If you want a smoother trip to Saint Barth, you have 2 options: pack in carry-on luggage for your flight to Saint Maarten or San Juan, or use Saint Barth Services to ease your connection. If you check a bag for your flight to Saint Maarten you will need to allow more time for the transit because you have to go through Immigration and security – and the lines can be long.
How to pack in a carry-on? Think like a French woman. Fewer outfits, fewer shoes and you can travel for 2 weeks in a small bag. I do it annually, although I run a meeting on the island. My attendees would notice if I repeated an outfit!
During the day you can live in bathing suits and cover-ups. I pack 3 bathing suits, 2-3 cover-ups and a sarong/tank top, which works as a 4th. A fashionable man can probably get away with 3 bathing suits and nice t-shirts for day wear. Men should pack shorts style bathing suits, not Speedos, if you want to wear them beyond the beach.
While a gorgeous beach bag is great if you can fit it (or use your “personal item” travel bag), fashionable Saint Barth locals use the large 1 euro shopping bag from the U supermarket by the airport.
Flip flops are commonly worn during the day and pack flat, even fancier ones. Of course, if you plan to go to Saline, hike to the natural pools, or the beach at Colombier you might want to bring sturdier shoes. Wear sneakers for your flight to the island and use those.
A cute sundress for women, or shorts and a nice shirt for men are all you need for the days you plan to shop or have lunch in Gustavia. You really need to be covered in town, not in a see-through beach coverup, unless you’re walking from your Gustavia villa or hotel to Shell Beach. For the beach restaurants, women are fine in a nice cover-up; men should wear a shirt. Of course, at Nikki Beach or the weekend parties at La Plage, you want to look casual chic.
Night is when you want to splash out with your most chic dresses and a collared tshirt for men. Suit jackets are never needed for men on Saint Barth and mark you as a tourist. Pack as many dresses as you can fit in your bag, but it is OK to repeat an outfit. I bring 3 pairs of shoes, in addition to the ones I wear on the plane, but many of my fashionable friends who visit the island think this is ridiculous and pack more.
Add some great jewelry! Saint Barth is considered the safest island in the Caribbean so there’s no reason to leave your jewelry home. It’s also a wonderful place to shop for jewelry. Stores like Chopard and Cartier are on the island, plus local shops like Diamond Genesis carry a variety of brands. The ultimate Saint Barth jewelry items are the Tahitian sea pearl creations sold at the Artisan or Bijoux de la Mer. You can pick up great accessories all over the island in small boutiques at hotels, Gustavia and St. Jean.
Always pack a bathing suit and coverup in your personal item, in case your larger bag gets waylaid. Especially if you’re checking luggage from your point of departure to Saint Maarten or San Juan.
Don’t forget a European 2 prong plug adapter to charge your devices. You likely don’t need an electrical converter for your phone, laptop, ipad, e-reader, or digital camera, but you will need a plug adapter. Items for your hair that need to heat up require a huge electrical converter. Better to buy a dual voltage device, check with your hotel or villa, or go natural.
If you cannot possibly pack light, but want to expedite the travel process to the island, contact me to book Saint Barth Services. They will meet you in Saint Maarten, San Juan, Point a Pitre (Guadeloupe), or Antigua, escort you to your next flight, and transfer your luggage for you. If your luggage gets lost, they will track it down. You can enjoy Saint Barth as long as possible – they will confirm your flights and check your luggage. All you need to do is show up 20 minutes before your flight and pick up your boarding pass.
Saint Barth Services also arranges charter flights. If you’re traveling with a family or have several people in your group, charter air makes more sense than booking separate tickets on scheduled flights to the island. Why wait for a scheduled flight when you can depart soon after arriving in St. Maarten or San Juan?