FROM PASTRY TO PARADISE is how your day on St. Bart's will most likely start. You just need to make a couple of decisions: almond, chocolate, or butter croissant, monsieur? And then: quiet with great sunning or happening with great barefoot dining? Located about 15 miles east of St. Martin, where the Antilles chain bends to the south, tiny St. Barthélemy (just eight square miles) is the Frenchiest of the French West Indies. The mostly European visitors—some 230,000 a year—come to eat, drink, and lounge. It's leisure as extreme sport. And it's easy to spend $150 on lunch—but worth it. For the tuna tartare at La Plage (tombeach.com), on St. Jean Beach. For the tiger prawns at Le Bartoloméo, at the Hotel Guanahani (leguanahani.com). For anything on the menu at the St. Barth's Isle de France (isle-de-france.com).
PLAYTIME: Digest in peace on a secluded beach, like Governeur or Saline. You can also windsurf at St. Jean, surf at Lorient, and scuba-dive in offshore reserves.
ISLAND LIVING: Do like those in the know and rent a private villa from an agency such as St. Barth Properties (stbarth.com).