Saint-Barthélemy- often abbreviated as St Barts, St Barths or Saint Barth- is a small, volcanic island located in the northwest Caribbean Sea. It is among four territories referred to as the Leeward Islands, a grouping which includes the French West Indies, Guadeloupe, and Martinique. St Barts is located about 35 kilometers (21.75 miles) southeast of the island of Saint Martin and roughly 180 kilometers (112 miles) east of Puerto Rico. St Barts is a relatively small island, with a land area of 21.0 km² (8.5 sq. miles) and a population of about 8,902.
St Barts is a popular tourist destination and is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. The Island’s economy relies upon the nearly 200,000 travelers who visit every year, drawn by the island’s tropical climate, white, sandy beaches, and sophisticated lifestyles. St Barts’ is a French-speaking island and its customs and traditions are greatly influenced by French culture. The capital city of Gustavia offers all the comforts of urban life, including boutiques, restaurants, and dozens of hotels and villas, while more rural areas of the island offer a beautiful natural landscape for visitors to explore.
For more information call or visit The Tourism Center (The Office Municipal du Tourisme), 011 590 590 27 87 27, located on quai Général de Gaulle, Gustavia.
Gustavia Shaped like a horseshoe around a small, sheltered harbor, and once protected by stone forts whose vestiges remain today, Gustavia is a very busy port.
Today island’s capital has only 3100 residents. Gustavia remains primarily a port with many shops along the waterfront. Take a stroll down the streets and see the glittering jewelry stores and designer boutiques. Maybe you would like to take a look at the restored facades of a few handsome wooden and stone buildings that remain from the Swedish era. You might also want to relax on the terrace of a waterfront café, or walk along the docks and admire the line-up of fabulous sea-going sailboats and mega-yachts coming to and from the port. On the far side of the harbor are more restaurants and businesses. You can also find the renovated Wall House, also a survivor of the Swedish era. This two-story stone building currently houses the island’s library as well as its principal museum, which chronicles the history and culture of Saint Barts.
The charm of this city lies in its beautiful architecture. From the vestiges of the Swedish era with a pretty little Anglican church topped with a cupola in wood. You can see various colonial-style houses, some painted in bright Caribbean colors and others cool behind their white clapboard facades and slatted shutters.
On the outskirts of town is Fort Gustave. Built in 1787 by the Swedish, this fort sits on top of a steep hillside. It provides a perfect view overlooking the port that was once the refuge of pirates, and today hosts a variety of spirited regattas. Just a few miles from the port is the little cove of Gouverneur. It’s an unspoiled natural landscape and one of the island’s most beautiful beaches. Even more isolated and peaceful than Shell Beach, which is the closest beach to the center of town.
Saint Jean Eden Rock, the island’s first hotel, is the best place for you to stay. This big and luxurious hotel is located on a promontory overlooking the bay. The hotel was built by a man named Rémy de Haenen. From 1962 to 1977 he served as the island’s mayor, but later became an adventurer and pioneer of aviation in the Caribbean. His hotel was frequented by David Rockfeller, who most likely contributed to the promotion of the island to its earliest American visitors.
Saint Jean is not only centrally located, but this popular neighborhood also comprises the second largest shopping area on the island. Some of the islands most magnificent villas, hotels, and restaurants can also be found in this city.
In the hills, luxury hotels and pretty villas are hidden in the tropical vegetation and a profusion of colorful flowers. From Saint Jean, you can head back toward Gustavia or continue on to Lorient, following the coast road, which has magnificent views of the ocean and mountainous landscape.
Some of the other cities that can be visited on the island of St Barts are, Marigot, Flamands, Pointe Milou, Grand Cul de Sac and Anse de Toiny, which are all wonderful cities to visit as well.
If your looking to see a little more of the Caribbean its only just a quick flight or a boat ride away. Here are some of the other islands that you can travel to in the Caribbean from St Barts.
To schedule a flight to any of these islands you can use the local airports in St Bart, which are Winair or St Barts Commuter. If you wish to travel by boat to one of these other islands visit us at StBarts.com to make further arrangements.
Columbus discovered St Barts in 1493 and named it after his brother Bartolomeo. In 1763, French mariners from Normandy and Brittany settled the island. With the quantities of Spanish galleons they had acquired the French buccaneers found the place suitable for living.
