1. Where to Stay
At tony Eden Rock, book the Greta Garbo suite and land a private balcony with views of Fregate Island for €1,215*, an over 50 percent savings from peak prices. An even better deal is the summer “Pick Me Up” package, which includes one of the newer, simpler Contemporary Beach Rooms, car rental, snorkeling gear, and breakfast buffet for three nights for €1575.
Just up the hill, the well-situated Hotel Le Village St. Jean (from €130) offers basic but bright accommodations at a fraction of the cost of oceanfront properties. Rooms have newly retiled bathrooms and flat-screens, but upgrade to a cottage for a kitchenette and private balcony overlooking the bay for €50 extra a night. The beach is a five-minute walk away.
The best deals at the secluded, Christian Liaigre–designed Le Sereno Hotel (from €480) aren’t advertised, so ask when you book for bargains like an upgrade from the Suite Terasse to Grand Suite Plage for direct access to the serene Grand Cul de Sac lagoon. Even if it’s not available, you’ll still enjoy the private bar and sexy wood-and-granite bathrooms in all 27 sleek villas and suites.
On the south side of St. Barts, the Saline Garden Cottages (€80) are the island’s most affordable. The five geographically themed suites (from the Bali-chic Padang Padang to the Moroccan Essaouira) don’t have televisions, but they’re Wi-Fi-ready, stocked with Ligne St. Barth toiletries, and just a two-minute drive—or ten-minute stroll—from Saline Beach.
* Dollars are accepted on the island all year around, but during the off-season, many hotels and restaurants honor a €1 for $1 ratio. We list prices in € for this reason.
2. Where to Eat
At Mya’s, chef-owner Maya Gurley serves up local, Creole-influenced fare—curry-spiced shrimp and warm, moist West Indian orange cake—with views of the Gustavia harbor. During peak season, it’s nearly impossible to get a table (though you can pick up picnic fare and wine at Maya’s To Go), but seats open up this time of year (Anse de Public; 590-27-75-73).
The $69/€44 prix fixe menu is a great value at the luxe Restaurant des Pecheurs. Order wahoo, red snapper, and mahimahi prepared one of three ways—try salt-crusted. On Fridays, chef Jean-Luc prepares a bouillabaisse a l’ancienne, and full moons are celebrated with a barbecue on the beach.
St. Barts’ waters teem with langouste—spiny, clawless Caribbean lobsters. Pick yours from the tank at La Langouste, a low-key poolside eatery at the Hotel Baie des Anges (97133 Saint Barthélemy FWI; 590-27-63-61) where St. Barts native Annie Anges serves them sweet, buttery, and grilled.
Despite its tongue-in-cheek motto—“corked wine, warm beer, lousy food, and a view of the car park”—British expat Andy Hall’s the Hideaway in St. Jean earns its rep as a local favorite for its cheap, comfort food, such as divinely crispy pizza and cook-it-yourself fish on a hot stone griddle. Try the €10 plat du jour lunch special.
3. What to Do
Take affordable sailing lessons (€38 an hour) at the St. Barth Yacht Club (590-27-70-41); they also rent out their new fleet of fourteen-foot Lasers at the same rates. If the purse strings are a little looser, opt for renting a sailboat or catamaran—Cote Mer has a 47-foot catamaran, Nuage III, for €720 for a half-day rental, while Yannis Marine has an impressive collection of sport yachts, including the 31’ Contender for deep sea fishing trips. It runs €750 for a half-day rental.
Find plenty of room to sprawl out on St. Barts’$2 37 pristine beaches in the off-season, when temperatures hover around 78 degrees. Bask in isolation at the idyllic Gouverneur Beach in the south, which also has excellent snorkeling (most hotels provide gear), or on the long stretch of sand at Flamands. Its choppy waters are good for wave-jumping and wind-surfing. If you feel social, lunch at the sceney restaurants along Baie de St. Jean—restaurants La Plage at the Tom Beach Hotel and Nikki Beach also offer beach-chair rentals.
Skip the shore for a day and head to Gustavia for some retail therapy. Summer sales are the best time to get your fill of Cavalli, Cartier, Dior, and Vuitton, all marked down by as much as 70 percent during semi-annual sales. Check out some of the lesser-known stores, such as Cachemire Crème (Rue du Bord du Mer; 590-52-48-42), which carries buttery soft cashmere for all ages. Locally made Ligne St. Barth luxe skin-care products are always a good buy. Stock up at the flagship store in Lorient (Route de Saline; 590-27-82-63). Go early—or late, as many shops close between noon and 4 p.m.
4. Insider’s Tip
For groups or families traveling together, renting a villa is the best bargain. Check out Wimco.com’s best-value villas, where each bedroom rents for less than €157 per night. And you can still get “room service”: Gustavia wine seller, Cellier du Gouverneur (590-27-99-93), will deliver to your doorstep gratis. Or hire personal chef Bernard Javelle to throw a dinner party, prepare picnic baskets for a day at the beach, or stock the refrigerator (50€ per hour, not including the cost of food).
5. Oddball Day
Down a Saravah (ginger, pineapple, and cachaça, or Brazilian rum) at beachfront eatery Do Brazil, before going cliff-diving off Shell Beach. Wearing waterproof shoes (the shells are sharp), swim out to the cliffs flanking the left side of the beach. Grab the ropes to help hoist yourself out of the water and follow the white posts to the best jumping spots. Back on land, watch sunset on Do Brazil’s deck. End the night at nearby Le Bete a Z’ailes, also known as Baz Bar, where live jazz, blues, and soul performances go into the wee hours—keep an eye out for Jimmy Buffett, known to give impromptu performances here.
Print gallery openings and live music from St. Barth Weekly’s Website.
Wimco Villas has comprehensive listings of budget villa rentals, some under €200 per night.