Whether you hit St Barts in search of cocktails and partying, French cuisine and refined luxury, pure and unadulterated romance or just to experience the natural wonders this handsome corner of the Caribbean has to offer, it’s likely you’ll be spending the bulk of your time on the beaches!
To help you discover the best seaside spots on the island, we’ve put together a menu of our favourites and identified who we think will love them the most, going from hedonistic St Jean to the untrodden wilds and windswept cliffs of Colombier Beach. Enjoy…
St Jean Beach – best for party people
Cleft in two by the uber-luxurious Eden Rock Hotel and Spa, St Jean Beach remains the most iconic on the entire island. Nestled on their own eponymous bay of shimmering, scintillating Caribbean waters, the dual arches of sparkling white sand that form the beach come fringed with a few, but quite fun and famous, beach bars. These bustle with midday cocktail drinkers and offer prime people watching set to the lapping sounds of the waves. Nikki Beach is perfect for those lunchtime tipples and boogies, while La Plage takes over later on in a medley of Moet and heady tunes.
Gouverneur Beach – best for pure relaxation
A handsome stretch of ivory-white powder that sits nestled between two rugged and rocky promontories on the south side of the island, Gouverneur is certainly one of the best beaches for those who just want to kick back and relax while vacationing in St Barts. Visitors emerge onto the sands from an flower-fringed walkway to discover a shoreline washed over by frothy Caribbean waves. The exclusive villa of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich hides in the trees behind, while snorkelers case out the shoreline and nude sunbathers can often be joined at the western end of the beach. There’s a distinct lack of developments and bars here, with no rowdy cocktail drinkers to break the soothing sounds of the ocean.
Lorient Beach – best for surfers and families
A long curve of yellow sand that slopes its way gently down to the rollers of the Caribbean Sea, Lorient is a regular favorite amongst families and surfers alike. It’s got easy access and fine sunbathing spots aplenty, while one reliable reef break makes for some great wave riding just a stone’s throw from the water’s edge. What’s more, the sporadic thickets of blooming date palms at the back of the beach offer just enough shade and a picturesque line of greenery, and there’s an interesting and charming Catholic Church perched neatly on the hillsides between the red-tiled roofs and sun-splashed verandas of the luxurious villas nearby.
Grand Cul de Sac Beach – best for luxury seekers
Visitors experience the Francophone refinement of St Barts at its best on the C-shaped bend of palm-lined sand that is Grand Cul de Sac, found sat on its own shallow lagoon on the far north-eastern edge of the island. Isolated from the much-trodden beaches closer to Gustavia and St Jean, this one’s windswept shoreline comes dotted with bobbing fishing boats and the occasional windsurf rental. However, the real pull here has to be the exclusive restaurants and bars, like Le Sereno and its fresh menu of Mediterranean dishes inspired by the flavours of Como and the Italian Alps: saffron sea scallops; Piedmont vitello tonnato; tagliolini with crab. Oh, and then there’s al fresco L’Indigo on the edge of the beach at the Guanahani hotel, where Carib-come-European flavours meet bitter rum cocktails straight out of Jamaica!
Saline Beach – best for romantics
The undisputed jewel of the south coast, Saline Beach is a wide stretch of sloping sand that sits hidden behind a wall of undulating dunes and coastal escarpments of vine-clad rock. Empty and unspoilt, there are no buildings crowding the shoreline here and many sunbathers adopt the French fashion of going nude. The shore waters are often deserted and offer an exhilarating swimming experience, while the western end of the beach is a favourite of gay couples and lovers eager to catch the sunset and the play of light on the cliffs and Caribbean waters in the evening. Towards the eastern end of the beach, the cliffs cascade down into the water and create a smaller add-on cove; perfect for honeymooners in search of St Bart’s fabled romantic side.
Flamands Beach – best for sunbathers
Soft sands and the relaxing sounds of crashing surf are what characterise this paradisiacal run of pearly-white powder on the far north-western tip of the island. Sunbathers come to crash here and soak in the Caribbean warmth, flitting between the hotter spots closer to the water’s edge and the shaded areas under the shadow of swaying palm boughs to the back of the beach. The Caribbean rollers are always at hand for those who want to cool off, and when lunchtime comes around, the refined cabanas and loungers of Cheval Blanc’s La Case de L’Isle beckon, along with a French menu curated by acclaimed Chef Yann Vinsot and oodles of champagnes and Bordeaux whites to boot!
Colombier Beach – best for nature lovers
Colombier Beach is arguably the most secluded and untrodden in all of St Barts. It arches its way around the westernmost peninsula of the island, commanding sweeping views of the Caribbean horizon, dotted and peppered with the sparkling outlines of yachts and fishing boats. To get here, visitors will need to don walking shoes and scramble over the pebbly trails that crisscross the cliffs behind the beach. The walk takes around 20 minutes and plunges through blooming bushes of bougainvillea, groves of spikey cacti and waxy plantain trees before emerging onto the boulder-strewn beachfront itself. Once there, visitors can spot sea turtles floundering in the shore waters and hike to the tips of chiselled cliffs for some seriously breathtaking panoramas of the sea.
Have you got your own favourite St Barts beach? Perhaps we’ve missed one of the best spots on the island? Leave a comment and let us know about the sands you love between the mangroves, sea grapes and leaning palms of this glorious Caribbean exclave!