HOW TO GET ST BARTS (PLANE AND BOAT)
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When you first touch down on the European-Caribbean island, with its deep blue waters and white sand beaches, it’s hard not to think of pirates. But there is more than just adventure in this small French territory; Saint Barthélemy also has a history as an international hub for trade.
From days of yore when sailors arrived on merchant ships or large schooners, to today when ferries and private mega yachts dock in Gustavia, or by way of the spectacular landing over the Col de la Tourmente onto the once grass-covered runway, the memories of that first sighting of the island are unforgettable.
What airport do you fly into to get to St Barts?
Today, many visitors to Saint Barthélemy arrive at the tiny but modern Gustav III / Rémy de Haenen Airport (SBH), complete with creature comforts: air-conditioned waiting room, boutiques, and snack bar. The airport is barely a gate between the plane and St Barts’ private villas.
Landing onto the tiny St Barths airport strip is such an experience that there are plenty of great videos on Youtube to (re)live it. I have selected my favorite ones and sorted them out for you on the SaintBarth.com YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/c/Saintbarthcom
HOW TO GET TO ST BARTS: IMMIGRATION
Most visitors to St Barts are either from the US, Canada, the European Union, the UK, or the Schengen Area. These people do not need any visa for a stay under 90 days, just a valid passport.
Citizens of some countries are required to have a visa to enter St Barths.
While France is a member of the European Union and the Schengen Area, France’s overseas departments and territories, like St Barths, are not part of the Schengen area and apply their own visa policies.
- Citizens of the European Union and Schengen Area (Monaco, Andorra, Norway, Iceland, San Marino, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland): No Visa. Must have valid passports.
- Citizens of the United States, Canada, and the UK must have a valid passport as well as a return ticket or proof of continuation of travel. The passport must be valid for more than 3 months from the date of entry to Saint Barth. No other visa or paperwork is necessary for a stay of less than or equal to 90 days.
- No visa either for citizens from Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (biometric passport), Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova (biometric passport), Montenegro (biometric passport), New Zealand, Nicaragua, North Macedonia, Panama, Paraguay, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan (passport bearing identity card number), United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela
- Citizens of other countries must have a valid passport and a tourist visa provided by the French Embassy or Consulate closest to their home. Entry to St Barths is checked very, very thoroughly.
My tip: Tourists from these countries must make sure that the French Consulate delivers them not only a Schengen Visa but also the extension for either “Départements d’Outre-Mer” (i.e. French Overseas Territories) or D.F.A. (Départements Français d’Amérique – French territories in the Americas) specifically mentioning St Barths (and St Martin for the transit). I had a Columbian friend forced to leave St Barths by the first plane because the French Consulate made a mistake and he did not have the St Barths mention in his visa. Do not make that mistake!
If you are bringing along a nanny or personal staff, make sure that you check whether they need a Schengen visa with the D.F.A. and Saint Barthélemy extensions. Otherwise, they will not be able to enter the island.
Do you need help figuring out whether you need a visa? Then use this official online tool made by the French government. In the “Main Destination” field, make sure to choose “Saint Barthélemy”.
HOW TO GET TO ST BARTS: BY PLANE
The runway at the airport in Saint Barthélemy may be small but it’s got a lot of personality. The 2,100-foot long airstrip (not to mention its location on an island) means that flights are limited mainly to smaller aircrafts such as propeller planes and helicopters.
Just 15 miles away, the neighboring island of Sint Maarten has an international airport – Princess Juliana (SXM) – from which it is easy to reach Saint Barth. Most international visitors will be transiting through SXM.
If you are coming from Europe, especially France, you may be transiting through either Sint Maarten (SCM) or Guadeloupe (PTP, Pointe-À-Pitre). Both airports have direct flights to Saint-Barthéemy.
If you are coming from the US or Canada, another popular choice is using Tradewinds Aviation. The airline operates regular and charter flights from San Juan (SJU, Puerto Rico), St Croix, St Thomas, and Anguilla.
Note that our neighbor island of Sint Maarten / Saint Martin has 2 airports flying out to St Barths:
- Juliana Airport (SXM) on the Dutch side of the island, where flights from the US land. This is the connecting airport for most people
- Grand Case Airport (SFG) on the French side of the island. You may need to use this airport if flights to SXM are full. Then, it will be a 30-minute taxi ride to SXM or direct flights to SBH with St Barth Commuter before dawn.
To save money or because your plane may arrive late in the afternoon, you may also want to catch the ferry from St Martin to St Barths (see below).
