on-island Office du Tourisme de St-Barthélemy (590-590-27-87-27 from outside the island; firstname.lastname@example.org). Other helpful Web sites include allostbarths.com, gotostbarths.com, sbhonline.com, saint-barths.com and stbarthweekly.com.