Ask anyone who’s visited and they’ll tell you: St. Barth's has that je ne sais quoi – the particular magic that’s hard to put your finger on, but you know is there. Perhaps it’s the island’s sugar-sand beaches giving way to crystal-clear turquoise waters. Or, it’s St. Barth's unique French flair, from the cobblestone streets of Gustavia to the yacht-filled harbor reminiscent of the South of France. But St. Barth's is hardly precious: it’s an island in the Caribbean, after all, and has no shortage of laid-back, tropical ease. In short? This slice of France in the Caribbean is a home-run destination for just about every traveler.
Below, I've outlined some tips about planning a trip to St. Barth's (also known as St. Barts or Saint Barthélemy).
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When’s the best time to travel to St. Barth's?
The short answer? Almost any time, except September and October. These months are considered the hurricane season, when many hotels and restaurants close and the island is dead-quiet (and not in a good way). Like many Caribbean islands, the December holidays are considered “high season,” when hotels are the most expensive. March is a close-second for high season, thanks to the annual Bucket Regatta sailing event that attracts travelers from far and wide. Summertime is technically low season for Americans, but lots of French people visit for a warm-weather holiday. Some say summer is the best time to visit – sure, a tropical rain blows through once in a while, but this is when prices are lowest and the island is delightfully relaxed.
How do you get to the island of St. Barth's?
The million-dollar question! Getting to the island of St. Barth's can be tricky, but trust me, it’s worth it. From the States, travelers either fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico or to the nearby island of St. Maarten (also spelled St. Martin). From either San Juan and St. Maarten, there is a connecting flight (on a small plane) to Gustaf III Airport (SBH). From San Juan, the flight is 45 minutes on Tradewind Aviation; from St. Maarten, the flight is 15 minutes on local airlines St. Barths Commuter or Winair. Note that the SBH runway is tiny, which can be a non-starter for those with severe flying anxiety (I see you!).
So... which way is better?
My two cents: the Puerto Rico route is more comfortable and convenient. From San Juan, travelers can take Tradewind Aviation, which offers a scheduled private charter with nicer planes and two pilots. In addition, travelers can clear customs on the way home in San Juan (since Puerto Rico is in the US), which avoids long lines at immigration at the final US destination. Here’s the catch: Tradewind is expensive — around $1,000 for round-trip flights. The St. Maarten route is more budget-friendly, via Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM), on either St. Barths Commuter or Winair.
Are there direct flights to St. Barth's?
There are no direct flights to St. Barth's (I know, surprising, given the island’s popularity with New York-based travelers).
Is there a ferry to St. Barth's?
From St. Maarten, there are ferries to St. Barth's (including the Voyager and Great Bay Express). But we don’t recommend the ferry; the water is rough and the boat ride is longer than the flight is (about an hour, port to port).
What’s the average cost of a St. Barth's honeymoon?
Oof, another tough one. Due to the island’s aforementioned je ne sais quoi, St. Barth's is notoriously pricey compared to its Caribbean counterparts like Anguilla and Antigua. For starters, nightly rates at high-touch, French-inspired hotels like Eden Rock or Cheval Blanc begin at about 1,000 euros. Plus, the island’s popular restaurants and beach clubs (like Nikki Beach) are about as glamorous as it gets, with the prices match. But worry not, there are some reasonably priced — but equally lovely — hotels, including Fora favorites Hotel Christopher and Villa Marie. Renting a private villa is a great option for those looking for more flexibility on their St. Barth's vacation; the island‘s northeast stretch, known as Pointe Milou, is a particularly gorgeous location for a villa.
What are the best beaches on St. Barths?
St. Jean, Saline, Gouverneur and Shell Beach are tried-and-true favorites. Snorkelers love Marigot Bay. Don‘t miss a hike to Colombier Beach, only reachable via hike or private boat.
Ready to travel?
Reach out to me today to customize your trip. Remember that when you book with me, you'll pay the same as booking direct, plus I can help you with personalized recommendations and hook you up with perks through my agency, Fora.