Should You Rent A Car On St. Barts? Absolutely Yes!!
I was recently working with a client to book an upcoming vacation to St. Barts and they had never been there before. They had heard rumors that driving was a little scary on St. Barts and were curious if they really needed to rent a car. While there are numerous taxi services on St. Barts, I always advise my clients to rent a car so they can truly explore all the great things that St. Barts has to offer. Since we get asked this question a lot, I thought I would provide a few comments and observations about renting a car and driving on St. Barts.
First, St. Barts is not like some of the other Caribbean islands you may have visited where you fly in, take a taxi to your resort, and then spend the next week basically within the resort compound. St. Barts is meant to be explored! You are going to want to come and go from your private St. Barts villa as much you wish, and not rely on the services of a taxi to come pick you up. St. Barts is meant to be spontaneous and your plans may change in an instant. You may start your day thinking you are going to visit Saline beach before lunch, then have lunch at Sante Fe restaurant, and then spend your afternoon taking a long nap on Gouverneur beach. Before you know it, your plans have changed and you spent the morning reading a book by the pool at your villa and now you want some excitement; so you change plans quickly and decide to dart off to St. Jean for a lunch at La Plage and drinks at the Pink Parrot in the afternoon. Opting for the St. Barts car rental gives you the freedom to do what you want, when you want. After all, it is your St. Barts vacation!
Driving on St. Barts is not as treacherous as you may have heard. The roads are narrower than here in the States, but once you get used to it (usually within the first day), driving on St. Barts becomes a part of the experience and most of our clients seem to enjoy driving the winding roads and up and down the hills of St. Barts. A map is a necessity for the first time visitor to St. Barts because there are not many road signs except in Gustavia. Most of the major intersections on the island will have directional signs pointing you to the various directions. If you do happen to make a wrong turn and feel lost – Don’t worry! The island is not that big and you will be back on your way in no time.
When you pick up your rental car on St. Barts, make sure to check the glove box for a blue parking disk (see attached picture). In Gustavia, most parking is regulated by the honor system by placing the blue disc in the windshield of your car indicating the time you arrived. There is a 2 hour parking limit from the time you arrived. Failure to place the Blue disc in the windshield may result in a parking ticket. I say may because I have never seen anyone actually checking the blue discs.
In our opinion, a car is almost a necessity on St. Barts in order to truly enjoy your villa vacation experience. There is always going to be a time when you want to run to the Marche U (main island grocery store) and pick up a fresh loaf of French bread or a bottle of champagne for mimosas in the morning. You will want a car and once you get used to it, I truly believe you will love driving the roads of St. Barts and will actually tell people how fun and exhilarating it was to drive on the island. Our team is very well versed on the types of cars that are available on the island and will help you pick the right car for your St. Barts vacation style!! See you on the roads.