St. Barts, Anse du Colombier

There are two excellent hikes in Anse de Colombier. One leads upwards to the height of land and a collection of holiday houses on top of the hill and the other leads along the eastern shore to Anse des Flamandes. Both have great views, though for spectacular views down onto Anse de Colombier the uphill hike is the way to go. Both hikes start on the beach and take you through dry habitat, though there is a dramatic difference between them. The hike up the hill is on the western slope which gets more rain and is protected from the wind, Vegetation here grows up well over your head and you are in shade much of the time. You pass organ pipe cacti at the lower level and then get into dry forest type trees including frangipani with their pretty white flowers, Leucina with its untidy brown pods, and underneath the aromatic bush, croton. Up in the heights you may well see tortoises. A lignum vitae tree also borders a garden on the left hand side of the road as you walk towards a lookout point. lignum vitae, one of the hardest woods in the world was used for blocks on old sailing ships and the wood is to some extent self-lubricating so it was also used for bearings.

The eastern hike takes you along much more windswept habitat with lots of organ cacti and some barrel cacti. Much of the path is lined with sweet smelling spider Lilly. You will see stunted white cedar and the small yellow flowering wedelia.

The beach and land just above has some good beach plants including the pretty vine Pres capare with its purple flower and also beach pea.

Land your dinghy on the beach near the park sign. There is a trail that goes up just behind the park sign. When you get to the dirt road turn left. Follow the trail round the corner so you are facing east. You will see some signs that are made for people arriving, rather than leaving, so they are not overly helpful. For Anse des Flamandes, just continue along the trail. To climb the hill turn sharp right uphill. You cross a private road on the way up, don’t follow the road, the path continues on the other side. When you reach the road at the top turn left and you come to a lookout point