Saint-Barthélemy- often abbreviated as St Barts, St Barths or Saint Barth- is a small, volcanic island located in the northwest Caribbean Sea. It's among four territories referred to as the Leeward Islands, a grouping which includes the French West Indies, Guadeloupe, and Martinique. St Barts is located about 35km (21 miles) southeast of the island of Saint Martin and roughly 180km (112 miles) east of Puerto Rico. St Barts is a relatively small island, with a land area of 21.km² (8.5 sq mi) and a population of about 8,902.
St Barts is a popular tourist destination and is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. The Island’s economy relies upon the nearly 200,000 travellers who visit every year, drawn by the island’s tropical climate, white, sandy beaches, and sophisticated lifestyles. St Barts’ is a French-speaking island and its customs and traditions are greatly influenced by French culture. The capital city of Gustavia offers all the comforts of urban life, including boutiques, restaurants, and dozens of hotels and villas, while more rural areas of the island offer a beautiful natural landscape for visitors to explore.
For more information call or visit The Tourism Centre (The Office Municipal du Tourisme), 011 590 590 27 87 27, located on quai Général de Gaulle, Gustavia.
Gustavia Shaped like a horseshoe around a small, sheltered harbor, and once protected by stone forts whose vestiges remain today, Gustavia is a very busy port.
Today island’s capital has only 3,100 residents. Gustavia remains primarily a port with many shops along the waterfront. Take a stroll down the streets and see the glittering jewellery stores and designer boutiques. Maybe you would like to take a look at the restored façades of a few handsome wooden and stone buildings that remain from the Swedish era. You might also want to relax on the terrace of a waterfront café, or walk along the docks and admire the line-up of fabulous sea-going yachts and superyachts coming to and from the port. On the far side of the harbour are more restaurants and businesses. You can also find the renovated Wall House, also a survivor of the Swedish era. This two-story stone building currently houses the island’s library as well as its principal museum, which chronicles the history and culture of Saint Barts.
The charm of this city lies in its beautiful architecture. From the vestiges of the Swedish era with a pretty little Anglican church topped with a cupola in wood. You can see various colonial-style houses, some painted in bright Caribbean colors and others cool behind their white clapboard façades and slatted shutters.
On the outskirts of town is Fort Gustave. Built in 1787 by the Swedish, this fort sits on top of a steep hillside. It provides a perfect view overlooking the port that was once the refuge of pirates, and today hosts a variety of spirited regattas. Just a few miles from the port is the little cove of Gouverneur. It’s an unspoiled natural landscape and one of the island’s most beautiful beaches. Even more isolated and peaceful than Shell Beach, which is the closest beach to the center of town.
Saint Jean Eden Rock, the island’s first hotel, is the best place for you to stay. This big and luxurious hotel is located on a promontory overlooking the bay. The hotel was built by a man named Rémy de Haenen. From 1962 to 1977 he served as the island’s mayor, but later became an adventurer and pioneer of aviation in the Caribbean. His hotel was frequented by David Rockfeller, who most likely contributed to the promotion of the island to its earliest American visitors.
Saint Jean is not only centrally located, but this popular neighbourhood also comprises the second largest shopping area on the island. Some of the islands most magnificent villas, hotels, and restaurants can also be found in this city.
In the hills, luxury hotels and pretty villas are hidden in the tropical vegetation and a profusion of colourful flowers. From Saint Jean, you can head back toward Gustavia or continue on to Lorient, following the coast road, which has magnificent views of the ocean and mountainous landscape.
Some of the other cities that can be visited on the island of St Barts are, Marigot, Flamands, Pointe Milou, Grand Cul de Sac and Anse de Toiny, which are all wonderful cities to visit as well.
If you're looking to see a little more of the Caribbean, it's only just a quick flight or a boat ride away. Here are some of the other islands that you can travel to in the Caribbean from St Barts:
To schedule a flight to any of these islands, you can use the local airports in St Bart, which are Winair or St Barts Commuter. If you wish to travel by boat to one of these other islands, visit us at StBarts.com to make further arrangements.
Columbus discovered St Barts in 1493 and named it after his brother Bartolomeo. In 1763, French mariners from Normandy and Brittany settled the island. With the quantities of Spanish galleons they had acquired the French buccaneers found the place suitable for living.
St Barts remained French until 1784, when it was sold to Sweden by one of Louis XVI's ministers in exchange for trading rights in the Swedish port of Gothenburg. Now under Swedish rule, St Barts was very useful as a trade and supply centre for the colonial and revolutionary wars of the 18th and 19th century. When captains captured a prize or raided a settlement, they brought it to St. Barts and resupplied their ships. This period of prosperity was short-lived, however when motor vessels replaced sailing ships.
In 1878 the island was bought back by the French. To this day the free port status of the island remains. Swedish mementoes such as architecture, a cemetery, a few street signs, and the name of the harbour and capital, Gustavia are still the same as well.
