- For other places with the same name, see Saint Lucia (disambiguation).
|Government||Westminster-style parliamentary democracy|
|Currency||East Caribbean dollar (XCD)|
|Population||166,312 (July 2006 est.)|
|Language||English (official), French patois|
|Religion||Roman Catholic 90%, Protestant 7%, Anglican 3%|
|Electricity||240V, 50Hz (UK plug)|
|Time Zone||UTC -4|
Saint Lucia is a British Commonwealth country that is an island in the Caribbean, off the coast of Central America. It lies between the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean, north of Trinidad and Tobago.
The twin Pitons (Gros Piton and Petit Piton) are striking cone-shaped peaks south of Soufriere that are one of the scenic natural highlights of the Caribbean.
Tourism is vital to Saint Lucia's economy. Its economic importance is expected to continue to increase as the market for bananas becomes more competitive. Tourism tends to be more substantial during the dry season (January to April). Saint Lucia tends to be popular due to its tropical weather and scenery and its numerous beaches and resorts.
Other tourist attractions include a drive-in volcano, Sulphur Springs (at Soufrière), the Botanical Gardens, the Majestic twin Peaks "The Pitons", A world heritage site, the rain forests, and Pigeon Island National Park, which is home to Fort Rodney, an old British military base.
Saint Lucia's first known inhabitants were Arawaks, believed to have come from northern South America around 200-400CE. Numerous archaeological sites on the island have produced specimens of the Arawak's' well-developed pottery. Caribs gradually replaced Arawaks during the period from 800 to 1000CE.
Europeans first landed on the island in either 1492 or 1502 during Spain's early exploration of the Caribbean. The British failed in their first attempts at colonisation in the early 17th century. The island was first settled by the French, who signed a treaty with the local Caribs in 1660. Like the British and Dutch, the French began to develop the island for the cultivation of sugar cane on extensive plantations.
Caribbean conditions were hard, and many slaves died before they lived long enough to have children. The French (and later British) continued to import slaves until the latter nation abolished the trade, and then the legal institution. By that time, people of ethnic African descent greatly outnumbered those of ethnic European background.
Thereafter Saint Lucia was much contested by the two European powers until the British secured it in 1814. It was part of the British Windward Islands colony. It joined the West Indies Federation (1958–62) when the colony was dissolved. In 1967, Saint Lucia became one of the six members of the West Indies Associated States, with internal self-government. In 1979 it gained full independence.
Tropical, moderated by northeast trade winds; dry season from January to April, rainy season from May to August; Experiences hurricanes.
Saint Lucia is volcanic and mountainous with some broad, fertile valleys. The highest point is Mount Gimie at 950m (3117 ft)
Citizens of the following countries do not need visas: Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark (includes Faeroe Islands and Greenland), Dominica, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, South Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, and Zambia.
- The Dutch municipalities of Bonaire, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and the Dutch constituent countries of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Marteen
- The French overseas collectivities of French Polynesia and Saint Martin
- The French overseas regions of French Guiana, Guadelope, and Martinique
- The British Overseas Territories of Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Saint Helena, and the Turks and Caicos Islands
- All three British Crown Dependencies
- Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
If your nationality is not mentioned anywhere above, you will need to apply for a visa. As of the moment, citizens of Haiti do need visas but this is temporary.
Most nationalities pay XCD50 for a single-entry tourist visa. It lasts 6 weeks, and extensions can sometimes be made at Saint Lucia's immigration department.
You have must a completed application form, passport, 1 passport-size photo, funds to cover your stay, the XCD50 fee, and an travel ticket for leaving Saint Lucia to get the visa.
Everyone will need a passport except citizens of countries in the OECS. For stays of 6 months or less, citizens of Canada or the USA can enter with any type of national ID card and proof of an onward ticket.
St. Lucia has two airports,
- George FL Charles Airport (SLU), which is near Castries.
