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Saint Barts Vacation

A Local St. Barth's
May 30, 2012

St. Barth’s certainly does cater to the rich and famous, but it doesn’t all have to be about 1,000-euro magnums of champagne. Can you do St. Barth’s on a modest budget? Absolutely, and you’ll enjoy it just as much. We spent time with the St. Barth's locals, who took us around for a low-key day. We didn't even miss those magnums of champagne, though they did appear, on someone else's tab, at Yacht Club later than night.  

Breakfast and Surfing for Champions

A local's day starts with fresh bread from the oven at La Petite Colombe bakerywhere people line up at the crack of dawn for a mean pain au chocolat and first caffeine jolt of the day. Afterwards, head over to Lorient Beach, the place to learn to surf. You can stick to the gentler waves or join the easy-on-the-eyes locals for a morning session on the swells. You’re going to need your own gear, so make sure to arrange it, and an instructor if necessary, with your hotel the day before. 

Price: Breakfast is about $10 for 2 people, and surfing is the price of lessons or your equipment rental arranged through your hotel.

Burgers and Topless Beaches, for You and all Your Wealthy Friends

Afterwards, everyone heads to Jojo Burger a little shack of a place that overlooks a cemetery.  It’s much more charming than it sounds.  Jojo specializes in burgers and standard Caribbean fare.  The great fish burger may not get a nod from Michelin, but it certainly does the trick. 

Price:  About $35 for 2 people

For the afternoon, one of the nicest beaches is Gouveneurs Beach, which features a long stretch of white sand. It’s a local’s favorite to chill for the day, but don’t expect fruity drinks with umbrellas to be brought to you.  It’s self-serve, so bring your own gear and refreshments.  As for rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, there are plenty of opportunities as they dingy in from yachts anchored in the distance.  In season, you’ll almost certainly have some interesting people watching. 

Price: For this eye candy, priceless.

The Quintessential Caribbean Dive Bars

For a late afternoon or pre-sunset drink, head to Le Select, which is the quintessential Caribbean dive bar and inspiration of Jimmy Buffet’s song “Cheeseburgers in Paradise.” It sounds cheesy, and yes, it is. The drinks are simple, and with its prime location in Gustavia, makes for a perfect place to people watch after some fun in the sun. 

Price: Around $10 for a round of drinks for 2 people

One of the best sunset views is at Dõ Brazil on Shell Beach in Gustavia. They make a mean mojito, or for those who need a caffeine jolt, a .50 — yes, you read that right — cup of espresso. If you choose to stay on for dinner after sunset, you can feast on their 35-euro, three-course prix fixe, which blends Asian, Latin, and French influences. 

After dinner, grab a low-key drink at nearby Le Ti Zouk K’fé, a beloved local Caribbean bar. It’s not as bare bones as Le Select, but still simple. Many locals come here to drink before heading across the street to Le Yacht Club for late night debauchery. 

Price: Around $12 for a round of drinks for 2 people

Finally, for some live music and local fun, head to Hideaway, better known as Andy’s, where the philosophy is “corked wine, warm beer, lousy food and a view of the car park.” Owned by a Brit, there’s often live music in season, and their lousy food isn’t so lousy at all. Hours and offerings depend upon the time of year.  

Price: Around $12 for a round of drinks for 2 people

The moral of our St. Barth’s tale? Unlike JLo, love does cost a thing, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot, even on St. Barth’s.