Caribbean Travelweb


Guide To St. Lucia

 

Description

Sparkling bays glisten in the sunlight over picturesque sandy coves. Exotic rainforests burst with the vibrant colors of tropical flowers and vegetation. The `Twin Peaks` of the Pitons magnificently rise from the sea. For the explorer in you, trek through an exotic rainforest, take a bike ride along the waters or bask in the abundant natural wonder of the Soufriere area. Largely untouched by time, the island of St. Lucia truly is a vacation you will never forget.

In addition to the wide variety of opportunities to hike, birdwatch, and tour St. Lucia's outstanding natural attractions, the island is replete with a full range of recreational facilities. Visitors may enjoy the leisurely pleasures of touring the island by horse, chartering a yacht for an evening sail or day cruise, or relax with a round of golf amid St. Lucia's entrancing natural beauty. For those who enjoy the thrill of an even more active vacation, there are plenty of places to windsurf, dive, snorkel, water-ski, or play tennis or squash.

Geography

St Lucia is the second-largest of the Windward Islands. It has some of the finest mountain scenery in the West Indies, rich with tropical vegetation. For so small an island, 43km (27 miles) by 23km (14 miles), St Lucia has a great variety of plant and animal life. Orchids and exotic plants of the genus anthurium grow wild in the rainforests and the roadsides are covered with many colourful tropical flowers. Flamboyant trees spread shade and blossom everywhere. Indigenous wildlife includes a species of ground lizard unique to St Lucia, and the agouti and the manicou, two rodents, common throughout the island. The Amazon versicolor parrot is another, though more elusive, inhabitant of the deep interior rainforest. The highest peak is Mount Gimie at 950m (3117ft). Most spectacular are Gros Piton and Petit Piton, ancient, volcanic forest-covered cones which rise out of the sea on the west coast. Soufri (vents in a volcano which exude hydrogen sulphide, steam and other gases) and boiling waterpools can be seen here. The mountains are intersected by short rivers which in some areas form broad fertile valleys. The island has excellent beaches and is surrounded by a clear, warm sea.

Getting There

St. Lucia is served by scheduled international and regional airline services. There are 2 airports: International services from North America and Europe operate to and from Hewanorra International Airport in the South of the island. Regional services (for the most part) operate to and from George Charles Airport in Castries in the northwest of the island. These two airports are about 45 minutes to 1 hour apart so if you are making connections between them, please allow for your transfer time. St. Lucia Helicopters offers a charter transfer service between the two airports, significantly cutting transfer times.

Air service to St. Lucia is offered by Air Caribe, Air Canada, Air Martinique, American Airlines, Delta, British Airways, LIAT, Virgin Atlantic, WestJet.

Flying times from major cities

* 31/2 hours from Miami
* 4 hours from New York
* 5 hours from Toronto
* 8 hours from London

Airport departure tax
There is a Departure Tax of EC $54 or US$ 22 for all passengers over 12 years old leaving the Island.

Airport Transfers
Taxis are readily available from the Hewanorra airport to Castries and the north of the island. Public transport is another option, however you must walk your luggage to the main road.

By sea Caribbean Express operates a hydrofoil service between St. Lucia and Martinique. Cruise ships arrive daily at Port Castries and Soufriere. If you are arriving by in your own boat or by charter boat there are two main moorings available: Rodney Bay Marina and Castries Yacht Centre.

Visitors must carry valid passports. Visas are not required where the visitor is a citizen of the USA or certain Commonwealth countries, or where there is agreement for exemption between the home country and St. Lucia.

Helpful Visitor Information

Getting Around

Auto Rentals
If you enjoy exploring on your own, or just want to take things in your own time why not rent an automobile. There are several reputable rental companies on island. Cars, 4-wheel drive vehicles and scooters can be booked in advance through your travel agent or at the airports, hotels or car rental offices on island. Driving is on the left and the use of seat belts is compulsory. Observe the speed limits and no parking zones.

Drivers License
Visitors to St. Lucia who do not possess an international driving permit must purchase a temporary permit in order to drive in St. Lucia. The permit is good for three months. Permits can be obtained from the immigration department at either airport or at any police department . You must present your drivers license. They are also available at most major car rental compa- nies. International drivers must have their permit stamped at immigration. There is no charge for this.

