Saint Lucia


Overview

St Lucia is the stereotypical picture-perfect Caribbean getaway, with a fantastic mix of golden sands, sheltered coral reefs and lush jungles.

This small paradise isle isn’t as developed as some of its Caribbean neighbours, and has a low-key, happy-go-lucky feel.

St Lucia is also a bit of a cultural mix, having alternated between French and British rule 14 times since 1650. You'll find French architecture and place-names all around the island, while the official language is English.

Visit St Lucia for a relaxed, informal and friendly atmosphere. Open markets cluster in authentic villages and, every weekend, locals party in the streets like there's no tomorrow. Chill out in a hammock with a view of turquoise waters, trek up into the mountains (the hike up the Pitons is one of the region’s best) or delve into the jungles in search of the protected St Lucian parrot.

Wanderlust recommends

  1. ‘Jump Up’ on a Friday night – Every Friday, St Lucians grab a beer, pump up the reggae and let down their hair at Gros Islet. Be prepared to dance into the small hours, eat too much barbecued food and drink too much rum.
  2. Snorkel around the Pitons – Instead of hiking St Lucia's green mountains, snorkel below them, to find reefs and fish all colours of the rainbow.
  3. Indulge at Anse la Raye's fish fry – Every Friday, from 9pm to midnight, a crowd of foodies gathers at this pretty town on St Lucia’s west coast to devour the fresh fish of the day; sit down at the large tables and eat with the locals.
  4. Watch turtles – Grab a guide and head to Grande Anse beach, where leatherback turtles come to lay their eggs from March to July. The beach is beautifully secluded, though bathing is not advised as the sea is often rough.
  5. Shop at Castries Central Market – Visit the rambling, chaotic and noisy market in island capital Castries. You can buy anything here, from bargain souvenirs to cheap eats.

Wanderlust tips

While fun is the main aim of Friday nights on St Lucia, leave your valuables at home. Also, female travellers should expect unwanted attention. Crime levels are low and the hassle is more irritating than threatening, but keep your wits about you.

Further Reading

Saint Lucia – Vital Statistics

  • Capital of Saint Lucia: Castries
  • Population of Saint Lucia: 161,000
  • Languages in Saint Lucia: English, French patois, Creole
  • Time in Saint Lucia: GMT -4
  • International dialling code in Saint Lucia: +758
  • Voltage in Saint Lucia: 240V 50Hz
  • Visa information for Saint Lucia: Visa information
  • Money in Saint Lucia: East Caribbean dollar (EC$) US Dollars are often used and ATMs are available. Credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted.
  • Saint Lucia travel advice: Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Saint Lucia tourist board: Saint Lucia

 

When to go to St Lucia

The dry winter season (November to May) is busiest; December to March tends to be the driest period. June-October is hurricane season – expect more rain and possibly some storms. Temperatures are usually hot all year in St Lucia, even if there is the occasional wet day.

St Lucia international airport

Hewanorra International Airport (UVF), near Vieux Fort

Getting around in St Lucia

Local buses will get you around most of St Lucia. Hotels and tour operators can recommend taxis if you need them.

If hiring a car on St Lucia you need to buy a temporary driving licence from the airport/car rental office. Roads in mountain areas are dotted with potholes – be careful. Driving is on the left; remember to wear a seatbelt. The speed limit is no more than 30mph.

St Lucia accommodation

St Lucia’s big tourist hotels are mainly aimed at the luxury client, with high prices and top-notch restaurants.

Outside of the main tourist spots you'll find inexpensive, no-frills guesthouses in authentic coastal villages.

Food & drink in St Lucia

St Lucia has everything from high-end, gourmet restaurants to markets and local snack-shacks. Seafood is sold everywhere on the island, and is delicious. Creole-style food is also popular.

Get into the Caribbean spirit with fresh coconut milk straight from the coconut. Rum is the local tipple of choice: straight up, on the rocks, mixed into a cocktail…  The island even has its own distillery.

St Lucia shandy is also worth a sip, an oddly refreshing mix of beer and ginger ale.

Health & safety in St Lucia

Wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water; tap water in St Lucia is generally safe.

Dengue fever is not uncommon – take precautions against mosquito bites.

The manchineel trees, which line most of the coastline, should be treated with caution – both the fruit and sap are poisonous.