The Caribbean’s most famously posh destination, once described as “summer camp for wealthy, well-known New Yorkers,” has never been more accessible—or more appealing. Tradewind Aviation’s multiple daily flights from San Juan make getting to St. Bart’s easier than ever, with private charter service for the cost of a single seat, free drinks and snacks in a comfy airport lounge, and zero interaction with TSA.
A few things to know before you go: St. Bart’s is unapologetically French, and you will see kitten heels teetering down the cobblestoned streets of Gustavia, the capital, not to mention bottles of rosé drunk by the caseload. But there’s plenty of opportunity to go the laid-back route, too. Here’s our guide for where to stay, eat, drink, and visit in a single, rosé-soaked weekend.
St. Bart’s is just 8 square miles, largely connected by a single, albeit corkscrewy, road and best accessed on your own (taxis can get pricey, and who wants to wait around?). Rent a car at the airport—pretty much your choice of Mini Cooper and Mini Cooper convertible. (Maybe a Jeep.) Just two miles from the airport, but a world away, check in to the new Villa Marie, a collection of 22 bungalows and villas perched high on a hill overlooking Flamands Bay. Hotelier Jocelyne Sibuet, the famed French interior designer and Maisons et Hotels Sibuet group family matriarch, spent years collecting pieces to create a colonial-style, understated chic retreat where guests can feel as at home in Dior as they can in a cotton caftan and bare feet.
Celebrate your arrival on island with a cocktail at Villa Marie’s cozy, dark wood-filled Rum Bar—tucked away in a corner of in-house restaurant Francois Plantation, one of the buzziest new additions to the St. Bart’s dining scene. Here, vintage leather seats original to the building mingle with pineapple printed rattan chairs, the perfect perch for dusting off the day’s travel with a glass (or two) of something tropical. For dinner, head to Bonito for French-Latin food and views of Gustavia harbor in a beach house-chic setting. Order of choice: Any of the varieties of ceviche and the Bubbling Bonito, a champagne cocktail with cucumber, basil, lemon, and watermelon.
Pull on your swimsuit and lace up your sneakers for a hike down to Colombier Beach. Dotted with cactus, turtles, and the occasional friendly goat, the 20-minute path begins about 10 minutes from Villa Marie. Staffers will meet you down below, if you’d like, with chairs and towels, or send you with a borrowed backpack. Work up a small sweat and then clear it away in crystal blue water, then earn your lunch with a rigorous hike back up.
Keep it casual. For the island’s best fresh fish tartare and local rum, no shoes required, lunch at O’Corail, an unpretentious, no-reservations-required beach hut at Grand Cul de Sac Beach. Or try the Wishing Well Chez Rolande at Flamands Beach, where locals go for Guadeloupe native Rolande’s famous accras de morue, ragouts, and Creole-spicy fresh fish. Power-swim in the choppy waters of Flamands, or rest up for what’s next: a power-shop through the streets of Gustavia, the island, and fashion, capital. You’ve got Cartier, Dior, and Calypso St. Barth (the original), but your best bets are in the one-offs. Try Clic St. Barth for French wrap sandals and locally-made beach wear and Baya for pottery, pillows, candles and more from Ethiopia, Portugal, Bolivia, and beyond. Power down and review your purchases over a Carib at Le Select, a local’s spot whose outdoor patio offers some of the island’s best people-watching, including the occasional Jimmy Buffett sighting. (Also, yes, that’s Ron Perelman’s yacht you see there in the harbor).
Pack a bottle of rosé to catch the sunset and the calm evening surf at Shell Beach, every islander’s favorite spot for catching the sundown. Villa Marie will gladly send you off with some Domaine de Marie, the Sibuet house rosé, and a few glasses. Or get a bit more social at Eden Rock, in the village of St. Jean, which offers one of the island’s starriest scenes. Stop by the hotel’s On the Rocks for a cocktail and DJ-spun music before moving on to dinner back in Gustavia at Orega, a new-ish French-Japanese fusion spot.
Book brunch at Tamarin, where grande salades leave plenty of room for the restaurant’s legendary cheese plate, then head to Saline Beach, one of the island’s most secluded beaches. Pack a picnic of pre-flight snacks from Maya’s To-Go and what else? More rosé! You’re still on St. Bart’s, after all.