Taxis
Taxis operate at the two airports; the cruise ports in Castries and at all the major hotels, tourist spots and shopping malls throughout St. Lucia.

Bus Service
Buses serve the north of the Island around Castries and Gros Islet very well and run until around 10.00pm: (longer on Friday night when the weekly "jump-up" takes place at Gros Islet). However, there is no scheduled bus timetable. Car travel via the new West Coast Road from Castries to Soufriere takes about an hour. From Hewanorra Airport to Castries takes around an hour.

Money
A full range of banking and foreign currency services are available at banks on St. Lucia. Cash in local currency can be obtained by credit cards or bank cards through the ATM machines located at most banks. Normal banking hours are from 8: 00 a. m. to 3: 00 p. m. and some banks are open until 5: 00 p. m. on Friday. Banks at the Rodney Bay Marina are also open from 8: 00 a. m. until 12: 00 noon on Saturday.

Shops
Most shops are open from 8:30AM to 12:30PM and 1:30PM to 4:30PM Monday to Friday. The Castries Market is very popular on Saturdays, especially during St. Lucia Jazz and Carnival. Most shops are open Saturdays regularly from 8:30AM to 12:30PM, while the major shopping centers are open in the afternoon as well. With the exception of the marina-based shops, shopping is generally closed on Sundays.

Duty-free shopping is available at the following shopping centers in St. Lucia:
- La Place Carenage, Castries
- Pointe Seraphine, Castries
- J.Q. Mall, Rodney Bay
- Hawanorra Airport Duty-Free

Electricity
220 volts, 50 cycles AC (a few hotels are 110 volts, 60 cycles). Most sockets take 3 pin square plugs (UK standard) but some take 2 pin round plugs or flat American plugs, which are more rare. Adaptors are generally available at the hotels.

Health Information
Immunization is not required unless coming from an infected area within six days of arrival, however Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid are recommended. Drinking water is safe from the tap and bottled mineral/distilled water is also available. There are several pharmacies in Castries, one on the Gros Islet Highway and one in Gablewoods Shopping Mall and in JQ Charles Mall Rodney Bay. Most hotels have "over the counter" medication, such as aspirin and first aid supplies. All hotels have doctors either resident or available on call.

Credit Cards
Major international credit cards are widely accepted at all large shopping centres, restaurants, hotels, etc.

Service Charges & Tax
On hotel and restaurant bills there is a Government tax of 8%. A service charge of 10% is also applicable. In some instances these charges are included in prices quoted, so it is best to clarify. The prices on labels in shops are what you pay.

Tipping
Tipping is not automatically added and is customary at about 10% to 12% of bills. Tips are generally accepted by bell hops in hotels, taxis and other persons providing service.

Telephones
Telephones and Mobile Phones are operated by Cable & Wireless, AT&T Wireless and Digicel St. Lucia. Many card and coin public phone boxes are available around the island. Cards can be purchased at Cable & Wireless offices, St. Lucia Tourist Board Information Centres and many other outlets including Airports, Rodney Bay Marina etc. Cellular phones are available for rent from the Cable and Wireless Caribbean Cellular offices at the Gablewoods Mall, Rodney Bay and the Castries Waterfront.

Nightlife
Most hotels and resorts offer some form of entertainment throughout the week - including local live bands and cultural performances. There are also a number of bar and restaurants all over the island that are fun spots at night.

Shopping
Most shops are open from 8:30AM to 12:30PM and 1:30PM to 4:30PM Monday to Friday. The Castries Market is very popular on Saturdays, especially during St. Lucia Jazz and Carnival. Most shops are open Saturdays regularly from 8:30AM to 12:30PM, while the major shopping centers are open in the afternoon as well. With the exception of the marina-based shops, shopping is generally closed on Sundays.

Duty-free shopping is available at the following shopping centers in St. Lucia:
- La Place Carenage, Castries
- Pointe Seraphine, Castries
- J.Q. Mall, Rodney Bay
- Hawanorra Airport Duty-Free

Dining
There are large number of restaurants, cafes and fast food eateries on the island. The cuisine of St. Lucia is largely a combination of International and Creole utilizing fresh local produce. There are also specialty restaurants such as French, Italian, Pizza, Indian and Steakhouses. And of course as one would expect almost every restaurant offers fish and seafood dishes.

