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.
Castries - Capital
Soufriere - Old Capital
The Sulfur 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!
Pidgeon Island nature reserve - just north of Gros Islet, the park has some of the oldest buildings on St.Lucia and affords views across to Martinique.
Tropical, moderated by northeast trade winds; dry season from January to April, rainy season from May to August; Experiences hurricanes.
Volcanic and mountainous with some broad, fertile valleys; Natural hazards : volcanic activity.
The island, with its fine natural harbor at Castries, was contested between England and France throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries (changing possession 14 times); it was finally ceded to the UK in 1814. Self-government was granted in 1967 and independence in 1979.
St. Lucia has two airports,
George FL Charles Airport (SLU), which is near Castries.
Hewanorra International (UVF), which is near Vieux Fort.
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 favorable. The airport is right next to Vigie beach, so it's possible to top up your sun tan while you wait for your flight.
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.
Ferries to and from neighbouring islands are available, if rather expensive.
Channel Shuttles Inc. operate a slightly cheaper ferry service (235 ECD 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 harbor. 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 centers, (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.
Water taxis are a main source of income for many locals and can be a much quicker, convenient and picturesque method of traveling 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.
Castries market is a good place to buy gifts as is the JQ Shopping Mall in Rodney Bay. The supermarkets have quite good prices on rums produced or bottled on the island. An absolute must try rum is Elements 8, produced in both a Crystal and Gold variety and is one of the smoothest rums being manufactured in the world today.
Visits by cruise ships over the years have generated a duty free mall (at dockside, Point Seraphine, Castries) with jewelry, souvenir, art, liquor and other stores typical for cruise shoppers. Their friendly staffs offer many decent buys.
Ensure that you also take advantage of lower prices by getting Duty-Free goods that are widely available all over the island in major retail units.
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 leading up to arts and crafts, ideal for gifts.
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 delicous 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 rumshacks 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, bar-b-ques 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, bar-b-qued 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: Rodney Bay Jump-up
Every Second Saturday: Castries Coal Pot
Wednesday: 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.
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)
Most bars will have both, even at the smaller resorts.
In addition to fantastic rum, Piton Lager beer is is brewed and bottled on the island and is very good (although it seems to have a higher alcohol content than most American beers...be warned!). If you're a beer drinker, you must have one. If you're not at a resort that offers it, check in coolers at the marketplaces - you'll likely find it in there for $1 US.
Also spotted in the coolers: Heineken, Champagne, Wine, Water, Coke (All for $1 US)
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.
Oasis Marigot , 1-800-263-4202, 177 Seaview Avenue, Marigot Bay, 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.
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.
Recently there have been a series of brutal midnight attacks on foreign hotel guests in their rooms. These attacks include rape and robbery. The police are ineffective. See the "Crime" section of the US State Department's web page on St. Lucia for more info: . More information is available on the St. Lucia website.
Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (includes Special Service Unit and Coast Guard)
Castries Central Market is a popular place for pickpockets. Heed care.
Street vendors can be very forceful in their approach, much more than on some of the other Caribbean islands. If necessary, be firm in your refusal if you do not want to buy from them. Be aware that every tour stop and scenic overlook on the island has several of these street vendors. Be careful and watch yourself.
Vendors in canoes, selling shells and cheap jewelry, are even more aggressive in their approach. If your catamaran tour stops at a beach, the canoe vendors will approach the boat and hang onto the side of the boat, lurking there and waiting for sales the entire time until the catamaran leaves.
Always refuse anything that a person wants to "give" to you, even if you ask the price and they say that you can just have the item. They will only ask you to pay them for the item soon afterward and will be aggressive and yell at you and/or the tour operator until they collect the money.
Driving can be tough with steep winding hills dotted with potholes. Less intrepid visitors may prefer taxis.
This island is a series of hills and mountains. The driving is the most hair-raising series of winding hair pin turns you will ever see might have an effect on you if you above the age of 60. Think of driving up and down Lombard Street in San Francisco for an hour or so. Needless to say if you are at all prone to motion sickness, bring the Dramamine. If you fly into the big airport and stay in Castries, as most tourists do, take your pills the minute that you clear customs. It is probably the biggest health risk that you face in St. Lucia(talking to tourist who have sicknesses).
All beaches on St. Lucia are open to the public.
Nude sunbathing is illegal in St. Lucia.
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|Area||616 sq km|
|Electricity||240V/50Hz (United Kingdom plug)|
|Government||Westminster-style parliamentary democracy|
|Population||166,312 (July 2006 est.)|
|Religion||Roman Catholic 90%, Protestant 7%, Anglican 3%|