We knew for sure what we did not want, another big resort experience, since we'd done a Sandals.
Planning a vacation for the summer of 2012, we initially were thinking of traveling to Europe since Devin has family in France and has always wanted to explore that culture. However, when we researched and found all the things we wanted to do, it was well over our budget. I wanted to go somewhere tropical, so we turned our search to the Caribbean islands because they are much closer to home and within the current financial reach of this secondary teacher and husband a new CPA. After days of looking online and reading lots of reviews, Devin found St. Barts which seemed to have everything we were looking for. It is French and tropical so we got the best of both worlds! After viewing pictures of the beaches and reading amazing reviews about the island, we were sold. The only thing we had left to do was find our accomodation. At first, we looked on several rental sites and actually found a place we were interested in staying.
After a some additional google searches, we found Flamands Blue, owned by Jeff and Caroline McGrew. The villa was absolutely perfect and more than we hoped to find for the amazing price. We contacted Jeff and ended up booking the very next day! Jeff did a great job of keeping in touch with us and making the experience painless and professional, down to helping with the best flights and reserving our car. The only downside was that we had to wait about 5 months until we could go!
We got even more pumped up by the "Big Girls" Trip Report and Jeff even arranged for Heidi, the "cliff jumper" herself to phone us the evening before!
US on the flight in:
Our flight was in early and we were at our beautiful villa (it looks way better than the photos) and SO excited to walk down to Flamands Beach or "plage" as they say! After a dip we started to settle in and Devin and I were able to kick back and enjoy the views from our upper balcony. We enjoyed the privacy of our place on the hillside.
Flamands definitely made my top 3 beaches list during this trip. Fortunately, it was super close to our villa.
Our first bottle of Rose' on the terrace afterward did not disappoint, either.
We got used to outstanding things every morning from the nearby bakery shop.
Hiking to Colombier was a little effort, but we definitely felt like we earned it. This beach quickly became our favorite. There were lots of sailboats and yachts in the harbor this day, but not very many people on the beach. This was one of our favorite things about the island. It was quite a change from the beaches we are used to in the Carolinas! If you look up to the right, you can see the old Rockefeller estate on the hillside. Several days later, Devin, being his adventurous and daring self, decided to hop the barbed wire fence to get a closer look. Although the house is abandoned due to the hurricane that came through a few years earlier, it is still a gorgeous piece of property.
We loved exploring the island. This is a really cool tree tunnel on the way back to our car from the natural pools. I love seeing the way that Devin was able to capture the charm of this amazing island through the lens!
We got up early and ventured out to find the natural pools (after breakfast at La Petite Colombe, of course!). This is a picture of the scenery on the hike to get there. Part of the beauty of the natural pools was the hike out there. I'm not sure how to describe it, but the hike really allowed us to appreciate the serenity and exclusivity of the island and prepared us for the natural pools to come. It made it that much sweeter when we found them! This was one of the most beautiful and romantic spots on the island.
This was one of our views while swimming in the natural pools. It was surreal to see the water crashing off the rocks. After we left, we tried to find the "Leap of Faith" that the ladies who stayed in the villa before us found, but were unsuccessful. We were told it was almost impossible to find it without the help of a local guide, but that didn't stop us from trying! It turned into a several hour hike on some private property...oops! Luckily we didn't get in trouble! Even though we didn't find the jump, we weren't disappointed by the views and scenery that surrounded us on the way.
I was almost hesitant to post this one, but it is truly a testament to how secluded it was. The water is so clear and calm. We had the pools to ourselves ALL DAY! The only reason we left was because we ran out of food!
During the week, we decided to utilize the grill at the villa some nights for dinner. It was so nice to have that option and hubby is very good at it too!
Another favorite was Saline---and the famous walkway.
We loved this beach and Gouvanier about equally.
We went to St. Jean one afternoon, nice to relax and take a quick nap before heading back to our villa.
Returning to the villa to get cleaned up, and went back to the harbor to dine at Wall House (our absolute favorite restaurant!). We were shown VIP service and enjoyed an amazing bottle of Rose, compliments of Jeff!
We had to get a picture with the Julian (the owner) and our waiter before we left. They were so hospitable and made our experience so great. Julian even took us into the famous wine cellar. We can't say enough about this place!
One morning and headed down to Gustavia to Jicky Marine to take a catamaran to Forchue Island for some snorkeling. It was such a fun trip and a great way to start our day. We saw some pretty amazing fish and sea creatures. Too bad we didn't have an underwater camera!
For lunch one day we had do this. Devin got the famous Marius Special (a suggestion from the family we flew with on the commuter flight) which you can see he enjoyed!
Along with a great night at LeTi, we went to a fire show and barbecue at Nikki beach. We enjoyed the sunset off our balcony before we left.
Our last couple of days we went back to the natural pools
The next day back to Colombier, his might possibly be my favorite picture! The view really cannot get any better than this!
Day 9: Our last morning on the island! We didn't have to catch a plane until 1:45 so we had time to get back out on the beach for a little while. We went down to Flamands and took some farewell pictures. We absolutely fell in love with St. Barts and both agree that it the best trip we have ever taken!
Waiting for our departing flight, sad to leave, we both agreed to start planning our return trip, hopefully next year---alone or maybe even with friends!
We read others Trip Reports along many other posts which were a great help to us first-timers!