Long a hot spot for fly-in-fly-out celebrities on chartered flights, the French territory of St Barts (also referred to as St Barths or St Barthelemy), is by far one of the ritziest in the Caribbean. St. Barts continues to attract a-list celebrities, many of which who stay at one of the luxury villas dotted around the island’s 14 beaches.
When visiting this tiny French speaking outpost, cruise visitors will be able to sample the highlife without paying for chartered flights and accommodation – part of what makes getting and staying here out of reach for many.
The only town and capital is Gustavia. Prices are high here, and there’s a certain sense of exclusivity to the hilly picturesque capital, not to mention some of the finest dining experiences in the Caribbean. Cruise ships will dock among the mega yachts in Gustavia Harbour, tendering visitors to port.
The volcanic island of St. Barts rises out of the northwest Caribbean, east of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The port is located in the heart of Gustavia, and is both a marina and commercial port. Many other visitors arrive by ferry to St. Barts from St. Martin, approximately 35 kilometres away.
While Gustavia’s port is one of the most expensive marinas to berth a private vessel, facilities are basic. Since the port is located in the heart of the well-established capital, there are a number of facilities and amenities easily in reach for cruise passengers.
Facilities nearby include:
- Taxi rank
- Internet café
How to Get Around
St. Barts is only 8.5 square miles and it is easy to explore the charming architecture of Gustavia on foot, with plenty of established infrastructure for pedestrians.
There are taxis available at the end of the pier offering fixed price fares that can be expensive. Taxis may also not run at night unless organised in advance; however, cab drivers are also happy to coordinate private day tours of the island.
Day visitors can also rent scooters or the four wheeled quads at the many rental kiosks near the port and in the town centre.
Travel times from the port:
- It is a 3 minute walk from the port to Gustavia
- It is a 7 minute walk to Shell Beach.
- It is a 10 minute journey to Fort Gustav by car
- It is a 12 minute journey to Saint Barthélemy Airport in St. Jean by car.
- It is a 40 minute journey to Dutch St. Maarten on the high speed Great Bay Express service.
- Currency - Like many other overseas French territories, St. Barts uses the Euro (€). Coin are tendered in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cent coins and €1, and €2 coins. Bank notes in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, and €500 denominations are also used. US dollars, however, are accepted by many businesses.
- Time Zone - St. Barts uses the Atlantic Time Zone, which is 4 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
- Weather - St. Barts has more than 300 days of sunshine each year and a typical tropical climate. The year is divided into a wet and dry season, with the eastern side typically receiving the majority of rainfall. Because of regular breezes, humidity is lower than many other Caribbean islands.
- Fort Gustav - Near the local lighthouse, the historic Fort Gustav features remnants from the Swedish occupation of St. Barts and includes an ammunition depot, guardhouse, wood-oven and other relics.
- Gustavia - This little township is ideal for whiling away the hours, with shops, food markets, restaurants, cafes and beautiful buildings. As well as the charming red roofed colonial homes, be sure to admire the Swedish architecture of the Town Hall and clock tower.
- Beaches of St Barts - Visit one of the island’s pristine beaches and enjoy hours of sunbaking and swimming. Shell Beach, which is a short walk from Gustavia, features pink sand from the many finely broken sea shells, as well as full service bar just up from the beach.
- French Dining – Eat at one of the tier French creole influenced restaurants. While it won’t come cheap, if you’re going to splurge on an exquisite full course meal, St. Barts is the place to do it.
- Submarine Tours –The Yellow Submarine tour to see the 1995 Marignan shipwreck is a highlight for visitors, allowing passengers to peer out windows watching sea turtles and manta rays swim alongside the vessel. Trips aboard the Yellow Submarine leave daily from Gustavia port at 11pm and 2pm. An adult ticket costs €40.