St. Barts lies north of Antigua and south east of the US Virgin Isles. Unusually in the strings of Caribbean islands, it is formed by ancient reefs of coral which extend into the shallow seas so providing excellent diving opportunities for scuba and snorkel. The island is only 8 sq miles and although hilly, is dotted with lagoons teeming with wildly colourful birds, but has no major rivers or lakes, its only mountain being 938ft (Morne du Vitet). Its beaches are its most important asset and St. Barts has more than enough to keep visitors happy.
Where pirates once abounded, now sleek, well equipped sailing yachts cut through the azure waters and moor in the harbour, Gustavia, which is surrounded with many fine restaurants providing a distinctly French cuisine, although the Caribbean culinary influence is always present.
St. Barts is French, although historically it has been British, briefly, and Swedish which is shown in some of the architecture and the capital’s name, Gustavia, the harbour on the south coast. This harbour is well worth a visit with the shops offering a wide range of goods from designer boutiques selling chic Paris fashions to high-quality jewellery retailers. On the west coast, the bay of St. Jean has more designer shops but also has a more local feel with local craftwork on sale.