Are you planning on coming to St Barth and wonder what to do on the island with your kids? Don’t worry! St Barth is a great place for a family vacation with lots of fun activities for old and young alike. Check out our insider info on the beaches kids like best, as well as playgrounds, hikes, and restaurants perfect for family meals.
Beaches For Kids
Beaches such as St Jean, Lorient, and Grand Cul-de-Sac are the safest places to swim with kids. In St Jean, there are two beaches to visit; on the airport side, a windsurfing club rents boards for kids, and on the side referred to as “Pelican beach,” the calm, sheltered waters are perfect for families with young children, who can also play in the sand along the water’s edge. In Lorient, just a few minutes walk to the left of the surfing club, there are magnificent natural pools along the beach that allows youngsters to swim in shallow, clear warm water protected from the waves by the coral reef. By putting their heads under water for a second, they can see tiny, multi-colored reef fish. Older kids might want to try surfing or paddle boards, and can ask at the surf shack about classes taught by professional instructors. The whole family might enjoy snorkeling to observe the underwater flora and fauna seen close to the shore. In the late afternoon, it is very picturesque to watch the fisherman come in to unload the catch of the day.
At the lagoon in Grand Cul-de-Sac, kids as young as five or six can take a look at the sea turtles and fauna in the seabed thanks to the transparent bottom of the kayaks rented by the à Ouanaloa Dive club, while older kids can try kite-surfing. There are also the popular pedal boats that make for lots of family fun. Other beaches also have paddleboards and Seabobs to add to many hours of fun in the sun or on the waves.
The fiery sunsets are not to be missed at Shell Beach, where the sand is covered with small shells and the rocky cliffs are of great interest to kids, who like to scale them while their parents enjoy cocktails and tapas. A perfect beach for swimming in the winter when the water is calm, while the waves in St Jean and Lorient are too rough.
When spending a day on a boat, don’t forget to plan a stop in Colombier, where the bay is part of the marine park, and the small beach lends itself to games on the sand, swimming, and snorkeling. You are likely to meet a sea turtle and see plenty of starfish.
For a lovely walk in the late afternoon, the little beach in Grand Fond allows you to enjoy the most undeveloped side of the island. The beach is made of coral and a great place to visit, but it is also the beginning of a hike that takes those adventurous enough to the natural pools along the coastline. This hike should only be done during the day, with the proper shoes, sunglasses, a hat, suntan lotion, and a bottle of water. Please make sure your kids are old enough to walk for a half an hour along a narrow trail along the edge of a cliff.
The small village of Corossol has a little beach where the calm water lends itself to swimming as well as games for kids, and local families enjoy this beach at the end of the afternoon. It is also a good place to see the traditional handiwork that uses woven palm fronds that have been dried and braided, a craft that seems to be dying out but is kept alive by a few older women in the neighborhood who make lovely hats, baskets, and other items.
What Restaurants Are Kid Friendly?
Most hotel restaurants are set up to welcome kids with families staying at the hotel (kids’ menus, highchairs, beach games, babysitter…). Don’t hesitate to ask the concierges about special kids’ programs, and be sure to make reservations early enough to jive with your schedule.
On the beach in St Jean, Tom Beach and Eden Rock are among the hotels that welcome families for a memorable day at the beach, with lunch with feet practically in the sand, swimming, and relaxing on chaise lounges until sunset. The Cheval Blanc Isle de France on the beach in Flamands, like the Christopher Hotel in Pointe Milou and Le Guanahani and Le Barthélemy in Grand Cul-de-Sac, welcome families for lunch and the kids can alternate taking swims in the ocean or in the pool, as well as play on the beach.
Many of the restaurants on the island have great menus for kids. We recommend La Gloriette in Grand Cul-de-Sac, which has delicious pizzas and cheeseburgers for dinner, which kids love, and a varied menu for lunch. The restaurant is along the beach, so while waiting for the meal the kids can play amongst the tables or in the sand. With an ambiance more on the chic side, yet still relaxed and welcoming, Le Tamarin in Saline with its playroom for kids with little cars, a fire station, children’s books, and coloring books. In the garden you might find a friendly cat or two brightly colored parrots, as well as small turtles that swim in the lily ponds. There is also a ping-pong table, foosball, and seating under the hundred year-old Tamarind tree, and you could easily spend an afternoon in this restaurant whose friendly staff pays great attention to the clientele. A must on your island itinerary! Another spot not to miss is the beach restaurant for lunch at Le Toiny, where you will often see surfers riding the waves. Kids can play on the beach or in a coconut grove, but please note swimming is not allowed here due to strong, dangerous currents that only the surfers can safely navigate as they practice their sport.
Playgrounds and Arts & Crafts
In St Jean, close to the sports stadium, a playground is open for kids 3 to 10 years old, every day 9am-7pm, and it can get surprisingly crowded in the late afternoon. Popular with local families, it’s a great place for moms to meet each other while the kids play. Also in St Jean, the Blue Gecko is a studio for painting on ceramics and other arts and crafts for kids accompanied by an adult. In Flamands, Vicky’s Féérie is a fun spot for various activities including drawing, painting, collages, etc. Run by Vicky, the originality of things offered appeals to both boys and girls. Vicky is an adorable, capable young woman to whom you can safely entrust your children for these three-hour ateliers, and they won’t want to leave when you come to pick them up (as I found out myself with my 7 year-old son). In Lorient, there are films in the outdoor “cinema” at AJOE, which attract the teenagers on the island. Visitors are always welcome to watch a film under the stars and experience movies St Barth-style.
Hiking With The Family
From Flamands you can hike along the cliffs to get to the beach in Colombier, and it’s a great activity with kids who are old enough to walk a half an hour along a trail that is not too difficult. On the other hand, the walk starting in Colombier and leading down to the beach is too steep and difficult to attempt with young kids and their little legs. But you can drive out to the overlook in Colombier where there is an orientation table. There is also a pretty orientation table in front of the lighthouse that stands watch over the entrance to the harbor of Gustavia. It’s easy walk to the lighthouse for the family to take in the late afternoon to watch the sunset from a vantage point with a perfect view of the port. This walk also leads to Fort Gustav where you can admire the two historic canons given to the island by the Swedish Naval Museum in December 2012 in tribute to the links that remain strong between Sweden and Saint Barth, which was a possession of the Swedish crown from 1784 to 1878. On the other side of Gustavia, Fort Karl overlooks Shell Beach and its bay. A succession of wide steps allows access to the outlook point, where there is also an orientation table with the names of all the neighboring islands that are more or less visible depending on how clear or cloudy it is.
A promenade along the docks is lovely and easy to do even with a small child in a stroller. You can walk all the way from the entry of Gustavia (near the fish market) as far as the Territorial Museum, where there are interesting exhibits of contemporary art and island heritage, plus upstairs at the territorial library you can borrow books for kids as well as adults. Kids will also have fun playing in front of the Hôtel de Ville, or town hall, where many families bring their children at the end of the afternoon with scooters, bicycles, or rollerblades. Halfway around the port, there is a huge ship’s anchor across from the Anglican Church, and both the anchor and the church are worth a visit. At the entry to town, the fish market is active early in the morning and quite interesting to see. And feeding on the fish guts in the water, large fish such as tarpon gather near the fish market, which is also a hangout for young apprentice fishermen at the end of the day.
Starting from the ferry terminal in Gustavia, the Yellow Submarine takes you and your kids on an outing to see the underwater world, with colorful fish and shipwrecks in the harbor of Gustavia without having to get wet!
As this article points out, you can see there are lots of things for your kids to do and not be bored during your stay on the island. Have a great vacation!