10 Fascinating Facts About St. Barts

BY WENDY HUNG

Just a little bit about history, local culture, and some fun facts you never knew about St. Barts!

1. From Ouanalao to Bartolomeo.

The earliest records of inhabitants are from 1000 B.C. when the Ciboney people settled there, they originated from Cuba. Then, there were also the Arawaks, who referred to the island as “Ouanalao.” In 1493, Christopher Columbus discovered the island and named it after his brother Bartolomeo.

2. From the French to the Swedes.

In 1648, the French settled in St. Barthelemy. Then they sold the island to the Swedes in 1784, who used the island as a trade and supply center  during the 18th century colonial wars. In 1878, the French repurchased the island back and put it under the administration of nearby island Guadeloupe. In 2003, folks on the island voted to secede from Guadeloupe. Finally in 2007, St. Barts became a French overseas collectivity.

3. Gustavia sounds like a town in Frozen.

That’s because when Sweden bought St. Barts from the French, they renamed the largest town Gustavia, after Gustav III – the Swedish King. Meanwhile, they also made Gustavia a free port. Today, you can still see many Swedish influences on the island, including: street and town names, and the three-crown symbol on the coat of arms.

4. Rémy de Haenen.

The Dutch aviator and entrepreneur first landed his plane where the airport is now. At the time, no one saw the potential of St. Barts and no one vacationed on the island, certainly not the glamorous old-school jetsetters. Rémy de Haenen bought Eden Roc Hotel and invited his famous pals over, including Howard Hughes. When de Haenen also became mayor, St. Barts’ tourism also took off.

5. Where’s the sun?

On average, St. Barts gets more than 300 sunny days a year.

6. Parlez-vous français?

The official language in St. Barts is French, although everyone can pretty much speak English too.

7. Just a tad bigger than LAX.

Formed by volcanic eruption, St. Barts doesn’t have active volcanoes now but there are some mountains.

8. You’re giving back by traveling to St. Barts.

Bet you didn’t know that by traveling to St. Barts, you’re giving back to the eco-community. The island is incredibly committed to support coral reef restorations, so by boosting their economy you’re also helping their natural causes. Coral reefs are homes for the marine life. Without the reefs, the fish have nowhere to live.

9. The most dangerous airport. 

As we’ve mentioned before, St. Barts has one of the most dangerous airports in the world due to its shortest runway. It also ends at the beach, so the daily planes rolling in provide the most action-packed entertainment for sunbathers.

10. Way more affordable than you’d think!

Summer Beach GIF by MSLK Design - Find & Share on GIPHY

St. Barts may be known as the ultimate jetset destination. But the vibe is super chill and low key. Not to mention its public beaches, it is actually a really accessible getaway especially if you want to cook on your own. Anyone and everyone can feel at ease at St. Barts, that’s why it’s magical!

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