How to Get to St. Barts: Flying vs. Ferry?

how to get to st barth

As part of my exhaustive travel guide, I’m giving you a super simple breakdown of how to get to St. Barts (or St. Barths, as it’s sometimes spelled.) I’ve personally experienced all three of these options, so I’ve been able to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each.

HOW TO GET TO ST. BARTS:

Unless you are chartering a yacht or a plane (and if that’s the case I WOULD VERY MUCH LIKE AN INVITATION) there are 3 ways to get to the island, and I’ve ranked them in order of my preference.

ONE TIP: Don’t bother putting in “NYC to SBH” (or whatever your home airport is) into Google Flights or Kayak. First of all, there are no direct flights. And secondly, you’ll need to book your trip as two separate legs. More on that below.


MORE: How I Fly Business Class for (Basically) Free


OPTION 1:

  • Book a flight to San Juan. Then book a separate 1-hour flight to St Barths on Tradewind Aviation.
    • I prefer this route because it’s the most efficient. It doesn’t require clearing customs (since San Juan is a US territory). Plus, the Tradewind Aviation planes are nice, and the San Juan airport is more comfortable than Saint Martin. Also: Tradewind has a “lounge” (I use the term loosely) for guests to sit and wait during their layovers before boarding. It has Wifi & a fridge stocked with cold wine and beer. No frills, but what more could you ask for?
    • To browse flight times, you’ll want to go directly to www.FlyTradewind.com. Scroll down to “scheduled shuttles” and then “book by the seat.”
    • Flights are expensive. At the LEAST, you should expect to pay $600 round-trip, if not more.

OPTION 2:

  • Book a flight to Saint Martin (Princess Juliana Airport). Then book the 10-minute puddle jumper flight to St Barths on either: St Barths Commuter or WinAir.
    • This is what I had been doing before I discovered Tradewind. It’s still a fine option, and if the flight prices are significantly cheaper (which they often are) I’d go this route. Be aware that the planes are SMALL, and some people find the landing to be….a little scary. Personally I don’t mind it—the entire flight is legit 10 minutes! In fact, I think the landing is among the most beautiful I’ve experienced (except for the Maldives.)
    • In my experience, there’s no major difference between St. Barths Commuter and WinAir, which are the two airlines that fly to St Barths from Saint Martin — look up the schedules for each at their respective websites, and go based on pricing/timing/availability.

OPTION 3:

  • Book a flight to Saint Martin. Then take a 30-45 minute ferry from Saint Martin to St. Barths. 
    • This is what I would like to describe as my “last resort” option. You should choose the ferry if:
      • A) You’re deathly terrified of small planes (and I don’t mean ‘slightly scared.’ I mean…you physically can’t bring yourself to get on a small plane without having a panic attack.)
      • B) You’re trying to do St Barths on the “cheap” (good luck)
      • C) You booked last minute and all the flights are full.
    • There are two ferry companies—Voyager and Great Bay Express—and as far as I know, there’s no major difference between them.
    • Matt & I took the ferry once as a result of option C. It wasn’t the worst 45 minutes of my life (I’m not THAT much of a diva) but I think we both agreed we would prefer not to do it again. It can be VERY choppy and very uncomfortable. For some reason I have memories of sitting on the floor and getting soaked by waves. Or maybe I’m making that up. Either way…the ferry should be your last resort option.

That’s pretty much it! I hope you found this helpful. If you’re ready to start packing for your trip, I highly recommend checking out my “What to Wear” guide here.

Questions? Leave them in the comments below!

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8 Comments

  1. Amoni
    May 14, 2019 / 9:32 pm

    Hi! I’m going to st Barth’s next month! When you booked the ferry did you do it online or when you got there? Not sure is sites like Great Bay Express are secure. Any advice??

    • May 14, 2019 / 11:27 pm

      From my recollection we booked it online through their websites (which look shady I know!)

  2. January 6, 2020 / 10:12 pm

    How much time should I allow between flights from St. Martin and St Barth flying WinAir?

    • January 6, 2020 / 10:39 pm

      That’s a tough one! Theoretically if your flight into SXM lands on time you could be on your way to your WinAir flight within 30 mins. But it’s a bit risky bc if you get delayed you’re kind of screwed. I usually try to give myself at least an hour (if not more) to transfer between flights

  3. February 13, 2020 / 8:59 pm

    We’re heading to St Kitts and wanted to stop at St Barths along the way. Not the easiest to figure out (coming from Boston). The flights into San Juan are much easier for us as they’re direct. Just trying to coordinate the timing, ha. Would you say it’s worth it to go through all the hassle to be in St Barths for 1 night? We would be leaving later so we would have a whole day there to just relax.

    • February 17, 2020 / 8:57 pm

      Hmm from St Barths it’s about an hour flight on Tradewind (and pretty pricey) but if you’re set on making it happen it’s totally doable! You could then take St Barths commuter directly from St barths to St Kitts. So if you did it it would just add two short flights to your trip. Not impossible!

  4. Katie
    February 17, 2020 / 8:26 am

    How long a layover is safe in San Juan if you are checking luggage?

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