Luxury on a Budget
I just posted on Facebook about St. Barths, and it made me reflect back on my trip there. Here are a few facts about Saint Barthelemy:
1. St Barths is BEAUTIFUL!!! It is pristine, with beautiful beaches that offered different experiences-- secluded or busy party atmosphere, sprinkled with the volcanic rock that makes up the island or white sand, there's even one that is covered in magnificent shells. The food is to die for!! Exotic fruits and gourmet eats at every corner. It is a duty free shopping mecca, filled with high end boutiques. There are gorgeous views from many areas, many places for rest and relaxation, and what was probably the coolest, most fun bars I've ever been to (complete with a fashion/variety show, a room filled with costumes for everyone to wear, and dancing on the tables)!!!
2. St. Barths is EXPENSIVE!!! My husband and I have traveled throughout the Caribbean and expect inflated, high costs for food, beverage, activities, etc. But this was the first time we experienced true sticker shock. I'll just give one example. When we went to hike into Colombier Beach, we stopped at the grocery store to carry a picnic lunch with us. We bought two deli sandwiches, two apples, a bag of chips, two bottles of water, and two sodas. At home, this would be around ten bucks. I would anticipate maybe twenty, even thirty, in the Caribbean. It was 50 euros. Which is over $60!!!!
Our mistake: Not doing the research to know that before we went. We stayed at Tom Beach Hotel, which was fabulous!! There was a restaurant on site (that was delicious! Especially lobster night!), and an amazing breakfast was included daily. I loved sitting with my feet in the sand eating eggs, bacon, and fruit I'd never seen before! The problem was that, we had thought we could just walk everywhere to get food and cocktails. But this was the most expensive part of the island, and after one day of paying over $100 for lunch and $250 for dinner, we were starting to get a little stressed about how much this five day vacation was going to put us back.
The solution: We rented a car. And it turned our vacation around!!
We got a little white Mini Cooper convertable!! It was so fun to drive around the curvy roads and hillsides, and the views from up high were phenominal!! It opened up our options, and we found several little out of the way places to eat that were more reasonable ($40 for lunch and $100 for dinner), but were still delicious!! Maybe even better! But the best part is that we got to explore!
We walked the streets of Gustavia, a charming and quaint little town, full of character, boutiques, and cafes.
We drove the whole island, and visited all of the beaches. And we got to do our favorite thing for the whole trip... the hike into Colombier Beach!
The only way to get there is to take a boat or walk approximately 30 minutes along a rather rugged trail. But well worth the effort!! The views along the way are stunning! And then just to arrive at a beautiful, secluded beach, with great snorkeling. In a nutshell... unforgettable!!
In the end, we had a great vacation!! We also learned, that you can rent condos on the mountainside, with their own pools, hottubs, and milllion dollar views for a pretty reasonable price. That also allows you do cook some meals and save money there. If you are on a very limited budget, St Barths is not the place!! But if you have a some wiggle room, and really want to go, it is doable, and will be worth it. And if budget is not a concern, then I would highly recommend the tropical destination!! It is a beautiful, charming, and luxurious island playground that will not disappoint!!