Best Ways to Get Around in St. Barts
The Caribbean island of St. Barts is just shy of 10 square miles, and there is a main road that covers most of the island’s shoreline. If you want to explore the island, renting a car is the most efficient and convenient mode of transportation as there is no public transportation system. You’ve got other options for navigating this hilly high island, but rental cars are far and away the best choice.
You don’t necessarily need to rent a car. All things considered, though, it’s the best option for exploring the island. There are a few taxis on the island however even a short ride can be expensive, and they are not always readily available. Hiring a private car service is the best strategy if you don’t want to drive.
In this guide, we’ll break down these options in more detail and touch on the best kinds of vehicles to reserve for St. Barts transportation. Some folks might consider renting a motorbike, scooter, or ATV instead of a car. We’ll address those options as well.
Read on for all the details for getting around St. Barts during your blissful escape to this French West Indies paradise!
Methods of Transportation Available on the Island
You won’t find public transportation on St. Barts, nor ridesharing services such as Uber. That leaves four main options for getting around on the island:
In our opinion, the best form of St. Barts transportation is reserving a rental car. Renting a car gives you, by far, the most freedom and flexibility.
And the compact size of St. Barts, combined with its extensive and well-maintained road system, makes driving yourself around very doable.
The main road runs from the capital of Gustavia past the airport, then along the coast to Toiny, which takes you by most of the island’s villages and its top beaches.
When renting a car in St. Barts the best option is to choose a smaller car, given that the island’s roads tend to be narrow and windy, and parking spaces can be tight. Four-wheel or all-wheel drive is also a good option to seek out as the island has some very steep hills you’ll need to climb during your travels.
Among the truly classic smaller vehicles for tooling around here are the Mini Moke — the most iconic St. Barts car of all — and the Mini Cooper. But you’ve got many other options, including the Suzuki Jimny, the Kia Picanto and the K-Roc.
Depending on the time of year and the model chosen, car rentals range from about $40 to more than $150 per day. On St. Barts, rental companies require a seven-day car booking to qualify for a weekly rate, giving you a lower average price per day. (Contact WIMCO to get the best prices).
To ensure you get the best car for your trip, you want to reserve your rental car well in advance of your St. Barts getaway. Here at WIMCO, we can help set everything up. We also have a dedicated page on St. Barts Car Rental 101—check it out!
Private Car Service
Some travelers are less keen on driving themselves around. In that case, the next best thing for St. Barts transportation is hiring a private driver. These independent drivers typically ask you to reserve car service by the half day or full day.
It’s a great option for people looking to dine out in Gustavia who don’t want to worry about finding parking, worried about finding a taxi, driving after having enjoyed some wine, or not wanting to drive home in the dark. Please remember to make these arrangements before your trip.
WIMCO's concierge service can take care of setting this up for you.
It’s nice to have taxis as a backup option on St. Barts in a pinch. That said, we don’t recommend relying on taxi services to any major degree. While taxis serve Gustavia and the Gustaf III Airport, there aren’t many on the island, they cannot be relied on to be available on short notice, and they can be pricey.
WIMCO's concierge department can reserve taxi service for you, however this needs to be set up at least a day in advance to insure you get the taxi service for the specific time of day you need it.
Motorcycle, Scooter, & Four-Wheeler (ATV) Rental
We’d suggest renting a car over renting a motorbike, scooter, or ATV for getting around St. Barts.
Navigating the island’s narrow, windy, up-and-down roads is more dangerous in such vehicles than it is in cars. However, it’s certainly possible, and scooters, in particular, are commonly encountered on the road system.
Rates for motorcycles or scooters vary but often range between $25 to $40 per day.
Renting a bike in St Barts
At the time of writing, there are no bike rentals on St Barts. If you want to ride a bike on St Barts you will need to bring you own. There is a good reason you won’t find any bikes for rent.
The island’s roads are very narrow and have no breakdown lanes, so there isn’t much room for a bike. You'll have to navigate several very long steep hills while driving around the island, and it would be exhausting to scale them on a bike.