- Hewanorra International (UVF), which is near Vieux Fort. This airport is immediately next to the town of Vieux Fort. From the town, it's easy to think that it's just a few minutes walk to the airport terminal. Alas, although the control tower is easily visible from the town, the actual terminal entrance is located about 2 miles from the town centre. That entrance is located on the eastern coast road, ie, the road that the buses take to get to Castries. The airport entrance is not on the road that goes up to Soufriere. So, if you're walking, prepare yourself for about a 2 mile walk. That's not so bad, unless it's really hot. A bus can drop you right at the airport terminal entrance, if you're so inclined. If your luggage takes up a seat, you'll have to pay for that seat.
- George FL Charles Airport is closer to many of the all-inclusive resorts, has a modest terminal and runway able to easily support inter-island commercial flights. For less-experienced pilots in high-performance aircraft, the over-water approach and hills on both sides of runway can seem a bit harrowing, but prevailing winds are usually favourable. The airport is right next to Vigie beach, so it's possible to top up your sun tan while you wait for your flight. The terminal is about two miles from downtown Castries, so it is walkable if you do not have much luggage.
- Hewanorra is larger, but can be an 1 hour by taxi from most of the major resorts in the north. However, the journey north is a good way to see the island except if you arrive at night.
More information on both airports can be found on the official website for the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority
Ferries to and from neighbouring islands are available, if rather expensive.
Channel Shuttles Inc. operate a slightly cheaper ferry service (XCD235 including departure tax) to Martinique operating from Castries at 10:00 on Wednesday and 15:00 on Thursdays. They can be contacted on 7139701/4518161 or their office can be found in the ferry terminal just outside of Castries.
Cruise ships (usually one or two at a time) are frequent visitors to the small, picturesque harbour. An open air mall abuts the main pier and offers "duty free" shops. See "Buy" below.
Catamaran rides from Soufriere to Rodney Bay are also offered through a local tour company (to be updated).
The main way for tourists to get around St. Lucia is by taxi, either arranged by the hotel, taxi agency or individual operators. The tours arranged by resorts are usually the most expensive way to travel but might offer food and drink. Using a local taxi operator to plan your own adventure will be much more affordable. Your hotel staff should provide you with a number of a taxi agency or operator that they use regularly. The prices are generally fixed but you can shop around to get the best rate if given several numbers. Many taxi drivers that run from the resorts to the marketplaces will offer tours of the island for around $145 per van load. Each van will hold between 6 and 12 people.
For the budget travellers or the more adventurous tourists, local buses provide a cheap and fun way of getting around. They are small vans which hold around 10-14 people and vary in quality. They run irregularly, but frequently from rural towns to urban centres, (i.e. Soufriere to Castries, Soufriere to Vieux Fort, Vieux Fort to Castries), each day most travelling to Castries in the morning and returning to Soufriere late afternoon. They are very affordable and provide a unique experience each time; the vehicle operators often decorate the interiors and play their own music, either a mix of Caribbean flavours or country. If you want to try and take a transport discuss your route and travel time with one of the local staff familiar with the bus system. Many of them likely take a transport to and from work. Further information: click here.
Water taxis are a main source of income for many locals and can be a much quicker, convenient and picturesque method of travelling short distances to private beaches or coastal towns. Many water taxi operators in the Town of Soufriere can be found at the jetty. The rates of these drivers are a little high and can be bargained down. There are a few taxi owners who regularly play dominoes and sell drinks near the Hummingbird Hotel and Soufriere beach. They can offer a much cheaper rate. From Soufriere, you can take a water taxi to Anse Chastenet and Jalousie Beaches.
A helicopter taxi can be taken from Hewannora airport to Vigie airport and is a quick and spectacular way to get to the resorts on the Northern end of the island.
Renting a car is also possible at rates similar to those found in the United States or Canada. Driving is on the left-hand side and drivers require a permit (USD12 for one day, USD22 for 3 months).
- All St. Lucia - Offers a range of services from Airport and St. Lucia Transfers to St. Lucia Tours and Excursions.
