So last month, just before the celebrities and the island’s jeunesse dorée returned for the sun-soaked high season, I flew down to see if what I was reading was accurate. Not only was I relieved that the island had come back, I was astounded that it looked even better than the last time I was there.
As my ferry lurched into the capital city of Gustavia, I could see that all the high-end boutiques were back and the restaurants were crowded with locals and the first throngs of holiday season tourists.
The Christmas lights hanging throughout the town made it all the more festive.
A look down at the town of Gustavia in St.
“It’s incredible how quickly we’ve come back, and it’s shocking because the hurricane we had in 2017 was the strongest hurricane ever to hit us,” said Nils Dufau, president of the St. Barthélemy Tourism Committee.
Everything is completely reconstructed.”
St. Bart’s limits cruise ships to those with no more than 300 passengers.
After Maria and Irma struck in 2017, those ships were slow to return, leaving local economies in shambles.
Bart’s devotees were back in 2018 as the hotels and villas began to reopen. Its airport, a tiny strip that hugs the sea, was mostly unaffected by Irma.
An aerial view of St. Bart’s.
Solo travel was a daunting proposition for me in 2011, and I had no idea what to expect. I was on the verge of night sweats as the trip approached, worried about dining by myself or sitting in bars alone.
My fears were pure twaddle. I ended up meeting fantastic people and the only time I dined alone was when I chose to.
I have fond memories of sitting at the bar at Le Sereno hotel and meeting people who then invited me to spend time on their boats or explore the town. Against my mother’s advice, I talked to strangers, and I went on their boats.
Windsurfing off St. Bart’sHandout
As you may have gathered, St.
Bart’s is not where to go when you’re looking to do the Caribbean on the cheap, but you can rent an entire house on Airbnb for less than $150 a night, and you can eat at more casual restaurants such as the lively burger dive Le Select, or grab a gourmet pizza and a glass of wine at L’isoletta. On those nights when you want to splurge, try Orega.
I don’t know if I’m just lucky, but to date I’ve never had a bad meal in St. Bart’s.
But this particular trip wasn’t about getting out to the restaurants (although I did) or spending time at the beaches (I did that, too). Instead, it was about reconnecting with a place that dazzled me and made me feel entirely welcome during my first ever solo vacation.
The very least I could do in return was check in and see how my old friend had weathered the storm.
Christopher Muther can be reached at christopher.
Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther.