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Thread: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

  1. #1
    newyork is offline
    SBH New Member Joined: Dec 2017 Posts: 7

    Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    Hello, bonjour,

    Please excuse my speaking English, I do not speak French.

    My wife and I always vacation in St Thomas after the new year. Unfortunately, the recovery on that beautiful island is not yet to a point where we feel comfortable spending our only time off from work at. We will return, and spend our money there, when they are ready.

    We now look to you. We are familiar with small Caribbean islands, and are easy going tourists looking for beaches, great food, and a place to relax. Understanding that you all went through and are still dealing with two natural disasters in a row...we don't want to be a further burden.

    Can any of you shed light on what we should expect...having never been to SBH? We are looking into several villas in the Colombier region and elsewhere. We would want to rent a jeep. What are some of the concerns we will be facing on your beautiful paradise? I am reading on this forum issues with getting ice? What other every day items do we need to be prepared to live without? There is a water safety issue as well?

    We are not wallflowers, I went to high school in the south Bronx, we are tough and don't need pampering...we want to spend our hard earned money with you. We can live without creature comforts, I just want to come prepared.

    Thank you all for your patience, and advice!!

    Andy

  2. #2
    bkeats is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2010 Nuevo York Posts: 694

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    Welcome Andy
    There is a board with tips for newcomers that you should review if you have not already.

    Be careful. We used to go the the USVI and BVI until we discovered SBH. Haven't been back since. Don't worry about using anglais here. Most posters don't speak French.

    If you are familiar with St Thomas, the terrain will be similar but the culture is completely different. French style and food which is phenomenal. Much less built up than St Thomas. Very easy going. Just remember to say bonjour first anytime you meet someone. Shopkeeper, waiter, bartender, anyone you pass by.

  3. #3
    andynap is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2002 Philadelphia Posts: 45,021

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    Quote Originally Posted by bkeats View Post
    Welcome Andy
    There is a board with tips for newcomers that you should review if you have not already.

    Be careful. We used to go the the USVI and BVI until we discovered SBH. Haven't been back since. Don't worry about using anglais here. Most posters don't speak French.

    If you are familiar with St Thomas, the terrain will be similar but the culture is completely different. French style and food which is phenomenal. Much less built up than St Thomas. Very easy going. Just remember to say bonjour first anytime you meet someone. Shopkeeper, waiter, bartender, anyone you pass by.
    What you said. Merci helps too. Itís hard to put into one answer what to expect. There are several recent trip reports, restaurants reviews and airport reviews you can look at which will give you a good idea of whatís going on right now. When are you going?


    Andy

  4. #4
    KevinS is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Posts: 21,436

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    The Timeless Tips forum is a good place to find information on a bunch of subjects. https://www.sbhonline.com/forums/for...Place-To-Start

    Post-Irma, the beachfront 5-star hotels are all offline for the season, reducing the number of available hotel rooms. There are still hundreds of rental villas available. One rental agency is WIMCO, which owns this site. http://www.wimco.com/ There are others. Rental villas with multiple bedrooms often have a reduced price if you are only going to be using one bedroom.

    All but a very few villas are accessible without the use of 4WD/AWD. There are jeeps available, but there are also many smaller rental cars with AWD.

    The water issue is one of personal choice. There are very limited natural sources of water on the island. Most water comes from cisterns, which collect rainwater runoff from the roofs. There is a desalinization plant, but that water is expensive, while rainwater is free. Residents drink the cistern water with no ill effects. We probably could too, but that's an area where people on this site have typically been overly cautious. Expect to pay for bottled water in restaurants, as tap water is not generally served.

    Ice is available if you're persistent. If one store is out, then try another.

    I recently returned from a trip to the island, and you can find my experiences at https://www.sbhonline.com/forums/showthread.php/92305-St-Barth-over-Thanksgiving-2017


    About the only thing that visitors have to live without right now is an expensive lunch at a 5-star beachfront hotel.

    With fewer visitors to the area, there are many fewer flights. If you're coming from NYC then look at Jet Blue. At present, they're only flying to SXM 2 days a week. In early January that is expected to increase to 7 days a week. Connecting flights from SXM to SBH can be booked on either Winair or St Barth Commuter.

