Flights and Ferry Service to and from St. Barth

St. Barthélemy, a volcanic land mass of only 8 square miles, was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and was named after his brother Bartolomeo. The native Carib Indians ferociously resisted all attempts by the Europeans to settle on the island. In 1648, a failed colonization attempt was made by French settlers from St. Kitts. A few determined peasants from Brittany and Normandy survived the resistance and in 1660 a second attempt at settlement was successful.

In 1673 the island became a part of France and a part of the government of Guadeloupe. By 1687, St. Barth had a population of 500. In 1784 Sweden's King Gustav III was given the island by Louis XVI of France in exchange for a warehouse in Goteberg Harbor and in 1785 Gustav declared the island a free port. Swedish settlers arrived and the island prospered as commercial traffic transited through the newly named harbor of Gustavia.

The 19th century was not kind to St. Barth or St. Barts as it is also called. Numerous misfortunes including hurricanes, droughts, yellow fever epidemics, and a disastrous fire descended upon the island. As steam power replaced wind, ships were able to take more direct routes to and from American ports, bypassing St. Barth.

Ridding itself of an increasingly heavy economic burden, Sweden sold the island back to France in 1878 for 320,000 francs. Provisions of this agreement required the island remain duty free and that the population never pay taxes!

Many of the local inhabitants are descendants of the early settlers from Brittany and Normandy and their language still reflects traces of the Norman French. The Swedish influence remains to this day as does the distinction of being a duty free port.

With the landing of the first plane, a two seater flown by Remy De Haenan, tourism was able to develop. However, the airstrip, even today, is not large enough to handle jetliners bringing an onslaught of visitors.

 

Currency

Dollars are accepted everywhere. When you dine out, you will be presented the check in Euros. Most larger restaurants take credit cards. If you pay by credit card, you will get the true rate of exchange. VISA is the most widely accepted. Bring plenty of cash/travelers checks, too. If you want to buy Euros, all banks can do the exchange. ATM machines can be found at the various banks on the island. You will receive a limited amount of Euros.

As there is no ATM for American Express (AMEX) cards on St. Barth, AMEX has created a service to satisfy their members’ requests. AMEX Card Members may receive the following by presenting their card at an AMEX office (conveniently located across the street from the Airport): Emergency check cashing in Euro or USD; Replacement of stolen, lost, damaged, mutilated or voided AMEX Travelers cheques; Exchanges to smaller denominations of AMEX travelers cheques if available; and “Gift Check” and “Check for Two” AMEX Travelers cheques available upon request. (An authorization will be requested from American Express for all services.)