Saint-Barthélemy is a French island in the Caribbean among the Leeward Islands. Its land area is 21.0 km² (8.1 sq. miles). Administratively, the whole island of Saint-Barthélemy is a French Overseas Collectivity, and is part of the European Union.
The island is also known as St Barts, Saint Barths, or Saint Barth.
St Barts has long been considered a playground of the rich and famous and is known for its beautiful pristine beaches, gourmet dining in chic restaurants and high-end designer shopping. There is one small airport that can only accommodate small prop planes from St Martin and San Juan, and the harbour is too small to accommodate cruise ships. The fact that it is hard to get to is part of the island's appeal.
Singer Jimmy Buffett is a frequent visitor on the island, and owns a house there. He also owned a hotel, the Autor de Rocher, which burned down in the early 1980s. David Letterman and Steve Martin also own property on the island, as did the French singing star Johnny Hallyday.
Noteworthy annual events include New Year's (see Billionaires' Social Calendar), Carnival in February, The Bucket in late March (a sailing event featuring the largest sailing yachts in the world), and Bastille Day.
Other destinations edit
- Point à Toiny - a small cay located near the town of Lorient.
Oddly enough for a Caribbean island, the population is nearly entirely of European ancestry. The French population, originating from Normandy and Brittany, is one of the oldest in the Caribbean. There was a minimal slave population on the island due to the lack of agricultural opportunities as the island is principally cliffs and hills and has no rivers or springs.
There are no official statistics but the native residents of the island, who are known as "St Barths", make up around 30% of the population and have a distinct culture and manner of speech that distinguishes them from the more recent Metropolitan French arrivals.
The island has changed hands several times over the centuries, belonging to Sweden from the late 18th to late 19th century, after they swapped it for some warehouses with the French. Until 2007, it was part of Guadeloupe, an overseas department of France.
As part of the treaty with Sweden, St Barts pays no taxes.
It is very Gallic in flavour now, and English is widely spoken as the island is frequently visited by wealthy people.
French is the official language of Saint-Barthélemy. Many residents, especially those involved in the tourism industry, also speak English. Creole is widely spoken on the windward side of the island, and a variety of Patois across the leeward side. These languages are, however, dying out in favour of French. The creole quarter, La Pointe, is an English-speaking area.
Get in edit
By plane edit
The flights into St Barts are by small planes ideally adapted to the short runway. The airport is truly one of the most wonderful aviation experiences. Pilots are highly trained and require a special license to land here, given the manoeuvring required.
From the United States edit
From the US, connections to St Barts are in San Juan, St Thomas and Saint Martin. From the latter St Barth Commuter has scheduled flights to St Barts from both St Maarten Juliana airport (SXM IATA) on the Dutch side and St Martin on the French side airport (SFG). Winair has scheduled flights from Juliana airport. If you are connecting via San Juan or St Thomas, St Barth Commuter (charter) and Tradewind Aviation [dead link] (scheduled and charter) fly to St Barts.
From Europe edit
There are several different routes from Europe. From Paris you can fly to Guadeloupe from where Air Antilles and Air Caraïbes have scheduled flights. Another alternative is to connect in St Maarten, this is also possible if you're flying from Amsterdam. From Madrid you can connect in San Juan, and from London you can connect in Antigua, from where St Barth Commuter and Tradewind Aviation have scheduled flights.
From elsewhere in the Caribbean edit
Charter from St Barthélemy to all West Indies islands available upon request with St Barth Commuter.
By boat edit
Smaller cruise ships, such as Oceania’s Insignia, sometimes call on Gustavia.
There are also connections by boat and ferry from St Maarten and St Martin, but be aware that depending on the weather and season, crossings can sometimes be somewhat rocky!
- Windward Islands- Windward Islands, one of the worlds largest yacht charter companies, can take care of all charter requirements in St Barth, Guadeloupe and St Martin. Operating from its offices in the USA, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Caribbean, Hong Kong, Dubai.