- Windward Islands  - Windward Islands, the yacht charter company, can take care of all charter requirements, from bareboat to crewed in St Lucia (starting Rodney Bay and Marigot Bay), Martinique and St Vincent. Operating from 8 offices (USA, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Caribbean, Monaco).
- English (official), French patois
Virtually all residents will be able to converse with travellers in English.
- The Sulphur Springs - just south of Soufriere, these hot springs are one of the main attractions on the island. There is a pool that the hot water runs through, so make sure to take your swimming trunks and go for a dip! There are various entrance prices, depending on whether or you want to actually go into the baths themselves or if you just want to go on a tour. Plus, Saint Lucia has a dual pricing discrimination policy, and non Saint Lucians are required to pay about 4 times what the locals pay.
- Rainforest hikes - there are several official hiking routes on the island. The Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries site has links to information about the ones they support.
- Climbing the Gros Piton is an achievable goal for most people. The trailhead begins at an elevation of about 600 feet (c. 180m) above sea level and requires about two hours of moderate to strenuous hiking to reach the summit of about 2600 feet (c. 800m) above sea level. A further 1-and-a-half hours are needed to descend. Guides are required and entrance costs USD30. Taxis or local buses can be used to reach the trail head.
- Snorkelling is popular and a number of beaches are suitable.
- SCUBA diving - done at Pigeon Island, one of the island's Historical Landmarks, as well as between The Pitons, a World Heritage Site. tel. +1 758 484 3346 / +1 758 285 7354.
Castries market is a good place to buy gifts as is the JQ Shopping Mall in Rodney Bay. There is also La Place Carenage, a duty free and gift and souvenir outlet located in the main harbour of Castries. There you will find fine jewellery arts and crafts, ideal for gifts.
Supermarkets have quite good prices on rums produced or bottled on the island, e.g., Elements 8, Admiral Rodney, and especially Chairman's Reserve.
Visits by cruise ships over the years have generated a duty free mall (at dockside, Point Seraphine, Castries) with jewellery, souvenirs, art, liquor/rums and other offerings typical for cruise shoppers.
You may also find lower, "duty-Free" prices available across the island in strip malls and resorts. You may need identification as a visitor to qualify for duty-free treatment.
St Lucian food consists mainly of fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and a variety of curry, jerk, rice and stewed dishes. The coal pot is a delicious stew, traditional to native carib cultures and can be found at many local restaurants in Castries, Soufriere and Vieux-Fort. Vegetarian and meat rotis can be found at a number of small local restaurants. Ask any local for the best roti shop and he or she will tell you how to get there. Rotis are usually made fresh in the morning so, if eating a spicy early lunch is of interest, it's highly recommended. Local cuisine is prepared throughout the island so, depending on where you are staying, ask a local if he or she knows someone/somewhere that prepares local food and you will be sure to be welcomed somewhere nearby. Many rum shacks in rural towns also prepare food if given advanced notice. Fish, veggie, chicken and goat meals are very common and usually come with a number of sides including salad, plantain, breadfruit, macaroni, and rice prepared a number of different ways.
For a quick snack, barbeques with chicken and pork can be found in any community on a Friday night. The food is well marinated and spiced. Soak up the sauce with a barbequed or fried bake. Fried chicken and fish can also be found, and are quite delicious.
There are weekly parties and festivals held in various communities throughout the island where you can also sample a range of local foods, including sea food, barbequed meats, salads and drinks. These festivals are filled with dancing, drinks, food and music. Let your hair down, try some cuisine and lime it up. Be sure to ask what is in the pots before you sample the food. For those environmentally conscious, blackfish is porpoise.
Friday night: Anse La Raye "Seafood Friday"
Friday night:Gros Islet Jump-up
Every Second Saturday: Canaries Creole Pot
Saturday: Dennery (East coast) Fish Fry
Rodney Bay is full of people from all over the world and the restaurants reflect the diversity. You can find a variety of cuisines, from East Indian to Italian including local dishes of course, in a small area.
