||The climate is arid tropical maritime, which means that it rarely rains, and that year round temperatures range from 72° to 86° Fahrenheit.
Why is it that everyone is so eager to tell you how beautiful St. Barths is? In exclusively natural terms it isn't very beautiful at all. Compared to the green sloping plains of St. Kitts, or the lush river valleys of Martinique, it is scrawny, parched, and inhospitable.
There is, of course, an explanation: St. Barths is beautiful because of the ingenious alliance between the place that Nature made, and the place that men and women have made within it. It's more of a feeling than a catalog of sights, sounds, and smells. Some corner of our minds recognizes that a people have evolved a way of life, adapted to difficult circumstances, that has resulted in things like charm, pride, peace, and, more recently, plenty.
There are fourteen beaches on St. Barths, all blessed with gleaming white sand. Few are crowded, even in peak season. All are public and free. Nudism is ostensibly prohibited; topless is not unusual.
For beaches with hotels, restaurants, and water sports, Grand Cul de Sac fits the bill, as does St. Jean, which is actually two beaches divided by the Eden Rock promontory. You can also see St.Jean Beach from our panoramic movie page
There is a smattering of hotels and restaurants at Flamands, a huge stretch of white sand fringed with lantier palms. The village of Corossol verges on a lovely beach that serves the practical purpose of a fishing port.
The beaches at Marigot and Lorient are secluded and quiet, favored on Sundays by island families.
Petit Cul de Sac is secluded, and usually very quiet; Toiny is wild and beautiful, not for the faint hearted.
Gouverneur is serene; Saline is well worth the hike over the sand dune.
Shell Beach can be reached on foot from Gustavia; Public, pronounced "poobleek", near the commercial pier, is fine for a quick dip.
Hardest to get to is Colombier, reachable by boat from Gustavia or by a half- hour hike down a scenic path.
For those in search of an active and glittering night life, the choices in St. Barths are few.
There is no real movie house, but on many Saturday nights, local folk assemble at the A.J.O.E. tennis court in Lorient to watch a recent movie, usually dubbed in French, that is projected on a huge painted concrete wall. Serve yourself chairs, and a stand for popcorn, hot dogs and cold drinks.
Video cassettes and DVDs can be rented at a number of locations for movies at home; many hotels and villas offer English speaking satellite television programs.
Sailors and locals gather most evenings for tall stories and beer at Le Select, a favored hangout in Gustavia. Sometimes there is live music.
Some restaurants have an independent cocktail bar. They have a lively ambiance and sometimes propose live entertainment till midnight or 1 AM during the high season. Bête à Z'Ailes, La Plage, "Nikki Beach" and le Ti-St Barth are among these.
A new Lounge Bar, the "Bar'tô" at Guanahani, is open daily till 1 AM. It welcomes anyone who is looking for a before or after-dinner drink in a cosy and elegant atmosphere.
The "Yacht Club" with its "Live Screen Concerts" on Gustavia Harbor, and "Casa Nikki" also in Gustavia, as well as "Le Feeling", in Lurin, provide mind altering drinks, ear-shattering disco music, a dance floor, and a chance to catch someone's eye across a crowded room.
During the music and film festivals, there is somewhere interesting to go every night, and, now and then, the sky overhead explodes in celebration of some public or private event.
All this having been said, year after year, the most popular nighttime experience on St.Barths remains comfortable and leisurely dining.