St. Bart’s: Land of the Rich and Famous

St. Bart’s, St. Barth’s, St. Bartholomew—take your pick, the names are used interchangeably—is one of the 4 islands that make up the French West Indies. The other three are Martinique, Guadeloupe, and the French side of St. Martin. Most notably, St. Bart’s is where the beautiful people come and play, including the likes of Leonardo Di Caprio and Mick Jagger. (Mick sends his best).

Gustavia Harbor

St. Bart’s is deservedly big in reputation, but small by area and population. There are only about 9,300 full time inhabitants, and its total size is just under 10 square miles. Tourism is its most important business. The small island attracts over 200,000 visitors each year. The island and its visitors are well-matched: they are relentlessly upscale. Upmarket shops dominate the capital city Gustavia, the harbor is full of yachts and the hotels tend toward the boutique.

 

About the hotels: there are about 25 of them scattered around the island. Most have 15 rooms or less. Instead of regular hotel rooms, most hotel accommodations take the form of villas. One of the most notable is Eden Rock, where we stayed about 15 years ago.  Then again there is the Hotel Le Toiny where the rooms / villas start at $2,000 per night in January.

 

We spent our time in St. Barth’s wandering around the beautiful town of Gustavia, which is right on the water. Here below, are some photos taken there.

Street Signs in Gustavia
Shopping Area in Gustavia
Jet Skis in the Harbor

JFB

 

On to the Caribbean—Aruba

After traversing the Panama Canal, we arrived in the Caribbean Sea, leaving South America behind us. Our first stop in the Caribbean was Aruba.  It is a small island, just 19 miles long and 6 miles wide and a population of about 104,000.

 

The geography of Aruba is very interesting. One side of the island is the Caribbean. That is the side with the large tourist hotels and white sandy beaches. The other side faces the Atlantic Ocean where the sea is fairly turbulent. The Atlantic here is violent enough to have carved out from the cliffs the highest and most spectacular natural bridge in the Caribbean. (It collapsed in 2005).

Aruba’s Atlantic Coastline

We went touring mostly on the Atlantic side of the island, visited the rocky shores of the Atlantic side as well as desert-like areas and a butterfly farm. Some photos are below.

Cactus Plants
At a Butterfly Farm
Atlantic Ocean Crashes into the Coast
Desert Like Area in Aruba

JFB