Tuesday, May 21, 2013

St. Barts Day Trip

The harbor in Gustavia, St. Barts.

We spent 11 days visiting the island of St. Maarten/St. Martin in March of 2013 for our honeymoon.

While on St. Martin, we participated in three different day trips including Anguilla, Pinel Island, and the island of St. Barts. This blog entry will cover the day trip we took to St. Barts.

St. Barts (sometimes referred to as St. Barthelemy and St. Barths) is located 15 miles southeast of St. Martin and is an overseas collectivity of France. St. Barts is well known for being one of the most expensive islands to visit in the world and is often referred to as the French Riviera of the Caribbean. The hilly island is eight square miles and contains 21 white-sand beaches, all of which are open to the public and typically uncrowded even during the high season. The island caters to the rich, wealthy, and famous with hundreds of yachts filling the harbor of Gustavia and the many inlets that line the island.

The island can be accessed from St. Martin via a ferry boat or short plane ride. Initially, we had planned on flying to St. Barts as it only takes ten minutes, but after looking up prices on the two major airlines (Winair and St. Barth Commuter) and experiencing massive sticker shock at roundtrip airfare that cost $200-$300 per person, we knew we'd be taking the ferry. There are three points around St. Martin (Oyster Pond, Marigot & Phillipsburg) from which you can take a high-speed ferry. Voyager uses the ports in Oyster Pond and Marigot while Great Bay Express offers a 40 minute boat ride from Phillipsburg. We ultimately ended up choosing to use Voyager from Oyster Pond as it not only offered the shortest ride (30 minutes versus one hour from Marigot) but also because it was two minute drive from our condo in Dawn Beach. Our round-trip cost for two adults was 134 Euro (about $175 USD). Ridiculously expensive, but still much less than what we would have spent on airfare. Be forewarned that the boat ride over to St. Barts can be quite choppy. On our visit it was relatively calm but if you suffer from motion sickness, then I highly encourage you to take all precautions (Dramamine, eat a light breakfast, have a lemon-lime soda hand) in order to avoid getting sick.
The harbor at Oyster Pond.
The harbor at Oyster Pond.

We knew that visiting St. Barts was going to be expensive, but I don't think we were completely prepared for the high cost of things on the island. On our simple day-trip, after taking all costs into account (ferry, car rental, gas, two small meals) we spent about $350. To us, that seems quite spendy for just a nine hour visit. I don't even want to imagine how expensive it would be to visit for several days, let alone a week or more.

Sadly, our visit to St. Barts happened to occur on one of the worst weather days of our entire trip. We had some time planned during the first half of our day to visit a few beaches, but only ended up stopping at two as we spent quite a bit of time sitting in our rental car seeking refuge during torrential downpours hoping it was just a passing cloud. Luckily, it eventually did clear up though not until about an hour before our ferry left.

While on St. Barts, we did the following:
  • Ate an early lunch at Kiki-e Mo in St-Jean
  • Laid on the beach in St. Jean
  • Stopped at Flamands Beach
  • Explored the seaside town of Gustavia and its harbor

Kiki-e Mo Traiteur:
As mentioned, St. Barts can be quite painful on your wallet, especially in the dining arena. However, there are fortunately some "budget" eateries that are sprinkled throughout the island called traiteurs. Essentially, traiteurs are delis that offer sandwiches, salads, pastas, cheese, wine, etc to go for considerably less than what you would find at any restaurant. After arriving at the harbor in Gustavia, we grabbed our rental car and headed to St. Jean. Intially we were planning on going straight to the beach but since it was pouring down rain we decided to eat first. Kiki-e Mo was located directly across the street from the beach in St. Jean. They had several different types of Italian sandwiches and paninis to choose from as well as pasta and pastries. I chose to order some pesto pasta and a crossiant while Shyawn requested a cafe as well as a sandwich, which came with a side of fruit. For this small amount of food, we spent about 30 Euro ($40 USD). In comparison to St. Martin/St. Maarten, this was, of course, quite expensive. However, in comparison to the nearby restaurants where many of the main courses at lunch started at 25-30 Euro, this was a relative bargain. The food here was good, certainly nothing that wowed us but it left us satisfied.
Pesto pasta salad at Kiki-e Mo traiteur in St. Jean.
Crossiant at Kiki-e Mo traiteur in St. Jean.
Cafe at Kiki-e Mo traiteur in St. Jean.
Sandwich at Kiki-e Mo traiteur in St. Jean.
Side of fruit at Kiki-e Mo traiteur in St. Jean.

