The Caribbean island of St. Barthélemy or St. Barts forms a part of the French West Indies islands lying about 35 km southeast of St. Martin, north of St. Kitts and 240 km east from Puerto Rico. A prosperous free port during Swedish colonial era with the Swedish influence reflected in local architecture, the streets signs and the name of its capital Gustavia, it is nowadays a separate overseas collectivity (COM) of France known as a popular travel destination and a winter getaway for luxury travelers.
Ever since David Rockfeller arrived in 1957 and frequented St. Barts, this paradisiac island with fabulous beaches, fascinating history, distinctly French cuisine, culture and official language, has been attracting celebrities like Harrison Ford, Liz Claiborne and Beyoncé, wealthy Americans, young professional Parisians, cruise ship passengers with its eclectic mix of iguanas, pelicans, night-blooming cactus, upscale villas, hotels and resorts, jewelry stores, designer boutiques and luxury mega yachts.
Once the refuge of pirates and now a busy duty-free port with vestiges of stone forts, the capital Gustavia enchants the travelers with its colonial-style houses, waterfront cafes, excellent restaurants, magnificent villas and glamorous hotels which also abound in Saint Jean, a popular neighborhood comprising the second largest shopping area on the island.
St. Barts ensures ultimate relaxation on its 14 pristine beaches and offers a variety of activities like surfing and diving, scooter, moto and quad rentals, exploring the island by a rental car as well as seasonal kicks off like Saint Barth Gourmet Festival, St. Barth Film Festival and West Indies Regatta. For a genuine gourmet there is a plenty of choice from Caribbean cuisine with Creole flavors, exotic local fruits, fresh seafood to traditional French cooking. Beachgoers can enjoy sunbathing on Grand Saline or isolated Colombier Beach, windsurfing and kayaking are popular on the beaches of Lorient and Grand Cul-de-Sac, divers will be amused to explore 22 dive sites scattered around the island.
The Saint Barthélemy Airport (SBH) with its short runway on the north coast of the island serves only small regional commercial aircraft and charters, therefore most visitors get to St. Barts via the Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) in neighboring St. Martin and then use shuttle flights or Inter Inland ferry to the island.