- StMartinbookings is a new online platform for the main ferry operators and routes in the region. Tickets are available for the large & modern "Voyager" catamaran Fast Ferries that go between Gustavia and Oyster Pond or Marigot on Saint Martin, or the swift wave cutter "Edge" ferry from Simpson Bay Sint Maarten to Gustavia.
Get around edit
St Barts is a small island and everything is within a half-hour drive. Rent a small 4x4 Jeep but be careful! The roads are narrow, steep and windy, however fun they are to drive on! Often a small car or jeep will be included in vacation package. It is so beautiful, take your time and your camera!
There is no public transport Saint-Barthélemy! You will therefore need to rent a scooter or a car to get around. You can also take a taxi.
Car rental edit
You will find a dozen rental companies at the airport. It is possible to rent a car from €33 per day, excluding insurance. The speed is limited to 50 km/h on the island and traffic can be heavy. Some hotels can also rent a car for you. Simply ask at reception.
Scooter rental edit
Count €25-60 per day for a scooter. A scooter will allow you to enjoy the beauty of the roads and the breathtaking views.
You will find a few taxis at the airport or at the port of Gustavia. Some taxis offer island tours.
- The capital city of Gustavia - It is known for its picturesque harbour, full of sailboats and super-yachts. You will also find high-fashion stores, jewelry stores, bars, and restaurants. This port city was founded more than 200 years ago. You will find beautiful old stone buildings including three forts. There is also a pretty lighthouse on the rocky East coast above the town.
- Tropical birds around the salt ponds of Anse de Grande Saline.
- Saint Jean Bay- Located east of Gustavia, facing the airport, you will find the most popular beach on the island. Luxury resorts are available, such as Eden Rock. The bay is a good place for surfing
- Shell Beach - Not far from Gustavia port, you will find this bay with its crystal-clear waters and views over Saint Kitts and Nevis.
- Corossol - Small authentic village of fishermen. You will find handcrafted items made from latan leaves such as baskets and hats.
- St Barts weddings - To get married on St. Barts, one of the couple has to have been resident on the island for a month. As such the majority of "weddings" held on the island are in fact blessings, carried out either by the Anglican minister or a Catholic priest. Blessings for other faiths and secular celebrations can also be organised at a range of locations.
- Shopping - Right in front of the Gustavia port, you will find many jewellery and luxury clothing stores. You will find Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Chopard, Bulgari and Cartier among others.
- Surf - The island has excellent places to surf such as Toiny, Lorient, Anse des Cayes and Saint-Jean. Shops are available in Saint-Jean and Gustavia to rent your equipment. You can find a guide as well.
- Snorkelling - One of the most accessible activities, right by the beach. Just grab goggles, a snorkel and fins and experience the incredible underwater scenes! Anse de Marigot is recommended by locals for snorkeling.
- Venus Universe Health & Beauty Spa, 35, Rue de la République, Gustavia, St Barthélemy, ☏ , email@example.com. Located on the main street of Gustavia, this spa and beauty center offers a wide range of wellness treatments: massage, face treatments, manicures and even chiropractic.
- Dive - One of the most spectacular dive sites - Pain de Sucre - is just 5 minutes (by boat) from the port of Gustavia. Other popular sites include those around Colombier Bay and Groupers - located between St Martin and St Barth, with tunnels and sharks!
- Climb Morne de Vitet - Climb to the top of Morne de Vitet, rising up to 286 meters.
- Windsurfing - Saint Jean is the perfect place to go windsurfing. Clubs offer their equipment and training sessions.
Exchange rates for euros
As of January 2024:
Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from XE.com
As in the rest of France, the official currency is the euro ("€", ISO currency code: EUR). It is divided into 100 cents.
The hotels, villas, and restaurants are generally not on the "package tour" plans, so deals are scarce - if available at all in high season.
The Christmas/New Year period is peak season when the jet set and mega-yacht set come to the island and the high season runs until mid-April. Many low season deals are available with significant discounts on hotel and villa accommodation as well as car rentals.
Be prepared to spend; everything except fish is imported and it is reflected in the prices. Meals are wonderful, and some restaurants will let two people out for under US$100 for an essentially basic meal (two entrees, a bottle of wine, and a salad or dessert or two.)
