Is the Post-COVID Surge Waning? St. Barths Faces New Travel Dynamics
st barths travel data 2023 2024


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For discerning travelers from the U.S. and beyond, St. Barths has always been a sanctuary of unparalleled luxury and natural splendor. Whether arriving by air for a swift escape or by sea for a more leisurely stay, the island’s enduring charm and resilience promise an unforgettable experience. The eclectic mix of visitors—from the affluent enclaves of New York and Los Angeles to the stylish streets of Paris and beyond—creates a vibrant, cosmopolitan atmosphere that is uniquely St. Barths.

This island, with its seamless blend of French elegance and Caribbean allure, offers a travel experience like no other. Despite the challenges of recent years, St. Barths has emerged stronger, continuing to provide luxurious accommodations, world-class dining, and pristine beaches. Its recovery journey underscores its commitment to quality over quantity, ensuring that the island remains a coveted destination.

Hurricane Irma’s devastating impact in 2017 significantly disrupted St. Barths’ tourism, causing a temporary decline in visitor numbers and damaging infrastructure. However, the island’s resilience shone through, with a strong recovery that saw it welcoming travelers once again. The COVID-19 pandemic further tested St. Barths, yet the island remained open when many destinations were not, leading to a surge in visitors and a temporary period of overcrowding.

The recent slight dip in aviation traffic suggests a shift towards a more balanced visitor flow, which many locals and loyal visitors see as a welcome change. This subtle reduction in overcrowding allows for a more exclusive and serene atmosphere, enhancing the island’s appeal.

Data source. IEDOM

Soaring Back: Air Travel

For travelers jetting in from bustling metropolises like New York, Miami, and Paris, reaching St. Barths has always been part of the allure. The island’s aviation traffic tells a story of resilience and triumphant recovery.

Aviation Traffic Over the Years

Aviation Traffic Over the Years - St Barths - 2016 - 2023

Key Insights:

  • 2016: 184,343 passengers.
  • 2018: A dip to 140,837 passengers post-Hurricane Irma.
  • 2022: Rebounding to 218,874 passengers, surpassing pre-Irma levels.
  • 2023: Slight decrease to 203,736 passengers, a minor 7% dip reflecting increased global travel options post-COVID.

During the COVID-19 crisis, while many destinations in Europe and other parts of the world were closed, St. Barths remained open for business, attracting an influx of travelers. This led to a significant boom, with the island bustling with activity, perhaps even reaching levels of overcrowding that were unfamiliar to its long-time habitués.

How to Get There by Air:

  • Via Sint Maarten (Princess Juliana International Airport – SXM): The primary gateway for international visitors. From here, a short 10-15 minute flight with airlines like Winair or St. Barth Commuter takes you directly to St. Barths.
  • Via Guadeloupe (Pointe-à-Pitre International Airport – PTP): Another convenient option with regional flights connecting to St. Barths.
  • Direct Flights from San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU): Connections via regional airlines or private charters offer a seamless journey.
  • Charter Flights and Private Jets: For those seeking utmost exclusivity, private charters provide a personalized travel experience directly to Gustaf III Airport (SBH).

Maritime Magic

St. Barths is well-connected to the neighboring island of St. Martin, which is split into two regions: the French side (Saint Martin) and the Dutch side (Sint Maarten). This connectivity is a key factor in the maritime traffic numbers for St. Barths. Many tourists use this route after landing at Sint Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM).

Additionally, some visitors who spend a week in St. Martin might take a day trip to St. Barths. Local residents of St. Barths also frequently travel to St. Martin for business, shopping, or leisure.

These various sources contribute to the large number of maritime passengers.

Maritime Traffic Trends

Maritime Passengers in St. Barths 2016 2023

Key Insights:

  • 2016: 197,657 passengers.
  • 2020: A pandemic-induced low of 89,244 passengers.
  • 2023: Surging to a record 230,389 passengers, marking a remarkable 28% increase from pre-pandemic 2019 levels.

The post-pandemic boom in maritime traffic highlights St. Barths’ growing popularity among travelers who enjoy the scenic beauty of inter-island travel.

How to Get There by Sea:

Cruise Comeback

Cruise tourism in St. Barths has also made a notable recovery, catering to an elite clientele seeking intimate and exclusive experiences.

Cruise Passenger Recovery

Cruise Passengers in St. Barths 2016 2023

Key Insights:

  • 2016: 49,500 passengers.
  • 2020: A significant drop to 8,349 passengers due to global cruise halts.
  • 2023: A strong rebound to 40,266 passengers, highlighting the island’s successful focus on high-end, smaller cruise ships.

The strategic shift towards luxury cruises has paid off, attracting travelers looking for sophistication and privacy.

How to Arrive by Cruise:

  • Luxury Cruises: Smaller, high-end ships provide a more intimate and exclusive experience. These vessels are designed for affluent travelers who appreciate luxury and comfort.
  • Cruise Port: Gustavia port is somewhat equipped to handle these vessels. They have to set anchor off the coast and use smaller boats to commute back and forth to the island.

Traveler Origins: A Diverse and Affluent Mix

St. Barths attracts a diverse array of affluent travelers from around the world:

  • United States: Major cities like New York, Miami, and Los Angeles contribute significantly to visitor numbers. U.S. travelers are drawn by the island’s luxury resorts, fine dining, and exclusive atmosphere.
  • France: As a French overseas territory, many visitors come from France, enjoying the cultural and linguistic familiarity.
  • Canada: Canadian travelers, particularly from Toronto and Montreal, visit St. Barths to escape the cold winters and enjoy the island’s warm climate and upscale amenities.
  • Europe: Besides France, travelers from the UK, Germany, and Italy are frequent visitors, attracted by the island’s exclusivity.
  • Latin America: There is a growing number of visitors from Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico, seeking the island’s luxurious offerings.

The St. Barths Experience

St. Barths embraces its natural charm, blending French sophistication with Caribbean beauty. By focusing on quality over quantity, the island offers a serene and luxurious escape for all visitors. As St. Barths adjusts to the post-pandemic travel landscape, it remains an ideal destination for those seeking a relaxed and refined island experience.



The best of tips on how to get to St Barths, where to dine, the beaches we prefer,  when to pick a luxury hotel or a private villa, and more tips to enjoy the island at its best.