St. Barths: The Necessities


This is the first addition to my four-part travel guide to St. Barths. This first part is all the basic info you would find in a guide book (do people read those anymore?) or online with my personal opinions (they're funny, I know) and tips.....

Getting there: First stop, St. Martin - there are NO direct flights into St. Bart's. The airport is extremely tiny. I’m sure you have all seen the famous videos of planes landing. If not, it's worth checking out on YouTube. The last flight out of St. Martin to SBH is no later than sunset; the runway is not lit, so the planes do not land at night. There are a fair amount of direct flights from the NYC area, as well as other places in the US. From St. Martin, there are two ways to get to SBH. A small plane, and I mean really small plane or ferry. I have done both; I recommend that if you get sea sick, do not take the ferry.

Winair: Offers flights almost every 30 minutes to SBH. They suggest leaving at least two hours from the time your inbound flight lands until the departure of your Winair plane. If you arrive ahead of schedule they are great about getting you on an earlier flight provided there are open spots. If not and you are stuck in the St. Martin airport there is a bar that serves cold pina coladas, no reason not to start your vacation.

St. Barths Commuter: Runs 4 flights every day from St. Martin. These flights are cheaper but they fill up fast and the planes are smaller than the Winair planes.

Voyager Ferry: Like I said, if you get sea sick, do not take the ferry. From the airport, you will need to get a taxi to Oyster Bay (40 min ride), then you get on the ferry, which is another hour ride to St. Barths.

Tradewind Aviation: This company offers flights to SBH from Puerto Rico. The flights are significantly more expensive, but the planes are significantly more luxurious. It is more of the “private jet” experience.

Language: Bonjour! The island is French which means people speak French, don't worry English is widely spoken. If you're feeling jazzy it's a great time to break out that high school French, that you don't really remember anymore but pretend to.

Getting around the island: If you feel comfortable driving on the windy island roads, I highly recommend renting a car. Taxis are pretty much nonexistent in St. Barths, and when you locate one, they are crazy expensive. One ride into town could pay for your rental car for one day.  If you want something fun I highly recommend renting a Moke, the original St. Barths beach ride. I do not suggest hiding away at your hotel when you are on St. Barths; it's fun to explore the different beaches and to spend time in town.

Money: The currency is euros. Credit cards and American dollars are widely accepted. There are ATMs on the island if you need to take cash out.

Water: As with most Caribbean islands, I do not recommend drinking the water out of the taps. The locals will tell you the same thing. It's fine to brush your teeth and cook with, but for drinking, I would stick with bottled water.

Food Stores: There are several grocery stores on the island, all offering a good selection of produce and other goods. Reading the labels can be a bit challenging as everything is in French. The Marche U in St. Jean, across from the airport, offers the most extensive selection of food. Bring a bag with you as they do not provide plastic or paper bags. You can buy a reusable one for 1 euro. If you are staying in a villa, they might have some so make sure you look around.