St Barts remained French until 1784, when it was sold to Sweden by one of Louis XVI's ministers in exchange for trading rights in the Swedish port of Gothenburg. Now under Swedish rule, St Barts was very useful as a trade and supply center for the colonial and revolutionary wars of the 18th and 19th century. When captains captured a prize or raided a settlement, they brought it to St. Barts and resupplied their ships. This period of prosperity was short-lived, however when motor vessels replaced sailing ships.
In 1878 the island was bought back by the French. To this day the free port status of the island remains. Swedish mementoes such as architecture, a cemetery, a few street signs, and the name of the harbor and capital, Gustavia are still the same as well.
In 1946, certain islands, including St. Barts, were expected to abide by the same rules that they do in France. The Department of France gave the citizens French passports, were expected to pay French taxes, and obey laws passed in Paris. Then In 1957, the American millionaire David Rockefeller bought a property on the island. It quickly grew to an upscale tourist destination that everyone wanted to visit.
Within the past twenty years St. Barts’ population has more than doubled. Natives don’t want to leave, and outsiders are arriving daily to make a new home for themselves. In recent years a few of the Caribbean Islands including Saint Bart engaged in a process of political evolution. On July 15, 2007 and the islands first territorial council was elected and the new Overseas Collectivity of Saint Barthélemy was born. There were 19 members to the council and they elected Bruno Magras as the first president.
Because of the laws passed by the council St Barts is now tax-free and the natives love the lives they live. Everyone who wants somewhere to relax and enjoy the beautiful Caribbean hair should consider coming to visit this island.
St Barts has a single, small airport located on its north coast called the Gustaf III Airport. International and full-sized planes cannot fly directly into Gustaf Airport, so visitors must first fly to another of the Caribbean Islands- such as St Martin or Guadalupe- and then take a smaller plane from there.
Flights from St Maarten:
- St Barth Commuter,+(590) 590 27 54 54, is the only commercial local airline based on St Barts, offers a daily scheduled flight service between St Martin’s Juliana airport and St Barts, also offers a private charter flight service to all destinations in the Caribbean.
- Winair, 05 90 27 61 01, main gateway in Juliana Airport in St Martin, offers daily scheduled flights to St Barts, also offers charter services to most islands in the Northeastern Caribbean.
- Windward Express Airways, (599) 545 2001, provides air charter and cargo services throughout the Eastern Caribbean.
Flights from Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe :
- Air Antilles, 05 90 29 62 79, at the airport of Saint Jean, offers direct, 50-minute flights to St Barts.
- Air Caraïbes, 05 90 87 14 80, at the airport of Saint Jean, offers scheduled flights to St Martin, but no direct flights to St Barts.
- Great Bay Express, (+590) 590 27 54 10, departs from the Marigot in St Martin at 9:00am and 6:45pm, open daily except on Wednesday and Sunday, takes 75 minute
- High-speed Ferry “The Edge”, (+599) 544 26 40, departs from the Pelican Marina in Dutch St Martin at 9:00am, lands in Gustavia, takes 45 minutes
- Windward Islands, one of the world’s largest yacht charter companies, offers charter services in St Barth, Guadeloupe and St Martin
- Private Yacht: Visitors may choose to travel to the island through private boats or yachts. Two hours prior to arrival inbound vessels must contact the Harbor Master. Immediately upon arrival, a vessel's captain should proceed to the Harbor Master's Office, on the quay, to present the vessel's registration documents and a passport for each passenger and crew member. A full range of facilities are available for visiting yachts, including anchorage in the inner harbor (for yachts no longer than 80ft) and anchorage in the outer harbor (for yachts 100+ feet long). Fuel, water, provisioning, and a marine store are available after docking.
For additional information contact the Harbor Master's Office: Phone : (+590) 590 27 66 97 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Island is small and safe enough that many visitors prefer to walk whenever possible. However, there are dozens of agencies through which visitors can rent scooters, quads, ATVs, and cars in order to make traveling the island more enjoyable. St Barts is notorious for having steep, narrow, and often bumpy roads, and so many rental agencies urge caution when using scooters or smaller vehicles and discourage visitors from using bicycles. ATVs are a popular means of transportation on the island as they allow visitors to explore areas of the island inaccessible by cars, scooters, and other vehicles. Many rental agencies have different prices depending on the season. The prices generally change from the Low, Middle, and High seasons, but the exact dates of these seasons varies with each rental agency. In addition, some agencies raise prices around the winter Holidays.
