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The most common way of getting to St. Bart's is flying to St Maarten (Princess Juliana International Airport) and then take a short 10 minute shuttle flight to St Bart's. There's also a ferry or speedboats that you can take at St. Marteen.
During Daylight Savings Time (Summer), St. Barts time is equivalent to the Eastern Time Zone of the United States. During Winter, St. Barts is 1 hour ahead of New York, 2 hours ahead of Chicago, and 4 hours ahead of Los Angeles.
EU citizens need to have a valid passport. Or you can have a French visa that says “COLLECTIVITE DE SAINT BARTHELEMY ET SAINT MARTIN “valid for France except CTOM” or “DFA” (French Departments in the Americas). All visas must be issued by the French Embassy before your trip.
US citizens need to have a valid passport and proof of a round-trip ticket or proof of continuation of travel. A visa is not necessary if the intended stay on the island for less than 30 days. Your passport must be valid and not expire for at least three months from the date of entry to St. Barts.
All American and Canadian travelers 18+ must present a COVID-19 vaccination card if required by a rental agency, airline or hotel. Unvaccinated travelers from the United States and Canada 12 years of age and older must present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before arrival or a negative antigen test taken 48 hours before arrival.
Source: St. Barths
Gustaf III Airport (SBH) is the primary airport of St. Bart’s; however it does not service flights from destinations outside the Caribbean. Therefore, travelers from anywhere else must fly into Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) in Sint Maarten, the closest island to St. Bart’s.
From St. Maarten (Dutch Territory), a very brief shuttle flight can provide access to St. Bart’s. SBH is one of the most dangerous airports to fly into. It has a very short runway, so expect a turbulent landing.
If you are afraid of a rocky landing, a ferry can be a substitute. The ferry operates on rough waters, so be sure to keep medication if you are prone to seasickness. Ferry prices vary based on the return date to St. Maarten. When booking a flight, shuttle flight, or ferry, be sure to check the spelling of St. Martin, as it is divided into two sides, St. Maarten (Dutch) or St Martin (French).
SXM services nonstop flights from select locations in Europe and Canada such as Toronto and Paris. From the U.S., cities include New York, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Washington DC, and Atlanta.
Getting around can be a bit tricky in St. Bart’s. Buses and trains as public transport are not available. The other means to get around would be by taxi or car. Taxis can be arranged through a hotel, though expect hefty prices and a very limited amount traversing the island. Taxis start at 25 euros.
Car rental is probably the best option, but be aware that driving in St. Bart’s can be rough because it has narrow, steep roads. As long as you have a valid driver’s license, you can drive and many major car rental companies reside here.
If you are staying at a resort, check to see if there may be transport arranged for you or readily available.
Fortunately, St. Bart’s is one of the safest islands in the Caribbean and crime is incredibly rare. But it’s always good to keep an eye on your belongings and valuables.The phone number for fire, ambulance, and police is 18.
Here are some general safety tips for all tourists:
- Lock your valuables
- Be wary of pickpockets
- Don’t walk alone at night
- Know your limit when going into the ocean
- Wear sunscreen
- Keep an eye out for bugs
Even though dry season is from December through May while June through November is rainy season there’s sporadic rain that will occur during any time throughout the year. Expect 22º to 30º C (72º to 86º F) temperature and hurricanes especially during September.
French and English. But mostly French.
You’ll see that most people are incredibly nice on the island. It’s culturally very Fench and European, so a few merci or bonjour is greatly appreciated. Although the service is really slow, so don’t expect your food to come right away. But this is island life, so sit back and enjoy.
Here are some etiquette tips for a visit to St. Bart’s:
- Show a relaxed attitude, you are in paradise after all!
- “Vous” is the phrase for “you” in French. Use this when speaking to an elder or someone you don’t know well.
Euro is the currency of St. Bart’s. Money can be exchanged at a bank, and ATMS are found in the country.
U.S. dollars and credit cards are accepted at exchange rates in many places on the island.
.90 euro is equal to 1 USD.
Tip 10% for taxis and 10-15 % at dining establishments.
Just like most places in Europe, standard voltage is 220 V and the frequency is 60 Hz. You cannot use your electric appliances in St. Bart’s without a voltage converter, so make sure to bring one.
It’s best not to drink tap water, you should buy bottled water instead. Tap water is okay for tea, coffee, and brushing your teeth. You shouldn’t make ice cubes with it since tap water comes from a de-salinization plant in St. Bart’s.
Most hotels, villas, Airbnbs, and restaurants will have Wi-Fi.
Since Uber or other ride-sharing apps don’t exist in St. Bart’s, noting a few taxi drivers’ phone numbers can be very helpful. You can ask for them at the hotel, villa, or Airbnb host should be able to provide a few. This is particularly helpful during high-season when taxis are very busy, so making good connections with taxi drivers so their numbers are on your phone to call is a very good idea.
A normal rate is around 20€ – 25€ from point A to point B. If you’re taxi-ing after 8 p.m., or on Sundays, the fares will increase about 50%.
If you’re like to tour around the island with a taxi driver, the government has regulated an official fare for this service. For 1-3 passengers, it should be 45€ for 45 minutes, 44€ for 60 minutes, and 60€ for 90 minutes. For every additional passenger after that, add an extra 8€.
St. Bart’s is one of the top countries in the entire Caribbean for being LGBTQ friendly. Same-sex marriage became legal in 2013, when the island’s sovereign country France also legalized same-sex marriage.
PDA is not frowned upon, and LGBTQ couples are welcome to participate in all activities as there is no specific gay scene on the island.
Saline Beach is a very LGBTQ friendly beach.
St. Bart’s is an eco-friendly destination.
There is a Natural Reserve that is divided into 5 different branches, and is meant to preserve marine flora and fauna, such as coral, conch, turtles, and fish. There is the option to go snorkeling or diving in some parts of the reserve. For more information on these activities, visit St. Barth Plongee.
There are eco-friendly lodging options, such as the Manapany Hotel. This eco-resort is fully committed to being environmentally friendly, and uses natural products to clean, has solar panels, enforces electric cars as the sole mode of transportation around the resort, and contains a lot of freshly grown products in its dining options.
Be sure to recycle and employ reusable bags when necessary.
FOR THE PLANNERS:
St. Bart's is more cost effective during low season (April-November) for $200/night. In addition, you'll need to rent a car to get around.
FOR THE IN-CROWD:
Christopher Columbus discovers the island that is present day St. Bart’s.
The French settled on present day St. Bart’s.
The economically failing island was attacked by the British and pirates.
King Louis XVI of France trades the island to Sweden for trading rights in Gothenburg, a Swedish port town.
Slavery was practiced on the island.
The last of the slaves were granted freedom.
Sweden sells the island to France, and it’s made part of the island chain Guadeloupe.
Island inhabitants became citizens of France.
The ’60s brought jet-setters to St.Barts like the Rockefellers and Rothschilds.