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One Day Trip to St. Barths

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Taking a day trip to St. barts from SXM,. Any suggestions for lunch, nice beach, rental car agency. What should one expect to pay for a small sedan, with automatic and A.C?

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    If you are going in peak season and want an automatic transmission, and non-weekly rates, expect to pay somewhere around $60-65 for the rental. I haven't heard complaints about any of the car rental agencies. Budget is popular. I've also used Island Rentals. Other people have used Europcar.

    St. Jean beach is convenient for a 1-day trip - it is a nice beach right next to the airport and there is shopping and restaurants within walking distance. The island's best beaches are probably Saline and Gouverneur. You'll need to drive to those, and they have no restaurants or any other kind of facilities.

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    Due to length, this will be a two-part post.

    Here would be a glorious day, in my opinion, in St. Barths...assuming you arrive in the early morning...

    If you can, call ahead or call as soon as you arrive on the island and make a lunch reservation (1:00 would be good) at The Sandbar at the Hotel Eden Rock in St. Jean (5 minutes from the airport). This restaurant is right on the beach. Fair warning it's expensive but worth it.

    Rent a car for the day from any of the car rental agencies, ideally a Suzuki jeep or a Jimny for the most fun driving. (both are standards) Some people swear by the Smart cars too.

    Drive into the main town of Gustavia to do some window shopping (or real) at the beautiful boutiques. Most open at 10:00. Make sure to go off the main street onto all the little streets as there are some lovely boutiques (it's not all jewellery and brand names). Stop at L'Oubli right on the main corner of town in Gustavia, kitty corner to the famous Le Select and have a citron presse (lemonade) or une the glace (iced tea). Watch the world go by and the cars zoom past.

    From there, buy a large bottle of water or two at the supermarket on the same street and using a map, navigate your way to Saline Beach. There is a parking lot and you have to "hike" in to the most beautiful beach you've ever seen.
    Take a bottle of water, sunscreen, towels and if posible a beach umbrella as there are no shade or beach services. When you come over the rise on the sand dune and see the beach, turn to whoever you're with and say "Gayle was right" (then email me when you get home to tell me too!). Spend and hour or two (no shade here, be careful)and head back to St. Jean slowly meandering up the steep hills. Make sure you stop (where it's safe to do so)to take pictures of the spectacular view behind you as you climbs the hills.

    When you get to the Sandbar restaurant ask for Sandrine the hostess. She's lovely. Ask to use the outdoor shower to shower off the sand from the beach (it's right by the restaurant). The restaurant is right on (and I mean dip your toes in) St. Jean beach and overlooks the airport so you can watch the little planes dive bomb to land (really fun to watch). Order a bottle of rose and sit back and enjoy a two hour lunch. (Yes, they take credit cards). After lunch, ask the restaurant if you can use their beach chairs (they may charge a small fee depends on time of year and how busy the are and how much you spent at lunch) and spend some time on St. Jean beach. Then after 4:00 (some open at 3:00), stroll along the shops of St. Jean, (turn left out of the hotel and walk about 3 minutes). These shops are more local, less touristy and have some lovely things (most notably women's clothes).

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    Part Two...

    If you don't have to be off the island before dark (if you come in and out by plane) and you're staying for dinner, then first head to either the Carl Gustaf Hotel, or La Mandala (a restaurant) for a glass of champagne to watch the sunset overlooking the harbour, or make your way to Shell Beach to watch the sunset.

    Then guess what? Time to eat again.

    Here are three picks for dinner.They are all very different.
    1) Le Sapotillier
    Family run, in a lovely little house at the far end of Gustavia. Ask for a table outside. This is expensive and the most formal of those I've suggested but worth it. Adam and his family do an amazing job. The chicken flown in from Bresse, the dover sole (the real thing) flown in from France, the lamb or duck, all classically prepared and gorgeous and the potatoes gratin...aaahhh. The desserts are not to be missed too. The wine list wonderful (ask for assistance with the choice. Adam's son Christian is the sommelier and very helpful).

    2) Maya's
    Don't be put off by the dark location at the end of a road. Walk past the cemetery (yes, but relax it's fine) to the gorgeous outdoor, white tented restaurant, right on the water at the end of the lane. Lovely menu, very fresh, creole and Asian influenced French. Lots of Americans go here. Maya is from Guadeloupe originally and randy is from Boston area. They've been doing this for about 18 or 20 years I think. Good wine list.

    3) PiriPiri Palace
    I love it here. It's very laid back, outdoors in Gustavia and for St. Barths VERY reasonable (almost cheap, but not). Great blues music (recorded). Amazing food, especially the BBQ ribs (yes!!!), but a big menu with lots of choice. Super casual (but nice, not a dump). Think hippie/chic/French.

    There are millions more. If you're specific I can suggest others.

    Okay, but your day has not yet ended. Now back to the pier for a walk along the quay to look at the mega yachts that have docked for the night. Sit and listen to the locals chatting, or the men at the end of the quay playing boule, then if you've arrived by boat had back to it for your return trip.

    If you have to leave before daylight, then my suggestions will have to wait until your return trip when you stay a bit longer.


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    My vote is to hang out at St. Jean Beach, walk around Gustavia and eat at La Mandala - excellent view and WONDERFUL food!

    The best beach we went to was Flamands. Incredible. There is a hotel there, I think called St Barths Isle de France where you can eat. The food was OK - but definitely worth being on the beach.

    P.S. The airport runway is practically on the beach in St. Jean.

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    I agree with the suggestions offered. Are you going to St.Barths by boat or plane. If by boat we were directed to a car rental upon docking and it was very reasonable; when we went by plane from Grand Case our ticket included a jeep for the day. Grand Saline is a beautiful beach, and it's fun to watch the planes takeoff and land on St. Jean Beach.

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