So when we visited St. Martin, we took a little day trip to St. Barth's because, well, it's St. Barth's and if you don't go when you have the chance then you need to reevaluate your life choices.
We set off on the ferry from Oyster Pond in the morning, surrounded by the comforting obscurity of foreign languages. The ferry was fast and before we knew it we were amidst the private yachts and sailboats scattered in the bay at St. Barth's. It really felt like we were entering a different world, one in which we felt materially very poor.
Tip: you need your passport to board both directions and you'll go through a mini "customs" at St. Barth's.
We decided to go on a Sunday, which was fine, but there were few shopping places open. We were able to rent a 4 wheeler, which along with scooters, are the easiest way to navigate the island. I do not remember which ATV rental we used, but there are only a few and probably all comparable. They were friendly, gave us a map and helmets, and told us not to worry about leaving things in the unlocked cargo bin on the back, just take the important things like passport and camera.
So, in a short time we were off motoring around this tiny, luxurious island. It was quiet, except for the sounds of scooters and ATVs, and when those were shut off, it was pretty much just the breeze and ocean, some distant music, and occasional voices. Our first goal was to find food. We drove across the island to Grand Cul-de-sac to La Gloriette, a recommendation by the ATV lady. The food was very good, I had a beef carpaccio and Joe had a pizza I think. However, the service was a combination of slow island-time and snobby French attitude. It was a pleasant spot to sit and we actually beat the brunch crowd.
The rest of our time on St. Barth's was spent hopping from one gorgeous beach to the next. The first beach was St. Jean, where the famed Eden Rock is located. It's beautiful and busy, and probably perfect for beachside cocktails, or trying to spot celebs.
Then we moved on to Grande Saline. This beach was marvelous, giant, beautiful sand, beautiful water. The waves were a little more noticeable, there is no shade and no bathroom, and a little walk to get there, but it's so secluded there's even a totally nude portion of the beach.
After Grande Saline, we moved on to Anse du Gouverneur, which was truly magnificent from above. This beach was smaller with more people, but it's well worth a visit because of the road and the views to get there.
By this time we've gotten a little burned while driving around the island and we're drawing closer to the time our ferry boards, so we headed back to Gustavia.
We really had the most fun driving around the island, it felt like being in a different country. It felt far away. Of course there are many more beaches on the island that would have been wonderful to visit, but we ran out of time! I particularly would have liked seeing Shell Beach and the Toiny Coast for the natural pools.
Tips: Put sunscreen on right away, you still get sun driving around the island. Rent an ATV, the hills are steep and the scooters can be dangerous, we saw one couple who had just fallen while going uphill on a curve. Bring plenty of water with you. Beaches like Grande Saline have no facilities at all and it's a hike to and from them. Take all the little side roads you can and stop when you feel compelled to stop. It's all gorgeous.
Finally we headed back to St. Martin, a little crispy, very thirsty, and perfectly content.