Mr. Harper's Travel Guide
A dependency of France, this neat, eight-square-mile island lies less than 20 miles from St. Martin. Its population of around 9,000 is mostly of Breton descent. The terrain is hilly, but dazzling white beaches skirt the perimeter. The island’s capital, Gustavia, is generally ...
A dependency of France, this neat, eight-square-mile island lies less than 20 miles from St. Martin. Its population of around 9,000 is mostly of Breton descent. The terrain is hilly, but dazzling white beaches skirt the perimeter. The island’s capital, Gustavia, is generally considered to be the prettiest town in the entire Caribbean. Owing to the large number of American visitors, St. Barths has a more cosmopolitan atmosphere than other French islands such as Martinique and Guadeloupe. Thanks to the enduring French influence, however, its restaurants are excellent and the seafood invariably delicious.
WHEN TO VISIT
The climate is warm and sunny with little variation in the year-round temperature. The best months to visit are December-June, when low humidity is the norm and daytime temperatures average in the low 80s.
Recommended Luxury Hotels in St. Barths
Best Restaurants in St. Barths
It’s hard to believe that this charming waterfront restaurant has been drawing diners for more than 30 years. It is a simple affair — just a white pergola with a corrugated metal roof, some strategic lighting and food that reflects St. Barths’ Creole heritage. The team here comprises chef Maya Gurley and her husband, Randy, who runs the front of the house. Start with the best planter’s punch on the island and then, if it’s on the daily-changing menu, the excellent fish soup, Maya’s island answer to the Mediterranean classic. Among the main courses, it’s hard to go wrong with the local grilled fish or the snapper in green curry. If it’s on the menu, don’t miss the coconut tart. If you want to start a conversation, bring up Maya’s: Some love it; some loathe it. We have always thoroughly enjoyed the place. Reservations made well in advance are a must in high season. Closed Sunday.Gustavia Saint Barthélemy US$100 http://www.mayas-stbarth.com/
With minimalist interiors designed by Christian Liaigre, Le Sereno hotel does not greatly appeal to me. However, I have enjoyed its restaurant, Le Restaurant des Pêcheurs, now renamed Restaurant Le Sereno. It remains airy and tranquil, affording lovely views of the Grand Cul de Sac bay, and the menu is still seafood-centric. Look for starters such as a refreshing salad of watermelon, cantaloupe, feta cheese, tomato and arugula with a balsamic reduction. Among the mains, try the tropical rendition of bouillabaisse, here prepared with a variety of reef fish and augmented by a lively rouille. Various fish and vegetables can be grilled and sauced to order.Le Sereno Hotel Grand Cul de Sac BP 19 Saint Barthélemy US$70 http://www.lesereno.com/dining/restaurant-le-sereno.htm
The arrival of a new chef at L’Esprit de Saline has resulted in a shorter name — and a changed menu. Jean-Claude Dufour brings his experience as chef at Eden Rock to this informal open-air establishment beside the road leading to popular Saline Beach. Some of the most delicious, eclectic dishes on the island appear on the constantly changing menu, and might include mushroom ravioli with roasted shrimp, wonderful mahi mahi with crispy polenta and a fennel salad, and an Angus tenderloin with potatoes and Parmesan. Reservations are a must. Closed Wednesday and mid-June through July.Anse de Grande Saline Saint Barthélemy US$85
Perched on a hill in Gustavia, Bonito has an all-white interior with a raftered hip-roof ceiling, plus a semicircular open-air pavilion with memorable views over the town. The menu features delicious ceviches, plus fine salads such as an excellent take on tabouleh, here made with quinoa, fresh mint, watermelon, avocado and feta. The fish is invariably good, a standout being the grilled tuna tataki, a tuna steak with crunchy vegetables, shiitake mushrooms, noodles and yuzu. Closed Wednesday in May and August, and all of September.Rue Labin Brin Gustavia Saint Barthélemy US$75 http://ilovebonito.com/bonito-restaurant.html
This elegant open-air terrace restaurant perches on a flower-strewn hillside with panoramas of the neighboring volcanic islands of St. Kitts and Sint Eustatius. Chef Jean-Christophe Gille presides over one of the finest kitchens in the Caribbean. He presents a refined and innovative menu that combines French and Creole traditions. Starters, for example, might include an indulgent black truffle spaghetti with Parmesan; carpaccio and ceviche of mahi mahi with pickled vegetables; or duck foie gras with pineapple chutney and toasted brioche. Look for main courses such as lemon-crusted roasted snapper with a fricassee of broad beans and chanterelles, or a chop of suckling pig flavored with West Indian herbs and served with smoked-bacon polenta as well as seasonal vegetables.Hôtel Le Toiny Anse de Toiny Saint Barthélemy US$115 http://www.letoiny.com/st-barth-restaurant-le-gaiac
This stylish spot enjoys a prime location on a craggy outcrop overlooking the turquoise waters of Baie de St-Jean. The extensive and inventive menu takes inspiration from cuisines the world over and is under the direction of star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Starters might include rich roasted lobster ravioli with coconut and lime, and a main course could be snapper crusted with nuts and seeds in a sweet-and-sour jus. The view is one of the island’s best, and the bar is a fine place for sunset cocktails.Eden Rock Hotel St. Jean Bay Saint Barthélemy US$115 http://www.edenrockhotel.com/cuisine/on-the-rocks/
There comes a time when all visitors to St. Barths just do not want another grilled fillet of snapper/dorado/fish du jour — tasty as they may be. This charming spot replaced much-loved PaCrí as the most popular Italian restaurant on the island when it opened in 2008. The whitewashed cottage in Gustavia is fully enclosed and air-conditioned, perfect for a rainy or humid evening. The menu features the traditional dishes of an Italian trattoria, with salads such as refreshing mache with albacore and cannellini beans, antipasti like prosciutto and mozzarella, pastas such as the delicious house-made ravioli bursting with ricotta and spinach in a tomato sauce, and meat dishes like the delicate veal scaloppini in a bracing lemon sauce.33 rue du Roi Oscar II Gustavia Saint Barthélemy US$75 http://www.lisolastbarth.com/en/main.html