St. Lucia holidays

Experience St. Lucia

Best Places to Visit

The Sulphur Springs to the south of Soufriere sound dramatic and are among the island's main attractions. Hot water naturally flows into a pool that is open to public access so that you can swim to your heart's content. There is an entry fee, of course, and visitors should note that this is higher if you want to enter the water than if you just want to be allowed into the complex. It is also typically higher for tourists than for residents, at a premium of about four times the price.

Head to Gros Islet and you find yourself in one of St Lucia's newest towns, having recently been promoted from its previous village status. It may seem like nothing is located in Gros Islet, but instead that everything is very close by in the surrounding area, so be sure to check out the nearby beaches and marinas as part of your excursion. On the other hand, every Friday night the streets are closed to traffic for a street party to take place, with street vendors selling food and the bars open late to serve drinks - a very good reason to start your weekend here!

The charmingly named Cas en Bas is not only satisfying to say out loud, but it is also a satisfyingly unspoilt haven on St Lucia's east coast. Follow the road past Cotton Bay Village until you reach the beach at Cas en Bas. Local amenities are few and far between, with just a kite surfing school and a few restaurants, but that is part of the appeal of this destination. It can feel like you've just lost yourself on your private island paradise - and as the road out to the beach is just dirt in places, you may well be one of few people to keep their confidence and make it all the way.

Inland, St Lucia has rainforests, and while you might not want to trek into these on your own, there are official hiking routes that you can follow for a little extra safety. Importantly, this not only helps you to know where you are going, how long it will take, how to get back to safety and so on, but it can also help to ensure that if you do get lost, there is a better chance of knowing approximately where you are!

Top Landmarks

Gros Piton, the bigger of St Lucia's pair of peaks, can be climbed, and many physically fit visitors to the island embrace this challenge head-on. From a starting point some 600 feet above sea level, you face a relatively arduous two-hour hike, ranging in effort levels from normal to quite demanding, although for anyone in good overall condition, it should be achievable. The summit is at 2,600 feet, or about 800 m, and what goes up must come down - meaning you should leave about an hour and a half to descend again. The good news is that getting to the starting point of the trail is not too challenging, and you can take a local bus service or a taxi to get you there.

Pigeon Island Nature Reserve might not sound like a landmark in the conventional sense, but it has some of the island's oldest buildings, and for this alone it is worth a visit. You should also be able to see across to Martinique too. Among the ruins on Pigeon Island are the remains of military buildings, and these are a testament to how valuable St Lucia was when the British and the French fought bitterly for control of the island. Climb to the top of the fort for great views along the coastline, with panoramic scenery awaiting you to the north-west.

Entertainment

Be prepared to get wet, as many of the island's forms of entertainment are based on its coastline and making use of the ocean. Snorkelling is one way to experience the coast up close and personal, with your mask helping you to see everything more clearly underwater, and your snorkel pipe allowing you to breathe without lifting your head out. If you prefer to go a little deeper and have diving experience, then you can hire scuba gear and go diving at Pigeon Island or in the area between the twin Pitons.

If you want to visit any of the attractions that are popular with residents too, you're likely to be asked to pay extra, even up to about four times as much for your ticket as the locals have to pay for theirs. However, there is one way to get a bit of that value back, and that is when it comes to buying your souvenirs. Look out for duty-free stores, which appeared on St Lucia in response to the cruise ship trade, and you can potentially make a few purchases without having to pay the usual level of tax. However, you may need to show ID that proves you are a visitor, and not a permanent resident of the island - although given the choice, most people would probably opt to stay on St Lucia indefinitely and not worry about the duty-free!

Dining Out

The local St Lucian cuisine is quite simple, healthy and satisfying, with fresh ingredients from the island prepared together in classic recipes. Fish, vegetables and fresh fruit dominate, while stews, curries and jerk dishes are popular too. If you want to try a Roti - a flatbread typically served with curry - then bear in mind that these are usually prepared first thing in the morning. As such, the best time of day to have one is as early as you can bring yourself to take lunch. If you're not sure where to find the best Roti in your area, just ask a local.

On Fridays, barbeques of chicken and pork appear across the island, and the firmly spiced and marinated meat, cooked over coals, packs plenty of flavour. If you're not a fan of the grilled taste, then try fried fish or chicken instead, along with any other traditional dishes you can find served up from street stalls as part of the weekly Friday-night festivities.

Need to know

Language

Unlike many package holiday destinations, St Lucia has its own unique, patois language, a blend of the different cultures that have been represented there over the years. Early Carab and Arawak tongues combined with European influences from France, but British colonisation led to English becoming widely spoken too. This has survived to the present day, meaning UK holidaymakers should find no language barrier to overcome.

Currency

The currency on St Lucia is East Caribbean dollars, but these are not the only cash you can actually spend. The exchange rate with the US dollar is fixed, and if you have some of each currency, you may find one buys you better value than the other in different circumstances. You can exchange sterling at banks for East Caribbean dollars, and there are ATMs where you can withdraw cash directly in the local currency - including at the airport, if you need to get some money on arrival.

