Saint BarthÃ©lemy, or St Barths, is a small island in the Caribbean. It’s known for its luxury resorts and beautiful beaches. While there are some great places to stay on the island, many people choose to rent cars and drive around. The roads are narrow and winding, so it’s important to know what you’re doing before you hit the road! In this article, we will cover tips from our community of St Barths lovers, as well as advice on how to get around the island.
On the small roads, you have giddy tourists, Moms driving kids back from school, restaurant staff on scooters, truck drivers delivering construction materials, locals heading to the supermarket, and the local gendarmes inspecting the roads.
Let’s start with candid advice from our community of St Barths travelers, with more formal advice on driving in St Barths.
Driving in St Barths: What our St Barts community says
What is your most important tip for those driving around in St Barths?
From renting a car to being careful of scooters, avoiding drinking too much rum to avoid turtles, here’s what we’ve heard:
- Rent a small car.
- Be patient and have a small vehicle!
- Watch out for the scooters.
- Drive carefully, donâ€™t speedâ€¦ , roads are narrow, steap and all concrete, therefore slippery if wet
- Pull in your mirrors when parking on the side of the road!!
- For heavens sake don’t overtake!
- try not to drive over the cliffs after you’ve had a couple of rum cocktails
- Rent a small Suzuki and don’t hit a scooter haha…don’t forget to put the parking brake. Every time
- Make sure the anchors are firmly setðŸ˜Š
- Donâ€™t speed. There is no where you actually need to be that quickly. Drive slow and enjoy all the views!
- Drive a MOKE the original St Barth favorite. They are meant for our special island!
- Watch out for animals
Driving in St Barths: What you need to know
Driving in St BarthÃ©lemy is pretty easy, but there are a few things you should know before hitting the roads. Saint Barts has only 21km square (13miles by 12 miles) and its transportation system is not very complicated. Since it’s so small, there are no big highways or intersections on the island. You can reach any area within a 20-minute drive. So, if you’re looking to explore the island, the best way to do it is by car.
One of the main reasons why people opt for a car instead of other modes of transportation on St Barts is because it gives them the freedom to explore different parts of the island and stop whenever they like, especially if they have children or need groceries.
While driving in Saint BarthÃ©lemy is easy, there are a few things you should keep in mind before hitting the road. First and foremost, all drivers have to be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license from their home country. Note that the French driving law is in effect on the island, so make sure to drive on the right side of the road and yield to pedestrians.
The speed limit on Saint BarthÃ©lemy is 50km/hour (30mph), with a big chunk of the island now limited to 30km/hour max. Yet, many drivers go faster, especially motor scooters. If you’re not used to driving on the left side of the road, try and stick to 30km/hour (20mph) until you get more comfortable with it.
Driving at night is pretty easy, but keep an eye out for scooters that might be difficult to spot. The roads are not in the best shape and there are plenty of potholes throughout, so make sure to drive slowly to avoid damage or accidents.
As for parking, if you’re renting a villa it’s likely that your property will have its own parking space. If not, most hotels have free parking spots on their premises. Otherwise, you’ll have to find street parking or paid public lots in the village of Gustavia and other tourist areas.
St Barths Driving Laws & Rules: Remember that it’s illegal to text while driving in Saint BarthÃ©lemy and all mobile phone use is prohibited unless you have a hands-free device.
Tips from our community: Outside of Gustavia, Saint BarthÃ©lemy has neither street names nor road signs, and there are very few exits or turns. Plan your route using Google Maps before setting off so that you’re not lost.
Video: Tourists experience the Pointe Milou road for the first time
I obviously know this road well, as it leads to Villa BelAmour and Maison Domingue. Now, I felt bad for the people driving, as I know that they were about to hit a speed bump hard. The road atop the cliff can be impressive, but I’ve rarely seen anything bad happen. Just be patient, drive slowly, and let people who know the island tell you how to maneuver if you’re stuck. We’ve all been there, even locals 🙂
Taxis & Private Hire Service in St Barths
Taxis in St Barths are a regular source of complaints: There are too few of them and they are very expensive. The taxi lobby is very strong and has managed over the years to fend off public transportation initiatives or cheaper competitors such as Uber.
Parking can be difficult to find on the island of Saint BarthÃ©lemy, especially in peak season. We sometimes recommend booking a taxi driver in advance to help ease the hassle. Make sure to write down the names of reputable taxi companies before you head out, just in case you need them.
Do I need to rent a car when I am on the island?
Yeah. All people should rent a car in St Barts before arriving. Cars have become increasingly popular during peak season. One of the most commonly rented car in St Barths is an open-topped MINI and this can be a good route for visiting the island easily. It is narrow and windy, so small vehicles can be used. The view from St Barth’s entire location is spectacular, so driving around St Bart with a roof up allows for an even better view!
Now, our advice is to rent a small car in St Barths as the roads are very narrow and winding. Also, many of the tiny streets are just one-way walking in opposite directions to each other.
How is St. Barts driving?
The roads in St. Barts are narrow and windy, so it is important to drive slowly and carefully. The locals always drive on the right side of the road, but there are a lot of scooters that can be dangerous. Many visitors have said that the driving in Saint BarthÃ©lemy was one of their biggest surprises and they were not expecting the roads to be so small.
Is it easy to drive around St. Barts?
Yes, it is easy to drive around St. Barts once you get the hang of it. The roads are all paved and in good condition, but there are a lot of curves, so take your time and enjoy the view!
What are the best scenic routes to take while driving in St Barth?
The island of Saint BarthÃ©lemy is only eight miles long and five miles wide, so it’s easy to explore everything by car. When you’re looking to take in the island’s natural beauty, these are some of the best routes to drive:
– Drive down from Lurin to Gustavia and you’ll be treated to incredible views of the coastline.
– Drive up to Colombier for a quiet hamlet perched atop a hill with stunning ocean views.
– Make your way to Flamands and stroll the white sandy beaches on the island’s west coast.
– Take a drive down to Corossol for a seaside village that feels like it time traveled from another era.
How long does it take to drive around St Barths?
St Barts is about 11 miles long, 2 miles wide and therefore very small. It is advised to have a car so you can tour the island. It takes about an hour and fifteen minutes to drive around the entire island with stops.
Is there Uber in St Barths?
No, there is no Uber in St Barths. The local Taxi Drivers’ Union is making sure that the service will not be operational in St Barths any time soon. In fact, Uber does not run almost anywhere in the Caribbean as it is a service that has to be authorized by local governments and there are no plans for this at present.
Video: Driving around St Barths
This video is 6 years but gives you a general idea of what it is like to drive in Saint BarthÃ©lemy.