At once exotic and soothing, this charming island invites you to get acquainted with its warm, friendly people, picturesque fishing villages, and awesome natural beauty.
Dramatic coastlines are enhanced by coral reefs and isolated beaches of both white and black sand. The iconic, awe-inspiring Twin Pitons soar 2,400 feet up from the southwest shore, sheltering a lush interior rainforest with a profusion of giant ferns, wild orchids, and the beautiful plumage of rare tropical birds. At once exotic and intoxicating, the island’s natural wonders are matched by the cultural magnetism of quaint fishing villages, flavorful Caribbean cuisine, and exciting traditional events.
The capital of Castries, on the island’s northwestern tip, is a hot spot of activity, with Victorian buildings, open-air markets, and an entertaining nightlife. Elsewhere, explorers find banana and cocoa plantations, the famed La Soufrière volcano, aged fortresses, and warm, inviting people proud of their rich heritage.
There are excellent facilities for most leisure interests, including yachting, tennis, and golf. Scuba divers say that St. Lucia ranks high in the Caribbean, with sites like Anse Chastanet Reef, with its shallow reefs, deep walls, and plethora of sea creatures packing the corals. Not into scuba diving? There’s also windsurfing, sailing, deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, water-skiing, parasailing, and good old-fashioned swimming!
Where is St Lucia?
St Lucia is an island country located in the Caribbean between Dominica and Barbados.
History of St Lucia
Rich in cultural history and natural beauty, St. Lucia offers a touch of everything you want in a Caribbean vacation. Nestled in the chain of islands known as the Lesser Antilles, St. Lucia traces its colorful history to pre-colonial times, yet it has a legacy of over 400 years of European influence. While the country’s economy is mainly agricultural, its natural attributes have made tourism the fastest growing industry.
St Lucia Visa Requirements
Valid passports are required by all nationals for entry into St Lucia except for nationals of Canada and the USA who must only have valid proof of identity and hold return or onward tickets. However, US citizens should be aware of their requirement to have a passport to enter or re-enter the US once they have left.
Visas are not required for entry into St Lucia for stays of up to six weeks for citizens of many countries including Britain, Ireland, Canada, USA, EU and New Zealand. Nationals of Australia do require a visa (which can be purchased on arrival) to enter St Lucia unless they are continuing their journey to next destination by the same aircraft without leaving the airport. A return or onward ticket and proof of adequate means of support are required by all nationals entering St Lucia.
Please be aware that it is illegal to wear camouflage clothing or carry bags made from camouflage material in St Lucia unless you are a member of the military. Any such clothing or bags will be confiscated on arrival.
There is a Departure Tax of XCD54 (East Caribbean Dollar) for all non-residents (XCD35 for residents). This is usually included in the price of the airline ticket but its wise to check this with the airline.
As entry requirements may change from time to time it is strongly advised that you check with the department of foreign affairs or your local consulate or embassy for the current requirements.
St Lucia Travel Health
Recommended vaccinations for travel to St Lucia are Hepatitis A and Tetanus. Depending on the season and region visited vaccinations of Diphtheria, Typhoid, Tuberculosis and Hepatitis B are also sometimes recommended. If travellers (over one year of age) arrive from an area infected by yellow fever a vaccination certificate is required.
Costs of health care in St Lucia are very high and full health insurance is strongly advised. There is a hospital in Castries and in Vieux Fort and there is a clinic in Rodney Bay.
The water is normally chlorinated and relatively safe however it may cause mild abdominal upsets. If unsure, bottled water is readily available. Milk and dairy products are safe for consumption together with local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit and vegetables.
It is recommended to avoid wading or swimming in fresh water as Bilharzia (schistosomiasis) is endemic to St Lucia. St Lucia generally experiences the hurricane season from June to November. Dengue Fever is endemic to Latin America and the Caribbean and can occur throughout the year.
While traveling throughout St Lucia always use common sense and protect yourself and your valuables as like every other place these days the country has its fair share of crime. When driving around the island avoid picking up hitchhikers for your own safety. The use of narcotic drugs is illegal in St Lucia, and their possession or sale can lead to stiff fines or even jail time. Within local communities violent crime can be a problem, including thefts from hotels, yachts or holiday homes as well as muggings.
Most visits to St Lucia are trouble-free but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate international terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, particularly places frequented by tourists.
If traveling on the roads in St Lucia be extremely cautious as the country has an incredibly hilly terrain. Drivers in St Lucia are very aggressive and roads are narrow making the country suitable only for experienced drivers or riders.
In case of emergency call 999 for the police and 911 for an ambulance or fire brigade.
What is St Lucia Local Currency?
The currency for St Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$). Notes are in denominations of EC$100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 and coins are in denominations of EC$1, and 50, 25, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents. US Dollars are also accepted as legal tender.
When exchanging money use US Dollars as these have a better exchange rate. All large shopping centres, restaurants, and hotels accept MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Diners Club and most banks have ATMs.
