Officially discovered in 1493 by Christopher Columbus who named the island after his brother, St Barths was first a Spanish colony. It has changed hands several times since, including periods under French, English and Swedish rule. The island had been around a while before then though, with the earliest records dating back to about 1000 BC when the Ciboney people attempted to settle.Things have changed a bit since then. These days this eight-square-mile volcanic rock is also a duty-free port which recently liberated itself from the administrative yoke of Guadeloupe. Populated by iguanas, night-blooming cacti, fabulous beaches as well as luxury yachts, designer boutiques and a who’s who of international celebrities, St Barths has a developed a fierce personality of its own that sets it apart from the other islands in the French West Indies.
Want to know more? Here’s a full account of St Barths’ history. Otherwise, read on for some useful information about the island…
Whilst the official language of the island is French, English is widely spoken everywhere and native English speakers rarely have trouble communicating with the locals. Two other local languages are also spoken; a patois based on an old French dialect is used on the Leeward side of the island, whilst Creole – similar to that spoken on Guadeloupe – is spoken on the Windward side.
St Barths is lucky enough to have a tropical maritime climate allowing for a comfortable temperature that really only varies between 80 °F (27 °C) in the winter and 86 °F (30 °C) in the summer.December 1st – May 30th is known as the ‘dry season’ with temperatures in the low 80s, whilst the ‘rainy season’ is from June 1st – Nov 30th when it is usually warmer and slightly more humid. The peak of hurricane season is through September and October, during which time most of the island closes down for refurbishment and staff holidays.
The electrical current on the island is 220 volts/60Hz, as opposed to 110v/60 Hz in the USA and 220 volts/50Hz in France. As a result, you will need a transformer to be able to use any US appliance. French appliances will work, although you may notice that your clock goes out of sync!
The Euro is the official currency on the island, although you can generally pay in US dollars everywhere too. Check the exchange rate first as it may be worth exchanging your dollars at a bank rather than in the restaurants and shops where the rates can be less favourable.
To call St Barths…
From USA: 011 590 590 then six digits (for landlines)
From USA: 011 590 690 then six digits (for cell phones)
From France: the ten-digit phone number including the 0
From Europe: 00 590 590 then six digits (for landlines)
From Europe: 00 590 690 then six digits (for cell phones
To call from St Barths…
To USA: 001 + area code+ phone number
To Europe: 00 + country code + area code (-0) + phone number
To France: the 10 digit phone number including the 0
Broadband internet access is available throughout most of the island and there are also several Wi-Fi hotspots in town. However, be aware that St Barths is a small island in the middle of the ocean – it may not be as fast or as efficient as you are used to back home!
St Barths operates within the Caribbean time zone i.e. UTC-4:00. There is no adjustment for Daylight Saving Time. Which means we’re…
…six hours behind Europe in summer and five in winter.
…five hours behind the UK in summer and four hours in winter.
…one hour ahead of US Eastern Time in the winter, but the same time in summer