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Saint Barthelemy (a.k.a. St. Barts) is a French island attracting discerning high end travelers and stars. It offers beautiful beaches, fine dining, great partying, as well as duty free shopping. All-nude sunbathing on some beaches, holding hands with your partner and getting married as a same-sex couple are OK here. I am not sure that there is a real “Gay St Barts”: Gay tourists are welcome everywhere and gay locals like me just blend into the diverse mix that the island of Saint Barthélemy is today. LGBT celebrities come here quite often: Ricky Martin workout out in speedos with his boyfriend at Saline beach and Marc Jacobs got married here in 2010. A lot of French, Italian and American fashion designers visit the island annually. And less famous, but still great, gay men like you and me also happen to be here too. Let’s just say that locals are used to welcoming gay men from all walks of life.
The Gay scene in St Barts: None, but it’s a Good ThingThere is no gay scene per se, but you will see plenty of gay couples in driving around in convertible Minis, gay men doing some good old all-nude sunbathing in Saline beach, groups of ale friends partying at Le Ti St Barth or at Modjo’s and much more. Most visitors to St Barths rent a villa, so be ready to get an invitation to attend a villa party. La Cantina, the little bar on the port of Gustavia, is gay-owned, but it welcomes everyone. Similarly, a clothing store like Le Pasha is also gay-owned and sells swimsuit, underwear, perfume brands that gay men like, but it really caters to all kinds of men. The left and right sides of Saline beach are where you are sure to meet gay men. If there was such a thing as gay St Barts, Saline would be its capital city. Some nude, some clothes. This beach actually welcomes everyone, from straight families with kids to groups of gay friends. If you are going naked, just stick to the sides. No all naked men are gays, beware! Just like topless sunbathing is totally OK for women, swimming naked is practiced by straight men too 😉 This is what I like about St Barths: It is so gay-friendly that it does not to have a gay scene. You are welcome everywhere. Gay Caribbean resorts have nothing on St Barts: The whole island often feels like a gigantic gay-friendly resort 😉 There is a big gay Caribbean cruise that stops here, but this is about it, as St Barts is more into luxury yachts than into cruise ships.
Gay dating in St Barts: Villa Parties & Phone AppsMost gay visitors that I see here are coming as a couple or with a group of friends. There not many single gay men coming to St Barths on their own. True, it is very easy to socialize at the beach or at a restaurant, and people invite you to their villa quite often. Pool parties are great to meet people, bring a swimsuit and a bottle of champagne. If you live like me on the island, it is actually pretty hard to find a life partner. However, I have been told that dating (and hooking up) was mostly done using apps such as Grindr, Scruff and GayRomeo. And some hotel staff have been known to very welcoming to passing travelers. Not that I would know anything about it!
Gay Legal Rights: No DiscriminationFrench laws apply here and in practice people are very open-minded (They’ve been seeing celebrities for years and could not care less about their shenanigans). For instance:
- Same-sex weddings are legal in France, so they are legal in St Barths too (Foreign visitors can get married here too, provided they’ve been staying on the island for at least 30 days)
- Since 1985, national legislation prohibits sexual orientation based discrimination in employment and housing So, as a gay traveler, just know what the law is on your side. There are jerks everywhere, but in St Barts you are free to a have romantic dinner with your boyfriend without anyone batting an eyelid.
Gay-friendly AccommodationsAgain, it would much faster for me to list places that are NOT gay-friendly. Hoteliers and villa owners are pretty much blasé when it comes to hosting gay men and gay couples. When it comes to gay Caribbean vacations, you sometimes have to read travel reviews very carefully whether people will object on 2 men or 2 women sharing the same bed. This is certainly not something that you have to worry about when it comes to choosing your accommodation here. For instance, I own 2 luxury vacation rentals in St Barts: villa Domingue, a 4-bedroom which is great for a group of friends, and villa BelAmour, a designer 1-bedroom for a romantic couple. I have straight and gay clients. My maid and my concierge are used to welcoming gay couples, so you do not have to feel embarrassed if you are kissing on the sundeck or when the maid is making your room 😉 I have lots of tips for my gay friends and guests staying in St Barths. For instance, my villa BelAmour is has been selected and listed by gay travel sites like:
- BelAmour on PurpleRoofs.com
- BelAmour on MisterBnB.com
- BelAmour on BGlad.com‘s gay friendly Caribbean guide
- Gay Journey – The Gay and Lesbian Travel Center (Resources to help gays and lesbians plan travel, including accommodations, transportation, cruises and tours which are gay or gay friendly worldwide).