Archive for April, 2014

Enjoy Another Exhilarating Activity in St. Barth and Hike to Pointe à Toiny

Friday, April 25th, 2014

John Casey, the very skilled catamaran sailor who races in the St. Barth CataCup each year and is vying for a spot on the 2016 Olympic Team in Rio, read my blog about the hike to Washing Machine and the Natural Pools. He suggests another great trail for you to try and is sharing his enthusiasm for the hike to Pointe à Toiny in today’s guest blog.

A TYPICAL DAY ON A NOT SO TYPICAL ISLAND BY JOHN CASEY

A majority of my time in St. Barth is spent on the water racing by popular beaches and jagged points, but that’s only where the adventure begins. While I’m not sailing, I enjoy staying fit and doing activities far from everyday life. As soon as we drive east from Gustavia Harbor, the reality of being on a pristine island in seclusion really sets in.

My best day on the island was with my fiancée. Well, she’s my wife now. I think the trips to St. Barth helped seal the deal! We slept in, which is also easy to do on the island, and woke up with the trade winds blowing through Villa Les Mouettes one of St. Barth Properties delightful villas in Vitet.

Villa Les Mouettes

Villa Les Mouettes

With a good’s night sleep we decided to go on a hike. I’ve been to the island many times, but there was still a place I hadn’t been to yet, Pointe à Toiny. I realized I hadn’t been there because the hike to Grand Fond’s Washing Machine and Natural Pools that Peg describes is such a good one.

When we looked off of our porch that morning a quick shower passed through and greeted us with a rainbow.

A pretty rainbow appeared in  the view from our villa  Les Mouettes that morning

A pretty rainbow appeared in the view from our villa Les Mouettes that morning

We decided to go for a café au lait and some quick eats for the hike, so we stopped by Maya’s To Go. Carolina decided on Salmon and edamame salad. I had a very tasty quinoa-mandarin orange bowl.

Carolina holding the door open for me, so nice!

Carolina holding the door open for me, so nice!

I really looked forward to this hike. I’ve sailed around the island so many times and saw the cliffs of Toiny, but I always thought the windward side of the island wasn’t habitable. I did know it’s the most treacherous part of the island to sail by with its large waves and unforgiving rocks.

We snaked on winding roads from St. Jean to Hotel Le Toiny and pulled up the road leading to the hotel. It seems like there is nowhere to go after pulling in, but we drove straight by the hotel to a small gravel area on the right with room to park. From there we walked down a small grassy road toward Pointe à Toiny. The view kept getting better.

This hike is extra special since it’s on the windward side of the island. The breeze blows over Pt. Toiny making for a relaxing cool hike.

We begin not far from Hotel Le Toiny

We begin not far from Hotel Le Toiny

Pt. Toiny to some is easy rock climbing, but be careful because a majority of the rocks are loose and you can lose your footing easily.

Carolina gets daring on the rocks

Carolina gets daring on the rocks

Along the paths there are a few benches which give you a chance to enjoy the view. We took the opportunity to eat our Maya’s snacks and just soak in the beauty of the south side of the island.

We took time to enjoy the view as well as our snacks

We took time to enjoy the view as well as our snacks

After the hike we were famished again. On St. Barth I exercise more so I’m hungrier and anxious to eat the delicious varieties of gastronomique delights offered throughout the island. Tapas at Txerri Gorria were on the docket that night. I describe it as decadent. In the States I just don’t have the opportunity to enjoy perfectly tender thin sliced duck or foie gras with Himalayan sea salt, which were two of my favorites. The brie was creamy, the wine tasty and I even had a Jade organic beer.

Then there were four more days just as perfect. Thank you St. Barth!

Some St. Barth tidbits for April 2014. What’s up?

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Just a short note today to update you on the latest news around here…

Les Coulisses restaurant in Gustavia has closed. The harbor side restaurant formerly was the home of Harbour’s. Me Gusta has just moved there from St. Jean and offers tapas with a Portuguese flair. I am going to try it and report back.

Me Gusta restaurant is now located on the harbor

Me Gusta restaurant is now located on the harbor

Pipiri Palace is open for lunch now! You can get French delights such as Croque Monsieur or an omelette and they have a daily special “Formule” for only 16 euros.

In addition to dinner, try Pipiri Palace for lunch

In addition to dinner, try Pipiri Palace for lunch

Oasis grocery store in Lorient has extended its hours. It is now open from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm every single day including Christmas.

La Table de Jules (formerly K’fé Massai) in Lorient is closed for good. I wonder what will replace it? The sushi bar, Koya in the corner section of the restaurant is still open.

The Yacht Club nightclub in Gustavia is closed. (Carole of Le Ti St. Barth is the owner.) She has replaced it with The First Floor which is located upstairs above The Yacht Club. There is late night entertainment quite often. For you night owls, it is open Sunday-Thursday from 10:00 pm until 4:00 am and for you die-hards it stays open until 6:00 am on Fridays and Saturdays. Be aware that the venue has been enclosed to keep the noise from disturbing the neighbors and it can be very smoky. (I don’t understand why I see people smoking in some restaurants and night spots here because it is against the law in France but that is another story.)

