The rich, stylish island of St. Barthelemy lies in the Caribbean. Known for celebrities going on holiday there, it is a pricier location than most, but I’m here to tell you that it is possible to experience St. Bart’s on a budget, in a day. There is no need to rent a $2,000 hotel room (yes, that’s what they go for) or spend hundreds of dollars.
Here is how a one day trip to St. Bart’s works:
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How Do I Get There?
Getting to St. Bart’s is very simple once you are in the Caribbean. If you are staying in St. Maarten, take the ferry from Philipsburg which will get you there in less than one hour. You can also opt to take a plane for a 20 minute flight. Flights depart St. Maarten and other nearby islands multiple times per day. Both options have a few different locations for a starting location.
The ferry I found was simple and very inexpensive. It was only $80 round-trip which include taxes as opposed to a $200 flight. Flight or ferry, you can get to St. Bart’s and leave the same day without needing a hotel. The last ferry leaves at 6:30pm which is perfect since sunset is at 7pm year-round.
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Once you arrive on the island, getting around is easier than you think. St. Bart’s is only a little over 8 square miles large. There are less than 10 main roads which connect to each other throughout the island. If you enjoy driving, you can drive the entire island in one day.
I preferred to rent my own ATV due to St. Bart’s hilly roads. With an ATV, you can park anywhere. Many go for as little as 35 Euros for the day. Beware – the roads in St. Bart’s are very hilly and can be a bit nerve wrecking. Any quad like vehicle or scooter will be best but regular cars will make up the hills also.
Rental cars can be found at the airport or in the town of Gustavia where the ferries come in. Cabs are expensive and I would only recommend that as an option if you plan on going to one particular area and drinking alcohol.
What to See
St. Bart’s is known for its cove shaped beaches, green plush hills, and spacious villas, which you will see plenty of. It is a rather relaxing island where one can find many secluded spots.
First off, get a local map of the island. You can find these at any car rental, the airport, or the Tourist Office. I enjoyed beginning my trip in Gustavia, which has many restaurants and sights to see. You can walk it and get a good feel for the town. The famous Shell Beach is located there and is worth the short walk to view all the shells.
Top destinations within the center of the island include St. Jean Beach and Flagands. At St. Jean’s, you will find beachfront bars such as Nikki Beach and Eden Rock where DJ’s are playing and the drinks are flowing. It is a great party spot if you want to find others to hang out with.
Flagands and beaches to the west are much more secluded. There is usually only one resort on every beach as it is purely residential in that direction. You can find great snorkeling spots and reefs to the rocky edges of the beaches. To the east, you can find natural pools, caves, and rustic areas to go hiking.
Tips to Remember
St. Bart’s is owned by the French and therefore everything will be charged in Euros. American dollars are accepted but be prepared for the exchange rate. Credit cards are widely accepted also.
Always take your belongings with you wherever you go. Even though crime is low, you never want to leave anything inside your vehicle, even if it is the trunk of an ATV. I would not worry about those who reside there or are in a villa, but you always should use this precaution wherever you go. Nothing occurred to me personally, but I always wonder about those who visit the island who may have sticky fingers.
If you know some French, use it! The locals love hearing Merci! even if you are nervous when speaking.
Lastly, a passport is necessary to get onto the island. Make sure you have yours handy and get that stamp!
Where did you spend your time in St. Bart’s?