Exploring the St. Barths Marine Reserve
It may be renowned for its pristine sand, glistening waters, and endless sunshine, but don’t think St. Barths is just another Caribbean beach escape.
Thanks to the St. Barths Marine Reserve, guests of Le Sereno are in for a full-fledged nature retreat. Places like Grand Cul de Sac are ecologically fragile and receive specialized attention to protect its plant and animal life for generations to come.
The result: an island unlike any other, rich in uninhibited, natural beauty.
Fun Nature Facts About St. Barths
- The St. Barths Marine Reserve covers 12 sq. kilometers (4.6 sq. miles), divided into 5 zones all around the island.
- St. Barths is home to 183 known species of fish, 33 species of marine mammals, 51 species of coral, and 14 species of seabirds. Keep your eyes out for animals like turtles, humpback whales, and bottlenose dolphins.
- Grand Cul de Sac outside Le Sereno is one of St. Barths’ most diverse environments. From white sand seabed to spectacular coral reefs to protected ponds, guests will find virtually all of the island’s local ecosystems. It’s also a protected sanctuary for animals like turtles, sting rays, and barracudas.
- Tropical fruit is another product of St. Barths’ vibrant ecosystem. Head out on an island hike and chances are you’ll find exotic delicacies like papaya, pomegranate, guava, mango, and chenet.
How You Can Enjoy the St. Barths Marine Reserve
The intention of the Marine Reserve is not to keep people off the water. Quite the opposite, it simply encourages locals and tourists to enjoy this beautiful island in a sustainable manner. Here are some of our recommendations for getting the most out of your experience on St. Barths:
Hiking: St. Barths offers countless options for excursions by foot, most of which lead to a secluded beach or lagoon. Check out our previous list of favorite destinations.
Diving and Snorkeling: Exploring life beneath the sea is a must-try for anyone visiting St. Barths. Snorkelers can pick up their equipment at Le Sereno before heading to Colombier, the island’s finest snorkeling spot. Divers, however, will need to go through a certified scuba outlet. We recommend Ouanalao here in Grand Cul de Sac or any of Gustavia’s excursions: Plongée Caraibes or Serial Divers.
Fishing: St. Barths is a fisherman’s paradise, home to many of the world’s most coveted species like blue marlin, wahoo, and tuna. To ensure you abide by the Marine Reserve’s fishing regulations, we recommend you plan a fishing charter with the likes of Jicky Marine, Patrick LaPlace, or Inoa II.
Rules to Keep in Mind
The St. Barths Marine Reserve has created numerous regulations to protect the island from environmental degradation. Here are the most important ones to keep in mind as you decipher the Reserve map:
- If you plan on fishing independently, be sure to avoid any areas marked in red. Also, you can bring back only three fish per person per trip.
- Jet-skiing, waterskiing, and spearfishing are forbidden in any marked areas.
- For those renting a boat, anchoring is forbidden throughout the Marine Reserve except for two areas: Colombier and Fourchue. Drive slowly through each cove to avoid snorkelers, turtles, and other wildlife.