Scooter and Moto Rentals:
- Barthloc Scooters and Quads, + (59) 05 90 27 52 81, Located at Rue de France, Gustavia, 97133 St Barthélémy, rents scooters by the day or by the week, prices range from 25€/day during the low season, 30€/day during the middle season, and 45€/day during the high season
- Fun Motors, + (59) 05 90 27 54 83, Les Galeries du Commerce, St Jean, 97133 St Barthélémy, rents a variety of scooters and quads, prices range from 45€/day in the low season, 55€/day during the middle season, and 65€/day in the high season
- Méca Moto, 05 90 29 72 28 / 05 90 52 92 49, located in Marigot, 97133 Saint-Barthélemy, rents a variety of two, three, and four-wheel vehicles, including scooters, quads, and motorcycles, rates not available online
ATV and Quad Rentals:
- St. Barth Adventure, 06 90 74 66 11, Located at La pointe, Gustavia, 97133 Saint-Barthélemy, rents a wide range of ATVs and scooters, prices vary depending on type of vehicle, rents by the day, week, or month and offers 2-hour ATV tours of the island with both French and English-speaking tour guides
- Béranger Rental, + (59) 05 90 27 89 00, Rue du Général de Gaulle, Gustavia, 97133 St Barthélémy, rents two- and four-wheeled vehicles, delivery of rental vehicles is available throughout the islands, prices vary from 26€/day in the low season, 36€/day in the middle season, and 52€/day in the high season
- Avis, + (59) 05 90 27 71 43, located at the airport, offers free delivery to hotels and villas, rates include insurance, unlimited mileage, and road service assistance
- Gumbs Rental, + (590) 5 90 27 75 32, located at the airport, al rentals include unlimited mileage
- Soleil Caraibes, (590) 27 67 18, located at the airport, offers hotel and auto packages for visitors
- Maurice Car Rental, + (59) 05 90 27 73 22, located at the airport, offers delivery to docks, villas, and hotels
- Budget, (590) 27 66 30, has locations at the airport and in Gustavia
- Barth’Loc Cars, + (59) 05 90 27 52 81, located in Gustavia, also offers scooter and quad rentals, offers free delivery to airport, sea ports, hotels and villas
- Chez Beranger, (590) 27 89 00, located in Gustavia, also rents scooters
- Dufau, (590) 27 54 83, also offers motorcycle rentals
- Tropic All Rent, (590) 27 64 76, located in Gustavia, also rents motorbikes
- Turbé Car Rental, + (59) 05 90 27 71 42, offers free delivery to the airport, villas and hotels, also offers road-side assistance
There are two taxi stations on the island: one at the airport, and the other in Gustavia. To book a taxi in Gustavia, call 27-66-31; at the airport, call 27-75-81. Visitors can also contact drivers directly; a list of drivers and their phone numbers is available at the Office Territorial de Tourisme in Gustavia.
French is the official language of St. Barthelemy. 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 sadly dying out in favour of French.
Up until recently Gustavia was English speaking and the creole quarter, La Pointe, remains so.
Beaches & Activities
St. Bart’s gets more than 300 sunny days per year, on average, which is why it’s the perfect vacation destination if you’re looking for a relaxing beach get-away. There are 14 beaches on St. Bart’s Island. All are full of white sand and are open to the public at no cost. Even during peak season, these beaches are normally not crowded. Nudism is prohibited on all beaches; however, it is not unusual to find visitors topless, as ties in with the island’s French roots.
- Shell Beach: Just a short walk from Gustavia, a site of many weekend festivities.
- Activities: Ideal for sunbathing and swimming. Equipped with clear, warm waters and a quiet, relaxing setting.
- Warning: Described in its name, Shell Beach is loaded with shell fragments throughout the sand. This may hurt your feet, but is ideal for collecting vacation memorabilia.
- Gouverneur Beach: A remote and private beach. You’re likely to find topless sunbathers here.
- Activities: Snorkeling off the beach point to explore the underwater realms. Ring of sand is surrounded by scenic cliffs, and it’s possible to catch a glimpse of St. Kitts in the distance. Restaurants can be found on the road as well.
- Warning: Many visitors, some of which like to go au natural.
- (Anse de Grande) Saline Beach: One of the best-known beaches in St. Bart’s, and maintains an undeveloped and isolated appeal.
- Activities: Excellent atmosphere for swimming when wind and surf are down due to shallow ocean bottom.
- Warning: Nude sunbathing is very common and on windy days, the surf can get rough and blowing sand can prevent some issues. Not much shade either.
- St. Jean Beach: Two beaches in one, split by the prominent promontory known as Eden Rock. Also the most popular beach on the island.