Visitor Activities and Attractions

Golf
St. Lucia offers the professional, amateur or novice golfer relaxation and challenges on picturesque couses.
St. Lucia Golf & Country Club - 18 Holes, 9 Holes/Par 3, Cart Rentals, Restaurant
Jalousie Hilton Resort & Spa - 9 Holes/Par 3
Sandals Regency Golf Resort & Spa at La Toc - 18 Holes, 9 Holes/Par 3, Cart Rentals

Beaches
Bueatiful beaches await you in St. Lucia, such as the world famous Grand Anse Beach. Most are uncrowded, many seem like they are downright deserted.

Windsurfing
Windsurfing is a popular activity on St. Lucia. Equipment and instruction is available at most hotels and several windsurfing centers around the island.

Scuba Diving

Water Temp
Upper 70s to lower 80s F throughout the year. Skin suit, shorty or tropical suit is sufficient.

Visibility
Depending on the amount of rain received, St. Lucia enjoys 100+ feet most of the time.

Diving
St. Lucia underwater is a mirror of the island above with huge pinnacles towering from the ocean floor. Coral reefs consist of both hard and soft corals and huge sponge encrustations. Every imaginable tropical species inhabit the reefs: squirrel fish, trumpet fish, barracuda, eels, basslets, chromis, bat fish, frog fish, rays, squid and octopus to name just a few. Don't be surprised when you come upon large stands of the elusive black coral. Underwater photographers will delight in the sheer numbers of photo opportunities. Walls in St. Lucia? You bet! The Piton wall offers a reef at 30 feet, which plunges to over 1600 feet. You can even get in some wreck diving. Check out the 300' freighter sunk in 1975. Excellent coral and sponge creations on this wreck have developed a home for a profusion of life.

Snorkeling
Shallow reefs provide non-divers an opportunity to explore the beautiful underwater world of St. Lucia.

Parasailing
Soar above the water for a dramatic view of the island.

Fishing
The Caribbean Sea on one side and the the Atlantic Ocean on the other, provides fishermen with an opportunity to enjoy an unlimited number of fish species. The legendary white marlin is the real prized catch for deep-sea anglers. Other fish commonly caught around St Lucia are: blue marlin, sailfish, yellow fin tuna, big eye tuna, dorado, wahoo, black fin and skipjack tuna. There are a number of charters available around St. Lucia.

Boating
Sailors have been falling in love with St Lucia for centuries. Not only is it possible to charter any form of sea-going vessel anywhere on the island, but St Lucia also serves as a hub for some of the best yachting adventures in the world. Rodney Bay Marina and Marigot Bay are two of Saint Lucia's most popular marinas. Yachts and sail boats can be chartered to navigate the West Indies through the beautiful Grenadine Islands. The marinas offer safe anchorage, shower facilities, restaurants, groceries and maintenance facilities.

Biking
Biking has become popular way to enjoy St. Lucia. There are excellent biking tours for beginners and the more experienced off road riders. For the adventurer, head into Soufrière for an ocean-side trail ride at Anse Chastanet. With a beautiful view of the world-famous Gros Piton and Petit Piton mountains. Breathtaking....

Hiking
There are a number of hiking trails and tours available where you can enjoy the island countryside. Enjoy the flora and fauna on beach, hill, mountain and rainforest hikes. Contact the Forest & Lands Department at (758) 450-2231 for more information on exploring St. Lucia's nature trails.

Horeback Riding
Explore St. Lucia through several excellent riding stables. Blaze a trail along beautiful. deserted beaches, or through the magnificent countryside.

St. Lucia Attractions

Pitons, St. Lucia
A spectacular landmark of St. Lucia visible for miles, Petit Piton and Gros Piton are twin volcanic spires majestically soaring out of the sea with waves crashing around their bases.

Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
Theres no shortage of things to do on this 80-acre man-made lagoon with hotels and restaurants.

Petit Piton, St. Lucia
The more diminutive of the Pitons makes up for it in attitude; it's a harder climb than its taller counterpart.

Marigot Bay, St. Lucia
A yachtsman's haven, this picturesque bay has been used for background shots in many Hollywood films such as Dr. Doolittle and Fire Power.

