These two jewels in the Caribbean Sea are located a mere 13 nautical miles from each other so it is very easy to explore both these islands while on a luxury charter yacht in this area.
1. When should we go to St Martin and St Bart’s?
This area of the Caribbean has a tropical warm climate all year round with an average daily temperature of 27°C (81°F). There is rarely a day without sunshine. However the best time to charter a yacht is from December to April, the dry season with June through to November being the humid, wet season. This latter period is also the time that hurricanes may occur.
The peak luxury yacht charter season in St Bart’s is the festive season of Christmas and New Year. Over this period some of the world’s most illustrious and influential individuals, and their loved ones, convene on their yachts for a spectacular celebration in style and glamour.
Another exciting time to visit St Bart’s is the regatta season featuring the classic St Bart’s Bucket Regatta in March and the larger Les Voiles regatta in April. These are two of the largest and most prestigious yacht racing events in the world, where an exceptional group of people flock to the island. It is the perfect time to charter a luxury yacht giving you front row seats to watch the racing and the ideal base to enjoy all the fabulous festivities ashore.
St Martin has her Heineken Regatta in March. Again this is a fabulous time to visit with fantastic sailing conditions and serious fun for participants and spectators alike with a huge celebration party at the end of each day.
2. Where do we embark in St Martin and St Barts?
In St Bart’s most superyachts are docked stern-to along the charming waterfront of St Bart’s capital, Gustavia, or anchored in this bay, and this is where you would meet your luxury charter yacht. The tiny tidy capital Gustavia has gorgeous gingerbread-trimmed cottages, designer boutiques and five-star elegant restaurants.
For St Martin you would most likely join your yacht in the sheltered lagoon of Simpson Bay, where alongside world-class superyacht marinas are glitzy stylish bars, clubs and casinos, several famous restaurants, deluxe boutiques and luxurious condos.
Photo Credit: IGY Simpson Bay Marina
3. What’s in a Name?
Both St Martin and St Bart’s have somewhat confusing names. Is it St Bart? St Barth? St Barts? St Barth’s? The answer is Saint Barthélemy abbreviated to St Barth’s by the locals and to French speakers but St Bart's to English speakers.
St Martin is the world’s smallest landmass with two tiny countries cohabiting amicably on it. This first spelling refers more correctly to the culinary captivating French 60% of the island while the Dutch side which makes up the remaining bustling and more diverse 40% is actually Sint Maarten.
4. What to do in St Bart’s?
Your itinerary and what you do will be personalized to your tastes. And if all you want to do is relax onboard being pampered by your crew that is your choice. Luckily there are lots of things to entertain you both on the land and the sea.
There is something very special about St Bart’s. It is a fashion lover’s paradise and the place of fabulous waterfront hotels and restaurants. St Bart’s will also impress you with stunning natural beauty: a tiny, low profile island featuring a captivating coastline punctuated at regular intervals by blissful beaches and enchanting scenery.
One thing that St Bart’s is known for is its beautiful and diverse beaches. And many of your day-time activities will revolve around these, whether it is gently paddleboarding along the coast or buzzing along on your Seabob or Jetski. Or you may prefer swimming with the turtles in Anse de Colombier or exploring the colourful coral reefs during a scuba expedition of Le Pain de Sucre.
As a duty-free port St Bart’s offers great shopping and it is small wonder that Forbes has named the island one of the "World's 10 Best Shopping Destinations". The bustling capital Gustavia has 3 major shopping streets with elegant displays in exciting designer shops with many luxury brands such as Prada, Richard Mille, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Roberto Cavalli, Villebrequin being represented on the island.
St Bart's is also a paradise for gourmets and foodies alike. With over 80 restaurants there are lots of choices from high-end five-star establishments to funky sidewalk cafes and beachside bistros. French-inspired but with a Caribbean flair and using the freshest of local seafood along with the finest of imported ingredients eating in St Bart's is a real treat.
5. What to do in St Martin?
While not as famous as her neighbouring St Bart’s the dual personalities of St Martin and St Maarten have much to offer. The north of the island is a delightfully chic French outpost, while the south side oozes action-packed Dutch enthusiasm. There is no actual border between the two areas and you are welcome to travel freely between them.
St Martin would be high on your Luxury Charter Group arranged itinerary if you are seeking secluded relaxation by day, and long, lazy French-influenced dinners by night.
While the capital of St Maarten, Philipsburg, offers the rambunctious lifestyle of casinos and ‘fast-ish’ living, St Martin’s colourful capital, Marigot, presents the alternative: an easy-going and elegant lifestyle with sidewalk cafes, beguiling bars, modish dining and excellent duty-free shopping.
Escape the activity of the centres and you will discover a St Martin that is surprisingly serene. Here is an oasis of beautiful anchorages, beaches and bays fringed by wild jungle with the occasional laid-back, thatch-roofed bar. There are outstanding views and reefs filled with a kaleidoscope of Caribbean marine life all demanding your presence.
6. How do we get to St Bart’s and St Martin?
The most common way of getting to these islands is to fly into Princess Juliana Airport (SXM) on St Martin, and a short 10 minutes’ drive to Simpson Bay. Regular flights from most cities in the United States makes travel here an easy 2 to 3 hour commute from the US east coast. Jumbo jets also arrive from Europe, mostly Paris and Amsterdam. Alternatively you can fly via San Juan (SJU) airport in Puerto Rico.
If picking up your yacht in St Bart’s, then 10 minute “puddle jumper” commercial or chartered flights from both SXM and SJU are available directly into St Bart’s airport also known as Remy de Haenen airport (formerly Gustav III airport) and coded as SBH. Helicopter charters are also available on demand.
It’s also worth checking the benefits and costs of private aviation for group travel. Traveling by private jet has many advantages over commercial flights, and is the perfect complement to your luxury charter vacation. Not only are you travelling within your own private "bubble" away from crowds, but the whole process is also streamlined and efficient, so you can relax in safety and focus on unwinding and savouring the anticipation of your luxury charter vacation from the time you leave home. If you are travelling privately, please note that all pilots flying into St Bart’s require a special, short take-off and landing certification.
Interestingly both St Martin and St Bart’s have famous airports. St Martin (SXM) sits right by Maho Beach and tourists and plane watchers visit here to watch in awe as jets on their final approach soar only a short distance above their heads.
St Bart’s airport (SBH) is also unique and not for the faint-hearted. It is one of the shortest runways in the world (just over 2,100 feet) and at the bottom of a hill. Even if you have not flown in then waiting at the roundabout at the top of the hill to watch a plane arriving is definitely exhilarating; be prepared to duck if you are tall!
St Bart's and St Martin are memorable destinations where you can soak up the lifestyle you dreamt of when cruising the Caribbean on a luxury charter yacht. Contact the team at Luxury Charter Group for further details about St Bart's and St Martin, and the luxury charter yachts available there.