- Activities: Lots of resident hotels. Endless water sports activities. Lots of shops and restaurants.
- Warning: Full nudity is prohibited, but topless sunbathing is accepted.
- Flamands Beach: Less crowded with a wide and long swatch of sand.
- Activities: Some hotels and villa rentals offer accommodations near the water.
- Warning: Some shaded areas and the surf is roughest during the winter.
- Colombier (“Rockefeller’s”) Beach: Best known for its seclusion. A lack of services creates a tranquil appeal.
- Activities: Calm waters provide for good snorkeling conditions.
- Warning: Many visitors bring food and drinks with them. Only way to travel here is to take a boat or walk a 30-minute trail. The walking trail is a goat path that passes Flamands Beach.
- Lorient Beach: Popular with local families but often missed by tourists. It is a reef-protected stretch of sand on the north shore of the island.
- Activities: Swimming with calm surf.
- Warning: Minimally developed area, which contributes to the low-key nature of the beach. Lots of shady areas.
- Grand Cul-de-Sac Beach:
- Activities: Lots of facilities and amenities. Many hotels and restaurants available for tourist needs. Watersports equipment available for rental. Ideal destination for kite surfing, wind surfing, and sailing. Also ideal for families with younger children because the water is quite shallow a far distance out.
- Warning: Often windy, although this creates a good spot for surfing and sailing sports.
- Peit Cul-de-Sac Beach: Calm waters, reef
- Toiny Beach:
- Activities: Known for its excellent surfing conditions.
- Warning: Not recommended for swimming due to strong currents.
- Marigot Beach: Surrounded by coconut palm trees and a tranquil nature reserve with crystalline waters.
- Activities: Ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
- Anse des Cayes Beach:
- Activities: Favored by surfers.
- Corossol Beach: A fishing village that serves as an example of traditional local life.
- Public Beach:
- Activities: Popular spot for sailing activities.
Here is a complete list of all the water sports available at St. Bart’s:
- Scuba diving—lessons and guided tours available
- Submarine trips—explore the 1995 Marignan shipwreck, home of nurse sharks, or check out the great reef where you’ll find schools of sergeant majors, blue tangs, snapper, parrotfish, angelfish, barracudas, butterfly fish, stingrays, & more! You’ll also find that the green sea turtles tend to swim along side your vessel. Sea excursions are guided in English. There is a Yellow Submarine tour that departs from Gustavia Harbor and will travel six feet beneath the surface.
- Kite surfing
- Deep-sea fishing—find yourself reeling in marlin, sailfish, tuna, and more!
- Peddle boats
- Motor boat, jet ski, and sea-scooter rentals
- Sailing & Catamaran trips—full or half day outings with agencies or private boat owners; sunset cruises
In addition to water activities, St. Bart’s is a sporty island in general. Explore:
- Tennis courts—there are about eight (8) in total on the island
- Volleyball—the most popular sport in St. Bart’s; there are frequent tournaments that travellers and locals participate in
- Horseback riding
The highest concentration of shops in St. Bart’s is in Gustavia or St. Jean. You can find tax free ports with shops that contain elegant displays resembling the atmosphere of Paris, France. It is recommended that you allot more than one afternoon for shopping purposes.
St Barts Weddings
To get married on St. Barts, it is not required to be a member of the island, but it is encouraged that the couple will consider becoming a part of the community of St. Barts. The Episcopal Church requires that at least one member of the couple be a baptized Christian and that two witnesses attest to the wedding ceremony. The couple must fill out a wedding registration form and will then be assigned a priest. Before the wedding, the couple must attend a minimum of three pre-marital counseling sessions. This is a requirement of the Episcopal Church and of the St. Bart’s clergy. The church and chapel of St. Barts is very accommodating, but there are a few restrictions:
- Use of aisle runners or “Unity Candles” are prohibited.
- The scattering of rice, flower petals, confetti, etc. is not permitted in the church or chapel, or on the church property.
The Euro is the official currency, although US Dollars are widely accepted.
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 and Mega-Yacht set come to the island.
The High Season runs from mid December to mid April, and many Low Season deals are available with significant discounts on hotel and villa accommodation as well as car rentals.
Meals are wonderful, and a number of restaurants will let two people out for under $100.00 for an essentially basic meal (two entrees, a bottle of wine, and a salad or dessert or two.)
Budget hotel accommodation is available, as well as reasonably priced villas and appartments. However the island does specialise in high end tourism, and the island has some of the best hotels in the Caribbean.