In 1946, certain islands, including St. Barts, were expected to abide by the same rules that they do in France. The Department of France gave the citizens French passports, were expected to pay French taxes, and obey laws passed in Paris. Then In 1957, the American millionaire David Rockefeller bought a property on the island. It quickly grew to an upmarket tourist destination that everyone wanted to visit.
Within the past twenty years St. Barts’ population has more than doubled. Natives don’t want to leave, and outsiders are arriving daily to make a new home for themselves. In recent years a few of the Caribbean Islands including Saint Bart engaged in a process of political evolution. On July 15, 2007 and the islands first territorial council was elected and the new Overseas Collectivity of Saint Barthélemy was born. There were 19 members to the council and they elected Bruno Magras as the first president.
Because of the laws passed by the council St Barts is now tax-free and the natives love the lives they live. Everyone who wants somewhere to relax and enjoy the beautiful Caribbean air should consider coming to visit this island.
St Barts has a single, small airport located on its north coast called the Gustaf III Airport. International and full-sized planes cannot fly directly into Gustaf Airport, so visitors must first fly to another of the Caribbean Islands- such as St Martin or Guadalupe- and then take a smaller plane from there.
Flights from St Maarten:
Flights from Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe :
For additional information contact the Harbour Master's Office: Phone : (+590) 590 27 66 97 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Island is small and safe enough that many visitors prefer to walk whenever possible. However, there are dozens of agencies through which visitors can rent scooters, quads, ATVs, and cars in order to make travelling the island more enjoyable. St Barts is notorious for having steep, narrow, and often bumpy roads, and so many rental agencies urge caution when using scooters or smaller vehicles and discourage visitors from using bicycles. ATVs are a popular means of transportation on the island as they allow visitors to explore areas of the island inaccessible by cars, scooters, and other vehicles.
Many rental agencies have different prices depending on the season. The prices generally change from the Low, Middle, and High seasons, but the exact dates of these seasons varies with each rental agency. In addition, some agencies raise prices around the winter Holidays.
Scooter and Moto Rentals:
ATV and Quad Rentals:
There are two taxi stations on the island: one at the airport, and the other in Gustavia. To book a taxi in Gustavia, call 27-66-31; at the airport, call 27-75-81. Visitors can also contact drivers directly; a list of drivers and their phone numbers is available at the Office Territorial de Tourisme in Gustavia.
French is the official language of St. Barthelemy. Many residents, especially those involved in the tourism industry, also speak English.
Creole is widely spoken on the windward side of the island, and a variety of Patois across the leeward side. These languages are sadly dying out in favour of French.
Up until recently Gustavia was English speaking and the creole quarter, La Pointe, remains so.
Beaches & Activities
St. Bart’s gets more than 300 sunny days per year, on average, which is why it’s the perfect vacation destination if you’re looking for a relaxing beach get-away. There are 14 beaches on St. Bart’s Island. All are full of white sand and are open to the public at no cost. Even during peak season, these beaches are normally not crowded. Nudism is prohibited on all beaches; however, it is not unusual to find visitors topless, as ties in with the island’s French roots.
Here is a complete list of all the water sports available at St. Bart’s:
In addition to water activities, St. Bart’s is a sporty island in general. Explore:
The highest concentration of shops in St. Bart’s is in Gustavia or St. Jean. You can find tax free ports with shops that contain elegant displays resembling the atmosphere of Paris, France. It is recommended that you allot more than one afternoon for shopping purposes.
St Barts Weddings
To get married on St. Barts, it is not required to be a member of the island, but it is encouraged that the couple will consider becoming a part of the community of St. Barts. The Episcopal Church requires that at least one member of the couple be a baptized Christian and that two witnesses attest to the wedding ceremony. The couple must fill out a wedding registration form and will then be assigned a priest. Before the wedding, the couple must attend a minimum of three pre-marital counseling sessions. This is a requirement of the Episcopal Church and of the St. Bart’s clergy. The church and chapel of St. Barts is very accommodating, but there are a few restrictions:
The Euro is the official currency, although US Dollars are widely accepted.
The hotels, villas, and restaurants are generally not on the "package tour" plans, so deals are scarce - if available at all in High Season.
The Christmas/New Year period is Peak-Season when the Jet and Mega-Yacht set come to the island.
The High Season runs from mid December to mid April, and many Low Season deals are available with significant discounts on hotel and villa accommodation as well as car rentals.
Meals are wonderful, and a number of restaurants will let two people out for under $100.00 for an essentially basic meal (two entrees, a bottle of wine, and a salad or dessert or two.)
Budget hotel accommodation is available, as well as reasonably priced villas and appartments. However the island does specialise in high end tourism, and the island has some of the best hotels in the Caribbean.