  5. #5
    stbartshopper is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Dec 2013 Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A. Posts: 10,918

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    Your question is what you should expect on the island.
    Here goes-
    Wonderful food, nice and friendly people, virtually no security (crime) issues, fun shopping, beautiful sunsets and sunrises, warm breezes, English spoken everywhere, fun night life, lots of water activities- yacht and catamarans, Seadoos, 'Sea bobs', windsurfboards, kite boards and more are all available. It is a place where once you try it you may only return there and no longer consider other Caribbean islands. We hope you have a wonderful time!

  6. #6
    amyb is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 28,232

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    Also, when packing, leave half the clothes and take twice the money. This is an old Stew Leonard line that is still true today.
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  7. #7
    Max1030 is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Nov 2012 Florida Posts: 70

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    Welcome Andy
    Saint Barth is very special and unique Island we have yet to find any tropical destination that can even come close to this amazing place.

    St Barths is in perfect condition we just returned from an extended stay and had zero issues, absolutely perfect vacation.
    Some tourists might find beach-side dining options somewhat limited, but you can always take a picnic and some rose.

    My opinion regarding car rental. You really do not need a jeep or any large vehicle, as the roads are narrow and winding and they are out of place on SBH. Lost count how many times I was forced off the road by large rental jeeps riding down the center of the road. If you are concerned with 4WD rent a Suzuki Jimny or Mini Countrymen perfect size for SBH.

  8. #8
    Tiffany is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jun 2014 Virginia Beach, VA Posts: 823

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max1030 View Post

    My opinion regarding car rental. You really do not need a jeep or any large vehicle, as the roads are narrow and winding and they are out of place on SBH. Lost count how many times I was forced off the road by large rental jeeps riding down the center of the road. If you are concerned with 4WD rent a Suzuki Jimny or Mini Countrymen perfect size for SBH.
    I was going to suggest the same thing regarding a car...the roads are very narrow and Jeeps are big vehicles there. You need AWD or 4WD, but doesn't have to be a Jeep.

  9. #9
    Bart -my real name- is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2009 Alexandria, VA Posts: 5,427

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    Bring or buy bug spray and use it!

  10. #10
    Divabella is offline
    SBH Member Joined: May 2017 New York Posts: 287

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    Hi NewYork, I am from NY as well and a regular vacationier to the USVI's. We were married on STT and honeymooned on St John. We return to St John every year for our anniversary in May (our 2018 trip is ON). We discovered St Barth's on a day trip last February from St Martin. It was love at first site. The first two words that come to mind when I try to describe it to someone are charming and enchanting. My husband and I were both wowed from the moment we caught a glimpse of the island from the airplane. We loved it so much we decided we would be booking our annual February, Caribbean vacation to St Barth's. We booked in July and luckily our rental is accepting guests. We are flying Jet Blue nonstop Friday - Saturday (8 nights) to SXM and then Winair. Right after Irma, Jet Blue changed our return home to a layover in San Juan but they now will be flying daily,nonstop starting in January, so we are back on our origiinal flights (airfare is ridiculously cheap right now too) .

    I only spent the day on St Barth's (and the majority of it was at Cheval Blanc) so I do not have much info on comparisons but I can tell you that it is VERY different from STT (in a fabulous way). The terrain is similiar but to us St Barth's was more chill like St John with a little bit of chic mixed in. My husband thought it was going to be snooty and it was not in the least. Even at Cheval Blanc everyone was so warm, friendly, relaxed and fantastic. I think you will love it! BTW, we always rent a jeep in the USVI's but here we are renting a Fiat convertible (hope that was a wise choice, it was fine for us in Feb but we are staying in Gustavia)

  11. #11
    andynap is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2002 Philadelphia Posts: 45,021

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bart -my real name- View Post
    Bring or buy bug spray and use it!
    May I suggest a look at this?

    https://www.sbhonline.com/forums/sho...Mosquito-Bites


    Andy

  12. #12

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    Two words to remember. RhumVanille. The rest comes easy

  13. #13
    cassidain is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Jul 2007 Ailleurs Posts: 7,486

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    Quote Originally Posted by luvtocook View Post
    Two words to remember. RhumVanille. The rest comes easy
    Idem TiíPunch

  14. #14
    newyork is offline
    SBH New Member Joined: Dec 2017 Posts: 7

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    You all are fabulous! Thank you for the tips, the links...everything. We will skip the jeep, that's fine - we used a jeep a lot in STT - and spent enough time in the car on STT/STJ that we enjoyed driving with the top down. It seems clear now that on SBH we will not be spending nearly as much time in the car, and needn't bother with the full sized 4wd jeeps. Noted re bug spray.

