St Barts Vacations FAQ | Questions and Answers For Travelers

SBHonline and it's members have been providing insider advice and information about St Barts Island for almost 10 years. We have kept many of the more frequently asked questions and answers about the island and listed them below. If you want more information you can visit the St Barts discussion forums where you can find almost anything you want to know about St Barts.
Remember to call your credit card company before your trip and tell them you will be traveling so they do not put a hold on your card.
St Barts Island is in the (Atlantic Time Zone) and maintains Atlantic Time Zone year round.

Time difference:
St Barts is one hour ahead of New York in the winter (Standard Time) with no difference in the summer.
So in the winter months, when it is 8am in New York, it is 9am on St. Barts.

During daylight savings time, (summer months) there is no difference in time between St. Barts and the east coast of the USA.

There is a 5 hour time difference between St Barts and Paris.

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Many hotels and companies offer rates based on high, low, and peak seasons. Below are the approximate dates for the seasons.

High Season - January 7th through April 1
Low Season - April 2nd through December 14th
Peak Seaon - Dec 15th through Jan 7th

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Visit the SBHonline Getting To St Barts information page.
We list the airlines, ferry schedules, and charter companies that service St Barts.

Getting to St Barts by Air
To Fly to St Barth's you will have to first get a flight to either St Martin (SXM) airport, or San Juan Puerto Rico (SJU)

From there you will take connector flights to St Barth's (SBH).
- The flight to St Barth's from San Juan Puerto Rico takes about one-hour
- The flight to St Barth's from St Martin takes about 15 minutes

Scheduled Flights leave regularly for St Barts with these providers
St Barth Commuter | Tradewind Aviation | WINAIR | Air Caraibes

You can also schedule private charter flights with Tradewind Aviation.

Getting to St Barts By Ferry
There are multiple daily ferry trips between St. Maarten/Martin and Gustavia harbor St Barts.
The ferry ride from St Martin takes about 45 minutes.
St Barts Ferry Schedules

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If this is your first trip to St Barth's here are a few visuals to help you get an idea of what to expect when you arrive at the airport.
  • SBH is a small convenient airport.
  • Planes do not fly into SBH at night.
  • The airport is famous for it's runway. (personally, my experience is it's not a bad landing at all. I'll take it over LaGuardia any day)
Car rental booths are located right in the airport and the cars are parked in the lot just outside the door.
If you are renting a villa through WIMCO, their office is right across the street.
Here is a picture from the airport at the WIMCO office. Very close to airport terminal.

Across the street from the airport there is a grocery store, pharmacy, and a few shops if you need to pickup anything before heading to your villa.

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Gustavia does have a parking restriction system called "blue zone parking" indicated by signs.

  • Sundays and holidays all parking is free.
  • These parking zones include parking along the waterfront and from the pharmacy to the entry of Gustavia

  • Drivers are allowed to park in blue zones for two hours between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm, Monday through Saturday for free as long as the car has the blue parking disk visible on the dashboard.

  • Your rental car should come with a blue disk. When you park you set to the time you arrive on the disk and you have two hours from that time.

    The blue disks are also available at the police station, the port, airport, and tourist office, as well as the Hotel de la Collective.

  • Illegally parked cars are subject to a fine of 11€, or a fine of 35€ if the vehicle is parked over 24 hours in a blue zone.


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During the high season it is a good idea to make a reservation at any restaurant that will take them. You can review several of the restaurant reservation and dress policies in the SBHonline St Barts Restaurants Guide or you can go to the SBHonline forums and ask some of the members. During the off season reservations are not necessarily needed but still a good idea.

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It is pretty casual dress on St Barts. Breakfast/ lunch short pants and sandels are fine at almost any restaurant... for dinner there are a few restaurants that you might want to step up one notch from beach attire. Here is a forum thread discussing this topic.
Dress attire St Barts restaurants

St Barts Restaurants Guide
This guide has photos, hours of service, and reservation policies for many of the islands restaurants.

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St Barts Drinking Laws
The legal drinking age on ST Barts is 18 years old.
Wine, beer, and liquor are sold in liquor and grocery stores and restaurants 7 days a week.

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French is the official language of St Barts, and you will hear a lot of French spoken on your trip. Most of the places you will go people will also speak English (airport, restaurants, hotels, stores, etc.) so it is not a problem if you do not speak French.

