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.
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.
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.
Hewanorra International Airport (UVF), near Vieux Fort
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’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.
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.
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.