    We would like to arrive Jan 1 and stay until Jan 7. I have reached out to several realtors. We understand there is the minimum of a week stay, but we can't stay 7 nights. I am hoping a SBH bargain will be had...somehow :-)

    I like the leave half the clothes and take twice the money.

    Is it a pipe dream that we could find a nice 1BR villa for 1K a night? I am hoping to find just such a place...if you all have folks or places you are thinking might help us, please just send me a DM.

    Again, I have found exactly what I was looking for when I signed up for this forum, many thanks! You are all such a nice group.

  15. #15
    NancySC is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Sep 2017 Posts: 1,287

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    Wear light colors, nothing dark-for mosquito avoidance. Lt beige & white ! And heed Andy's tips about the bugs ! I bring baggies for stowing sunscreen, shells, for meats or fish for freezing if we have to for nites in. Larger bags for wet suits on departure day. Each yr the packing is less & less. I did just find a bug zapper "tennis racket" cheap @ BBB, weighs nothing. Enjoy your time on island, we started with 8 days years ago, upped to 3 weeks & now even that goes far too fast.

  16. #16
    andynap is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2002 Philadelphia Posts: 45,021

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    You should be able to find plenty of places for 1K a nite. Contact the agencies now.


    Andy

  17. #17
    bkeats is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2010 Nuevo York Posts: 694

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    I think you will have more success if you can move back your trip a week. Rentals starting Jan 1 are likely to still be pricing at holiday rates so that $1,000 a night won't go very far.

  18. #18
    andynap is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2002 Philadelphia Posts: 45,021

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    Quote Originally Posted by bkeats View Post
    I think you will have more success if you can move back your trip a week. Rentals starting Jan 1 are likely to still be pricing at holiday rates so that $1,000 a night won't go very far.
    IMO many canceled their trips this year so there should be villas available for less money than normal at this time of year. These are not normal times. Contact with agencies would find this out fast enough.


    Andy

  19. #19
    KevinS is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Posts: 21,436

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    Quote Originally Posted by andynap View Post
    IMO many canceled their trips this year so there should be villas available for less money than normal at this time of year. These are not normal times. Contact with agencies would find this out fast enough.
    I agree. What would be impossible in any other year may well be possible this year, especially as the travel dates get closer. Contacting the rental agencies is good advice.

  20. #20
    cec1 is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2008 Posts: 6,770

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    There will be many visitors departing on January 1 . . . I'm confident that you can find a very comfortable villa for less than $1k/night starting January 1, 2018.

  21. #21
    mgurdian is offline
    SBH New Member Joined: Sep 2017 Posts: 9

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    try airbnb. there's options there that do not require 7 night stays.

  22. #22

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    Are many restaurants and bars cash only right now?

  23. #23
    KevinS is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Posts: 21,436

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    Cash-only is rare. LíEsprit had no phone service at Thanksgiving, so could not accept credit cards. They may have phone service now. Le Saintoise in Corrosol was cash-only for awhile, but now has phone service and is again able to accept credit cards. Bar de LíOubli has said No Credit Cards on their menu for years. I donít think that Le Select has ever accepted credit cards either. Thatís all that Iím aware of.

  24. #24
    phil62 is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Feb 2005 Glen Cove, NY Posts: 6,263

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    The only place we've been so far that is still cash only is L'Esprit in Saline. Every other restaurant has been able to accept credit cards.

    Phil

  25. #25
    Tiffany is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jun 2014 Virginia Beach, VA Posts: 823

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    On the credit card note, if you're an AMEX user, make sure you also take a MC or VISA. Some places won't take AMEX and those that do may give you an unfavorable exchange rate, but will tell you in advance of that and encourage you to use a different card.

  26. #26
    andynap is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2002 Philadelphia Posts: 45,021

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    Unfavorable exchange rate? Only if you agree to charge your card in dollars which you should never ever do. NEVER.


    Andy

  27. #27
    Bart -my real name- is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2009 Alexandria, VA Posts: 5,427

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    Quote Originally Posted by andynap View Post
    Merci.

  28. #28
    cassidain is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Jul 2007 Ailleurs Posts: 7,486

    Re: Never been to SBH - tips for newcomers?

    Quote Originally Posted by andynap View Post
    Unfavorable exchange rate? Only if you agree to charge your card in dollars which you should never ever do. NEVER.
    Quite so.

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