The Best Beaches on St Barths
The number-one reason to visit St Barths are the beaches. The best beaches (basically all of them) are the stuff island dreams are made of. All of the island’s beaches are open to the public year-round, and even during peak season they’re never really crowded. Whether you’re looking for a place to picnic, the perfect snorkeling spot, a sunbather’s paradise, or a bit of sand to run under your toes, St Barths has you covered.
97133, St Barthélemy
In swank St. Barth’s, it’s hard to imagine that it’s only the Gucci-clad glitterati that live here. In an effort to see for myself, I rented a jeep and on a quiet Sunday morning drove around the island. I stopped at L’Orient Beach where my question was answered. Families played in the turquoise sea, suntanned, surfed, ate sandwiches while leaning against the colorful surf shack. It was the antithesis of the rosé-fueled scene at Nikki Beach on the other side of the island. I sat and watched for an hour, trying to take photos, but slipped away, feeling very much the interloper.
Saint Barthélémy 97133
The Caribbean is a destination for all types of travelers—scuba divers, sailors, sunbathers—but when you want a dash of European party to season your vacation, head to St. Barth’s, often called the St. Tropez of the Caribbean. Around St. Barth’s the language is French, the currency is Euro, and the elixir of choice is pink. And nowhere does it flow more freely than at Nikki Beach, a club/restaurant on St Jean Beach where I found myself “stranded” when a friend’s flight was delayed. I blame this day on the rosé. After all, St. Tropez is in Provence, the world’s largest producer of the pink wine. And much like her sister beach club in France, Nikki Beach St. Barth’s uncorks the party at 11am and is packed in by noon with jet-setters. Bikini clad guests sun-tanned on the croissant-shaped beach and six pack abs strutted from the turquoise waters à la a James Bond film. Star sightings, I hear, are de rigueur but my eyes were on this group of about 10 men and women from New York. The magnums of rosé, hoisted on shoulders like summoned heros, arrived at their table every 15 minutes, and by 2pm, so had I. By 3pm we were ON the table. The thumping music from the DJ had us leaping to our feet at every song, and to quench our thirst—more rosé. The joie de vivre was as intoxicating as the wine. By 7pm, closing time at Nikki Beach, I was back in my hotel room, sleeping off the sun and my first day in St. Barth’s. I blame the rosé. No, actually, I thank the rosé.
Plage de Saline, St Barthélemy
Saline is the most beautiful and the most famous beach in St. Barths. From the shore, you cannot see any building: no fancy bar, no posh restaurant, nothing. Just the wild beach and you. Saline Beach never really gets crowded, as the island is too small to have actual crowds. But it is a true luxury, early morning, to come there for a nice swim. More than once, I’ve been able to be the only one there. This long, beautiful, renowned beach was just mine! It is okay to do nude sunbathing in Saline, but it’s better if you do it on the far sides of the beach. Indeed, the middle part is where the trail arrives from the parking lot and you do not want to make families feel uncomfortable. Even if nobody really cared. Again, early morning, it is just a couple of people here and nobody minds if you swim naked in this pure Caribbean blue water. Vive la liberté ! My tip: Bring a bottle of water if you are planning on staying for long, as there is no store on the beach. Nothing!
Plage de Lorient, St Barthélemy
Backed by the green of mountains flecked by red rooftops, Lorient Beach is an unspoiled stretch of white sand and beautiful blue water. Favored by locals, fishermen, and visitors, this north coast beach has excellent surfing at one end and calm water for swimming, snorkeling, and stand-up paddle boarding at the other end. The nearby village of Lorient, the site of the island’s first French settlement, is rich in culture. Here visitors are drawn to the 19th century Catholic church, historic bell tower, and Ligne Saint Barth—a famous luxury soap, shampoo, and perfume manufacturer.