GEOGRAPHY & PEOPLE OF ST BARTS
Saint Barthelemy is a small island in the Caribbean, south of Saint Martin. It was named in 1493 by Christopher Columbus after his brother Bartholomew.
It is often called St. Barts or St. Barths in English.
About 10.000 residents live on an expanse of 25 square kilometers, and are French citizens, as Saint Barts is an overseas French collectivity.
The capital city Gustavia also acts as its main ports, where many ships dock for tourism purposes during high season from December to April each year.
St Barts is about 20km away from Saint Martin, another French overseas collectivity.
ST BARTHS THROUGH TIME
The first inhabitants of St Barths were the Tainos and Arawaks, who used to call this island Ouanalao. Given its poor resources for water or soil, it’s believed they didn’t stay on a permanent basis on the island.
The island was renamed Saint Barthelemy in 1493 by Christopher Colombus, after his brother Bartolomeo.
French people then settled on island and later managed to prosper despite the original hostile environment.
France then traded the land to Sweden in 1784, and the capital was renamed Gustavia in honor of Kind Gustavia III. Decades after the island suffered a devastating hurricane, in 1878 France bought Saint Barths back from Sweden. Nowadays there are still some signs of the Swedish times.
The local economy was then made up of salt harvesting, small family farming, navy, fishing, straw weaving, and breeding.
In the 1960s, St Barths became a luxury tourism destination. Since then it has remained a prestigious island.
SITES TO VISIT ON ST BARTHELEMY
Saint Barthelemy Natural Reserve
Just like in Saint Martin, the French government protects the natural treasures of Saint Barths through a Natural Reserve conservation program.
The capital of Gustavia is also the island main harbour. This charming small city stands out with typical red roofs, cafés, nice beaches, great shopping and historical buildings.
Fort Gustav & Fort Karl
Go for a stroll towards Gustavia’s lovely lighthouse, and discover the old canons. You will have a great panoramic view over the capital, and even up to the islands of St Kitts and Estatius under a cloudless sky.
Fort Karl will also offer an exceptional vantage point.
Governors House in Gustavia
Sweden built the Customs House during the late 18th century. It later became the City Hall until 2001. In 1995 it has been recognized as a national historical site.
From Tainos tribes through to modern ages, discover the history of the island of St Barths in this museum. Navigate through centuries, discovering about the first colony in a hostile environment, local farming, fishing and straw weaving, and much more.
This traditional village still has fishermen as well as women selling handcrafted baskets and hats.
Its also sheds an international Shell Museum with over 9.000 shells!
BEACHES OF ST BARTHS
Saint Barths offers a vast choice of beaches for you to relax, suntan, have lunch or sip a cocktail on!
Beach of Cayes Cove
Beach of Grand Fond
Beach of the Little Cove
Grand Cul de Sac Beach
Petit Cul de Sac Beach
St Jean Beach