In St. Barts, meal options change almost daily, as dishes are prepared fresh every day, made with local ingredients. Prices vary place to place, but quality and delicious French cuisine is always promised no matter where you go. Below, three restaurant locations are recommended, from least to most expensive.
If you’re looking for a quick bite before the beach or pool, Maya’s To Go is the place for you. Located in St. Jean, locals and travelers alike can pick up breads, rolls, pastries and coffees. Menu changes daily. Maya’s also sells wines, teas, crackers, and chocolates. It’s fast and easy to take items to go, or you can sit outside at their high-top bars. Maya’s is kid-friendly, too. All cards accepted/cash.  Les Galeries du Commerce, St. Jean, St. Barts FWI. Open from 7am-7pm (closed Mondays) Tel (590) 29 83 70
The Hideaway is the perfect place for comfort and quality meals. The restaurant is very large and open, with a wrap-around porch and a relaxed atmosphere and plenty of seating at the tables or bar. Owner, Andy, greats guests warmly upon entrance. The Hideaway is kid-friendly and will accommodate orders to meet their needs. The restaurant features impromptu sing-alongs, impersonations, and discos. The Hideaway is non-smoking, although a smoking terrace is located outside. Menu features fresh dishes, from pizzas to fish dishes to l’escargot. Main courses: 16-24 euro. Cash accepted; Credit cards accepted: AE/MC/V  Vaval Center, St. Jean, St. Barts FWI. Tues-Sat, noon-2:30pm and Tues-Sun 7-10:30pm. Reservations recommended. Tel (590) 05 90 27 63 62
Finally, if you’re looking for a special place to fine dine, La Langouste can’t be topped. Located in Flammands, the restaurant serves “the best lobster on the island.” It is just steps from the beach and offers a swimming pool to cool off before or after meals. La Langouste features traditional French cuisine and mainly serves fish dishes, as well as wine selections by the bottle or glass. Service is very attentive and friendly. Other than lobster and fish dishes of tuna, mahi, and Dover sole, they offer salads, creamy pastas, chicken brochettes, beef filet, and veal chops. All cards accepted/cash.  Hotel Baie des Anges, Flammands, St. Barts FWI. Tel (590) 27 63 61, Fax (590) 27 83 44, Open every day, Lunch: Noon-2:30pm; Dinner: 7pm-9:30pm
The island of St Barts is refreshingly undeveloped. An old French communal law mandates that no building can be taller than a palm tree, so you'll find no high rises, and no massive resorts. In fact most of the rooms allocated to tourism on the island are found in private villas, not hotels.
St. Barth has about 25 hotels, most of them with 15 rooms or fewer, and the largest, the Guanahani has just 70 rooms. Hotels are classified in the traditional French manner 3 Star, 4 Star and 4 Star Luxe.
Villa vacations are extremely popular and there are hundreds of villas terraced into the hillsides throughout the island as well as many beachfront locations. Villas here can range from one-bedroom bungalows to large luxurious homes.
Villa rentals range from one bedroom to six bedrooms in size. Most are located on hillsides where they can be cooled by the prevailing winds, not on the beaches. The main agencies representing villa rentals on the island are Sibarth , the oldest and largest agency on the island; Wimco Villas with 170 villas; St Barth Properties and Premium Island Vacations  who offer strictly luxury villas and hotels.
The hotels on the island are all well rated,and on the small size for the Caribbean. The largest is the Guanahani Hotel with 58 rooms. Other hotels of note are Eden Rock Hotel, Hotel Le Toiny, The Carl Gustaf, Le Sereno Hotel and the Isle de France. Value priced hotels include the Sunset Hotel, Salines Garden and the Christopher Hotel.
You can choose villa rental from owners :
St Barths is without a doubt the safest island in the Caribbean, and one of the safest places in the world.
There is virtually zero crime, beyond petty theft. You can go anywhere on the island night or day with no fear whatsoever for your personal safety.
However do not leave valuables in your car, and use the safe in your villa or hotel.
There are no pickpockets, muggers, dealers or street traders to hassle you.
The roads are narrow and often steep and winding. Small 4x4 rental jeeps are the vehicle of preference and renting scooters is not advised.
St Barts is very French and very traditional.
As such it is customary to say "Bonjour" on entering a shop or restaurant and "Au revoir" on leaving.
Similarly on passing a stranger in an uncrowded environment.
Men shake hands more frequently than in "Anglo-Saxon" countries, however only on the first encounter of the day. A handshake will be declined if you have already met the man on the first day.
For both men and women meeting women a kiss on each cheek is customary (La bise). Right cheek first. The same once a day rule applies. A man shaking a woman's hand only occurs in formal business situations.
If meeting a group of people one is expected to greet each each and every individual with either a kiss or a shake of the hand as appropriate.
Honking of horns is considered to be highly impolite.