- Eddy's, 12 Rue Samuel Fahlberg, Gustavia 97133 St. Barthelemy, ☏ . Eat in a tropical garden! The atmosphere isrelaxed and authentic. You can taste French and local cuisine and enjoy a wide choice of wines and cocktails
- Orega, 13 Rue Samuel Fahlberg, Gustavia 97133, Saint-Barthélemy, ☏ . Right in the center of Gustavia, this restaurant is inspired by the fusion between French and Japanese cuisine. It is a surprising and refined cuisine.
- Le Tamarin, Grande, Grande Saline 25480 St. Barthelemy, ☏ . You will dine in a romantic setting, in the middle of a beautiful garden. They offer French and international cuisine.
- Le Select, 132 Rue de France, Gustavia St. Barthelemy, ☏ . Brush shoulders with locals and sailors!
- Nikki Beach, Gustavia, ☏ . Nestled on Saint-Jean beach, Nikki Beach Saint Barth is synonym of celebration and sophistication.
- Le Ti St Barth, Pointe Milou, Saint-Barthélémy, ☏ . It's the perfect place to party. The chef is known for his delicious meats and local fish. And once dinner is served, the dancers will perform a burlesque cabaret show. Thanks to the DJ you will be able to dance all night. You can use the many costumes in the Fancy Dress Room.
Budget hotel accommodation is available, as are reasonably priced villas and apartments. However the island does specialise in high end tourism, and the island has some of the best hotels in the Caribbean. The island of St Barts is refreshingly undeveloped. An old French communal law mandates that no building can be taller than a palm tree, so you'll find no high rises, and no massive resorts. In fact most of the rooms allocated to tourism on the island are found in private villas, not hotels.
St. Barth has about 25 hotels, most of them with 15 rooms or fewer, and the largest, the Guanahani, has just 70 rooms. Hotels are classified in the traditional French manner: 3-Star, 4-Star and 4-Star Luxe.
Villa vacations are extremely popular and there are hundreds of villas terraced into the hillsides throughout the island as well as many beachfront locations. Villas here can range from one-bedroom bungalows to large luxurious homes.
Villa rentals range from one bedroom to six bedrooms in size. Most are located on hillsides where they can be cooled by the prevailing winds, not on the beaches.
The hotels on the island are all well-rated, small for being in the Caribbean. The largest is the Guanahani Hotel with 58 rooms. Other hotels of note are Eden Rock Hotel, Hotel Le Toiny, The Carl Gustaf, Le Sereno Hotel and the Isle de France. Value-priced hotels include the Sunset Hotel, Salines Garden and the Christopher Hotel.
- Le Sereno, Grand Cul de Sac, ☏ , (North American numbering plan), fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Eden Rock, St Jean, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com.
- Isle de France, Flamands, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Oct 16-Aug 30.
- Hotel Le Toiny, Toiny, ☏ , email@example.com.
You can choose villa rental from owners:
Stay safe edit
St Barths is without a doubt the safest island in the Caribbean, and one of the safest places in the world. There is virtually zero crime, beyond petty theft. You can go anywhere on the island night or day with no fear whatsoever for your personal safety. There are no pickpockets, muggers, dealers or street traders to hassle you. However, do not leave valuables in your car, and use the safe in your villa or hotel.
The roads are narrow and often steep and winding. Small 4x4 rental jeeps are the vehicle of preference and renting scooters is not advised.
Stay healthy edit
St Barts is very French and very traditional.
- As such it is customary to say "Bonjour" on entering a shop or restaurant and "Au revoir" on leaving; similarly on passing a stranger in an uncrowded environment.
- Men shake hands more frequently than in Anglo-Saxon countries, but only on the first encounter of the day. A handshake will be declined if you have already met the man earlier that day.
- For men and women, meeting women a kiss on each cheek is customary (La bise), right cheek first. The same once-a-day rule applies. A man shaking a woman's hand only occurs in formal business situations.
- If meeting a group of people, one is expected to greet each and every individual with either a kiss or a shake of the hand as appropriate.
- Honking of horns is considered to be highly impolite.