St. Barths Online

Peter O'Keefe

Peter O'Keefe first visited St. Barths in 1968, and has been a permanent resident since 1978. He lives with his Franco-American family on a hillside overlooking St-Jean and Saline from where he gazes fascinated by the unfolding panorama of a halcyon and unique way of life.



[Nov 17, 2005] Tourism

Tourism It requires a special effort to write about the subject of tourism fairly. So many lovely places have been despoiled by hordes of rubber-necked visitors that it's easy to see tourism as a modern plague. The problem was aptly described a few years ago by the Director of the National Par...

[Sep 17, 2005] Hurricanes

Hurricanes The probability of eventually being confronted with a devastating hurricane is a defining feature of most Caribbean islands, including St. Barts, and perks up the community annually during the late summer and fall, the period of the year when these storms are most apt to occur. The ...

[Oct 17, 2004] Songs of Sirens

Songs of Sirens After long and careful consideration, the French government has decided to intervene in behalf of the legions of unsupervised pre-toddlers that may be putting themselves at risk by crawling around in the vicinity of private swimming pools. St. Barths' pool owners are now requi...

[Apr 17, 2004] Keeping the Golden Goose Alive

Keeping the Golden Goose Alive Everyone I meet tells me that the scene of their childhood is now less agreeable that it was when they were a kid. The older they are, the more emphatic they are about it. There is a temptation to remember the past as being a simpler time, a time of ethical c...

[Nov 17, 2003] The Chance of a Lifetime

The Chance of a Lifetime On the 7th of December 2003, the electorate of St. Barths will go to the polls and express their will on the subject of a revision of the island's political relationship with France. The fact that they have been invited to do so is a miracle in itself. Their choic...

[Aug 17, 2002] The Cradle of Champions

The Cradle of Champions One of the cultural peculiarities of the West Indies, for some time now, has been the arresting presence of The Australian Sailor. Most are deckhands on top-of-the-line racing sailboats, and their services are prized for their physical prowess and for their unhesitati...

[Feb 17, 2002] Harsh Reality

Harsh Reality The acceptance of the Euro as legal tender seems to be proceeding gracefully here, as elsewhere, though local folk are still inclined to judge the worth of things in French Francs. But the introduction of the Euro has opened a can of worms for visiting Americans. For more tha...

[Dec 17, 2001] THELMA BYRE

THELMA BYRE In a neglected part of town, there was a small, family operated restaurant whose owners managed to squeeze a modest living from a local clientele. The food was substantial, unpretentious, and reflected the ethnic origins of the proprietors. The decor hadn't been changed in a very ...

[May 17, 2001] Elections

Elections The distinguishing characteristic of this year's Municipal election is that it included the candidacy of a relocated Metropolitan Frenchman. I wonder if incumbent Mayor Bruno Magras put him up to it. Nothing could frighten local folk more, and, as a result, they rushed to the poles...

[Apr 17, 2000] Status

Status In a very short length of time - less than twenty years - St. Barths has been transformed from sleepy to bustling, from unknown to internationally popular, and from poor to rich. Among other consequences, this has caused two long-submerged issues to rise to the surface: St. Barths' fi...

[Dec 19, 1999] Hurricane season

Hurricane season Most residents take a certain satisfaction in the fact that while most of the world suffers overcast skies, rain, and cold during large portions of the year, the islands of the eastern Caribbean get their annual portion of bad weather all at once, in brief concentrated chunks, ...

[Sep 19, 1999] Reflections on Hurricane

Reflections on Hurricane The superlative has become such an abused form of expression that it is now very difficult to simply and directly convey the matchless fury of a mature hurricane. Sir Francis Beaufort was not so burdened with the echo of today's clamoring salesmen. He was a nineteent...

[Sep 19, 1999] Le Select

Le Select This is usually the quietest month of the year - unless a hurricane clobbers the place - and residents have a chance to reflect on recent developments: Le Select, the most popular bar in town, will celebrate its 50th anniversary during the first weekend in November. This is not an...

[Feb 19, 1999] Moving to St. Barths

Moving to St. Barths Recently, there has been a good deal of attention given to St. Barths by various media on both sides of the Atlantic. This is not the first time this has happened, and it is likely to happen again, but this year it has prompted an unusual response: there have been an unpre...

[Dec 19, 1998] Taxes

Taxes For many decades St. Barths' residents have been exonerated from the dazzling array of French taxes, in part, because of the terms of the 1878 treaty of acquisition, but, in larger part, because of neglect. Now the government in Paris, desperate for any additional source of income, no m...


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