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Guide To St. Barthelemy



St. Barthelemy
(also called St. Barts or St. Barths) is an island of only 8 square miles and approximately 7,000 residents. Steep and dramatic (highest point is 938 ft, Morne du Vitet) in the middle, the hills create valleys, which in turn create the numerous coves and 22 beautiful beaches. There are no casinos on the island, nightlife is mostly limited to some hangouts in Gustavia (e.g. Bar de l'Oubli and Le Select). Excellent restaurants are plentiful, mostly French, Creole and Italian.

The island is a free port and is part of an overseas department of France. Arid, hilly, and rocky, St. Barths was unsuited to sugar production and thus never developed an extensive slave base. Most of the 3,000 current residents are descendants of the tough Norman and Breton settlers of three centuries ago. They are feisty, industrious, and friendly -- but insular. However, you will find many new, young French arrivals, predominantly from northwestern France and Provence, who speak English well.

An air of affluence permeates St. Barths and the high season brings an influx of the wealthy and powerful trying to get away from it all...although some people just have to be "seen" here. Despite all that, St. Barths maintains a casual and happy atmosphere where you can be as relaxed or active...as "seen" or "unseen" as you wish. Please, do remember that St.Barts is not cheap, but with some planning ahead of time, you can make St. Barths more reasonable and a vacation to remember.

Getting There

By Air

It is easy to reach Saint Barthélemy as several airlnes fly t the island from Saint Martin (the airport in Grand Case or Princess Juliana Airport) as well as from Anguilla or San Juan.

Air Antilles Express

Saint Barth Commuter

Winair

Tradewind Aviation

Trans Anguilla Airways

By Sea

There are several options to arrive in St. Barthelemy by boat.

Master Ski Pilou

Voyager

Great Bay Express

Entry Requirements

All citizens of the European Union must have a valid passport .

All foreigners who are required to have the Schengen visa for Europe, must also get the visa extension for French Overseas Departments and Overseas Territories. It will be requested upon arrival along with other necessary documents (return ticket, proof of lodging, etc)

All American and Canadian citizens arriving in Saint Barth must have a valid passport, as well a round-trip ticket or proof of continuation of travel. A visa is not necessary if the intended stay on the island is inferior to, or equal to, 30 days.However, the passport must be valid and not expire for at least three months from the date of entry to the territory of St Barthélemy.

Helpful Visitor Information

Getting Around
There are two taxi stations on the island, one at the airport and one in Gustavia on the public dock.

Rental Cars
While the island is very small, a car is always nice to have. There are a number of rental agencies available offering a veriety of cars, compact SUV's and even scooters. You must have a valid driver's license.

There are only two gas stations on the island, and both are closed on Sunday. The one near the airport is open Monday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to noon and 2 to 5 p.m. The one in Lorient is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on Thursday and Saturday afternoons. There is an all-night automatic credit card gas pump at the airport station.

Dress
St. Barths has a year round tropical climate. Comfortable, casual clothes are the order of the day. Formal dress, coats or ties are never required. Swimsuits should never be worn in town.

Electricity
Voltage is 220 AC, 60 cycles. American-made appliances often require French plug converters and transformers.

Mail Service
St. Barths has one Post Office with two branches. The main Post Office, on rue du Centenaire in Gustavia, opens daily 8 AM to 3 PM, and closes on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. The branch in Lorient is open from 7 to 11 AM weekdays and from 8 to 10 AM on Saturday. The branch at the St. Jean Commercial Center, near the airport, opens daily from 8 AM to 2 PM, as well as Wednesday and Saturday morning 8-11 AM. Both are closed on Sunday and holidays.

UPS, Federal Express and DHL all have agents on the Island.

Banks--The two main banks are both in Gustavia. The Banque Francaise Commerciale, rue du General-de-Gaulle (tel. 590/27-62-62), is open Monday through Friday from 8am to 12:30pm and 2 to 4:30pm; it's closed Wednesday afternoon. The Banque Nationale de Paris, rue du Bord-de-Mer (tel. 590/27-63-70), is open Monday through Friday from 8am to noon and 2 to 3:30pm; closes at noon on Wednesday.

