It’s sunny today in Brooklyn and beautiful, but not nearly as warm as it was in St. Barths as of Thursday… We hadn’t been on a real vacation in over 2 years – in 2009 we took an extended trip to Australia and 2010 saw us on the book tour – we hadn’t realized how stressed out we’d become! Ever since our first trip to SB in 2003, we’ve stayed at a family-owned hotel run by twin brothers who happen to share a birthday with Simon. For many years we’ve been trying to organize a three-way birthday party, and we finally made it happen this year! As we didn’t take a babysitter or even hire one locally, we stayed away from the clubs and instead hung out with local friends quite a bit, and had a truly amazing and relaxing time.
Stayed: Le Manapany
Doing St Barths with kids is easier than one might expect. We’ve had many tweets asking us for recommendations, so here you go. I only listed places we’ve been to on this trip; there are plenty of others that are amazing as well. Make sure the kids have sport sandals with good treads and ankle straps for climbing over rocks, and apply sunscreen before leaving in the morning, then again at noon and 3pm.
Go to dinner early’ish as we did, and choose places that have something interesting for them. Andy’s and B4 have great plain pizza for picky eaters in addition to a full menu; O’Corail, Do Brazil and Sand Bar are on beaches where kids can frolic while waiting for the food. Pipiri’s has a big lobster tank and an eccentric owner whom the kids love. Readers of our book might remember us discussing the Carre d’Or, which (as you might guess from the name) is the middle of the shopping district. There’s an outdoor restaurant in the courtyard, which has changed hands from Le Square to Caviar Island and finally its current incarnation, 88, which in our opinion is the best yet. 88 in particular has a great kids’ cocktail menu, though nearly every bartender on the island can make a virgin piña colada or mojito – the chums’ current faves. Le Grain de Sel is right next to Saline Beach, and is cut into a cliff – our boys love it because iguanas crawl down from the rocks straight into the restaurant area and happily snatch up little bits of bread thrown to them. In all our time there we’ve never had one hiss or nibble, so they are pretty tame.
In our photo-cap there is a playground, which is in St. Jean in between the stadium and the firehouse. Speaking of the stadium, it’s almost always open and has a brand new track. If you want to hire a local babysitter so you can go out and hit Le Ti, Nikki, the Strand or Yacht Club, there are a bunch of different agencies, or ask the hotel or villa concierge – it’s pretty easily handled.
Our favorite beach is Saline, but if you try it and decide you don’t want to walk that far with the kids, take them to the lagoon at Grand Cul de Sac, St. Jean or Flamand. There are two main dive boats, and we’ve only ever gone out with Plongee Caribe; however I had a chat with an Ouanalao divemaster at lunch one day. He told me that the difference is mainly this – Ouanalao goes out to the Atlantic dive areas and Plongee Caribe hits the Caribbean ones, so you see different marine life – worth noting. The chums aren’t old enough to scuba with us, but we worked on François’ snorkeling and Johan’s swimming this time. If you are going with older children who dive, the Caribbean side is pretty gentle yet interesting, and a good place to dive with them.
Overall, St. Barths is a wonderful place to go in general, and totally doable with kids. Enjoy!