St. Barts and Saint Martin are two of the most popular and picturesque islands in the Caribbean, and for good reason. They both have pristine year-round climates in the 70s and 80s, and they both boast some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Because they’re less than 20 miles apart, you can easily travel back and forth from one to the other without having to book a costly flight. The St. Barts ferry and Saint Martin ferry make it easy, and you can find ferry terminals on several major beaches.
Are you planning a trip to St. Barts? If so, you may already have noticed that it’s kind of a hassle to get there. With fewer than 10 square miles of land, St. Barts is a small island, so you won’t find an international airport or ample runway space. The island can only accommodate small commuter jets with about two dozen passengers. Flights are costly, and flight times aren’t always convenient. But the Saint Martin ferry provides a solution.
Rather than plane-hopping, you can fly into Princess Juliana International Airport in Saint Martin, and then take a shuttle to one of the beaches that offer ferries to St. Barts. Your shuttle should cost about $25 for up to two passengers and around $10 for each additional passenger. When you arrive at the beach, just hop onto the ferry and you’ll be in St. Barts in under an hour. This can save you hundreds of dollars and a lot of headaches.
Whether you’re catching the ferry to St. Barts in lieu of a flight or you’re just island-hopping for a change of scenery, you can find convenient ferry stops on both islands. Every St. Barts ferry leaves from Gustavia, the island’s capital. Though it’s not the closest beach to Saint Martin, it is St. Barts’ main port terminal, located in a U-shaped cove along the island’s western coast.
Saint Martin has four main ferry locations:
All of these beaches offer ferries to and from Gustavia in St. Barts. From there, cabs and public transportation can get you to other points throughout the island.
Multiple St. Barts and Saint Martin ferry companies are active, so you’ll find a lot of variation in the schedules, prices, and features. However, there are some commonalities worth noting.
First, most ferries you’ll find are high-speed catamarans that transport passengers back and forth throughout the day. Some of the newer ferries can travel from one island to the other in as little as 30 minutes, though the average travel time is closer to 45. Most ferries offer spacious air-conditioned cabins, scenic sundecks, and the option of on-board beverages (extra charges usually apply). Private cabins are sometimes available for an additional fee.
You can find one-way tickets for as little as $50, but most of the newer ferries charge about $85 for a one-way trip and $115 for a round-trip journey. Compare different options to find the best deal.
Note also that most Saint Martin and St. Barts ferry companies impose a maximum luggage limit to ensure ample room for all passengers. For example, one popular ferry company limits you to 2 pieces of checked baggage weighing no more than 66 pounds. Dimensions can be no more than 39 x 20 x 20 inches. Checked baggage must be under 40 pounds and measure no more than 25 x 16 x 16 inches. Make sure to verify the exact baggage requirements before you travel.
Most ferries leave three to four times a day from each destination. The earliest ferries typically leave at approximately 7 to 8 a.m., and the latest ferries usually depart between 8 and 9 p.m., so check the schedules ahead of time and plan accordingly. Because there are multiple competing ferry companies often operating from the same terminals, the next ferry usually isn’t too far behind.
Regardless of which island you choose as your destination, there are plenty of activities to enjoy and sights to see. On Saint Martin, you can explore the sand dunes of Saline Beach, go snorkeling at the nature reserve, tour the ruins of Fort Gustave, or shop and dine at Baie de St. Jean—which is commonly compared to the French Riviera. On Saint Martin, you can ride the world’s steepest zipline, get lost in the lush Loterie Farm sanctuary, sip cold beverages at one of the world’s largest rum distilleries (Topper’s Rhum), and wander the historic capital city of Philipsburg.
Wherever your travels take you, make sure to compare Saint Martin luxury villas and St. Barts luxury villas. By staying in your own private villa on the beach, you can explore these exquisite islands in style, complete with total privacy and serenity.
Make time for both islands, and experience a Caribbean getaway you’ll never forget.
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