Where to Eat
In St. Barts, meal options change almost daily, as dishes are prepared fresh every day, made with local ingredients. Prices vary place to place, but quality and delicious French cuisine is always promised no matter where you go. Below, three restaurant locations are recommended, from least to most expensive. If you’re looking for a quick bite before the beach or pool, Maya’s To Go is the place for you. Located in St. Jean, locals and travelers alike can pick up breads, rolls, pastries and coffees. Menu changes daily. Maya’s also sells wines, teas, crackers, and chocolates. It’s fast and easy to take items to go, or you can sit outside at their high-top bars. Maya’s is kid-friendly, too. All cards accepted/cash.
www.mayas-stbarth.com/daily_menu.html Les Galeries du Commerce, St. Jean, St. Barts FWI Open from 7am-7pm (closed Mondays) Tel (590) 29 83 70
The Hideaway is the perfect place for comfort and quality meals. The restaurant is very large and open, with a wrap-around porch and a relaxed atmosphere and plenty of seating at the tables or bar. Owner, Andy, greats guests warmly upon entrance. The Hideaway is kid-friendly and will accommodate orders to meet their needs. The restaurant features impromptu sing-alongs, impersonations, and discos. The Hideaway is non-smoking, although a smoking terrace is located outside. Menu features fresh dishes, from pizzas to fish dishes to l’escargot. Main courses: 16-24 euro. Cash accepted; Credit cards accepted: AE/MC/V
http://www.hideaway.tv Vaval Center, St. Jean, St. Barts FWI The Hideaway Restaurant Tues-Sat, noon-2:30pm and Tues-Sun 7-10:30pm Reservations recommended Tel (590) 05 90 27 63 62
Finally, if you’re looking for a special place to fine dine, La Langouste can’t be topped. Located in Flammands, the restaurant serves “the best lobster on the island.” It is just steps from the beach and offers a swimming pool to cool off before or after meals. La Langouste features traditional French cuisine and mainly serves fish dishes, as well as wine selections by the bottle or glass. Service is very attentive and friendly. Other than lobster and fish dishes of tuna, mahi, and Dover sole, they offer salads, creamy pastas, chicken brochettes, beef filet, and veal chops. All cards accepted/cash.
http://hotel-baie-des-anges.com Hotel Baie des Anges Flammands, St. Barts FWI Tel (590) 27 63 61 Fax (590) 27 83 44 Open every day Lunch: Noon-2:30pm; Dinner: 7pm-9:30pm
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 main agencies representing villa rentals on the island are Sibarth , the oldest and largest agency on the island, Wimco Villas with 170 exclusive villas, St Barth Properties and Premium Island Vacations  who offer strictly luxury villas and hotels.
The hotels on the island are all well rated,and on the small size for 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, ☎ +59 05 90 28 83 00 / USA +1 888 Le Sereno (email@example.com, fax: +59 05 90 27 75 47), . edit
- Hotel Le Toiny (Hotel Le Toiny), Toiny, Anse de Toiny, St. Barthelemy, ☎ +590 (0)590 27 88 88 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Overlooking the blue Caribbean sea and virgin Toiny Beach, Hotel Le Toiny embodies the style, sexiness, and high-class luxury of St Barth. Since 1992, the hotel has been the preferred destination for high-profile guests and celebrities seeking a secure, private, and rejuvenating service-driven experience. Comprised of 15 elegantly appointed private luxury villa suites, each with its own private pool and terrace with expansive ocean views, the hotel’s design marries casual-chic and exclusivity – large and secluded villa suites, four-poster mahogany beds, the finest Egyptian cotton linens, Italian tiled bathrooms, fully-stocked and equipped modern kitchenettes. The hotel’s open-air gourmet Restaurant Le Gaiac, with its impressive ocean-view infinity-edge pool, is widely regarded as the best culinary experience on St. Barth; whilst the Serenity Spa Cottage, private white-sand Toiny Beach, Boutique, and Fitness Studio, complement the superlative service in a uniquely Hotel Le Toiny St. Barth way. (17.89983,-62.79762) edit
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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.
However do not leave valuables in your car, and use the safe in your villa or hotel.
There are no pickpockets, muggers, dealers or street traders to hassle you.
The roads are narrow and often steep and winding. Small 4x4 rental jeeps are the vehicle of preference and renting scooters is not advised.
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, however only on the first encounter of the day. A handshake will be declined if you have already met the man on the first day.
For both 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 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.