Driving in St. Barts
Driving in St. Barts is quite straightforward with the right mindset — and the right vehicle. Again, we strongly recommend smaller cars, given that island roads are all narrow two-lane tracks, often hilly, and twisty.
The dimensions of St. Barts are such that you’re realistically not likely to drive more than 20 or 30 minutes between destinations.
People drive on the right side of the road in St. Barts, abiding by French traffic laws. You must be at least 18 years old to operate a vehicle here with a valid driver’s license from any country.
Most rental cars have an automatic transmission, though manuals are available by request. Unless you’re a real pro at negotiating steep roads by stickshift, an automatic is the best choice here.
The main island speed limit is 50 kph — roughly 30 mph. Some roadways are set at 30 kph (about 20 mph).
Considering the narrowness, curviness, and steepness of St. Barts roadways, you don’t want to be going faster than that. Plus, you’re on “island time,” right? Lock into the rhythm of a Caribbean idyll, slow down and enjoy the views.
The scenery is quite impressive from most points of the island. On the main coastal road you’ll pass St Beach beach, Lorient beach, Marigot beach and the “Cote Sauvage” (wild coast) in Toiny. While there are no breakdown lanes on St Barts roads, most beaches have small parking areas where you can pull over to take in the views.
One thing you’ll notice right away is that there are no traffic lights in St Barts. Intersections are marked by stop signs or use rotaries to manage the right of way. Another interesting quirk is that once you get out of the capital of Gustavia there are no street signs. Bringing a good map with you is essential.
Another important note: Watch that fuel gauge! St. Barts has only two gas stations: one at Gustaf III Airport and the other in L’Orient. Both gas stations are closed on Sundays.
What Do You Need to Rent a Vehicle?
A valid driver’s license from your home country is all you need to drive on St. Barts (so long as you’re 18 or older). Making early reservations is highly recommended to ensure availability and preferred models.
For the best chance of securing the ride you reserved, it’s best to go through a local rental company instead of a national-company franchise or travel-product aggregator.
If you’re visiting St. Barts during the December holidays, consider that most rental companies require a 10-day minimum rental booking. They also may impose penalties if you cancel 30 days or less before your arrival.
What Are the Best Scenic Routes in St. Barth?
St. Barts boasts splendid Caribbean scenery. The island's ruggedness means just about any main road will serve up some stunning sightlines out to sea.
Some particularly scenic drives include the trip from St Jean through Lorient to Toiny, and from Lorient across the island to pristine Saline Beach. You’ll also want to drive from the airport up to the rotary that overlooks the runway to pull over and watch planes landing - a popular sport in St Barts.
Drives from the main hub of Gustavia to the northwest are also unforgettable. Head for the compact fishing village of Corossol, for example, or to the northwestern tip of Flamands where you can pick up the hiking trail to Colombier Beach.
Frequently Asked Questions about Transportation in St. Barts
The small size of St. Barts and the extensive paved road circuit make the island simple to traverse and explore.
How Long Does it Take to Drive Around the Island of St. Barths?
You can drive around the entire perimeter of the island of St. Barts in about an hour. After all, the island’s less than eight miles long.
Is There Uber or Lyft Available in St. Barths?
You won’t find Uber or Lyft operating on St. Barts. Private drivers or taxis are available if you wish to be driven somewhere.
Should I Rent a Car on St. Barts?
Renting a car is the best way to experience St. Barts. With WIMCO at your assistance, St. Barts car rentals are hassle-free and cost-effective. Plus — and not incidentally — you’ll get to land yourself a truly stylin’ ride for exploring the Gem of the Caribbean!
Rental car companies can deliver a rental car directly to your villa upon arrival. An even better option is taking full advantage of WIMCO concierge services. One of our team will meet you at the airport, help square away paperwork, and load your luggage into your rental car, then escort you to your villa. It’s always nice to have a guide navigating you to your private perch for the first time.
Ready to Get Started?
WIMCO can also help arrange for direct delivery of rental cars to your villa, hotel, or ferry dock.
Contact WIMCO today, and one of our friendly vacation specialists will help you plan your perfect island adventure!