Lined with rustic fishing boats and impressive grand yachts, a tiny harbor of the St Barthelemy is wrapped by Gustavia, a small town dominated by red-roofed bungalows and both packed and deserted beaches. Recognized as the main town on the island, Gustavia was named to honor King Gustav III of Sweden and still remains a reflection of that period.
In the 18th century when the French traded the St Barthelemy in exchange for Goteborg, much has been done for Gustavia's development, including the construction of three forts, paving streets and turning the community into the flourishing free port. The St Barthelemy Island thrived as a commercial and shipping center until the 19th century, when hurricanes, fires and earthquakes devastated it and brought about financial ruin. In August 1877, French took possession of the island again.
Today the St Barthelemy is part of France's overseas department, and a free port with Gustavia as its capital and major town. The majority of the island's 3,000 inhabitants are descendants of the Breton and Norman settlers of nearly three centuries ago. The largest town of St Barthelemy, Gustavia can be easily explored during a two-hour walk along the tow's streets, telling you the history of the island. The far side of the harbor, known as La Pointe, is marked by the Municipal Museum featuring portraits, watercolors, historic documents and photographs that display the marine life, plants and flowers of the island and detail its history.
Visitors to the island will be offered to choose from several luxurious St Barthelemy hotels, best restaurants, amazing shopping and exciting nightlife - everything to make your stay on the island as memorable as possible.
Located in Gustavia is the most glamorous hotel of the St Barthelemy, Carl Gustaf, placing its guests close to major sites and attractions of the town. All state-of-the-art units can be found in one of a dozen green or pink villas, whose facilities feature two phones, a private kitchenette, a fax machine, a private terrace, a stereo system, two TVs, computers with Internet connections, DVD players, a private plunge pool and rattan furniture. Famous for its classic French cuisine, the Carl Gustav restaurant is the ideal place for dinners and sunset cocktails. Other hotel facilities include piano bar, health club, outdoor pool, sauna, massage, dry cleaning, laundry service and helicopter rides. Available are also a range of water sports, namely deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and water skiing among others.
Due to its sophisticated boutiques, shopping on the St Barthelemy is a definite delight, especially if you are interested in jewelry, accessories and beachwear. In Gustavia plentiful boutiques and small designer shops line three major shopping streets. Right on the harbor is the Quai du Republique that can rival Madison Avenue in New York City or Avenue Montaigne for high-end designer retail including brand new shops for Hermes, Cartier, Bulgari and Dior.
A great number of shops can be also found in La Villa Creole, La Savanne Commercial Center and Espace Neptune.