The legal drinking/purchasing age of alcoholic beverages is 18. Laws regarding alcoholic beverages are not strict, as there are no severe penalties for underage drinking.
St. Lucia has fantastic Rum Punch. It's hard to go wrong. Highly recommended:
- Chairman's Reserve (cask-aged dark rum)
- Crystal Lime (clear rum infused with lime)
- Admiral Rodney
- Bounty Rum
Most bars will have both, even at the smaller resorts.
In addition to rums, Piton Lager beer is brewed and bottled on the island and is quite good (although it has a slightly higher alcohol content than most American beers). It's usually offered in eight ounce bottles, often for $1 US.
Also seen in coolers: Heineken, Champagne, Wine, Water, Coke (usually USD1)
St. Lucia is home to a huge number of resort hotels as well as small boutique hotels and self-catering villas, condos, and vacation apartments.
- SunWest Villas Rodney Bay, Gros Islet. . An ideal location, in the Rodney Bay area, allows you the luxury of a tranquil retreat or the alternative to be adventurous and explore the island’s renown hot spots.
- Oceanview Hotel Rodney Bay, Gros Islet. . Small hotel resort with 37 rooms and a spa.
- Villa Beach Cottages Castries.  Self-catering beachfront villas.
- The Inn On The Bay Marigot Bay.  A romantic 5-room Hotel overlooking beautiful Marigot Bay.
- Jade Mountain Castries.  One of the top hotels in the world
- Oasis Marigot, 177 Seaview Avenue (Marigot Bay), ☎ +1-800-263-4202, . checkin: 16:00; checkout: 11:00. Oasis Marigot is a vacation community nestled on the hillside overlooking Marigot Beach, St. Lucia. It offers different types of accommodations to fit any travel budget. All units enjoy a spectacular view of the most beautiful bay in the Caribbean. Active vacationers who want a unique experience, such as island hopping on a 42-foot yacht, diving or sailing, will find it at Oasis Marigot. From $159. edit
- Mago Hotel, Soufriere. Eco-Hotel, overlooking the bay, set amongst the tropical forest edit
- The Jalousie Plantation, Forbidden Beach Soufriere, ☎ +1 758 456-8000, . Embraced by St Lucia’s majestic Pitons. Luxurious private Caribbean beach resort. edit
- Harbour Lights inn, Castries, City Gate, ☎ +1 758-452-3506. A cheap guest house just next to the Vigi airport. room include showers and toilet and A/C rooms are available for extra money. has wifi Sgl USD33, dbl USD44 no air-con. edit
- Bay Gardens Beach Resort and Spa, Rodney Bay, Gros Islet, ☎ +1 758-457-8500, . checkin: 4pm; checkout: 11am. 4 Star Caribbean Beach Resort located on the famous Reduit Beach in Rodney Bay Village. edit
- Bay Gardens Hotel, Rodney Bay, Gros Islet, ☎ +1 758-457-8000, . checkin: 2pm; checkout: 11am. Medium sized 3 star property located in Rodney Bay Village, 5 minutes away from sister property Bay Gardens Beach Resort. Perfect for business travel. From $70. edit
- Bay Gardens Inn, Rodney Bay, Gros Islet, ☎ +1 758-452-8200, . checkin: 2pm; checkout: 11am. Voted Best Small Hotel in the Caribbean by Virgin Holidays, this cozy, intimate 3 star hotel in Rodney Bay Village is minutes away from Reduit Beach. From $66. edit
- Cap Maison, Smugglers Cove Drive, ☎ +1 758 457 8670, . Designed in an elegant Spanish Caribbean style, Cap Maison is a stylish boutique resort offering a personalised and sophisticated Caribbean experience. edit
- Royal by Rex Resorts, Castries, ☎ USA, Canada, South America +1 305-471-6170 or UK, Europe & Rest of World +44 20 8741 5333, . A peaceful St Lucia resort providing an elegant blend of privacy and sophistication in a fabulous setting. edit
- NATURE'S PARADISE @ Marigot Bay, 1 Marigot Heights, ☎ +1 758-458-3550, . Avocado & Banana Cottages are located on a quiet ridge high above the sea at Marigot Bay. The spectacular view of the Caribbean Sea creates the mood. Marigot Bay is what you have in mind when you think “Tropical Paradise”. edit
- Bannaquit House, (Located in the hills north of Soufriere), ☎ +44 207 5814643, . Bannaquit House is a privately owned 7 bedroom villa available for rent, nestled on the hillside above the famous Anse Chastenet Beach. With unparelled views of the Piton mountains and exposure to the delights of the Caribbean sea, Bananaquit offers an experience like no other. edit
