Seaside Shopping

Insider tips on top boutiques in the jewel of the caribbean

As if the turquoise waters and tropical beaches weren’t engaging enough, St. Barths in the French West Indies is also a playground for those who like St.-Tropez-style boutiques, Tahitian black pearl jewelry and 20 percent duty-free on top designer brands.

My whirlwind shopping excursion in this jet-set haunt of the Caribbean started at the boutique of my hotel, the Eden Rock (Baie de St. Jean, With its exquisite perfectly crescent beach, glamorous villas built atop the famous rock, plus full compounds along the beach (the Rockstar villa costs $20,000 a night), the Eden Rock is “the” place to stay on this island. A haven for women’s high fashion, the Rockshop at Eden Rock has the exclusive in St. Barths on top designers: Peter Pilotto dresses, a favorite among celebrity guests; Juliet Dunn beachwear by the English designer well-known for her caftans and dresses; and Camilla Skovgaard shoes, stylish creations from the Danish designer.

From there I headed for St. Barths’ two major shopping areas: St. Jean, a five-minute walk from the Eden Rock, and Gustavia, the larger duty-free area situated along the port, a fifteen-minute taxi ride from the hotel. St. Jean covers just a few blocks and has a real island feel to it, whereas Gustavia is like venturing out into the big city, albeit in an intimate island port town.

The boutiques at St. Jean are located within a small outdoor shopping center. At La Case aux Folles, you’ll find a curiosity shop full of items from Morocco, Indonesia and Guadeloupe, plus elaborate woven hammocks from Brazil, cotton and rayon pareos, and colorful paintings from local artists. Around the corner, Betty Boop has romantic lacy clothes and, unique to this shop, stunning beaded Ananya caftans from England.

In Gustavia, the majority of the shops are along the main street (Rue de la Republique) and a few side streets near the port. I always look forward to stopping by Fabienne Miot, which is a great source of semiprecious stone and Tahitian pearl jewelry. The “insider” item to buy while in St. Barths is an island bracelet, which traces the famous silhouette of the island in gold and white gold with a border of diamonds. It is usually worn with a casual rawhide band. A competing jewelry spot, Bijoux de la Mer, across the street, is famous for pearls, especially Tahitian black pearls. Most of the jewelry is understated chic and often combines the high and the low, such as a precious large black pearl hanging from a string rawhide necklace.

THE BARONESS GETS THE GOODS: Top choices for St. Barths shopping

La Casa del Habano is a fine cigar and Panama hat shop with 95 percent of its cigars from Cuba.

Couleurs Provence has items from Provence, including the famous blue and yellow table linens and beach bags, plus Laguiole knife sets, Versace collection tea sets, crystal caviar bowls and more.

Little St. Barth carries the Italian men’s sportswear brand Napapijri (not available in the US) and Havacoa men’s swimwear, plus perfectly cut pastel linen shirts—an island favorite.

Mademoiselle Hortense has romantic dresses made on the island from Liberty of London lacy cotton or silk fabrics.
Le Comptoir du Cigare is a gaming and cigar shop with a huge walk-in humidor stocked with only Cuban cigars. Also has a full line of handcrafted game sets and boards, and French Laguiole knives.
St. Barths French West Indies features a hip, contemporary island brand of loungewear: soft jersey T-shirts, hats, sarongs, towels, bathrobes and dresses, plus colorful woven vanity pillows.
Ligne St. Barth is a delightful shop with local natural beauty products in Caribbean scents of vanilla, frangipani, coconut, banana and papaya.
The House of St. Barth is a large emporium with furniture, clothes and curious items. It specializes in one-of-a-kind carved wood objects—sculptures, ornate headboards, tables—from Ubud, Indonesia.

Assouline Publishing announces In the Spirit of St. Barths, a new travel book by Pamela Fiori celebrating this chic destination in words and photos.