Top airline routes from Saint Barths (SBH):
This is the 2020 average number of flights per week. In the high season (e.g. December), rotations are much higher than in the low season (e.g. June). Most private charter flights are not included here.
- Sint Maarten Juliana (SXM): 228 flights/week
- San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU): 72 flights/week
- Pointe-À-Pitre, Guadeloupe (PTP): 49 flights/week
- Saint Martin Grand Case (SFG): 29 flights/week
- Antigua (ANU): 19 flights/week
- St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (STT): 1 flights/week
Local Airlines to and from St Barths
If you’re wondering what airlines will bring you to Saint Barths, then look no further. There are many companies that fly into the airport on this island paradise and I have compiled a list of some of them below for your viewing pleasure!
- Air Antilles Express https://www.airantilles.com/ (regular flights)
- St Barth Commuter www.stbarthcommuter.com (regular flights)
- Tradewind Aviation www.tradewindaviation.com (regular and charter flights)
- Windward Express Airways http://www.windwardexpress.com/ (charter flights)
- Winair www.fly-winair.com (regular flights)
International airlines that connect you to St Barts
Several airlines are at your disposal to come to St Barths. Passing through the neighboring islands, it is very easy to reach Saint Barts airport with local airlines.
ST BARTS FROM NORTH AMERICA, WITH FLIGHTS CONNECTING IN:
St Maarten, Princess Juliana Airport (SXM):
American Airlines, Jet Blue, US Airways, Delta Airlines, Continental Airlines, Spirit Airlines, United Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, Air Canada, Air Transat
St Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Cyril E King Airport (STT):
Delta, American Airlines, Jet Blue, Airways, Spirit, United Airlines, US Airways, Sun Country, Continental
Pointe-Ã -Pitre, Guadeloupe, Caribbean Pole Airport of Raizet (PTP):
American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Air Canada, Air Transat
Florida, direct charter flights:
San Juan Airport, Puerto Rico, Luis Munos Marins Airport (SJU):
Delta, American Airlines, Jet Blue, Spirit, United Airlines, US Airways, Air Canada, Westjet, Air Transat
ST BARTS FROM EUROPE, WITH FLIGHTS CONNECTING IN:
St Maarten, Princess Juliana Airport (SXM):
Air France, Corsairfly, Caribbean Airlines, Jet Blue, KLM
St Martin, Grand Case Airport (SFG or CCE):
Pointe-À-Pitre, Guadeloupe, Caribbean Pole Airport of Raizet (PTP):
Air France, Air Caraïbes, Corsairfly, KLM
Antigua, V.C. Airport Bird International (ANU):
British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Caribbean Airlines (flights from London)
San Juan, Puerto Rico, Luis Munos Marins Airport (SJU):
Lufthansa, KLM, US Airways, Alitalia, British Airways, United Airlines, Air France, American Airlines, Air Berlin, Iberia, Delta, Condor, Finnair
ST BARTS FROM SOUTH AMERICA, WITH FLIGHTS CONNECTING IN:
St Maarten, Princess Juliana Airport (SXM):
San Juan, Puerto Rico, Luis Munos Marins Airport (SJU):
United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, Spirit, Copa
Tip: How to search for flights to St Barth using Kayak or Google Flights or KIWI
When you are searching for the best prices for your flights, you can outsmart Google Flights and Kayak.com by looking up these various combinations and connecting flights. Note that you always allow ample time to catch your connecting flight or ferry to St Barths.
Basic Search: Simply search on Google Flights or Kayak.com ou our online tool flights to St Barts for a trip from your local airport to St Barts (Airport code: SBH)
Book the last mile direct: Search on Google Flights or Kayak.com for a trip from your local airport to Sint Maarten (Airport code: SXM) then look up the price for a connecting flight directly on the websites of the airlines commuting between the islands (e.g. Winair and Saint Barth Commuter)
Take the ferry from Sint Marteen: Search for a trip from your local airport to Sint Maarten (Airport code: SXM) then look up the price of the ferry from St Martin to St Barts (e.g. The Voyager)
SJU instead of SXM: If you are flying from North America, you can also search for a trip from your local airport to San Juan (Airport code: SJU) then look up the price on the websites of the airlines commuting between the islands (e.g. Tradewind Aviation). A longer route could be through Guadeloupe if you have exhausted all options through Sint Maarten and San Juan.
PTP instead of SXM: If you are flying from Europe, you can also search for a trip from your local airport to Pointe-Ã -Pitre (Airport code: PTP) then look up the price on the websites of the airlines commuting between the islands (e.g. Air Antilles). A longer route could be through San Juan if you have exhausted all options through Sint Maarten and Pointe-Ã -Pitre.