Nightclub The First is on the First Floor (2nd floor to Americans)

Nightclub The First is on the First Floor (2nd floor to Americans)

R. Barth, the fancy rhum store has shuttered its doors. The entire contents of the shop including the very expensive old rum, other rums, furniture, a computer and glassware among other things will be auctioned off at 10:00 am April 23, 2014.

Au Revoir, R. St. Barth. We are sorry to see you go.

Au Revoir, R. St. Barth. We are sorry to see you go.

The Black Swan closed its Gustavia store but their larger boutique in St. Jean is open and still has a great selection of beachwear, t-shirts and casual clothing.

Les Soldes: French law dictates when the shops are allowed to have their Soldes (sales) in various areas. In France, for example, there is a period in January when this is allowed to take place but of course at that time of the year St. Barth is in the midst of High Season so full price, it is. People love the shopping here; many say the designer boutiques offer much better pricing than they can get at home.

Don't miss out on Les Soldes

Don’t miss out on Les Soldes

The dates for Les Soldes in 2014 were just announced. You will find a lot of items on sale with the exception of the Nouvelle Collections.

Mark your calendars and get ready to shop ‘til you drop May 03-June 06 and October 11-November 14, 2014.

If you haven’t booked your hotel or villa yet just email me or contact reservations@stbarth.com (1-800-421-3396) and we will begin the process to get you here ASAP.

Enjoy!

The shopping in St. Barth is a must-do

The shopping in St. Barth is a must-do

Hike to the Washing Machine and Natural Pools in Grand Fond

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Steve and I made it back to St. Barth from our trip to Australia where we celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary. The trip from here takes 32 hours. We did not have time to deal with jet lag on the way back because my daughter Kim, grandson Matt along with his Fairfield University roommate Andrew were to arrive two days later for spring break.

Lunch at Le Select with Steve, Matt, Andrew and Kim. It is a must do for anyone vacationing on St. Barth.

Lunch at Le Select with Steve, Matt, Andrew and Kim. It is a must do for anyone vacationing on St. Barth.

We needed a larger villa so I rented the beautiful 3 bedroom Villa Lilu. I fell in love with the villa on my very first inspection so I was thrilled to be able to stay there. It is gorgeous.

Villa Lilu living area

Villa Lilu living area

Everyone wanted to do and see as much as they could while also trying to stay fit so several hikes were put on the agenda. If you are looking for something a bit unusual to do while you are vacationing in St. Barth, set aside a morning or late afternoon to hike to the Natural Pools and Washing Machine located in the unblemished area of Grand Fond.

Drive to Toiny along the main road which eventually leads to Grand Fond, an area of St. Barts that many people say reminds them of Brittany. There are spots where you can park your car above the rocky beach to take photos and listen to the surf crash onto the shore but do not swim there; the current is very dangerous. After your photo op, go a little further and when the road starts to curve, you will see a parking area with enough room for four cars to park.

Parking area by the path that goes to the shore

Parking area by the path that goes to the shore

The path leading to the beach and the trail is on the left.

Take this path to the left of the parking area to get to the shoreline leading to the Natural Pools and Washing Machine

Take this path to the left of the parking area to get to the shoreline leading to the Natural Pools and Washing Machine

When you arrive at the rocky beach which is NOT a swimming beach, turn right and off you go!

Head to the right to access the trail

Head to the right to access the trail

Climb up a few rocks to get to the goat path. (Sneakers or good walking shoes are recommended). The path is easy to follow but it is narrow so you need to walk in single file.

Along the trail the surf crashes against the rocks

Along the trail the surf crashes against the rocks

You will come across a spectacular view of a beach that lies in between where the rocks meet the sea. This spot is known as the “Washing Machine.” The beach was so named because at certain times of the year, the water crashes over the beach and swirls around it mimicking the action of a washing machine. Many people think the Washing Machine is in another area but my expert is Pascale Minarro who works in my St. Barth Office and has lived here for more than 30 years. Pascale walks along the trail every weekend and attests to the fact that this small beach is the authentic Washing Machine.

This photo was taken March 25, 2014 by my grandson Matt Pellegri. It was a beautiful spring day. In the winter months the water can be rough and in the summer months there are swells where expert body surfers enjoy practicing their sport.

Washing Machine

Washing Machine

Matt, advises, “Wear a hat and sunglasses because there is only one spot with shade along the way.” As you continue on the path Matt goes on to say, “It is likely you will see some goats grazing on the mountain along the trail.”

You may need to share the path with Mother Nature

You may need to share the path with Mother Nature

About 25 minutes into your hike, you will be exhilarated by the sight of the natural pools and want to take a dip, so be sure to wear a bathing suit.

The Natural Pools in Grand Fond are formed as a result of the surf crashing over the rocks and trapping the water

Discover The Natural Pools in Grand Fond

Matt wisely states, “Be careful on the climb down as it is a little steep and be extra cautious of the small sea urchins that line the pools.”

The water in the Natural Pools is crystal clear

The water in the Natural Pools is crystal clear

The crystal clear water in the Natural Pools is created by the surf pounding against the high rocks and trapping some of the water that splashes over them.

The contrast between the blue color of the Caribbean Sea against the greenish hue of the natural pools is stunning

The contrast between the blue color of the Caribbean Sea against the greenish hue of the natural pools is stunning

Checklist for your backpack:

  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Water
  • Camera
  • Swim shoes

Enjoy the hike!