Try to learn a few French phrases. It's fun. A good place to start is to just learn a few very polite things to say to the people you will interact with on your trip.

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U.S. Citizens Contact
Consulate General of France in New York
934 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY
tel. 212/606-3600

Canadian Citizens Contact Canada's Embassy of France
42 Promenade St.
Sussex, Ottawa, ON
tel. 613/789-1795

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St Barts Holidays
The following holidays are observed by government offices, post offices, banks. Many stores are also closed for national holidays.

(When a holiday falls on a Thursday, many businesses will not open until the following Monday.)

  • January 1 - New Year's Day
  • January 3 - All Kings Day
  • Easter weekend
  • May 1 - Labor Day
  • May 8 - Armistice Day
  • July 14 - Bastille Day
  • August 24 - St. Barthélemy Saint's Day
  • November 1 - All Saints Day
  • November 11 - Armistice Day
  • December 25 - Christmas


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St Barts uses the Euro € as it's official currency.
Here is a link to a Dollar to Euro Currency Converter It is a good idea to know the approximate Euro to US dollar exchange rate before you leave for your vacation.
Currency Conversion Sheet

ATM's Cash Machines On St Barts
There are quite a few ATM's on the island. One directly across the street from the airport. There a several in Gustavia. I can confirm that the ATM by the post office in Gustavia did not even charge a transaction fee.

Banks On St Barts
Bank hours are generally Monday through Friday, 8am - 12p (noon) and 2pm to 3:30pm
Banks are Closed on weekends and French holidays. Banks may also Close afternoon sessions on the day before holidays.
American Express Office
St Jean
Phone - 0590 52 97 06

Banque Francoise Commerciale (B.F.C.)
Gustavia - 0590 27 62 62
St. Jean - 0590 27 87 75

BDAF
Gustavia across from the Post Office
Phone - 0590 29 68 30

B.N.P (Banque Nationale de Paris)
Gustavia - 0590 27 63 70

Bred, La Savane
St. Jean - 0590 52 06 00

Caraibe Exchange Office
Gustavia - 0590 27 57 57

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It is a good idea to get some Euros for your wallet after you arrive on the island.

If you want to arrive on St. Barts with euros in hand, there are ATM machines inside of the St. Maarten airport terminal.

There is also an ATM machine located directly across the street from the St Barts Airport.

It is a good idea to contact your credit card company before you leave the US and advise them of your trip dates and destination so your use of the credit card on the island does not trigger security shut down.

Visa and Master Card are widely accepted on St Barts. AMEX is accepted at some but not all places. Discover Cards are not accepted on St Barts at this time but likely to change.

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A post from the SBHonline forum offering some island photography tips.

  • The Horizon Many of our beach photos involve the horizon. I see 2 major problems in many of the photos I see. The first is an angled horizon. I often find myself, when seeing an angled horizon, tilting my head, to straighten it. Second, when the image is photographed using a wide angle lens, the horizon will bow. To minimize the effect keep the horizon in the center of the image.
  • Distance to Subject More than half the photos I see, at Art Festivals (and elsewhere) would be improved if the photographer moved closer to the subject. After setting up my camera, and focusing, I examine the edges of the image. More often than not, I end up moving closer. Sometimes it's only a foot, or two. A small adjustment will eliminate superfluous elements, and make the image more successful.
  • Watch the Edges of the Frame For most amateur photographers it is normal to look at the subject only, in the viewfinder. Attention to the other areas, in the photo, is extremely important. We've all seen outdoor portraits where a tree appears to be growing out of the subject's head. By looking carefully, this sort of mistake can be eliminated.
  • Sunrise & Sunset The most dramatic lighting is at Sunrise and sunset. I regularly shoot at both times, but prefer sunset. Over the years I've found that, at sunrise, I have about a 15 minute window of ?magic light?. At sunset, the window expands to 30-45 minutes. The extra time allows me to capture more images.
  • Successful Portraiture It is almost always beneficial to use fill flash, when shooting portraits, in sunlight. The lighting is usually harsh, creating shadows in the face. Using fill flash will open up the shadows, creating a more pleasing portrait. I also like doing this for sunset portraits. The subject's face will be well lit, and the sunset hues will be muted. A beautiful pastel background will result.Most cameras will allow you to override the auto setting, and use fill flash. Alternatively, try shooting the portrait in diffused light (under a tree canopy, for example). This will also tame the harsh contrast. For photos of children, get down to their level. It will create a more satisfying image than shooting down on them.
  • Inclement Weather Many people don?t shoot when the sun isn?t out. For me, it's often the best time to create images. Overcast skies will lower contrast but increase color saturation. If I get an overcast day, I usually decide to shoot plant life. I also like to shoot flora after a rain. The wet leaves, and flowers, will also saturate the colors. Beads of water, on the leaves, will act like a magnifying glass, making for interesting compositional possibilities.
Visit The Photo Tips Thread Here

