Diving St. Barthelemy

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St. Barthelemy

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Country: St. Barthelemy  Area: Carribean

Water Temp: 25 - 30°C (77 - 86°F)

Visibility: 5 - 40m (16 - 131 ft)

Depth Range: 4 - 30m (13 - 98 ft)

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St. Barthelemy or St. Barth as it is often called is considered a playground for the rich and famous. That said St. Barth is a place that you will always want to come back to. It has a little something for everyone.  One of the most picturesque islands in the Caribbean, St. Barth is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, amazing restaurants and plenty of water activities to keep everyone happy!

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With over 22 dives sites in the marine park and several more wild sites close to the island St. Barth offers great variety. Reefs, walls, wrecks and drift dives are all possible here. While there is no shore diving the dive sites are all no more than 30 minutes by boat.  Diving is available for all skill levels and every dive site has something unique about it.  Colourful sponges and corals, turtles, lobster, reef sharks, nurse sharks, sting rays and eagle rays are all common in the waters around St Barth.

 

Marine Conservation

The Marine Park is made up of the 22 different sites where fishing and anchoring are not permitted. The conserve is committed to protecting the fragile reefs and sea life. The sites are regulated and there is a fee for each person diving or snorkelling in the marine park.

Happy fishes, Credit

Climate

St Barth is beautiful year round. In the winter months (December – March) It’s dry and warm during the day and can get a little breezy at night.  With highs around 80 degrees winter also brings the most sea life. Hurricane season is at it’s highest in September and October when the temperatures are warmest and can be as high as 30 degrees celcius but this is still a great time to come as there are very few tourists on the island but since the water tends to be calmer, there are often special trips planned to further sites. The high season in St Barth is from December – April. May – November there are great deals to be had on both villas and hotels but there is great life underwater year round but the best chance to see that largest life is December – June.

Yellow stripe fish and coral, Credit

 
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Wildlife Calendar

       
       
       
                           
                           
       
       

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Boat Diving

Pain Sucre – The most popular site for all dive levels there are actually several different dives you can do at this location. At the deepest it reaches about 28 meters but can also be dove more shallow for beginners. Here you will see sponges, corals, turtles, lobster, grey reef sharks and nurse sharks are common.

Diving St. Barth, Credit

 

Forchue – One of the further sites its also one of the most diverse and beautiful.  A dive for all levels it’s no deeper than 22 meters but is a diverse reef that has many different ways of seeing.  Lots of life exists here with small and large sea life – we have even seen dolphins but of rare occasions.

Columbia – Again several dives here for all skill levels. For those that like to challenge themselves with a little current, this site can definitely bring it. The wall is packed with life with small and large sea life.  You are pretty much guaranteed to see large groups of lobster and anything else is possible including turtles, both sting and eagle rays, sharks and lots of fish!

Brain Coral, Credit

Kayalie – This wreck dive is to 30 meters and for experienced divers only. And old fishing boat that you can actually go into makes it one of the more exciting dives. Turtles and rays can be found nearby but the draw is the ability to go in and explore this fishing boat.

Boulanger – This wild site is one of our favourite spots. Several caves and a pass that should only be crossed by experienced divers this spot has something for everyone. Beautiful corals and sponges are home to many tropical fish. Small and large life is always possible. During whale season it’s one of the more likely sites to hear whales and dolphins, eagle rays, sharks and turtles are also very common.

One more coral, Credit

Coco Islands – This location has three or four possible dives that include caves, wall or reef. Currents can be stronger at the cave location so  best for divers with more experience. The other sites can be handled by most levels. With depths up to 25 meters it has quite a bit of variety when it comes to sea life. Turtles, sharks and rays are all fairly common.

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How to Get there

The easiest way to get to St. Barth is to fly to St. Martin and then you have a choice of taking a Ferry (40 min – 75min) or short (10 minute) flight over.  The Ferry is less expensive but you will need to take a cab from the airport to one of three Ferry docks while the flights are very convienient and leave every 30 minutes or so in the high season and less frequently in the off season.

St. Barth's Airport, Credit

Airlines serving St Barth are Win Air or St. Barth Commuter.

Ferry’s are The Voyager, Great Bay Express, or The Edge.

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Where to Eat & Drink

Restaurants: St. Barth is known for its many fine dining restaurants but still maintains a casual vibe. We have listed our favorites below. You may get others, but we are recommending all the below only on our experience and get no benefit from our recommendations. Please note that for the most part, eating out in St Barth is not going to be inexpensive. So the below separations are relative. Also, reservations are recommended everywhere almost year-round.

Burger & Fries, Credit

Most Expensive:

Eden Rock: This is located in the world famous Eden Rock Hotel. Excellent service with an inventive menu. Reservations required year round.