Traveller’s Cheques are accepted and can be exchanged in banks and most hotels. To avoid additional exchange rate charges use US Dollar travellers cheques.
Banking Hours are generally from Mon-Thurs 0830-1500 and Fri 0830-1700 with some banks at Rodney Bay Marina open Sat 0800-1200.
An 8% tax and 10% service charge are added to the bill at most hotels and restaurants.
What is St Lucia’s Weather?
Throughout most of the year St Lucia experiences a hot, tropical climate tempered by trade winds. Summer is hot with the July temperatures averaging 29°C and winter experiences average high temperatures around 27°C.
With wonderful winter temperatures experienced in St Lucia this is definitely the most popular time of year for tourists to visit especially December to March. The driest period in St Lucia is from December to May and rainfall is greater towards the end of the year from June to November. Hurricane season typically falls between June and October.
Culture of St Lucia
The people of St Lucia are warm, friendly and hospitable. They like to encourage visitors to relax and enjoy their holidays.
When it comes to tipping in St Lucia most hotels and restaurants have already added a 10% service charge. However if the service has been exemplary visitors should feel free to give more. Taxi drivers expect around 10% of the fare.
About 80 percent of St Lucia’s population is Roman Catholic with smaller groups belonging to Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, and Seventh-Day Adventist churches. The East Indians of St Lucia are either Muslim or Hindu.
Casual wear is acceptable whilst on the island with the traditional dress of the madras and foulards generally only worn at festivals such as the Feast of St Rose of Lima in August. Beachwear should not be worn in towns and it is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing. Certain homosexual acts are illegal in St Lucia.
What Languages Are Spoken In St Lucia?
English is the official Language in St Lucia, however islanders often speak a French-Creole patois.
The international Telephone Country code for St Lucia is 758. Mobile Telephone
Coverage is good throughout the island and mobile phones are available to hire.
You can get access to the internet via the Internet kiosk at Pointe Seraphine. There are several other Internet cafes to be found throughout the island.
Airmail to Western Europe generally takes up to one week and Post office hours are: Mon-Fri 0800-1630, Sat 0900-1330.
St Lucia Transport Options
The main airports in St Luia are the George F L Charles (SLU) which is 3km from Castries, and Hewanorra (UVF) which is 67km from Castries. St Lucia is served by many airlines including LIAT. There are helicopter transfers available between George F L Charles and Hewanorra airports. There is a departure tax of EC$54, however children under 12 years of age and passengers in transit (under 24 hours) are exempt from this departure tax.
If travelling around the island by car traffic drives on the left. The road network to all major centres is reasonably good with the main cross-island route running from Vieux Fort in the south of the island to Castries in the north. Roads on this main cross-island route are narrow with mountainous roads that are steep and often have dangerous, unmarked hairpin bends.
Minibus services that connect rural areas with the capital are available on the island. There is a good service from Castries to Gros Islet in the north with buses frequently departing every 30 minutes throughout the day. Many of these services also operate on weekends and holidays.
Hiring a taxi in St Lucia is relatively easy and cheap with usually fixed rates, however, these should always be negotiated before you get in as tourists can be overcharged. Always choose a reputable company when hiring a taxi at night.
Cars can be hired through many hotels across the island as well as in Castries, Soufrière and Vieux Fort. All drivers must present a national driving license or International Driving Permit in order to hire a car and then a local license will be issued by the police or car hire firm for a fee. Seat belts must be worn at all times.
St Lucia Travel Tips
Within local communities violent crime is a problem that sometimes affects tourists. It is wise to always be alert and use common sense to avoid potentially dangerous situations.
It is illegal to wear camouflage clothing or carry bags made from camouflage material in St Lucia unless you are a member of the military. Any such clothing or bags will be confiscated on arrival.
St Lucia Local Food
The food in St Lucia is a combination of West Indian, French and Creole influences. The food generally consists of fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and a variety of curry, jerk, rice and stewed dishes. Fish, vegetarian, chicken and goat meals are also very common and usually accompanied with a number of sides including salad, plantain, breadfruit, macaroni, and rice. There are many restaurants offering a wide range of food in all the major towns.
National specialties include many varieties of seafood, with the local lobster variety, called langouste, a favourite of the locals as well as Salt fish, conch meat (Lambi), fried plantain and green figs.
National drinks include: Caribbean local beer, (including the locally brewed Piton) and Heineken; and Rum, often served in punch and cocktails.
The legal drinking age in St Lucia is 18 years of age
St Lucia Local Timezones
St. Lucia Standard Time is 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (UTC-4). The country does not operate Daylight-Saving Time.
Electricity in St Lucia is 220 volts, 50 cycles AC. Most sockets take 3-pin square plugs however some may take 2-pin round plugs or flat American plugs which are more rare. Adapters are generally available at the hotels.
St Lucia Dutyfree Limits
The following items may be imported into St Lucia without incurring customs duty: 200 cigarettes or 250g tobacco products; 50 cigars; 1l of alcoholic beverage.