A view of Gustavia Harbour © Kevin Gabbert
Saint Barthelemy, generally known as St Barths, is a tiny and luxuriant Caribbean island famous for its beauty and A-list visitors. It is an overseas collectivity of France and has a distinctly French flavour. St Barths was also once a Swedish colony, a curious fact commemorated in the name of the capital, Gustavia. Situated in the northeastern Caribbean, St Barths is close to other tropical gems like Saint Martin and St Kitts.
This lush volcanic island is fully encircled by shallow reefs and home to a number of marinas, making it a fabulous sailing, snorkelling and scuba diving destination. Other popular watersports in St Barths include wind surfing, kite surfing and sport fishing. There are 23 beaches on the island, all magnificent and relatively secluded. Overall, mountainous St Barths is surprisingly undeveloped, preserving much of its small-town character and natural beauty.
Celebrities flock here to enjoy the seclusion afforded by the private villa-style accommodation, the absence of mass tourism and the top-quality restaurants and hotels. The shopping is also surprisingly top-notch. The period between Christmas and Easter is referred to as 'The Season' and is when the majority of visitors come to enjoy the many attractions of St Barths.
Crime is practically unheard of on this paradise island, and people invariably greet strangers and friends alike with a hearty 'bonjour!'.