Car Travel

Roads are sometimes unmarked, so get a map and look for signs, nailed to posts at all crossroads, pointing to a destination. Roads are narrow and sometimes very steep, but have been improved; even so, check the brakes and gears of your rental car before you drive away. Maximum speed is 30 mph (50 kph). Driving is on the right, as in the United States and Europe. Parking is an additional challenge. There are two gas stations on the island, one near the airport and one in Lorient. They aren't open after 5 pm or on Sunday, and pumps at the station near the airport accept chip-and-pin credit cards (almost all U.S. credit cards now have the required chip). Considering the short distances, a full tank should last most of a week.

Car Rentals: You must have a valid driver's license and be 25 or older to rent, and in high season there may be a three-day minimum. During peak periods, such as Christmas week and February, arrange for your car rental ahead of time. Rental agencies operate out of Gustaf III Airport, and some will bring cars to your hotel. Alternately, when you make your hotel reservation, ask if the hotel has its own cars available to rent; some hotels provide 24-hour emergency road service—something most rental companies don't. A tiny but powerful Smart car is a blast to buzz around in, and also a lot easier to park than larger cars. Expect to pay at least $55 per day. For a green alternative, consider rental of an electric car. They're available for about $85 per day.

Contacts

Avis. 0590/27–66–30; www.avis-sbh.com.

Budget. 0590/27–66–30; www.st-barths.com/budget.

Cool Rental. Anse des Flamands, n/a St. Barthélemy. 0590/27–52–58; www.cool-rental.com.

Europcar. 0590/29--41--86; www.europcar-stbarth.com.

Gumbs. 0590/27–75–32; www.gumbs-car-rental.com.

Gust Smart of St-Barth. 0690/41–66–72.

Hertz. 0590/52–34–03; www.hertzstbarth.com.

Turbé. 0590/27–71–42; www.turbe-car-rental.com.

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