You may already know about St. Barts and its “red roofed capital” of Gustavia. If not, and you are preparing for a visit to this elite Caribbean destination, make sure to set aside plenty of time for this lovely and appealing town. Though it is the capital, it has nothing of the city vibe about it. Instead, Gustavia retains its harbor town charm, and yet it is also a spot known for thriving nightlife, frequent visits from large cruise ships, and some of the most amazing luxury shops in the entire Caribbean.
Shopping in Gustavia
Travel and Leisure Magazine says that if there is one thing that is an absolute “must” while in Gustavia, it is shopping, “For designer digs in gingerbread-cute Gustavia,” (TravelandLeisure.com, 2015). The most recognizable names in the fashion industry appear in the shop windows here, including Hermes, Cartier, Bulgari, Vuitton and more.
However, there are also some “native” names that have made a huge impression in the world beyond the Caribbean too. The famous Calypso boutiques known today throughout the world for offering one of a kind “bohemian” styles as well as for selling many designer pieces were actually started here and can be found all over Gustavia. You also want to scout around for wide-brimmed hats made by local artisans, as these are often some of travelers’ most treasured “souvenirs”.
The town is not large, and the shopping district is not spread out over a large area. The largest assortment is condensed into the Rue Du Couturier (which is the Quai de la Republique) along with the Rue General de Gaulle and the La Savanne Commercial Center nearby.
The primary jewelry district is in the Le Carre de Or neighborhood and the Rue de la Republique, too. Within this area you will find some of the finest watchmakers as well as jewelers, and even some custom design options, too.
In addition to the districts mentioned, there are many small side streets (many with the appearance of narrow alleys) that contain amazingly great finds. From exclusive boutiques to artisan galleries, these are remarkable fun and very rewarding places to explore.
Sites to Visit in Gustavia
Because shopping is a popular pastime in Gustavia, there are many galleries and restaurants in the same areas. Don’t overlook you opportunity to sample some delicious pastries and to just sit back and do plenty of people watching.
If you prefer a more active experience, you will want to be sure to pay a visit to the impressive Fort Gustav, which was constructed during the “Swedish” period on the island, but which offers some of the best views of the town.
You can also take an easy and casual stroll to Gustavia’s main beach, Shell Beach, and enjoy a bit of time exploring one of the most unique beaches in the world. It has earned its name because it is covered with millions upon millions of shells. While this alone gives it plenty of appeal, some of the most beautiful sunsets can be enjoyed here, as well, though savvy travelers know that cocktails in the nearby bars make this experience an even more comfortable and enjoyable one.
If Gustavia is known for daytime shopping, it is equally famous for nighttime activities. The town is famous for its many hotspots, some of which are frequented by the “glitterati” that pay seasonal visits to St. Barts. Bumping into Gwen Stefani, Derek Jeter, or Mick Jagger is not all that unusual! Try Le Select, the Yacht Club, and Do Brazil are three places frequently mentioned in magazines and websites when discussing celebrities in St. Barts.
While you could stay in a villa throughout an entire vacation in St. Barts and never venture farther than your pool, a day or two in Gustavia is well worth the effort and sure to please.