Special Guest Contributor:: Darrin Gleeman of New York City and West Indies Travel Expert
The Leeward Islands are so named because the winds blow from the south to the north, thus hitting the Windward Islands first. The Leeward Islands are downwind – or leeward – of the rest of the Lesser Antilles. This group of islands is made up of the Virgin Islands, Anguilla, St. Martin, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Saint Barthelemy (St. Barts), Antigua, Barbuda, Saint Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, and Dominica. And depending on history, perspective and bragging rights, sometimes Isla Aves is considered to be part of this grouping.
St. Barts Island of the French West Indies
St. Barts Island of the French West Indies is a popular destination for many Lesser Antilles travelers. This classy destination has a “definite French feeling the moment you step onto the island. It’s a travel destination I cannot get enough of – I just keep coming back and back” says Darrin Gleeman of New York, New York. It is full of luxurious villas, chic hotels, and high-end French restaurants. St. Barts boasts fourteen beautiful beaches that are seldom crowded even during the peak season.
Yearly a music festival, the Festival de Musique de St. Barth, and a film festival, Cinema Caraibe, attract visitors. The film festival is an exciting and exotic way to view Caribbean films from a variety of islands that are often not seen in the United States or Europe. On an everyday basis, St. Barts has plenty of nautical activities as well as hiking, horseback riding, a driving range, and several tennis courts. Volleyball fans should check out a tournament because it is most definitely St. Barts’ most popular sport.
St. Barts Travel
St. Barts travelers usually arrive through St. Martin by way of airplane. St. Barts does have its own landing strip; however, it is very short and is often plagued by turbulence from both directions. Therefore, the French aviation authorities require a special landing permit to fly directly into St. Barts. Travel by private airplanes is available directly onto the island, but St. Barts traveler Gleeman recommends that you “simply land on St. Martin and take a ferry to the island of St. Barts. It’s one extra stop but it’s safer.”
St. Barts Cruises
Many cruise options by major cruise lines offer St. Barts Caribbean cruises in the sense that they make a stop on the island during the itinerary. This is a great option if you want to incorporate St. Barts into your trip but also desire to see more of the Caribbean. This offers a survey of all that the West Indies has to offer. However, a cruise is probably not the best option if you really want to get to know the culture of St. Barts and explore its numerous beaches and restaurants. However, you also should consider that on a cruise you have food, entertainment, and lodging for one all-inclusive price. Additionally, if your vacation is incomplete without an active nightlife, a St. Barts cruise will be able to accommodate nightlife along with a day in St. Barts.
St. Barts Furniture
Only a few years ago, very little St. Barts furniture was available on the island for islanders to decorate their houses. Islanders had to commission large containers to be shipped full of American or European furniture. Now, more and more furniture and decorative shops are available. As a matter of fact, the local delivery services report that now a bulk of their work is actually shipping out of St. Barts instead of the way it used to be where they primarily received shipments from other parts of the world. Our friend Darrin Gleeman, who has rented a home on St. Barts says, “Caribbean style furniture is most widely sold in St. Barts’ furniture stores, but you can also find a variety of French linens and antiques to decorate your house or take back with you.”
St. Barts Art
There are twelve (12) St. Barts art galleries on the island and two museums. The art galleries display art from all around the world, including some Caribbean art. The history museum showcases the rich St. Barts history, while the other museum has an “interesting collection of seashells from all around the world” comments Gleeman. “While St. Barts cannot boast many native artists, the island does produce many notable crafts such as doll cottages, fishing skiffs, woven straw, and traditional music.”