Crawling through the small cabin door of the DHC-6 Twin Otter at Princess Juliana Airport in St. Maarten, we knew that we were just 9 minutes from heaven on earth, our St. Barth’s Honeymoon. The plane held only 12 passengers and within a matter of minutes, we taxied and were airborn. Almost immediately, we were cruising a 1000 feet above the crystal blue waters of the Saint-Barthelemy Channel en route to St. Barth’s.
An 8 square mile volcanic island, the tiny speck is named after the first European to settle, Christopher Columbus’ brother, Bartolomeo. With a diverse history involving the French West India Company and Sweden over the course of 500 years, the island is now a French collective territory. Those influences are profound – so much so that aside from the white powder sand beaches, hilly & windy roads, and the warm caribbean air, one would think you were in Paris, Provence, or St. Tropez. This magnificent place is nothing less than the perfect combination of croissants, rose, and paradise.
We quickly hopped off the Winair flight and stepped foot onto the tarmac – a short runway that is bookended by a steep hillside and a pristine beach and blue topaz colored water. Within a minute, were were greeted by Moe with WIMCO. A small, mid-30’s local, Moe spoke perfect English with a rich French accent. He was clearly a professional and a master of the island. He grabbed our bags and escorted us to the Europcar desk where our reservation and Daihatsu Terios were waiting. The streets are narrow and a “standard” US car would have trouble navigating through the windy, hilly roadways. The island is full of Mini Coopers and Vespa scooters. However, the whole island only takes 20 minutes to circumnavigate. Nothing in St. Barth’s is too far out of the way.
We followed Moe to our hillside villa overlooking St. Jean Beach, the airport runway, and Eden Rock – an iconic spot for fabulous drinks, delicious food, and relaxing beach beds. Once we walked through the heavy wooden doors to Villa ACE, our eyes widened at how truly spectacular our honeymoon home-away-from-home was. Villa ACE was built in 2010 by an American couple that wanted to own their own sliver St. Barth’s. Two small buildings make up ACE – a living room with modern kitchen and an air-conditioned bedroom with en suite bathroom. Just outside the en suite bathroom, there is also a private outdoor shower. My beautiful wife enjoyed the inside shower while I showered under the bright blue skys. Daily, I was visited by a small anole. The island has many different reptiles and other wildlife – all of which add to the tropical feel.
Villa ACE also has a very private 10-meter lap pool that was just on the edge of our property (and just outside the sliding glass doors from our living/kitchen area). At 4 1/2 feet deep, it was the perfect solution to the warm temps that saturate St. Barth’s year round.
After unpacking our bags and changing into our bathing suits, we decided to immediately explore our new surroundings. We decided to take the 1 minute drive down the steep driveway to Eden Rock. Walking on the super-soft sand and letting the warm caribbean water lap around our ankles made it that much more special – the worries and stresses of home were washed away. We walked the length of St. Jean beach, past the end of the runway that less than an hour before welcomed our prop plane. Then, it was time to stock up on food & wine for our villa.
Just across from the airport (which is only another minute up the road from Eden Rock), is the Super Marche. Equivalent in size to a Trader Joe’s, the small grocery provided everything we would need for the week. Fresh cheeses and meats, baguettes, French cookies and crackers, and, of course, rose straight from Provence. Moe also welcomed us with our own bottle of Gloriette Vanilla Rum – a must-have on St. Barth’s.
Then, back to the villa to plan out what to do with the rest of our week. We arranged dinner reservations through WIMCO and enjoyed the best meals of our lives. St. Barth’s is an island that gets dark by 7 pm, but with a villa like ACE, we had no qualms about staying in to relax while watching the stars brighten overhead in the picturesque night sky.