You know that a place is great when you’re not ready to leave it – that’s how I felt yesterday as I packed my bags to say goodbye to the Viceroy and my new friends. But, travelers cannot stay in one place for too long, so Laura and I woke up bright and early to take the harrowing flight over to St. Barth’s. The flight is not for those who scare easily: in order to reach land the plane, the pilot takes an unexpectedly low dip right above the busiest roundabout on the mountainous island and skids onto the runway, which turns very quickly from asphalt to beach to ocean.
Luckily, our pilot was skilled enough not to take us straight to the beach (although that would’ve been service!). I’m sure it didn’t hurt that he had an awesome copilot:
Within seconds of arriving in St. Barth’s, it was evident that this is an entirely different Caribbean island. It genuinely feels more like the South of France than the Caribbean: the native language is French, all signs are written en Français, all money is exchanged in Euros, and the look of everything – the roads, the architecture, the clothes – it is all decidedly not Caribbean.
Laura and I were instantly smitten with the destination. Something about the unique blend of culture, the curvy roads, the stunningly blue water – it all gets into your chest and makes your heart leap up. Maybe, for me, it was a certain sense of nostalgia. A few years ago, I studied abroad in Cannes during the Film Festival and came to love so much about the French culture (specifically the language and the pastries). Reading and interpreting the road signs, hearing the language all around me, letting bits and pieces of it roll off of my tongue and into broken sentences – everything brought me back to a familiar second home.
We checked into our first hotel on the island, Hotel Guanahani, which is a prime example of the French culture’s unique blend with touches of Caribbean influence. Our hosts were so generous that they put us in one of the highest room categories: the Admiral Suite! This nautical themed suite is situated on a corner lot with views of the smooth lagoon all around us – it was beautiful.
We could walk right off of our back porch, onto the the rocks, and into the shallow waters to snorkel, which we did.As we swam around the peaceful seagrass and watched small fish flicker by us, I heard Laura calmly call out my name – “Hey, Lindsey, look at this.”
Assuming that she was going to point out an elusive sea turtle or something else nonthreatening, I took her calmness as a cue to stick my face into the water – about a foot away from the grinning teeth of a four-foot long barracuda.
“WHAT THE HECK – IS THAT A BARRACUDA?!” I turned to ask the empty air as Laura swam as fast as her little flippers could go.
Once we were back on the safety of the rocks (and after I was assured the demonfish didn’t walk on land, as well) she informed me that she was just going to point it out and then it started following us. I had been concerned earlier about the flashy gold accessories on the top of my swimsuit, but Laura told me that was probably just a myth. Now I’m thinking that those Victoria’s Secret bikinis attract more than men… Either way, I will never trust snorkeling with this girl again. “Hey, Lindsey, look at this adorable FLESH EATING PREDATOR!”
Besides life-threatening instances in the water, we also faced a few on the road. St. Barth’s is known for it’s multiple beaches and great cuisine, and the best way to get to everything is to rent a car. So we did.
Our baby car has a few issues getting up hills, which is quite a problem in St. Barth’s, considering that the island is 85% vertical. We had no other choice but to learn by experience. We took our car out and screamed around every corner, over the top of each hill, and at any driver who got within 25 feet of us. We also had to pull over to let multiple cars go by us. As an aggressive driver myself, I vow to change my ways. I will never follow too closely to another vehicle again – you just don’t know what kind of panic attack it gives them until you experience it firsthand.
The first stop on our St. Barth’s road trip was Le Toiny for its world-renowned brunch (a very European experience) with the best dessert bar EVER:
We took the rest of the afternoon to visit a few of the local beaches and avoid getting hit head-on by cars that decided our lane looked much better than their own. We saw Saline, which was a small hike, and Govenour, where we stayed for hours in the picture-perfect water (this was all before heading back for our Barracuda Expedition at Guanahani). Also pictured below is Lorient, which we saw today.
Since we arrived on a Sunday, not much was open in terms of dining or shopping, so we were a bit limited to trying out an Italian restaurant, Isola. Thank goodness we were limited – it was incredible! Fresh pastas, homemade sauces and not too expensive by St. Barth’s standards. That is, however, something to be noted – St. Barth’s standards of expensive are totally different than most American’s standards. My Italian meal cost around 40 Euro for me alone. Most of the notable restaurants are estimated at about 100-120 Euro per person for dinner (which means even more after converting to USD). Be prepared to spend a good bit in terms of food, drinks, and souvenirs.
Speaking of food, Barth’s is known for its dining experiences, and we had some of the best of it during our second day here. Considering all of the French pastries served at Guanahani’s breakfast buffet (included for Virtuoso clients booked through me!), breakfast dessert was a thing of the past. My breakfast straight up was dessert – pain au chocolat, brioche, decadent espresso. I had a few bites of mango as a palate cleanser just to make me feel healthy, then I ordered some crepes with Nutella.
Laura and I drooled over more than just the food at Guanahani – somehow, everyone who works at that resort is over the top gorgeous. I’ve heard that this island is where the beautiful people go, but I think it’s where the beautiful people live and work. Not to mention the male to female ratio is in our odds. Here’s a conversation we had from breakfast:
L: “I can’t stop looking over there that man is so beautiful”
L: “Where? Which one?”
L: “The maintenance worker.”
And by God if it wasn’t the most beautiful maintenance worker I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen other pretty people, but Guanahani really had the best looking and most attentive staff that I’ve met – everyone was very kind (and pretty) when it came to service.
Our next stop of the day was Eden Rock, which captures the epitome of St. Barth’s trendy style. I love the look, the location, and most of all, the Jean-Georges restaurants. We had the best lunch of my LIFE at Sand Bar today – lobster and avocado salad, crab cake with grapefruit and avocado, truffle and fontina pizza, all washed down with a ginger margarita and a virgin coconut mojito (what? we were thirsty).
We were so fat and happy that I thought someone was going to have to roll me to Isle De France. The stylish beach at Eden Rock was by far my favorite beach – check it out in photos:
When we arrived to Isle de France, our home for the night, all I wanted to do was relax for a little while after our site inspection. As soon as I hopped on the bed, we received the best phone call:”Did you know that you have a spa appointment at 3?” I looked at the clock – 2:30. What a dream come true. Surprise massages are the best kind, in my opinion. It was easily the best massage I’ve ever had – they even served three different types of sorbet afterwards. Sorbet! Just to help refresh you from your grueling hour of being massaged.
We love Isle’s hospitality and wonderful location – we’re in the very classy, simple beach rooms, but the entry level bungalows have a charm of their own (the garden location is very tropical – garden view room does not mean tennis court view here, it is a legitimate garden view!).
Before coming back to Isle for dinner, we did a site and sunset cocktails at Hotel Christopher. Christopher was a great spot for honeymooners looking to save a little in their accommodations, and it has the best sunset view on the island (and spectacular pool!).
Back at Isle, we enjoyed a long, filling dinner. Although I was still full from lunch, I managed to eat some risotto, chicken with truffles, and the richest, creamiest tiramisu ever known to man. I had a hard time making it through the chicken and tried to cut it in smaller pieces so the waiter wouldn’t ask me why I didn’t much of it. Laura looked over at me and said, “It’s pretty obvious that you’re just cutting that to make it look like you ate more than you did.”
I’m afraid that she’s getting to know me too well from our traveling together. Soon she’s going to call me out on not eating enough of my entree so I can save room for dessert…which I would NEVER do.
Our last night is tomorrow – we’ll be heading to St. Martin after a little beach time in the morning!