The most frequently asked questions about the Island of St. Barthelemy
Where is St. Barths?
St Barthelemy, or St Barths, is located in the northeastern corner of the Caribbean Sea, and is part of the Lesser Antillies island chain which includes St Martin, Anguilla, St Kitts, Nevis, and the Virgin Islands.
What makes St. Barths different from other Caribbean Islands?
The Island of St. Barthelemy has a rich and unique history. The native race were the Carib Indians, and the Ouanalo tribe. In the 16th century the island was colonized by the French, who then sold it to the Swedish government in return for trading rights in Europe. The Swedes later returned St Barths back to the French, but only after establishing the capital city of Gustavia (named after a Swedish king). To this day that city’s street signs are listed in both Swedish and French. If you are interested in learning more about St. Barthelemy and is history check out our History of St. Barthelemy Island page.
One thing you will notice right away when you arrive in St. Barths is that unlike many other Caribbean islands there are not tall hotel towers, condo developments or massive resorts. Thanks to a 17th century building code, that no structure can be built taller than a palm tree. The island is also known for its spectacular mountainous topography.
What are the most popular things to do on the island?
St Barths is known for its unspoiled beaches, red roofed villas, excellent restaurants, and gracious French culture. Popular activities include sailing, scuba and snorkeling, tennis, hiking, exploring the cities of Gustavia and St Jean, shopping, swimming and suntanning, and enjoying St Barths variety of fine restaurants.
What is the restaurant scene like on St Barths?
The island of St Barths is known for its sophisticated yet casual restaurant scene. Caribbean Travel & Life magazine named it the culinary capital of the Caribbean. Whatever dining experience you want, trust us, you can find it in St Barths…from causal feet in the sand beach bars to fun bistros for cocktails and a Croque Monsieur, to Michelin Star quality restaurants serving caviar and foie gras. Read about some of the top restaurants like Nikki Beach and Mayas in this trip report from our villa specialists.
How do I get to St. Barths?
Most people travel to St Barths by plane. Flying to St Barths involves at least one connection since the tiny airport can’t accommodate planes any larger than a 19-seater. Convenient scheduled flights are available from Puerto Rico (SJU), St Martin (SXM, SFG) and Antigua (ANU). You can also travel there via a daily ferry service departing from the city of Marigot in St Martin.
- San Juan:
Save Time by cutting out a connection when you fly through San Juan, PR (SJU). There are daily nonstop flights from JFK, BOS, LAX, DFW, PHL (and many other major airports) into San Juan. Connect in San Juan to Tradewind Aviation on their scheduled service, available mid-October to mid-June, for a 75 minute flight to St Barths. Private charter options are also available on Tradewind Aviation and Air America.
- St Martin:
WINAIR flies to St Barths in 15 minutes from St Martin airport. They depart hourly in peak season from the Princess Julianna International Airport (SXM) on the Dutch side of the island. St Barth Commuter also flies from St Martin to St Barths, leaving from the airports in Juliana (SXM) and Grand Case (SFG). Call Wimco for the most up to date pricing, schedules and ticketing.
This new service makes traveling from London and the UK a breeze. Fly London to Antigua direct and then choose the scheduled service from Tradewind Aviation or St Barth Commuter for a short flight to St Barths.For more details and to reserve your seat today, please call the WIMCO Air Department at 1-888-817-9924
Do I need a Passports or Visa to visit St Barths?
St Barths is a French territory, and thus is governed by the immigration laws of the European Union (EU). All U.S. citizens must present a valid passport before boarding a flight to France, including St Barths. U.S. citizens do not require a visa when traveling to St Barths. There are some countries whose citizens are required to apply for a visa before gaining access to any country in the US – please check with your State Department to see if you are required to get a visa. Whatever country you are traveling from, or to, when bringing a nanny or babysitter, please check in advance that they too have appropriate documentation for travel.
What currency is used on the island?
St. Barthelemy’s official currency is the Euro but U.S. dollars are widely accepted on the island. Most establishments accept credit cards, but you may want to bring enough cash and/or travelers checks to last throughout your stay. There are three ATM machines on the island: two in Gustavia and one near the airport, which will give you EUROs. The American Express representative will allow clients to buy American Express travelers checks with your AMEX card. You will need your passport or a piece of identification with your name and photo.
What language is spoken on the island?
St. Barth is a French island and French is the official and primary language. However, English is widely spoken, especially in the hotels, shops and restaurants. Language will not be a problem.
What accommodations are available in St. Barths for tourists?
St Barths is a unique island in that most of the rooms available for tourists are found in private villas which are rented out by the week. The island has over 500 private villas, with over 1,500 bedrooms in total. In addition there are numerous small hotels, none of which have more than 50 bedrooms.
How do I rent a villa in St. Barths?
Renting a vacation home, or villa as they are called in France, is easy. No matter what part of the island you want to vacation in there are homes available to rent. These villas come in all shapes and sizes, from one bedroom houses perfect for a couples’ retreat to large estates that can easily handle a multi-generational family reunions. Read one of our most recent articles on how to rent a vacation home and what to expect.
Renting a villa in St. Barths is an ideal way to vacation with friends and family. For any other questions or concerns check out our Frequently Asked Questions About Villa Vacations and our How to Build a Memorable Vacation pages.
What is the cost of renting a private villa?
Since all of the villas we represent are privately owned vacation homes, pricing can vary from house to house, from season to season. Location, quality, amenities, inclusive services, and popularity/availability of the villa are all factors which can influence the price. As a general statement, the average villa with a pool starts at $300 per bedroom per night. Contemporary villas in the most desireable locations can cost several times that. For those seeking a simple type of home, WIMCO has many comfortable value villas that are offered at reasonable prices.
Do I need a rental car?
We recommend that you rent a car on St. Barths as there is no public transportation, and only a handful of taxis which need to be reserved in advance. Various types of jeeps and enclosed sedans are available. Daily rates start at approximately $50 per day in the low season, and $75 per day in high season. Due to limited supply, we suggest you let us know your preference as far in advance as possible. During the high season, we can only reserve, not guarantee, car type. For those who want to enjoy a few glasses of wine over dinner, we suggest leaving your car at the villa and reserving a taxi. Uber is also now an option for getting around at night.