Without any doubt, a long weekend on St Barths is the perfect escape from a hot New York summer or when winter takes over the city. Staying in one of the beautiful villas that Wimco manages on the island makes your experience even more unforgettable. Almost desperately I’m holding on to these thoughts and look back at one of the best vacations we’ve done as a family. Not only our two toddlers had the time of their lives, Thomas and I landed in paradise too, and therefore wanted to share this experience with all young – or soon to be – families out there!
Our adventure – which was published on HarpersBazaar UK as well – started on an early morning when we flew from New York to St Martin, one of the stop-over islands to get to St Barths. We changed our Boeing 747 seats for one on a Tradewind Aviation jet. An experience on itself. Everyone with kids knows that flying with toddlers can be a challenging, and so were our first four hours, but of course, the moment we took off for the last leg of our journey – the 15 minutes flight to St Barths – they fell asleep.
There’s not been a shorter – I might even want to say scarier – landing strip I’ve ever landed on, but these pilots clearly knew what they were doing, and the moment I set foot on St Barth’s ground our ultimate city-escape had started. It wasn’t high season the moment we were there (end of July), so everything was super quiet and therefore things went smooth and fast – great when you just traveled a full day with little ones. We rented a car, two car seats, and were guided by one of the Wimco concierges to Villa Ted, our home for the weekend.
The villa was a dream, really. It had all amenities we needed – from kitchen appliances for the kids’ morning smoothies to a beautiful outdoor shower for us. A full concierge service to help us with reservations, and let’s not forget the infinity pool with security to make our lives a little less stressful with two tods running around. The light and calm interior blended in nicely in the environment the villa was built in: tucked away on the mountain, but not more than 15 minutes drive to any of the beautiful beaches on the island.
Now when you stay on St Barths, your day is planned around the beaches you go to. Although we knew that some weren’t ideal when with little kids, we decided that this wouldn’t hold us back from exploring all of them. Plage Du Gouverneur and Saline beach were said to be the most untouched and beautiful, but with a rough sea and a little (Plage Du Gouverneur) to no shade (Saline beach). The first morning we spend there was indeed not great for the kids, and therefore also not for us. The kids couldn’t play by the sea, and the sun was too strong, and the wind made it impossible to hold down any beach towel, hence there was no way we could really relax as parents. Yet, our second try, at the end of the weekend, when it was much less windy, it was the perfect beach! We swam almost all morning with the kids and the rocks on the side of the beach gave enough shade to build sand castles.
Our favorite little-kid-friendly beaches were definitely Plage Du St Jean and Grand Cul de Sac. Here the water is safe, with almost no waves, lots of kids around, and restaurants with beds to make your vacation relaxing too. We loved Nikkie Beach (Plage de St Jean) on a late afternoon, where we had mind-blowing sushi and great Aperol Spritzers, and La Gloriette (Grand Cul de Sac) around lunch for grilled shrimps and a cold beer. One afternoon we decided to go to Shell beach, which has a very nice bohemian vibe to it, music playing, and kids run around, however, the sea was again a little too rough for our kids, so after a good duck spring roll we left and watched the sunset from our villa.
Our evenings tend to be quiet when traveling with the little ones, as they go to bed at around 7PM. Hence we didn’t go out for dinner any of the nights. No harm there, because we found Maya’s to Go for healthy and fresh take-away salads and pasta’s and organic steaks from Le Marché BIO for on the BBQ. So whilst I put the kids to bed, my husband prepared dinner and we had a no-stress romantic dinner by the pool with a good bottle of Champaign, every night.
A few practicalities!
What to bring? Lots of bikinis and swim clothes for the family, a few good cover-ups for the kids and yourself, beach sandals as the sand gets hot during the day, and swim t-shirts are not a luxury either. If you forgot to bring the latter – like me – you can find them from all the good surf brands at Hookipa. Sunscreen, lots and lots of it!
Never no breeze! Wherever you go on the island, it’s windy, so be prepared when on the beach… it does get sandy everywhere! The island is tiny, but you do need a car to get around. Everything is within reach, so we never had to drive more than 15 minutes to get somewhere. You can rent a car, with car seats, in advance or at the airport when you arrive.