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Island Adventures In St. Barts

St. Barts, short for Saint-Barthelemy, is 8-square miles of lush volcanic hillsides and 32 splendid white sandy beaches, most of which are protected by both cliff and reef. St. Barts has become a very posh vacation spot. The Rockefellers, Fords, and Rothschilds own property on the island, while many other rich, royal and famous visitors stay in the luxury villas around the coast of the island.

Some beaches are more accessible than others, although all are mostly deserted. The main resort area is Baie de Saint-Jean, which is two beaches divided by Eden Rock. This is definitely the most visited beach, with several bars and restaurants lining the coast.

Gustavia is the island’s port and offers rental equipment for windsurfing, snorkeling, waterskiing and sailing. Several catamarans offer sailing and snorkeling cruises. Toiny is the windsurfers’ favorite beach and snorkeling are the best at Marigot. The port is also home to several well-known French shops, such as Cartier. The small crowd of locals are mostly young, chic, and French.

Petite Anse de Galet, also known as Shell Beach because it is covered in shells not sand, is in Gustavia as well. Swimming is safe and searching for exotic shells is popular.

The southeast corner of the island harbors a huge anchor, said to be from a British Royal Navy Frigate from the late 18th Century. Weighing 10 tons, it is marked with the words, “Liverpool…Wood…London”. How it arrived in St. Barts is a bit of a mystery. It is said that a cable from a tugboat traveling from the Virgin Islands dragged it up when it left St. Thomas.

Other beaches not to be missed include Gouverneur. You must take a dirt road leading down to the beach. The road offers lovely panoramic views of the neighboring islands and the beach itself has white sand with palm trees for shade. It is also a very good spot for snorkeling.

Colombier beach claims to be the most beautiful on St. Barts. It cannot be reached by car, however there are several trails going down to the beach and it is well worth the 25-minute walk to enjoy magnificent views of the island. There are also several day tours by boat from Gustavia.

If diving is what you crave, then swim over to Pain de Sucre, one of St. Bart’s Marine Preserves. The area features an array of colorful coral in full bloom as well as fish and sea turtles. Divers are asked to contribute one euro per dive to the park to help towards the program protecting the environment.

Flamands beach is very clean with white sand and palm trees along the coast. The surf can be rough, but watersports are still available.

St. Barts Municipal Museum, at La Pointe near the Wall House, displays an exhibition of the history, traditions and local crafts of the island. Also, there is the Inter Oceans Museum in Corossol that shows a private collection of 9,000 seashells, corals and stuffed fish from all around the world.