High Season Weather; Low Season Crowds - What to Expect Post-Irma

Our Availability: We are confident as to readiness, and motivated. The pool should be completed and tested by New Year's. We have two paid reservations for January. As well as Easter Week. February and March are prime times to escape the cold back home and enjoy St Bart's. For those in the U.S. Northeast, as of this writing this includes Presidents Week (19 Feb) - consider including both weekends for maximal relaxation. Recharge your batteries for rest of winter. Don't delay.

Island Status (4 December):  All essential infrastructure and utilities are 100% operational. Regular air flights have returned between SBH, St Maarten (SXM) and San Juan. Regular air service from North America to SXM has been restored and the number of flights from both North America and Europe will increase from January 2018.  WinAir and St Barth Commuter operate their regular flights from SXM to SBH. If these schedules are tight or sold-out, both fast water ferry services from St Martin - Voyager and Great Bay - are operating regularly.

Beaches: All are restored and open for sunbathing. Most - the following - also for swimming: Colombier, Anse des Flamands, Anse des Cayes, Corossol, Gouverneur, Petit cul de Sac, Lorient, Shell Beach, St Jean (côté aéroport /western side only) and Public.
Festivals and Regattas: The St. Barts Music Festival (January), Carnival (February), Les Voiles de St Barth and the Bucket Race all are taking place as scheduled.

Current Touristic Capacity (capacité d'acceuil): At this date, the local tourism committee expects that touristic capacity will be 25% (for about 1,500 visitors) for Christmas and New Years, 50% by March 2018, 80% by summer 2018 and 100% by November 2018. Many villas and larger hotels plan to re-open in March. Why so late? Because even where damage is modest, insurance claims and repairs take time, local contractors are at over-capacity and seasonal staff at larger establishments need housing - already a problem pre-Irma.

Importantly, 80% of the restaurants and boutiques in Gustavia, as well as the major grocery stores, are already open or will be by Christmas. This includes La Plage, Shellona, Le Ti, Isola, Bagatelle, Le Village St Jean, La Guerite, Orega, The Hideaway, Isoletta, Le Ti St Barth, Bar de l'Oubli, Le Select, Maya's to Go, Galawi (former Pipiri), Grain de Sel and many others. Both Maya's and Bonito re-open in February. The Wimco agency maintains a excellent readiness report here, including a restaurant and store list.

So should I postpone until late in season or even next year?: Mais non, pas du tout ! This question of course depends on what you value most in a visit to St Bart's. If you require absolute perfection and the full hustle-bustle, you may want to wait. But if you love St Bart's in all its phases and seasons and have a little flexibility, by all means come and be a part of this rebirth. For a few months, St Bart's will be more like the jewel of a decade or two ago:  a slightly simpler offering, life and speed. But ever-so a place and time where reality is briefly suspended - as one of the local slogans states, "La réalité s'arrête ici".   Visiting now may even enhance your visit and deepen your appreciation of this exceptional island and its intrepid residents.  

A bientôt,



Sarah Bellum

Sara (b. 1958) is a writer, photographer and amateur web site developer. Her day job is as a lawyer in New York City.  Website creation provides an outlet for a different writing style and use of foreign language skills, as well as an opportunity to showcase photography.

How to Get to St Barthélemy (SBH) from Top N. Am. & European Gateways

How to Get to St Barthélemy?

The most common way is by air to the Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) in St Maarten. Then a 12 minute commuter flight (WinAir or St Barth Commuter) to the airport (SBH) in St. Jean, near Gustavia and Colombier. SBH is on the island's longest stretch of flat land, limiting the size of airplanes that can land and thereby the maximum number of visitors per day by air. In our jet age of mass aviation and tourism, this limitation has been a key advantage to the island in trying to maintain an orderly pace of development. SBH closes at dusk, intentionally lacking the necessary night lighting. The landing experience is exhilarating, especially the first time. But depending on the calendar can be expensive, especially for a family or group. Another gateway is San Juan, PR (SJU) and a more expensive connecting flight to SBH on Tradewinds Aviation.

The second option is by high speed ferry - the Voyager, from Oyster Pond Marina in St. Martin, just a thousand feet feet or so into the French side. Take a taxi (often shared vans for about USD10 per passenger) from SXM to Oyster Pond. The passage is quick (30 - 35 minutes), economical and offers a different perspective. 

In either case you'll then need a rental car. Numerous global and local rental agencies are present at SBH or will meet you at the ferry marina. The fleet variety and prices vary considerably by agency and season. We can make referrals to local agencies with which we've had good experience and preferential arrangements. 

Flight time and frequency to SXM Princess Juliana International Airport from major N. American and Eurpoean gateways:

St. Maarten is within 4 - 5 hrs flying time for a substantial portion of the N. American population and within 9 - 11  hrs of much of Western Europe. Below are approximate flight times as of last August 2016. Many airlines fly the N. American routes 6-7 days per week. Some have multiple flights per day. In Summer, some operate fewer flights per day or week. Tip: off-season flights can be up to 50% cheaper than year-end and mid-winter flights.  

Paris (CDG):
Amsterdam: 9h
London and Frankfurt: by short connection via CDG or AMS

NB:  Europeans also fly to SXM via major N. Am. gateways such as NY, Charlotte, Atlanta or Miami since they have direct flights to / from many European cities.

N. America:
New York (JFK or EWR): 4h15
Toronto: 4h40
Montréal (YMQ): 4h50
Atlanta, Charlotte: 4h
Chicago (ORD): 5h15
Dallas: 6h45 (via ATL)
Ft. Lauderdale: 3h05
Miami: 2h55

Sarah Bellum

Sara (b. 1958) is a writer, photographer and amateur web site developer. Her day job is as a lawyer in New York City.  Website creation provides an outlet for a different writing style and use of foreign language skills, as well as an opportunity to showcase photography.