Haggling isn't accepted on the island; you're expected to pay the stated price.
Dangers & Annoyances
- St-Barth is a very safe destination, with virtually no crime.
- The island's steep, winding, narrow roads can be dangerous for uninitiated drivers, and accidents can and do occur.
- Traffic can be astonishingly heavy for such a tiny island and public parking spaces are like gold dust (you could literally spend hours circling Gustavia and St-Jean in peak times), so factor in plenty of time to get to your destination.
- Guard against mosquitoes, which can carry diseases such as dengue fever and the Zika virus.
The current used is 220V (50/60 cycles); wall plugs are Western European style. Many hotels offer American-style shaver adapters.
Embassies & Consulates
Although St-Barthélemey is practically autonomous, consular services are still linked to France. A Swedish diplomatic figurehead is the only foreign representation on the island.
Emergency & Important Numbers
Entry & Exit Formalities
Residents of EU countries need only a national identity card to enter St-Barth. Passports are needed for all other nationalities, and must be valid for six months or more after your arrival date.
St-Barth is duty-free. You're allowed to bring items intended for personal (but not commercial) use. Coral and turtle-shell items are illegal and not permitted to be taken off the island.
Citizens from the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan and New Zealand don’t need visas. Citizens of several Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), African and South American countries require visas valid for a French collectivity (French: collectivité d'outre-mer; COM). Visit www.diplomatie.gouv.fr for more information.
- Greetings Always greet/farewell anyone you interact with, such as shopkeepers, with ‘Bonjour (bonsoir at night)/Au revoir'.
- Shops In shops, staff may not appreciate you touching the merchandise until invited to do so, nor may they be comfortable about you taking photographs without asking.
- Conversation Tu and vous both mean ‘you’ but tu is only used with people you know very well, children or animals. Use vous until you're invited to use tu.
- Sunbathing Topless sunbathing is common; nude sunbathing is acceptable on the more remote beaches.
In 2013 France (and thus St-Barth) became the 13th country in the world to allow same-sex marriage. Even beforehand, it's long been said that St-Barth is the most gay-popular spot on Earth without a gay bar, which pretty much sums up the nature of the island’s gay tourism today. Locals and other travelers are very laid-back and it’s not uncommon to see gay couples holding hands at the beach or having a romantic dinner, although there's no major nightlife scene.
Free wi-fi is available at most cafes and bars, and at virtually all hotels.
Drugs of all kinds are strictly illegal and possession will result in prosecution.
The currency used in St-Barth is the euro. ATMs are easy to find in Gustavia and in St-Jean, but they don't always accept foreign cards.
Larger establishments accept credit cards (including foreign cards).
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
Service fees are included in prices so tipping is not necessary or expected, but people commonly round up restaurant bills and taxi fares to the nearest euro.
Many hotels, bars and restaurants shut in September and/or October.
Restaurants Breakfast 7-10am, lunch 11:30am-2:30pm, dinner 7-10pm
Supermarkets 8am-9pm Mon-Sat, 8am-1pm Sun
Shops 9.30am-7.30pm Mon-Sat
New Year's Day January 1
Easter Sunday Late March/early April
Labor Day May 1
Victory Day May 8
Ascension Thursday 40th day after Easter
Pentecost Monday Seventh Monday after Easter
Bastille Day July 14
Assumption Day August 15
Slavery Abolition Day Oct 9
All Saints’ Day (Toussaints) November 1
All Souls Day November 2
Armistice Day November 11
Christmas Day December 25
Under French law, smoking is banned in all enclosed public spaces including hotel rooms, restaurants, cafes and bars. Smoking is still permitted in outdoor areas, however, such as terraces, so you may still encounter smoke.
Taxes & Refunds
St-Barth is a duty-free port.
- St-Barth's country code is +590.
- Be aware that the island's landline numbers then begin with 0590 (mobile phones start with 0690).
- If you're calling from abroad, dial your country's international access code, then St-Barth's country code, then drop the initial '0' of the local 10-digit number. For example, calling from North America, dial 011 + 590 + 590-12-34-56.
- To call from within the French phone system, dial the full 10-digit local number including the initial '0'.
Check with your home provider about roaming capabilities and costs. Orange is the main local provider, followed by Chippie. Shops including St-Barth Electronique, opposite the airport, sell SIM cards that can be used in an unlocked phone.
St-Barth is on Atlantic time (GMT/UTC minus four hours). Daylight saving time is not observed.
There are public toilets at the ferry terminal and the airport. Facilities at restaurants, cafes and bars are generally reserved for paying customers.
St-Barth's tourist office can help with accommodations, restaurant recommendations, island tours and activities.
For inquiries about local matters such as marrying on the island, contact the Collectivité de Saint-Barthélemy (www.comstbarth.fr).
Travel with Children
The French adore les enfants (children) and welcome them just about everywhere (though they're expected to be well behaved).
Children's menus are widespread, but highchairs are not. Most hotels and villas can accommodate children and can provide cribs/cots or extra beds by prior arrangement.
Supermarkets stock baby-care products including diapers/nappies.
As a wealthy, tourism-focused island, St-Barth has virtually no volunteering opportunities.
Weights & Measures
The metric system and 24-hour clock are used.
EU citizens can live and work in St-Barth without any restrictions. Non-EU citizens should check online at www.diplomatie.gouv.fr or contact the French embassy or consulate in their home country to find out what options apply in their situation.
St-Barth's steep terrain makes things difficult for travelers with disabilities or limited mobility but the low-rise architecture means many properties are accessible. Numerous hotels offer wheelchair-friendly rooms with rails and barrier-free showers. Not all restaurant bathrooms are equipped for wheelchair users, however – confirm when you book.