Even if you haven’t ever been to the Caribbean island of St. Barts, chances are you’ve seen photographic evidence of the French-owned vacation destination, whether from friends or celebrities. (Model Ashley Graham recently celebrated her babymoon there). It’s known to be equal parts luxe, glam, and expensive, but what I wasn’t expecting to feel during my time on the dreamy Saint-Barthélemy Island, as it’s officially known, was Zen. Sure, the island may play host to beach parties and extravagant dinners, yet when I left the island feeling decidedly more relaxed and centered than when I had arrived, I thought about what I had done during my time there and concluded that the best things to do in St. Barts are totally free.
It’s the low-key happiness-boosting offerings—like secret natural springs, sunset meditation opportunities, and fresh local cuisine—that makes St. Barts an underrated wellness destination that should earn it a spot on bucket lists for next-level restorative getaways. When I checked into a room gifted to me by the luxe Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa, which is set on the quiet Grand-Cul-de-Sac beaches, I had a hunch I was in for a treat. And when I laid eyes on over-the-top amenities like the in-room Hermès products and the stunning seaside infinity pool, I was able to deem my hunch correct. Still, based on my experience, the best things to do in St. Barts proved to be the free ones. Rounded up below are three of my favorites.
The 3 best things to do in St. Barts that cost zero dollars.
Hike to the natural swimming pools
When packing for your St. Barts getaway, you’ll need more than just swimsuits and beach hats. Hiking essentials are a must because one of the hidden-gem secrets of the island is its nearby natural springs. Furthermore, the best (and more affordable) way to explore the island is to do it on foot. Whether you find hidden coves, natural swimming pools, secluded beaches, or all of the above, uncovering the destination with daily hikes will no-doubt be a free highlight of your trip.
One specific must-hike adventure is to the isolated Colombier Beach. The trek can be difficult to navigate since it’s rocky and not well-outlined, but once you take in those picturesque views, you’ll surely be grateful to have put in the effort to reach the remote spot. St. Barts also offers two natural pools: the Grand Fond and the Petit-Cul-de-Sac. The Grand Fond is on a flat plane, so you can easily walk in to take a dip in the crystal-clear waters, and while you’ll have to climb to the Petit-Cul-de-Sac, you’ll be able to distract yourself with the mountain goats you’ll pass as you climb.
Kayak with sea turtles
If you’re an animal lover (or just love adventures), rent a glass-bottom canoe or kayak for a free from the beach right below the hotel. Keep a lookout as you paddle because you’ll come across several sea turtles, starfish, colorful fish, and other marine life that you can view swimming right beneath you. (Not staying at the hotel? Any kayak will work—or, if you’re a swimmer, paddle out with your arms!) And upon seeing the turtles surface and pop their heads up to say hello, there’s a strong chance you’ll never want to return to shore.
Zen out at the holistic spa
Fancy spa treatments at upscale resorts run the risk of costing more than…oh, I don’t know…your rent or mortgage payment. But Le Barthélemy’s expansive on-site holistic facility Le Spa is completely free for guests to use for a number of purposes. And it’s not a faux amenity, either; the offerings of comped services included is shockingly high: hydrotherapy, saunas, hot and cold baths, vitality pools, an exotic tea salon, and an authentic hammam (or Turkish bath). This way, you can get the benefits of the therapies even if you’re not splurging on a facial or massage.
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