If you hire a car to explore your 21-square-kilometre playground (and just the one road), something diminutive is best. There's a branch of Hertz at the airport. A local option based in Colombier (with a branch at the airport) is Gumbs Car Rental (+590 (0)590 27 75 32).
Getting there is a slight mission - just part of the exclusive charm. The nearest international hub is Juliana Airport on St Maarten, 25km away, or you can fly via Antigua or Guadeloupe. Air Caraibes (www.aircaraibesexpress.com; +590 (0)590 87 14 80) and St Barth Commuter (www.stbarthcommuter.com; + 590 (0)590 27 54 54) offer scheduled and charter flights.
The international dialling code for St Barths is +590. Confusingly, lots of the island's numbers also start with 590.
Greats of West Indian literature include Jamaica Kincaid (Antigua) and St Lucia's Nobel-winning Derek Walcott. For fun, Murder in St Barts is an island-set crime novel featuring Gendarme Trenet, by JR Ripley.
Do go / Don't Go
Try visiting at the tail end of high season (December-April), when room rates drop and the beaches really empty out.
More international than local, with lobster soufflé, salade niçoise and sushi all to be had. The grander restaurants base their offerings on French cuisine (minus the cream); you're also likely to eat Créole and Provençal food, grilled fish and super salads. There's no agriculture to speak of on the island, so almost everything is imported, from wine and water (no natural sources) to meat and vegetables - hence the steep prices in most restaurants. Fresh seafood is flown in from France on Thursdays.
Expensive and not usually worth the hassle. Hiring a car for a day or more is your best bet. Most hotels will arrange airport transfers.
As in France, service charge is included on restaurant bills, but a small tip is customary and appreciated.
The euro is the official currency. US dollars are widely accepted.
Think St Tropez but with more of a barefoot vibe, so pack your shiniest-logo'd shades, a cute bikini or four, Vilebrequin trunks, and tan-revealing Riviera chic for evening outings.
Unless you share an obsession with the shell-collecting founder of the Inter Oceans Museum in Corossol (+590 (0)590 27 62 97), there's precious little to distract you from sun and sea, apart from visiting musicians in January and August.
Toplessness is fine, nudity not officially permitted, though many sunbathers abandon their costumes, especially to the west of the island.
Located on Rue de la Republique, Loulou's Marine is Gustavia's nautical supplier - the logo'd canvas tote bag makes a chic souvenir. Most of the labelicious shopping (Hermès, Gucci, Cartier) takes place in the capital, Gustavia, with the high-end boutiques concentrated in the luxey shopping centre Le Carré d'Or. Le Ti Marché is the open-air market where you can find Belou's P, a local range of scents and products. There are more luxurious toiletries at Ligne St Barth on Lorient's Route de Saline.
Every time you get in the car you'll have the pleasure of a super view - the island's only road is a coastal route. To stop and soak it up, head to Le Toiny hotel and get some lunch at Le Gaiac +(590 (0)590 27 88 88), overlooking Toiny Bay.
Beach-based entertainments for the thrifty include volleyball as spectator sport, collecting shells (Shell Beach is great for that, funnily enough) and, by night, watching the young locals who put on fire-eating performances on St Jean beach.
January St Barths music festival, with classical, jazz and more. February Costumed Mardi Gras parade in Gustavia. March-April St Barths Bucket is a three-day mega-yacht race. March-April St Barths Film Festival, a showcase for Caribbean-themed and -produced cinema. 14 July Bastille Day, with fireworks and parties. August Fête de St Barthelemy, when more fireworks are let off in Gustavia to commemorate the feast day of the island's patron saint.