St. Jean Beach:
After the rain finally somewhat subsided, we left Kiki-e Mo's and walked across the street to the St. Jean Beach, which is the best known on the entire island. St. Jean Beach is actually comprised of two separate beaches that are divided by the Eden Rock promontory, home to the very luxurious and famous Eden Rock Resort. Umbrellas and lounge chairs can be rented at several spots along the beach although we opted not to since we knew we weren't going to be sticking around for very long because of the tempermental weather. While the beach was pretty, I certainly didn't think it was any more beautiful than many of the beaches we experienced on St. Martin/St. Maarten.
St. Jean Beach
St. Jean Beach
St. Jean Beach
Eden Rock Resort along St. Jean Beach.
Eden Rock Resort along St. Jean Beach.
St. Jean Beach
St. Jean Beach
St. Jean Beach
St. Jean Beach

Flamands Beach:
Located in the northwest section of the island, this long and wide crescent shaped beach is the largest on St. Barts. There are several small hotels that line the beach but it is otherwise a calm and peaceful oasis. Unfortunately when we arrived the wind was blowing like crazy and it was actually a bit too cool for our liking, so we snapped a few pictures and then went on our way. I can only imagine how much more beautiful and spectacular the beach would have been on a sunny day.
Flamands Beach
Flamands Beach
Flamands Beach
Flamands Beach

Gustavia:
The lovely seaside capital of St. Barts is a great place to stroll around for a few hours, enjoying the many shops and restaurants it offers. When we first arrived it was literally pouring down rain which obviously isn't the most conducive to sightseeing, especially when you don't have an umbrella on hand. As a result, we spent about an hour of our time at a traiteur that faced the harbor, hoping that the weather would eventually clear up. We decided to split a sandwich and a lemon tart. Unfortunately, the food wasn't great here so the fact that I forgot to write down the name of the traiteur doesn't bother me too much.
Gustavia Harbor
Lemon tart at a traiteur in Gustavia.
Sandwich at a traiteur in Gustavia.

Much to my great happiness, the weather did FINALLY clear up, although only about one hour before our ferry departed. I ran around like a mad woman attempting to retake as many photos as I could of Gustavia and its gorgeous harbor.
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia

Eventually we had to board the ferry. I jumped on as quickly as I could so that I could snag a spot on the very back of the boat so I could get some shots of the passing scenery as we left. Along the way back to St. Martin the sun began to set so I was able to get some beautiful shots of the sunset.
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Gustavia
Leaving St. Barts.
Leaving St. Barts.
Leaving St. Barts.
Leaving St. Barts.
Leaving St. Barts.
Leaving St. Barts.
Leaving St. Barts.
Leaving St. Barts.
Leaving St. Barts.
Sunset
Sunset
View from the deck of the ferry from St. Barts to St. Martin.
View from the deck of the ferry from St. Barts to St. Martin.
Sunset
Sunset
Sunset
Sunset
Arrival back at Oyster Pond.

Overall, while I am certainly glad that we had an opportunity to visit St. Barts, it's definitely not a place I would go rushing back to. It's undeniably beautiful (comparable in my opinion to St. Martin) but given the amount of money it costs to reach the island, let alone spend just a few days on, I don't think its beauty warrants its high price tag. If I were to visit St. Martin again in the future, I would definitely head to Anguilla and likely visit another neighboring island such as Saba

4 comments:

  1. Awesome review. Thanks so much for taking the time to put so many details.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the detailed description, I am planning a trip to St.Marteen with my parents but we are only staying 4 days (all-inclusive). I was torn because I wanted to do a day trip to Anguilla and St.Barths but after reading this, I will just go with the day trip to Anguilla. Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  3. Amazing pictures and lovely place to stay and spend time, hopefully i would make a luxury travel to Gustavia because it looks awesome

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
 
BLOG DESIGN BY DESIGNER BLOGS