The Truth About St. Barth

Its actual location is clearly defined

After 27 years of being in St. Barth, I learned that what we thought was a fact is actually a factoid! Now, convincing people of this newly discovered information is going to be a huge challenge because people won’t believe me. I am hoping that you can help spread the word.

It started out this way: Last week we took an island tour with Hélène Brenier, the owner of St. Barth Easy Time Tours. Our clients have raved about the various tours that she offers and I wanted to experience one for myself. Hélène was born in St. Barth and knows her island well. She is also the founder of St. Barth Essentiel a non-profit organization dedicated to “protect that which creates diversity, the originality, the beauty and the harmony of St. Barthélemy.” In other words, she is the “watch dog” whose main interest is protecting our precious island and preserving the environment.

Connie, Peg and Hélène in front of the St. Barth Essentiel office on the top of Gustavia

Connie, Peg and Hélène in front of the St. Barth Essentiel office on the top of Gustavia

We began our around-the-island tour by going to Saline and stopping at the salt pond where we learned about the island’s history of making salt. It was a difficult job but it brought in some income. The salt production stopped in 1972 when the island decided to rely on tourism as its major industry. We heard lots of tidbits about the people who settled here as we continued our tour. Most of the men had to go to St. Thomas to make a living. One such gentleman went home to see his wife once a year and as a result they produced 23 children! Phew! We saw the little “case” (house) where they were born and lived. Today, the siblings range from 50 to 90 years old.

Saline Beach

Saline Beach

Back to the point of my blog. We stopped at the top on Grand Fond to admire the view. There is a lookout spot with a large map detailing the area. Soon after this map was put up, an old-time local fisherman telephoned Hélène to tell her that the map was wrong. The artist had called the body of water on this map the Atlantic Ocean. The fisherman said that St. Barth is surrounded entirely by the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic is much further to the east of here and that the map needed to be corrected. What??? I was always told that the wave action that connects Grand Cul de Sac Lagoon and Marigot Bay is caused by the fact that this is the very spot where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea. Hélène thought so too. Everyone thinks this factoid is true.

The Lookout at Grand Fond

The Lookout at Grand Fond

A Close Up of the Lookout's Map with the Incorrect Information

A Close Up of the Lookout’s Map with the Incorrect Information

Hélène researched and researched but each person she consulted insisted that the fisherman was wrong. Finally she decided to ask for assistance from a geologist who is a real authority on the subject. He reported that, indeed, the islands in the Lesser Antilles (which includes St. Barth) are solely in the Caribbean Sea. “According to the definition of the IHO (International Hydrographic Organization), the only islands that officially have Caribbean and Atlantic coasts are: Cuba, Haiti, Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico and Trinidad.” He went on to say, “In conclusion, officially, the island of St. Barthélemy is not washed by the Atlantic Ocean but by the Caribbean Sea only. Custom, says otherwise.” I was thrilled to learn this new fact. I always knew that some islands such as the Bahamas and the Turks & Caicos claim that they are in the Caribbean but they are too far north and are actually in the Atlantic Ocean but for some reason no one seemed to know that St. Barth is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea. Until now, that is…

Grand Cul de Sac View

Grand Cul de Sac View

A few days after our island tour, I had a site inspection at the Hotel Guanahani & Spa. I was admiring one of their newly refurbished suites and when I went out onto the suite’s deck to admire the view, the staff member who was escorting me pointed to that very spot in the lagoon and said, “That is where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea.” …Not! When I corrected her, she was not at all impressed and looked at me as if I had lost my marbles. That factoid has been circulating for so many years that it is a real challenge to convince people otherwise. Hélène and I now know this new fact is true and now you know it too. Spread the word, s’il vous plaît.

Hotel Guanahani & Spa

Hotel Guanahani & Spa

P.S. Once you have selected your accommodation in St. Barth by contacting one of our Specialists at reservations@stbarth.com, our concierges can arrange an island tour with Hélène. It is a must do!

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One Response to “The Truth About St. Barth”

  1. Chris Barber says:

    What an interesting factoid! My wife told me the same thing on our honeymoon, that our overlook of Grand Cul de Sac Lagoon and Marigot Bay was the Caribbean sea meeting the Atlantic ocean. She went to elementary school in St Barth’s so they must be teaching this misinformation starting from a young age. It’s amazing that you’ve been on the island for 27 years and are still learning new things too!

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