It’s not just the world-renowned beaches and five-star restaurants that make St. Barths one of the world’s most charming islands. Look beyond the obvious attractions and you’ll find a one-of-a-kind culture blending French sophistication, Swedish tradition, and Caribbean flair.
Here are some of our favorite examples:
You’ll see it written everywhere across the island, from street signs to storefronts to bumper stickers. “Toi Là! Je t'aime!” has become the adopted motto of St. Barths and it’s simply a tribute to the island’s warm character and welcoming spirit. Strike up a conversation with the locals and you’ll see what we mean!
First-time visitors to St. Barths are often pleasantly surprised to receive a complimentary glass of rum after dining at a restaurant. This isn’t a one-time-only occurrence: many restaurants actually offer a pour of Caribbean liquor as a form of island hospitality. Santé!
French is the official language of St. Barths but visitors will also find many reminders from the island’s time under Swedish rule (1784-1878). Walk around Gustavia, for example, and you’ll see street names like Kungsgatan (King’s Street), Strandgatan (Beach Street), and Nygatan (New Street)—titles you’d normally expect to see on the streets of Stockholm or Gothenburg. Even the name Gustavia has Nordic lineage, named after Sweden’s King Gustav III.
Island time is a very real phenomenon when it comes to St. Barths. Don’t be frustrated by the 45 km/hr (28 mph) speed limit, all-night dinners, and overall slower pace of living. It’s simply a way of life on the island and you’ll be more relaxed than ever if you fully embrace it!
If you find yourself confounded by the aluminum cans hanging from hooks at the beach, don’t worry. These unique contraptions are simply meant as ashtrays to protect the island’s beaches. Help us keep St. Barths beautiful!
Don’t be surprised if you encounter a goat (or ten) while hiking on the island. This is a nature reserve after all and St. Barths locals still share their tropical paradise with a wide variety of animals—including hundreds of wild goats that roam the vast shoreline. Simply wave hello and continue about your trek!
It’s not the French Caribbean without one or two “au natural” beaches. If sunbathing in the nude sounds like your kind of venture, be sure to set your sights on Plage de Grande Saline along the island’s southern shore. Those who prefer the topless route can do so on virtually any beach—as this is a widely accepted norm in French culture.