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The author relaxes in St. Barts. Spend your day on the beach, at poolside or in some of the island's many boutique shops.

Shannon Kircher / Special to Cruiseable

The author relaxes in St. Barts. Spend your day on the beach, at poolside or in some of the island's many boutique shops.

How to spend a cruise day in St. Barts

Your choice: Shopping, beach time or lounge at a hotel pool (or all 3!)

You probably know about St. Barts from its reputation as the premier island for all things glitz and glam, for its chic facades, French-speaking population and designer stores that provide a dazzling stopover on a Caribbean cruise.

What to do during your visit

If you’ve selected one of the cruise ships that include St. Barts on their itineraries, you’ll have a great opportunity to get a taste of the 8-square-mile island in just a few hours.

I live not far away on Anguilla and have spent enough time to know my way around. So here are some tips on how to maximize a day trip on this gem of the French West Indies:

Morning | Arrival in St. Barts

With a morning arrival in St. Barts, you’ll disembark right in Gustavia, the perfect place to kick start your day.
Shannon Kircher / Special to CruiseableWith a morning arrival in St. Barts, you’ll disembark right in Gustavia, the perfect place to kick start your day.


Gustavia is the hub of St. Barts, a central point for shopping, dining and entertainment. Any time of year, you’ll see a sea of yachts in the harbor, but if you’re arriving during peak season (mid-December through early January) be prepared to glimpse some serious mega-yachts that have made their way to the tiny island paradise.

St. Barts is famous for its high-end shopping scene, and the reputation is well deserved. Your first glimpse after arriving in St. Barts will be a row of designer shops (Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Bulgari) that will either excite or intimidate you, maybe both. You’ll stumble upon some unique finds in Gustavia if you pop by:

  • M’Bolo, a little shop where a lady has been making her own rums for 20 years; 
  • Saint-Barth Stock Exchange, a shop offering some super-stylish second-hand goodies;   
  • Baya, an eclectic store with home decor curated from around the globe by the shop owner herself.

In need of a bite? Get your morning fix at a bakery or head to La Creperie, where you can fuel on fabulously French crepes with your choice of fillings.

Afternoon | Lunch + beach day at St. Jean Beach

The scene at Nikki Beach on St. Barts.
Shannon Kircher / Special to CruiseableThe scene at Nikki Beach on St. Barts.

After you’ve had your St. Barts shopping fix while exploring Gustavia, it’s time to head down and explore the other element that makes St. Barts famous: the beach scene. There’s no better place to experience this than at Nikki Beach Saint Barth, located right on St. Jean Beach. With iconic Eden Rock Resort sitting on the point, it’s a stunning stretch with a beautiful contrast of colors; white sand, turquoise waters, peachy-pink rosé and the red-roofed beauty of Eden Rock. You can easily spend hours lazing the afternoon away here, and a bottle of rosé is practically compulsory to complete the St. Barts vibe (you can order a magnum for a real wow-factor if you feel so inclined). The sushi is universally delicious and they offer plenty of bikini-friendly light fare to fuel the afternoon. Save up for this splurge: Plan on around €100 per person between food and drinks but think of it as an experience, not just a meal.

If you’d rather stay close to Gustavia, you can also make your way to Do Brazil at Shell Beach, another ‘‘beach bar’’ (as close as it gets in St. Barts!) where you can experience a drawn-out lunch paired with a dip in the sea. Be forewarned: where you can enjoy Nikki Beach and all if its beachfront beauty for the cost of lunch, Do Brazil charges €50 per chair to use the beach chairs for the day during low season.

Afternoon {Alternate} | Resort day

Hotel Christopher at Point Milou on St. Barts offers day passes for non-residents for 80 euros.
Shannon Kircher / Special to CruiseableHotel Christopher at Point Milou on St. Barts offers day passes for non-residents for 80 euros.

If the Nikki Beach/Do Brazil scene isn’t your scene, there’s an alternative. Head to a resort where you can while away the day with pool access, spa services, lunch and beach chairs. Hotel Christopher, located on Point Milou, offers a day pass that includes pool access/chair use, a welcome cocktail and a three-course lunch for €80 per person. They have a Sisley Spa on site as well for an extra dose of pampering!

Early evening | Pre-dinner cocktails

The elegant scene at Cheval Blanc on Anse des Flamands.
Shannon Kircher / Special to CruiseableThe elegant scene at Cheval Blanc on Anse des Flamands.

After a quick clean up, grab a pre-dinner drink in Gustavia or take the opportunity to explore some of the stunning hotels in St. Barts. For a super elegant sunset option, head to Cheval Blanc on Anse des Flamands or head to iconic Eden Rock to scope out a high-end hotel scene. Depending on when you have to be back to the cruise ship, this could be your final hurrah in St. Barts for the evening, but you’ll be within walking distance of the harbor for a fabulous cap to a day on the island. If your ship is docked for long enough to enjoy dinner in St. Barts, keep reading!

Evening | Dinner or appetizer crawl 

Shannon and Scott during an early evening appetizer crawl.
Shannon Kircher / Special to CruiseableShannon and Scott at Bonito during an early evening appetizer crawl.

You’re in St. Barts for a single day so how do you possibly choose from among all the high-end dining choices on the island? Instead of picking one spot for the night, follow our lead and opt for a dinner and appetizer crawl! With limited time in a destination, this is our absolute favorite way to explore hotels and restaurants that pique our interest without having to choose just one! For a couple it actually ends up being a perfect – and often more social – way of enjoying the dining scene.

If you’re bouncing around Gustavia, mosey on up to the bar at Bonito, where you’ll be served some fabulous craft cocktails alongside your choice of fresh fish in ceviche or tiradito form (try the sampler of ceviches – it’s perfect for two). From there, don’t miss Orega, where you can continue the raw fish trend and try their sushi or tataki alongside some wildly inventive cocktails (think green tea and spirulina). If you’re a gin lover, the Yuzu cocktail is a must! You can continue on for a casual bite and a sip at Baz Bar, made better if they’re offering live music to keep the night going.

You’ve done it! That’s arguably a perfectly spent day in St. Barts to soak up some of the elements that make St. Barts iconic: shopping in Gustavia, a day at the beach complete with French-inspired drinks, and an evening enjoying some of the wonderful cuisine on the island.

Tell us: How would you spend your day in St. Barts?

Republished and updated from an earlier date.

Day Tripping: Other articles in our series

Shannon Kircher
Shannon Kircher is chief curator of Cruiseable and founder and editor of The Wanderlust Effect, a travel blog focused on experiential travel with a luxury slant. Originally from California, she resides full time on the island of Anguilla where she and her husband operate the luxury boutique hotel Frangipani Beach Resort.