The ANU option: If you are flying from the UK, you can also search for a trip from your local airport to Antigua (Airport code: ANU) then look up the price on the websites of the airlines commuting between the islands (e.g. Air Antilles Express)
HOW TO GO TO ST BARTHS: BY FERRY & BOAT
Imagine arriving in Saint Barthélemy by ferry! From the French side of St Martin, Dutch Sint Maarten or Anguilla there are ferries as well charter companies that run regular connections to this beautiful island. For an even more luxurious experience be whisked away from the St Maarten airport or Grand Case on a private charter where you can travel comfortably across the turquoise waters and enjoy your stay with ease.
There are two ferry services to get to St Barts:
Voyager http://www.voy12.com (daily scheduled service)
Great Bay Express http://www.greatbayferry.com/ (daily scheduled service in high season)
My tip: I prefer the Voyager III boat, as it is more comfortable. When traveling from St Martin to St Barts, the sea currents are tougher than on the way back. I’ve never been sick, but I always take a pill again seasickness 20 minutes before leaving St Martin. I also sit either inside, in the middle of the boat, (more stable), or at the back outside for some fresh air. I never book “business class”: I got upgraded once as the ferry was empty, it is more comfortable, but also a small room for my taste.
Also, book online and in advance, as it will be cheaper. Finally, always stop by at the ferry booth the day before leaving, just to make sure that your ferry will be leaving at the expected time and sail to the expected part of St Martin. You’d be surprised, but things sometimes change without much notice. Also, always make sure that you are buying a ferry ticket to the right side in St Martin where you actually want to go 😉
For those who prefer starting their vacations in a fabulous way, here’s how to get to Saint Barthélemy by speedboat: local companies will meet you when you arrive at Juliana Airport and whisk you aboard the boat for an incredible ride across turquoise waves.
Don’t forget to book a private transport from the airport to the ferry so they wait for you with a sign with your name at the airport exit on your arrival instead of having to negotiate rates or be offer a taxi on your exit to the airport.
Frequently asked questions about getting to St Barts:
How can I move to St Barts?
St Barth is an island that features some of the most beautiful white sandy beaches in the Caribbean. The unpretentious, chic Island draws potential inhabitants from all over the world to experience its unparalleled security, privacy, and fine dining possibilities with a wide range of activities for every type of traveler. It’s no wonder people love it so much!
St Barts is an island of pure luxury, and anyone with a European Union passport can live and work here. US citizens without visas have up to 90 days on the Island before they must leave as tourists â€” but that doesn’t mean you need one in order for a visit! You can also buy property there: St Barts has no restrictions against foreign buyers.
So, it easier for EU citizens to move to St Barths, but it does not prevent Americans from living on the island for long stretches. The US community is active, with a lot of people making friends on the island. As St Barts’ economy relies on tourism, non-EU citizens can also find work through hotels and villa agencies, but they usually need to have qualifying skills.
The island has a sizeable population of Portuguese people, who have as construction workers and married into local St Barth families.
St Barth is a small island with its own unique set of rules and regulations. To become a resident here, you need to live on the island for over 6 months per year, for 5 years, before applying through the Hôtel de la Collectivité (local authorities) office. Once living in this quaint Caribbean community as an official citizen you will enjoy many tax benefits including not paying any income taxes!
The biggest problem with moving to St Barts is finding lodging to live in. Rents are extremely high, as apartment owners can easily arbitrage between tourists and residents. Private villas are often subdivided among tenants.
How long is the ferry from St Martin to St Barths?
From the Dutch side of St Martin, the ferry takes 45 minutes. From the French side, it is closer to one hour.
How do I get from San Juan to St Barts?
From the U.S., San Juan (Puerto Rico) is considered a domestic flight. US passengers bypass the hassle of immigration and customs and can connect straight to their flight. Tradewind Aviation offers direct flights (either scheduled flights or private charters) that go directly from San Juan to St Barts. It is a 1-hour flight. It is also possible to go from San Juan to St Barts by connecting through St Maarten airport, but the flight time increased to more than 2 hours.
Who does St Barth Commuter belong to?
St Barth Commuter offers scheduled and private charter flights to St Barts airport. St Barth Commuter was founded by Bruno Magras and Michel Martinon. They believed that the Caribbean island of St Barts deserved its own airline. They began operations in 1995 and have since transported more than half a million passengers from all over the world to this beautiful destination.
St Barth Commuter has nonstop flights between St Maarten airport (Princess Juliana International Airport) and St Barts airport, between St-Martin Grand Case and St Barts airport, as well as between Guadeloupe and St Barts airport.