L’Isola: One of the best Italian restaurants anyone could imagine. One of the few restaurants that is completely inside and has a more formal setting. If you only have one meal to not think about this cost – this is it. You won’t be disappointed.

Expensive:

La Plage: We love it as the service is always excellent and super friendly. Fantastic for lunch or dinner there are couple of special meals that are worth checking out. The “Bikini Brunch” on weekends with DJ (don’t worry nothing obnoxious) has great specials always and a fashion show (these are very popular in St Barth. For dinner you can book a romantic table for two on the beach or dine with others. Lobster night and the parties on Fridays are the most popular but you can’t go wrong here.

Fish with noodles, Credit

Bar Baz: Sushi restaurant in Gustavia right on the harbour. Fantasitcally fresh sushi and lively atmosphere. Live music every night makes it a great place to head for dinner and then stay for fun. Jimmy Buffet has been known to show up and sing along as well J Only open November – early June.

L’Esprit St. Barth: Lovely restaurant located in a garden setting has fantastic seafood and other French specialities. Great wine list too.

Moderate:

Ocean: In our opinion one of the best seafood restaurants on the island. It’s a casual setting in Gustavia behind the harbour but don’t be thrown off by it being indoors. The service is excellent and the risotto is not to miss! They also do great lunch packages in the high season.

L’Entract: Lively restaurant in Gustavia where locals mix with tourists every night. The Pizzas are excellent and never disappoint. The rest of the menu has a French and Carribean influence. It’s gone through a complete renovation in time for Thanksgiving, this un-official kick-off for the new season!

La Langouste: If you like lobster this is a must visit. Charming setting poolside at a small hotel the service is excellent and the food is always excellent. Great for groups or couples, you won’t be disappointed at lunch or dinner!

O’Corail: Do not miss the best seafood lunch spot on the island. Right on the beach this family owned restaurant is always packed with beautiful views and the freshest fish around!

Dessert, Credit

Inexpensive:

La Cantina: Sandwiches at lunch and sharing plates at dinner this is a favourite among locals but tourists still get the “Cheers” treatment here. Located right in Gustavia it’s a great place for a snack or meal.

L’Isoletta: Sister restaurant to L’Isola offers pizzas and more casual Italian meals everything is fresh but service can be spotty at times.

 Pink Parrot: This is the beach bar at Tom Beach Hotel. If you don’t want spend the money for lunch at La Plage you get the same great vibe while able to order snacks and salads while sitting at the bar or one of the small tables on the beach.

Bars and Nightlife:

Bagatelle: This restaurant is the place where a lot of the locals will head after their shifts end for dancing and fun. The restaurant is great but it’s really well know for it’s parties!

Do Brazil: This beach restaurant is really best for sunset drinks on the beach and it’s Sunday parties.

Le Ti St. Barth: Cabarets and parties every night it’s open it’s a fun place to go dancing and “party”

The First & Yatch Club: Most popular with tourists due to it’s dress code and “scene” if you are partial to a club scene this is where you head.

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Other Activities

If you want to do something other than diving there is plenty to do in St. Barth.  For water sports you can paddle board, kite surf, Jet Ski, windsurf. Enjoy the wonderful beaches – St Jean, Flamands, Shell Beach and Grand Cul de Sac all have restaurants and activities, but don’t miss beaches like Columbier, Saline, and Gouvensor which are all “wild” beaches. The hike to Columbier is a great way to spend an afternoon – it takes about 45 minutes. You can also rent a boat with or without a captain or just lounge at the pool at your villa.

Swimming with family, Credit

Have a private masseuse come to your villa or visit one of the many spas on the island for some pampering

Shopping is fantastic and you don’t always have to break the bank.  End of May – early June every shop on the island participates in “Les Soldes” where you can get great bargains.

Yatch and Boat Races: There are 3 – 4 large boating events every year. If you sail or admire boats The Bucket Regatta and Les Voiles de St. Barth’s are great events to come and see!

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Tips

Diving in St Barth is beautiful but there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you get the most out of your trip.

If you don’t like being with a lot of other divers, book a private trip – you will get to pick your dive spot (weather permitting) and get to go on your own schedule.

St. Barth Harbor, Credit

Do your best to avoid touching anything in the water - it’s the best way to avoid stings and pricks.

Rent a car, scooter for 4x4- cabs are difficult to find and are VERY expensive and they often will increase their prices depending on time of year. Rarely will you pay the same amount for the same trip.

Families should seriously consider villas over hotels. While they may seem expensive there are great deals to be had and many of the rental companies will work with you on your budgets. It also gives you the ability to have some meals at home which helps keeps costs down.

Tipping is not mandatory but should be done for good service. 5 – 10% is more than enough. In most cases restaurant workers are actually getting very fair salaries and often their rent is part of their pay.

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