Who says St Barths is for the rich and famous?
I’m often asked if kids will love St Barths. With its reputation for luxury, fancy restaurants, and great shopping, it isn’t exactly made out to be a kids paradise.
My kids have been coming here since they were babies and we often have families staying with us at Les Ilets. In fact, my children have always said this is their favourite place in the world, and it still rings true over a decade later. The same goes for many of our regular guests who bring their children year after year.
For kids, St Barths isn’t about how fancy the restaurants are or how beautiful the people look. Here are some of the things that kids love most about St Barths.
1. Everything about the beaches
The beach is where it’s all at! Lorient, Grand Cul-de-Sac, and St Jean (where Les Ilets is located) are the safest places to swim with kids.
In St Jean, there are two beaches. The airport side, where kids love to watch the planes take off and land. They come in so low, it’s brilliant! There are windsurfing clubs renting out boards for kids as well as canoes and paddle boards.
The other side is referred to as Pelican Beach. The calm, sheltered waters are perfect for families with young children. Play along the water’s edge or snorkel around the rocks in the corner of St Jean Bay as my children always do.
Of course, the beach is also the perfect place for walks, bodyboarding or canoeing, collecting shells (especially at Shell Beach), and making sandcastles. Oh, and don’t stay inside when it rains either–the sea always feels so warm then!
2. Make friends with the animals
Kids love animals, and St Barths is full of them!
My kids were truly fascinated with all kinds of animals and could spend hours watching them. Some of their favourite animal-themed activities include:
- Finding the iguanas and tortoises that live at Les Ilets and feeding them the hibiscus flowers. The red ones are apparently their favourites.
- Watching the huge fat snails that come out when it rains.
- Hermit crabs are brilliant fun to watch and they’ll even race! They love the steps under the beach villas at Les Ilets.
- Watching the pelicans that dive for fish in St Jean Bay. They look like torpedoes when they dive in the shallow water.
- Feeding the fish. If you keep really still sometimes the fish will even suck your fingers! Don’t be surprised when you end up attracting a flock of seagulls that tries to steal the fish food.
3. Amazing food, restaurants, and markets
Eating out is one of the best things about going on holiday, don’t you agree?
But with younger kids, it can be a challenge, I know. At St Barths, most hotel restaurants are equipped to welcome families with kids’ menus, highchairs, or some entertainment. If you want any recommendations, just ask us and we can help with reservations!
My kids have loved going to restaurants since they were still pretty young so we never had any issues. With kids who like to move around or are fussier company, I’d recommend going early and avoiding the really upscale places.
On the beach in St Jean, Pearl Beach (pictured above) and The Christopher at Pointe Milou are two of the most memorable places for a meal with the family. Le Select is a St Barths institution and serves the famous ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’, in Gustavia. Oh, and kids love Le Creperie in Gustavia
Check out a selection of our guests’ favourite restaurants on the island for more restaurant recommendations.
Don’t skip the market in Gustavia though, the first Sunday of the month. This is one of my kids’ favourite outings. They love trying some of the island flavours at the market or popping down to the port early any morning to choose the fish directly from the fisherman for a BBQ later in the day (even if they don’t eat fish much at home!).
4. Holiday around
Of course, a holiday isn’t just about food and beaches. The best part of a family holiday is the holidaying and breaking the routine from life at home.
Having breakfast on the terrace with the whole family, having nothing but fun (and no studying!) all day every day; the quality time is the best part of the holiday for most people.
Kids love living in shorts and flip-flops, instead of wearing a school uniform every day.
Children love hammocks! Whether it’s for snoozing in the afternoon, reading a book in the shade, or just hanging there with some music, playing a game, or having something cool to drink.
And one of my son’s favourite things about holidaying at St Barths was the outside showering! Definitely very different from how things happen at home 😉
5. Experience the island
Photo Courtesy of St Barth Yacht Club
There are plenty of other family-friendly activities all over the island.
You can take kids hiking at an earlier age than you may think! Just make sure it’s a relatively short and easy hike, or be prepared to carry them part of the way.
Besides that, there are also the museum in Gustavia and the old forts that can be visited if your family likes history.
There’s a playground for kids aged 3 to 10 years old near the sports stadium in St Jean. It gets pretty crowded with local families in the late afternoon and it’s the perfect place to meet other families or for your kids to make new friends. During the school holidays, the sailing club & windsurfing clubs often runs courses. The tennis club often run tennis camps…talk to us about your child’s favourite activity!
And if your kids are into arts and crafts, you should check out Blue Gecko. It’s a studio for painting on ceramics and other arts and crafts for and with kids (accompanied by an adult). So much fun, and it’s the perfect souvenir!
The easy thing about being a child is that they can find something to do everywhere. Maybe it takes some getting into it the first few days with so much free time, but my kids didn’t have any problem with an afternoon of collecting fallen coconuts or shells on Shell Beach!
As you can see, there are plenty of things for your kids to enjoy! Before you know it, they’ll be the ones asking you to holiday on the island again!