- La Haut Resort, West Coast Road, Soufriere, ☎ 1 758 459 7008. checkin: 2 pm; checkout: 12 pm. La Haut or Le Haut literally means “the height” in Patois, a French dialect that is commonly spoken by St. Lucians. La Haut sits on a hill overlooking Soufriere, one of the oldest towns in St Lucia. edit
- Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort, Labrelotte Bay, Castries, ☎ 1 758 456 9000, . checkin: 3 pm; checkout: 11 am. The legendary Windjammer Landing is St. Lucia's premier independent villa resort featuring five restaurants, complimentary kid's club and accommodations that range from cozy cottages for two to luxuriously appointed four and five bedroom villas. edit
- Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina, Marigot Bay, ☎ 1 758 458 5300, . A luxury St. Lucia resort overlooking Marigot Bay with a world-renowned marina. Accommodations and amenities include guest room and suites, as well as restaurants and a spa. This luxury hotel also offers wedding venues and conference facilities. edit
- Brigand Hill, Anse Galet (40 minute south of Castries). Luxury 5 bedroom villa in the heart of the west coast of St Lucia. Villa is situated halfway between Castries and Soufriere creating the perfect place to explore the island. Sleeps 10 across 5 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms w/ pool. Highly popular. varies on season. edit
The island has a rather turbulent history. It's worth taking a "Jungle Safari" around the rainforests, as this also includes much information on the island itself.
There is a marine sanctuary (national park) on one side of the island by the Anse Chastenet resort. Great spot to learn about local marine life & ecology.
St Lucia is as safe as any other country. However you should exercise the same caution as you would at home. Pickpockets are in every country - just be careful in crowded areas.
Use of camouflage bags is illegal in Saint Lucia if you're not military personnel; if you show up at the airport with one, it will be confiscated.
Street vendors are decidedly less aggressive than most Caribbean nations. A simple "no thank you" is sufficient.
Some of the locals will offer gifts when you stop however don't be naive - they expect something in return, so either refuse the gift in the first place or be prepared to pay a dollar or 2 for the proffered "gift". These people are very poor and unemployment is high so tourists are often the sole means they have to make some money.
Driving can be fun, but you should be a confident driver as driving is on the left, the roadways can be narrow, steep and in rough condition. A 4x4 or similar high-clearance vehicle is necessary if you decide to venture into the mountains. There's only one main roadway so it is difficult to get lost, but should it happen the locals will help you find your way.
Sexual acts between men are illegal and carry a custodial sentence of up to 10 years, though it is not known how strictly this is enforced. Gay travellers should be safer here than in, for example, Jamaica. However caution is advised and public displays of affection may be met with hostility. There is no law which explicitly forbids lesbianism.
This island is a series of hills and mountains. The main west coast roadway is the most hair-raising series of winding hair pin turns you have ever seen, particularly between Castries and Soufriere. The east coast roadway is more direct but it still takes approximately 90 minutes to drive from the airport in Hewannora (UVF) to Castries and Gros Islet in the north. In preparation for the shuttle, people who are staying in the north and are prone to motion sickness, should bring Dramamine and take it immediately upon arrival at Hewannora Airport.
Tap water is safe to drink, however bottled water is widely available for those who desire it.
- All beaches on St. Lucia are open to the public.
- Nude sunbathing is illegal in St. Lucia.
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