St. Barths was exactly what I expected, and yet nothing like I thought it would be. Does that make sense?
That’s to say the island was beautiful, vibrant, upscale, pricey and possibly even snobby in parts. But at the same time, it was quiet and wild and inspired, and I completely understand why the rich and famous flock there. That said, other than a day trip on a cruise ship, I could definitely not afford to be one of those people.
Thus, St. Barths (or Saint Barthélemy, as is its formal name) was the perfect port for us to go on a field excursion with the Star Clippers seeing as exploring left to our own devices might have resulted in a significant drain of the bank account. And knowing us like you do, I’m sure you’re not at all surprised that we opted for the ATV tour of the island through St. Barth Adventure.
We docked in Gustavia, which is the island’s biggest town, but found ourselves covering every last road on the island. The day was a bit hazy to start off, which was probably a blessing given that we were out underneath the beating Caribbean sun for hours.
Our guide, Tom, was this charming native of St. Barths with a thick French accent who gave us a great informational tour of his home turf. We came to the famous airport first—known for being one of the most dangerous runways in the world—and he let us stop and snap some photos of the planes as they took off. Often, I didn’t think they were going to make it, given the tarmac only stretched to the water for a mere 650 meters!
We were following all the main roads of the island, so it wasn’t your typical ATV tour in which you’re bumping along dirt paths and fighting against the brush. I let this guy drive the whole time, as I much prefer the role of passenger and photographer. Plus, there’s no one who I trust more with my life than him. (I only wish I trusted him with his own life as much, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see: all the injuries he’s sustained from motorcycle riding in the Mojave Desert!)
Once we reached the top of the island, the views were incomparable. Tom pointed out where people like Mark Zuckerberg had homes; I can see why, given that the terrain would make it difficult just to pop in and say “hello” (or rather, stalk them from a nearby tree).
I only wish we’d had time (and access) to pay a visit to Eden Rock, the place to stay if you’re a celebrity! One day…
After we were finished, we returned to Gustavia and found a quaint cafe, Bagatelle, along the waterfront that was still serving lunch. (Many places around these islands shut down for a “siesta” of sorts every afternoon during a certain time frame. And because we were still a few weeks from the start of high season, others weren’t open, period.)
I had the croque Monsieur and a Diet Coke; SVV had the tuna tartar and two beers. So imagine our surprise when our check came, and the total was…77 €. Whew! I told you I couldn’t afford St. Barths for longer than a day!