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st barthelemy, beaches, plage, Eden Rock

The Eden Rock Hôtel and St. Jean Beach in St. Barthélemy

ST. BARTHELEMY / General Description

From its postcard harbor to its twenty spectacular beaches, many travelers consider this beautiful little island to be the closest thing to heaven on earth. Rolling hills, picturesque villages and broad valleys are surrounded by coral reefs, gin-clear waters and blue-green lagoons. A favorite retreat for the rich and famous, St. Barth is renowned for its natural beauty, delicious cuisine, chic boutiques and relaxed ambiance.

St. Barthélemy (also affectionately known as St. Barth or St. Barts) lies 208 km (125 mi) northwest of Guadeloupe, and 25 km (15 mi) southeast of St. Martin. The island's capitol is Gustavia and the total land area is only about 21 sq km (8 sq mi). The population of St. Barth is approaching 7000. A few Swedish legacies endure, but many locals are French-speaking descendants of the first Norman, Breton and Poitevin settlers. Tourism has become the primary focus of the island.

St. Barth offers the best that money can buy in the way of peace and quiet, gorgeous scenery, friendly people and fine French cuisine. There are small green mountains, meadows marked with low stone fences, pristine beaches and sandy coves. Gustavia, the capital, is a charming little village and its harbor, bustling with small boats and luxury yachts, is one of the safest in the Caribbean.

The island is a dependency island of Guadeloupe, which in turn is an Overseas Départment of France. As such, St. Barthélemy participates in French elections. It also has its own mayor, who is elected every seven years, a town constable and a security force consisting of policemen and gendarmes. The latter are sent from France on tours of duty lasting two years. St. Barthélemy and neighboring St. Martin comprise a Sous-Préfecture of Guadeloupe, administered by a Sous-Préfect who resides in St. Martin and has a representative on St. Barthélemy.

St. Barth is on Atlantic Standard Time (Eastern Standard Time plus 1 hour or Greenwich Mean Time minus 4 hours). This island does not convert to daylight savings time. Time is indicated in the 24 hour format (in other words 1:15 p.m. is 13:15 or 13h15).

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