St Barth Commuter: Small plane, Short Flight and a Hell of a View
I stepped out on the tarmac in St. Martin, fully expecting to find a small plane waiting for me, but I wasn't prepared for the tiny six-passenger contraption into which I would climb (note: it is safe). The pilot smiled comfortably, putting me and the other passengers at ease as we pulled ourselves into the plane for a flight that would last only 10 minutes or so. He was an old pro: during busy season, he'll make this run up to 17 times a day.
Vincent, our pilot, had to thread two hilltops during his approach, descend over a highway that wasn't terribly far below and land on a short runway that quite literally ended on the beach.
Passing between the hills and floating toward the runway, I could see a windsurfer in the water at 12 o'clock – directly in front of us. Neither he nor the pilot revealed any change in behavior, as if there were a tacit understanding of the ways of aviation on the island.
The plane ran the length of the runway before pulling a U-turn at the end and rumbling up to the terminal. The brief glimpse of the sea afforded during this process made it clear that there was no fence between the runway and the ocean.
In addition to being an affordable alternative for getting to St. Barths – you can book a flight for as little as €100 – St Barth Commuter has the added upside of delivering baggage faster than any other airline I've flown ... though that's pretty easy to pull off when there are only six people on the plane.
Disclosure: Eden Rock picked up the tab for this trip, and it would have been impossible to cover this destination otherwise, given the cost. Nonetheless, my opinions are my own – they're certainly not for sale at any price.