Visas

You generally won't need a visa before embarking on all-inclusive holidays to St Lucia, as long as you have no intentions of staying longer than the specified period. You can't work while you are there, and obviously if you do need to stay past the expiry date, the St Lucia Immigration Department will need to give you permission. You will need a valid passport in any case, and you should make sure that this will remain valid for at least six months after you leave St Lucia, to avoid any problems when departing.

Climate

The weather is hot, especially on the beaches, and it's recommended to take light cotton clothing to cover up with so you're not exposed to the sun for too long. There's not much range between summer and winter - from about 30°C to about 28°C - and cotton will dry quite quickly if you get wet, and resists creases nicely in your suitcase. You should dress quite conservatively when leaving the beach and out in the towns too, so again, light cotton clothing is ideal for all kinds of weather conditions and activities.

Main Airports

When arriving on St Lucia, there are two airports and both are possible routes onto the island. The larger of the two is Hewanorra International, adjacent to the town of Vieux Fort, and the air traffic control tower can be seen from the town. Unfortunately, the passenger entrance to the airport site is at the opposite end, some two miles away from the town. That means an uncomfortable walk in hot weather or the prospect of taking a bus from the airport gate - and bear in mind that you may be asked to pay for a second seat if your luggage is large.

Flight Options

George FL Charles Airport, located close to Castries, is an option if you are staying in one of the popular all-inclusive holiday resorts. Again, the distance from the airport to the town is about two miles but is manageable if you are travelling light. The approach to landing at this airport is particularly interesting, as you come in over the water to a runway flanked by hills. While Hewanorra is further from the northern resorts, some visitors to St Lucia opt to land there anyway. They use the journey as a chance to do some sightseeing early in their stay, and this could provide a useful means of looking for inspiration if you are not yet sure what to do with the rest of your visit.

Travel Advice

If your flight home is due to depart from George FL Charles Airport, head there early in the day as the coastal location means you can spend some time on the beach before making the very short journey to the airport terminal in time to catch your flight. If flying to Hewanorra and then transferring to one of the resorts in the north, check your arrival time - it would be best to land in daylight so that you can enjoy the scenery en route to your resort. It's a missed opportunity if you take that road trip in the dark, and it might even be worth considering spending your first night in Vieux Fort if possible so that you can set off in the morning and drive north in daylight.

Other Transport Options

Flying is by far the easiest way to get to St Lucia. If you’re travelling from a neighbouring island, however, there’s nothing like crossing the crystal clear ocean by boat.

Getting Around

The more independent you are, the better the value for money. That is to say, if you allow your hotel to arrange a taxi or tour for you, it will likely end up being the most expensive option. If you approach taxi drivers yourself and ask them for a price to take you to one or more specific locations, it should be significantly lower and you can find the best price.To keep costs even lower, look into hire car options - if you want to explore, then these can be good value for money.

Car

For the best value and chance to explore, rent a car and drive yourself around St Lucia. There are two main highways that circle the island, so you can access some of the more scenic areas (especially from the west coast road). There are a variety of car rental companies that you can choose from at the airport when you arrive.

Bus

An affordable option is to catch one of the small local buses or 'transports', with capacity usually for about ten people. These have a party atmosphere and are often decorated quite distinctively inside, with country music or Caribbean sounds playing throughout the journey. At least once during your stay, catch a water taxi. The asking price for these can be a little high, but it's possible to haggle, and the experience of sailing from your departure point to your destination is not one you will forget in a hurry.

ST. LUCIA`S WEATHER TODAY

Mostly cloudy °C

AVERAGE TEMPERATURE (°C)

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  • 28

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  • 28

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  • 29

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  • 30

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  • 30

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  • 30

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  • 30

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  • 29

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  • 28

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MONTHS

AVERAGE RAINFALL (mm)

  • 129

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  • 98

    F

  • 88

    M

  • 100

    A

  • 148

    M

  • 181

    J

  • 212

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  • 260

    A

  • 251

    S

  • 261

    O

  • 314

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  • 173

    D

MONTHS

MAP

FACTS

  1. St Lucia is also often seen spelt as 'Saint Lucia', and this helps to distinguish it from the town of St Lucia in South Africa.
  2. The twin peaks of Saint Lucia, Gros Piton and Petit Piton, are considered one of the scenic natural wonders of the Caribbean, with their asymmetric cone shapes reaching toward the blue skies.
  3. Saint Lucia is not thought to have been occupied until after biblical times - its first inhabitants likely arrived from South America between the third and fifth centuries AD.

FACTS

  1. St Lucia is also often seen spelt as 'Saint Lucia', and this helps to distinguish it from the town of St Lucia in South Africa.
  2. The twin peaks of Saint Lucia, Gros Piton and Petit Piton, are considered one of the scenic natural wonders of the Caribbean, with their asymmetric cone shapes reaching toward the blue skies.
  3. Saint Lucia is not thought to have been occupied until after biblical times - its first inhabitants likely arrived from South America between the third and fifth centuries AD.

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