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Most St Barts restaurants do accept credit cards. There are a few places on the island that do not "Le Select - no credit cards" many establishments do not accept AMEX or Discover so bring your Visa or Master Card.

Since restaurant policies are subject to frequent changes this is a good question to ask in the St Barts Forums and get the latest information.

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Is tipping in St Barts restaurants expected? encouraged?
Is gratuity usually included?
A few replies from some people who operate establishments on the island.

"Service is included by law.
Tipping is discretionary -- some people tip nothing because of their reading of the service component. Most tip 5-10% (maybe more) if service is good."


"A service fee is included in the bill, it's not a tip, its their wages.
I may not be French, but have lived in France or SBH all my adult life.

It is polite to leave something, and offensive to leave nothing.
It is not an "extra tip" it is a tip.
Cheers."


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Car rentals are recommended when visiting St Barts. It is possible to schedule taxis, drivers, or shuttle service's, but having your own rental car will make your trip a lot easier and provide you with the freedom to explore the island without time and scheduling constraints.

Here is a list of Car Rental Companies on St Barts

Automobiles drive on the right side of the road,
and any valid drivers license is accepted on St Barts.



If you plan to use a taxi while on the island here are the phone numbers of a few providers: St Barts Taxi's.
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If this is your first trip to St Barth's you might be a bit surprised at the roads and driving conditions. The roads are quite narrow and winding with many very steep hills.

Rent A Small Car
You will find that getting around is a lot easier with a small sized car. Parking on a busy night in Gustavia can be tight and tricky. A big car will limit your options when looking for a parking space.

Convertible
A convertible top will help make your smaller car feel roomy. A drive around the island in a convertible top car is very enjoyable. Personal preference.

Automatic Transmission
Highly advise getting an automatic. A manual transmission can be fun but you better be very very comfortable with shifting if selecting a manual transmission.

4 Wheel Drive
Seems odd to think 4 wheel drive would be needed but it is not a bad idea. The island has many steep hills and when they are wet it can be very slippery.

Air Conditioning
Yes. The ocean air is wonderful but a nice steady stream of A/C will make your travels much more comfortable.

Car Rental Companies
There are several car rental companies with booths located right inside the airport terminal. Here our the SBHonline car rental agencies on St Barts

Parking Disk
Request a Parking Disk from your rental agency. The disk allows you to park for two hours in the "blue zone" parking areas in Gustavia.

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St Barts Island does not have the traditional "all inclusive" "mega resorts" that are common at many Caribbean vacation destinations. There are a couple of hotels on St Barts that can be considered resorts, Certainly The Guanahani Hotel & Spa is one with 69 guest rooms, beachfront location, multiple pools, restaurants, and on-site activities.

There are several St Barts hotels that have great high and low season special package deals that include room, activities, spa services, transportation, and even some on-site dining options. Check the St Barts Hotels Directory and look through the package deals. There are some good ones.

You can also create your own "All Inclusive St Barts Vacation". It requires a little more effort but in the end you will find that you end up actually producing a more personalized package and actually spend less money than buying a traditional all-inclusive vacation.

WIMCO St Barts
I continue to be amazed at how efficient this service is.

If you rent a villa through WIMCO, you will have services available that almost resemble an all-inclusive resort.

WIMCO assigns you a personal concierge contact that can handle almost any requests you have during your stay. Dining reservations, massage, snorkel equipment rentals, diving reservations, any activity planning, transportation. Even just some good advice is a txt or phone call away. Request a daily delivery to your villa of croissants, orange juice, and a news sheet. This is a fantastic way to get the day started.

