Taxis meet all flights and are not very expensive, mostly because destinations aren't far from one another. Dial tel. 590/27-75-81 or 590/27-66-31 for taxi service. A typical rate, from the airport to Cul-de-Sac, is 20€. Fares between 8pm and 6am, and on Sundays and holidays, are 50% higher. Taxi service must be arranged between midnight and 6am -- call ahead. There are taxi stands at the St-Jean airport and in Gustavia.
The government imposes official fares on tours by taxi. Many travelers simply approach a taxi driver and ask him to show them around. The official rates for one to three passengers are 45€ for 45 minutes, 44€ for 60 minutes, and 60€ for 90 minutes. For four or more passengers, add 8€ to each of the above-mentioned prices.
By Rental Car
A rental car is an essential in St. Barts; it's really the best way to come and go as you please. You can reserve one yourself or have your hotel rent one for you. A number of rental agencies are located at the airport, although most rental agencies are happy to deliver cars straight to your hotel or villa (many resorts keep an assortment of rental cars on-site, ready to go; others, like Le Sereno, include a rental car in your resort rates). All valid foreign driver's licenses are honored.
Star Location Car Rentals (tel. 690-42-28-42; www.star-loc.com) offers rates with a 1€=$1 equivalency -- still a good deal for Americans at press time. It's located right at St-Jean Airport, with a wide range of rental cars, from automatic-drive Suzuki SUVs and four-wheel-drives to stick shift vans. Rates run from 38€ to 130€ a day, depending on the season. Also at the airport is Gumbs Car Rental (tel. 590/27-75-32), a longtime island car-rental company with a fleet of 65 cars; the reasonable rates start at around 20€ a day. Those with an itch to drive a Mini Cooper convertible around the island can rent one for around 120€ a day from Pure Rental, on Rue du Roi Oscar II, in Gustavia (tel. 590/27-64-76).
Budget (tel. 800/472-3325 in the U.S., or 590/29-62-40; www.budget.com) rents various 4WD Suzukis and automatic Daihatsus for 60€ a day, with unlimited mileage. Be sure to reserve at least 3 business days before your arrival.
Hertz (tel. 800/654-3131 in the U.S. and Canada; www.hertz.com) operates on St. Barts through a local dealership, Henry's Car Rental, with branches at the airport and in St-Jean (tel. 590/27-71-14). It offers open-sided Suzuki Samurais for 65€ a day, and more substantial Suzuki Sidekicks for 70€ to 90€ per day.
At Avis (tel. 800/331-1212 in the U.S. and Canada, or 590/27-71-43; www.avis.com or www.avis-stbarth.com), you'll need a reservation a full month in advance during high season. In the winter, cars range from 68€ to 98€ a day. In the off season, rentals are 44€ to 90€ a day.
Note: For Budget, Hertz, and Avis, if you reserve your car in the U.S. you will be charged in dollars, not euros.
Driving St. Barts -- Driving is on the right and maximum speed is 50kph; seatbelts are required. Never drive with less than half a tank of gas on St. Barts. There are only two gas stations on the island, and both are closed on Sunday: one near the airport (open only 7:30am-noon and 2-7pm -- with an all-night automatic pump that usually accepts MasterCard and Visa), the other in Lorient (open 7:30am-noon and 2-5pm).
Driving on St. Barts is an interesting experience, with corkscrewing roller-coaster roads (all 2-lane) and blind corners announced by signage of no words, just an exclamation point. Unless you're comfortable driving up and down steep hills with ease in a standard four-on-the-floor, I say opt for an automatic car. Slow down as you maneuver 90-degree curves, and don't let tailgating motorbikes and scooters push you into speeding up. Also: If you plan to park on the road, say, in St-Jean, amid tight traffic, be sure to pull in your driver's side rear-view mirror, or you might find it shorn off when you return. Happy driving!
By Motorbike & Scooter
Denis Dufau operates two affiliates (tel. 590/27-70-59 and 590/27-54-83). A helmet is provided (helmets are required), and renters must either leave an imprint of a valid credit card or pay a deposit. Rental fees vary from 24€ to 35€ per day, depending on the size of the bike. For all but the smallest models, presentation of a valid driver's license is required and you must be 21 or older.
St. Barts is not the ideal place to ride a bike or go for a run along the roadside. The two-lane roads have few sidewalks and narrow-to-nonexistent shoulders, traffic can be heavy, and the topography consists largely of steep hills and curving roadways with few flat stretches. Serious joggers can use their resort fitness rooms or head to the newly resurfaced track around the soccer field in St-Jean Carrenage (behind the St-Jean firehouse). Gustavia is also a good place to run when the traffic is light.