Currency

In 2002, St. Barts, as a political part of mainland France, abandoned its historic French franc and joined the Euro umbrella.

Emergencies

Dial tel. 16 for police or medical emergencies, tel. 18 for fire emergencies.

Hospital

St. Barts is not the greatest place to find yourself in a medical emergency. Except for vacationing doctors escaping their own practices in other parts of the world, it has only seven resident doctors and about a dozen on-call specialists. The island's only hospital, with the only emergency facilities, is the Hopital de Bruyn, rue Jean-Bart (tel. 590/27-60-35), about a 1/4 mile (.4km) north of Gustavia. Serious medical cases are often flown out to St. Maarten, Martinique, Miami, or wherever the accident victim or his/her family specifies.

Language

The official language is French, but English is widely spoken.

Pharmacies

The Pharmacie de Saint-Barth is on quai de la Republique, Gustavia (tel. 590/27-61-82). Its only competitor is the Pharmacie de l'Aeroport, adjacent to the airport (tel. 590/27-66-61). Both are open Monday through Saturday from 8am to 8pm; on Sunday, one or the other remains open for at least part of the day.

Safety

Although crime is rare here, it would be wise to protect your valuables. Don't leave them unguarded on the beach or in parked cars, even if locked in the trunk.

Taxes

There's an airport departure tax of 4.55 Euro ($4.05), but no hotel tax.

Telephone

St. Barts is linked to the Guadeloupe telephone system. To call St. Barts from the United States, dial 011 (the international access code), then 590 (the country code for Guadeloupe), then 590 again (the area code for St. Barths), and finally the 6-digit local number. To make a call to anywhere in St. Barts from within St. Barts, dial only the 6-digit local number, and ignore the prefix 590. To reach an AT&T operator from anywhere on the island, dial tel. 0800-99-00-11. To reach MCI, dial tel. 0800-99-00-19, and to reach Sprint, dial tel. 0800-99-0087.

Time

When standard time is in effect in the United States and Canada, St. Barts is 1 hour ahead of the U.S. east coast. Thus, when it's 7pm on St. Barts, it's 6pm in New York. When daylight saving time is in effect in the United States (April through October), clocks in New York and St. Barts show the same time.

Tipping

Hotels usually add a service charge of 10% to 15%; always ask if this is included in the price you're quoted. Restaurants typically add a service charge, too. Taxi drivers expect a tip of 10% of the fare.

Water

The water on St. Barts is generally safe to drink.

Activities and Attractions

Shopping

St. Barths is a duty free port and most of the shopping is done in Gustavia and St. Jean. Local arts and crafts, designer French and Italian clothing, jewelry, watches and perfumes top the shopping list - all duty free.

Dining

You could visit St. Barths again and again, and never run out of new restaurants or dishes to try. American to Italian, French to Mexican, Asian to Creole... well, you get the picture, it's all here.

Nightlife

Looking for outrageous nightlife, party til morning? Sorry, that's not St. Barths. Some of the restaurants and hotels offer entertainment and there are several notable nighspots in Gustavia.

Hiking

There are a number of trails that allow you to discover St. Barths, including several beaches that can be reached only on foot. Climb to the top of Mount Vitet, 938 feet (286 meters) high and experience a breathtaking view of the countryside and surounding waters.

Horseback Riding

Another great way to relax and have fun. Ride the trails and along the beach with the wind in your hair.

Water Sports

Besides diving, there is great snorkeling off the beaches, windsurfing, surfing, jet skiing, sailing, and kayaking.

Fishing

Big game abounds offshore. Marlin, wahoo, blackfin and yellowfin tuna and sailfish top the charts.

Fitness

There are several gyms in St. Barths, plus some of the hotels offer fitness rooms.

 

 
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