Gustavia St Barts is a European island, with Swedish roots, set in the midst of the Caribbean Sea. Pristine, small, and purposely crowd free, St. Barthelemy’s capital is steeped in history, but also in luxurious accouterments ideal for indulgent travelers. Gustavia Harbor was the most notable of details about Gustavia’s location when first discovered in the fifteenth century by Columbus and then inhabited by natives of St Kitts island. With deep French roots that still inspire much of St Barts style, Gustavia developed around its utilitarian bay. Gustavia was under Swedish rule as an official colony and, as a completely free port, provided a center for supply and trading from its beginnings. Gustavia still welcomes ships from all over the world, exhibiting a maritime tradition established centuries ago.
Gustavia St Barts is an extremely pleasant town to visit, and with little more than 3,000 permanent island residents (8,000 on the entire island), it’s also peaceful and quaint. Gently rolling hills, well-manicured gardens, stone docks, and plenty of moored sailboats are part of first impressions of this small, pretty port. Gustavia Harbor welcomes thousands of cruises each year. Once debarked, passengers can quickly walk to the heart of Gustavia. Car rentals, which can easily be rented upon arrival, are the best way to get beyond the harbor.
If Gustavia St Barts is your port of call and you’re only in for a day trip or a few hours, there are plenty of attractions to explore within the immediate area. One of the best things to do in Gustavia is to check out the many shopping options, as well as explore the many excellent restaurants about town. Rue du General De Gaulle, Rue Oscar II, and Quai de la Republique keep everyone busy with endless shopping and other things to do in Gustavia. These avenues are best for sourcing out the island’s top buys, most unique souvenirs, and paintings. An easy walk from the Gustavia Harbor, these top retail spots provide mostly French imports and few handmade indigenous crafts. From French-Creole favorites to fresh seafood and wonderful grilled specialties, the island offers some of the best food in the Caribbean, and some fantastic harborfront restaurants and cafes, too. The famous Jimmy Buffet Cheeseburger at one local grill derives from the singer’s world-famous song “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and it turns out he was right on the mark!
St Jean Beach is a major attraction offering some of the best things to do in Gustavia, from snorkeling and diving to fishing charters and more. Beyond the center of town, natural beauty blankets the entire area and Gustavia is no exception. St Jean Beach is the evidence. The Eden Rock Hotel sits prominently on one end with a cream-hued, sandy beach stretching away from it. This beach is a celebrity magnet also (mainly) frequented by star-gazing North Americans. Nearby at Petit de Anse, snorkeling with the island turtles is easily one of the best things to do in Gustavia.
Nestled on a hilltop like an island beacon, the illustrious Carl Gustaf Hotel is an divine place to enjoy a sunset cocktail while gazing upon the Gustavia Harbor below. After even just a day of sightseeing, it becomes clear that Gustavia St Barts, and the rest of the island lives up to its reputation as the Cannes of the Caribbean. A sleek, trendy approach to everything, including some truly magnificent St Barts luxury hotels, reveals an island where visitors have as much time and money as necessary to soak it all in. Many things to do in Gustavia do offer the experience and pleasantness of the simple things in life, such as shell collecting on nearby Shell Beach, or exploring St Bart’s history at the Wall Museum on the harbor which easily brings one back down to earth to appreciate the extensive natural beauty of the island, something no fortune can ever create as seamlessly.