St. Barts Guide
Know Before You Go...®
Even as one of the smallest islands in the Caribbean, St. Barts has managed to make a big name for itself. With bragging rights to some of the best and cleanest beaches, the finest restaurants, and the trendiest shops, this is an island worth visiting. If you’ve decided to rent a villa or book a hotel room in St. Barts, use the information on this page to help you plan an unforgettable vacation.
Why St. Barts?
- Shopping and fine cuisine!
- Landing at the airport.
- La Rivage restaurant at St. Barts Beach Hotel. A local favorite.
- Windsurfing, sailing and yachting.
- The villages of Corossol and Colombier where women dress as they did centuries ago.
St. Barts Weather/Climate
When Christopher Columbus sailed past this island in 1493, he named the place for his brother, Bartholomew. When the French took over, the island eventually became ritzy, glitzy St Bartholemy. The Columbian name finally evolved into St Barth in French and Saint Barts in English.
The island never went into the plantation business, so there were never any slaves other than a few domestic ones. Plantation-free, extremely hilly St Barts has valleys and beaches that are among the most unspoiled and gorgeous in the Caribbean. From the island’s highest peak, about 930 ft, it is possible to see Sint Eustatius and St Kitts islands.
On July 1, 1784, the King of France, along with King Gustav III of Sweden, traded St Barts for a Swedish warehouse and Baltic Sea trading rights. Thus, St Barts became Sweden’s only Caribbean colony. Today, little remains of Swedish rule - other than a waterfront warehouse, several Swedish street names, and the Swedish royal name “Gustavia” for the island’s commercial center.
Sweden’s monarch made his Caribbean colony a duty-free port. Almost ever since, St Barts and its waterfront capital, Gustavia, have prospered as a shopper’s haven. However, trade dropped off in 1847 when Sweden’s king freed the slaves, what few there were. Since there were no plantations, most of the freed slaves left to find work in the US Virgin Islands.
In 1878, King Oscar II of Sweden ordered a referendum on sovereignty. Islanders voted to return as part of France, but only if the duty-free status could remain in place.
Discover St. Barth's by Motor Boat
Marine Services can help you discover St. Barths' fishing, sailing, snorkeling, diving, island hopping and jet skiing. They offer all of this, plus several other tours. Divers love exploring the Kayali shipwreck, and anglers always come home with plenty of stories to tell after a day with Marine Services. Big game fishermen catch bonita, dorado, and barracuda. Or maybe just a leisurely tour around the island is more your speed. The gentle rocking of the boat makes for the perfect sun bathe, or find a shaded spot for a relaxing on-board nap. When you wake, refreshing beverages and a light lunch will be waiting. Quai du Yacht Club, Gustavia Open Daily: 8:30 am to 1 pm; 3 pm to 6 pm
Gustavia -- A Shopper's Playground
The island of St. Barts is duty-free but you'll find the most stores and best shopping in Gustavia. Billionaire yachts anchor here to check out the latest trends from French and Italian designers, which may not have made it to the states yet. The shopping pit-stop includes merchants such as Dior, Louis Vuitton, Tod's, and Bulgari and a bunch of luxury boutiques. St. Bart's Gustavia is a sure hit for fashionistas traveling from around the globe.
Crystal Blue Waters at St. Jean Beach
St. Barts' 14 stunning beaches draw thousands of travels to this tiny island every year, but St. Jean is where we soak up the sun. This cove is actually 2 beaches split by Eden Rock where you'll find restaurants, hotels, bars, shops and water sports. This northern bay feels like the French Riviera. Relax and enjoy the crystal blue water. It's never very crowded, even during the winter months. Take a stroll down the coast to the airport runway. It's fun to watch, and photograph, take-offs and landings. Nudism is prohibited, but topless sun-bathing is okay.
Transportation on St. Barts
Getting to St. Barts and getting around. Our transportation tips will help make your trip smoother. More good sand advice.
From July 1st 2005, all the American and Canadian citizens traveling onto the island will have to have a valid passport to enter the territory. Others must have a valid passport and possibly a visa. EEC citizens must have a National Identity Card.
Airlines Flying Here
WinAir - 599 545 4237, www.fly-winair.com Air Caraibes - 590 82 47 00. www.aircaraibes.com St. Barths Commuter - 590 27 54 54. www.stbarthcommuter.com Tradewind Aviation - 800-376-7922. www.tradewindaviation.com
Gustavia III Airport
Included in airfare
On the right - a valid foreign or international license is required.
Taxis, rental cars.
St. Barts Weddings and Honeymoons
Vacationers don’t just stay in St. Barts villas - they come to paradise to get married and celebrate their honeymoons! In order to get married on St. Barth, the couple needs to fill out a document and submit it to the city hall in person at least 30 days before the wedding. The island has several churches, including Catholic and Anglican, where couples can arrange for a religious ceremony after filling out the appropriate paperwork.
Know Before You Go...® - St. Barts Travel Tips
Before making their way to St. Barts villas, vacationers like to know a little bit of helpful information to make them feel more at home during their stay. Take a look at our travel tips to make your time in villas in St. Barts even more relaxing.