It’s not just about ladies who lunch on flip-flop leave from their Louboutins; this safe, friendly island has plenty of appeal for the athletic beach bunny and the foodie, as well as party people and celeb-watchers. The French influence makes it a unique Caribbean experience, with brasseries instead of beach shacks, and chanson crooners more popular than soca singers on the radio; the locals are mainly of European descent. It’s OK, though – there’s that gorgeous turquoise ocean and uncrowded beaches to remind you where you are.
When to go
Try visiting at the tail end of high season (December–April), when room rates drop and the beaches really empty out.
PlanesGetting there is a slight mission – just part of the exclusive charm. The nearest international hub is Juliana Airport on St Maarten, 25km away, or you can fly via Antigua or Guadeloupe. Air Caraibes (www.aircaraibesexpress.com; +590 (0)590 87 14 80) and St Barth Commuter (www.stbarthcommuter.com; + 590 (0)590 27 54 54) offer scheduled and charter flights.
BoatsFor daily services between St Maarten and St Barths, contact Voyager (www.voyager-st-barths.com) or Rapid Explorer (www.rapidexplorer.com).
AutomobilesIf you hire a car to explore your 21-square-kilometre playground (and just the one road), something diminutive is best. There’s a branch of Avis at the airport, as well as local options.
TaxisExpensive and not usually worth the hassle. Hiring a car for a day or more is your best bet. Most hotels will arrange airport transfers.