The SBHonline forums are full of vacation planning information and you will find a very friendly group of people who can help answer any questions you have about the island and fun activities.

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What amount is considered customary for tipping
the housekeeper that comes to your villa everyday (except Sundays)?

Insiders Consensus:
5 to 10 Euro's a day on bedrooms occupied.
If it is just a couple staying in a 3 bedroom villa, only using one bedroom, good service tip would be 10 euro a day.

If two couples, using 2 of the 3 bedrooms, good service tip 20 euro a day. Villa Tipping on St Barts Discussion

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A valid passport is required to enter St. Bart's (as opposed to a certified copy of a birth certificate and a photo id). This policy has been in place for some time (see State Department Information Sheet - FWI. A visa is not required for US citizens until you plan to stay for more than 90 days. NO visa needed for citizens of the European Union, USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Israel.

More Information: St Barts Visa & Passport Information

Need to renew your passport in a rush?
Visit AmericanPassport.com to receive or renew your passport.

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Taking Pets To St Barts

Domestic pets need an International Health Certificate.

St Bars does not quarantine healthy pets who meet the following requirements:

A health certificate from your veterinarian with an updated rabies certificate.

Your pet must be vaccinated for rabies between 30 days and 12 months prior to travel. Bring a health certificate from your veterinarian and an current rabies certificate.

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Is it better to fly or take ferry when going to St Barts?
This decision is really personal preference but here are a few things to consider:

- The flight to St Barth's from San Juan Puerto Rico takes about one-hour
- The flight to St Barth's from St Maartin or St Martin Airport take 15 minutes
- The ferry service from St Martin takes about 45 minutes.
There are several ferry departures daily so this can make things a little more convenient based on your schedule.

The airport on St Barts is famous for its steep decline and short runway... this can make some air travelers a little nervous so flying might be a concern. If you read through the SBHonline forums you will find that most visitors do fly with one of the St Barts airline services. Flying will be more expensive than taking a ferry. Flights during peak season fill up so plan ahead.

Visit the SBHonline Getting To St Barts information page. We list the options and schedules of the transportation service providers.

Scheduled Flight Airlines
Private Charter Flights
St Barts Ferry Schedules

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We have a section of SBHonline listing many fun and memorable activities you can do while on the island. You can also read through the forums to see what many visitors do while on their vacations.

St Barts Activities

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Visit the St Barts scuba diving and snorkeling page at St Barts Scuba. The best resource will be to search SBHonline forums and get insider information about where the best diving and snorkeling spots are, and the best guides to take you there.

Another fun underwater activity is to take the semi-submersible St Barts Yellow Submarine Tour. This tour departs from the ferry dock in Gustavia 11am and 2pm daily, and brings you through the Marine Park and around Gros Ilets, towards "Les Petits Saints" were you will see schools of tropical fish, turtles, and the shipwreck of the fishing boat "Marignan".

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What are some fun St Barts bars to hang out at night for music and dancing?

BAZ (Bete a Zailes) bar in Gustavia is a very enjoyable evening. The music is live and mellow, the crowd is fun, and the service is very good.

La Plage on St. Jean is another good venue for live music. We've enjoyed seeing Papagayo there on a few occasions. Keep an eye on Le News for other live music acts.

Le Ti St. Barth in Pointe Milou is a popular spot later in the evening. You may choose to have a late dinner and stick around for the festivities, or dine elsewhere, have a drink or two at BAZ, and dance it all off later at Le Ti.

Le Hot Spot in Lurin is another choice for late night. "a recent visitor wrote that he was denied entry because he was not wearing long pants"

Le Yacht Club - Gustavia
A great night spot owned by the owner of Le Ti (Carole) that seems to attract an even later crowd.

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Have A Question About Traveling To St Barts?
Send your question to sbhonline.com and we will get you an answer.

Villa WV BBE Pointe Milou
1br, 1ba, Pool, Children Welcome

Villa WV SAS
St. Jean, St. Barthelemy
2br, 2ba, Pool

Villa Abaca (ABA), St Jean
2 Bedroom, Children Welcome

Travel Planning Help

If you would like assistance planning any part of your trip you can call the Wimco Villas offices at 1-800-449-1553 and speak directly with A St Barts travel specialist or use this online question form.

Villa & Hotel Assistance