Diamond Botanical Gardens, St. Lucia

Pigeon Island National Park, St. Lucia
Pigeon Islands official moniker.

Diamond Waterfalls, St. Lucia
Set in a tropical garden, the falls are part of the Diamond Estate.

Vieux Fort, St. Lucia
Located at the southern end of the island and home to the international airport, this is St. Lucia's second largest city that features a long, secluded stretch of gray volcanic sand and waters protected by coral reefs.

Maria Islands Nature Reserve, St. Lucia
Home to a number of species of rare birds and other wildlife.

Morne Fortune, Castries
Visitors to Morne Fortune, which means "Hill of Good Luck," will find 18th-century Fort Charlotte located here along with sweeping views of Castries and surrounding area.

Gros Islet, St. Lucia
A usually sedate fishing village that explodes with the sights and sounds of street fairs and outdoor discos every Friday.

Morne Coubaril Estate, St. Lucia
An active plantation restored for tourist purposes. Docents in period dress will guide your way.

Fort Charlotte, St. Lucia
Dating from 1764, these well-preserved fortifications testify to the many battles waged on the site, where visitors can wander among its battlements, barracks, cells and guardrooms.

St. Lucia Rain Forest, St. Lucia
Hike through this magnificently lush rainforest and walk among man-sized ferns and giant trees.

Marquis Estate, St. Lucia
This old sugar estate includes a sugar factory and banana fields.

Fregate Island Nature Reserve, St. Lucia
Frigate birds and boa constrictors nest at this nature reserve, which isnt much more than rocks jutting out of the sea.

La Soufriere Drive-In Volcano, St. Lucia

Pigeon Point, St. Lucia
Find the ruins of Fort Rodney here, as well as an expansive view of the coast.

Anse La Raye, St. Lucia
A quaint fishing village that is picture-perfect with fishing nets hanging to dry and brightly-colored boats bobbing in the harbor.

Diamond Estate, St. Lucia
Tour the complex, which includes a mineral bath, waterfalls and gardens.

Mount Soufriere, St. Lucia
You can literally drive right into the crater of this volcano and walk between the bubbling sulfur springs and hissing pools of steam.

Sulphur Springs, St. Lucia
An enormous crater where boiling black water sprays hydrogen sulfide into the air.

Castries Market, Castries
A lively and colorful market bursting with tropical fruit and vegetables.

Gros Piton, St. Lucia
A popular symbol of St. Lucia, this majestic green-clad volcanic peak rises 2,619 feet from the sea, with waves crashing around its base. What a spectacular sight.

Immaculate Conception Church, Castries
One of the largest churches in the West Indies has some lovely frescoes.

Lesleen M., St. Lucia
This freighter, submerged in about 60 feet of water, is full of clear interior spaces, great for exploration.

The Dredger, St. Lucia

Anse Chastanet, St. Lucia
This beach has a world-class scuba center on the premises, perfect for its sauna-warm waters.

Anse Mamin, Soufriere
An old sugar plantation with a knot of bike trails along the estate.

Pointe Seraphine, Castries
One of two duty-free shopping centers.

Enbas Saut Trail, St. Lucia
A hiking trail winding along a number of scenic waterfalls.

Anse Chastanet Reef, St. Lucia
One of the best diving sites on an island renowned for its shore-diving sites.

The Pinnacles, St. Lucia
Four coral-encrusted spires shooting up from the edge of a wall. Spectacular.

Piton Wall, St. Lucia
This popular dive site quickly drops into the depths.

Superman's Flight, St. Lucia
The currents whisk you on a drift dive from the base of the Pitons. Youll feel like youre flying.

Dennery, St. Lucia
A tiny fishing village.

Reduit Beach, St. Lucia
One of the islands best beaches has a luxury resort on its golden sands.

Derek Walcott Square, Castries
This town square is named for Nobel laureate Derek Walcott, a native of the island.

Malabar Beach, Castries
A two-mile crescent-shaped beach where the well-known Rendezvous resort-hotel is located.

Choc Bay, St. Lucia
A sweep of sand and coconut trees studded with hotels.

Canaries, St. Lucia
A fishing village flush with local and natural color.

Marine National Park, St. Lucia
Home to a diversity of marine life, this park is a snorkelers delight.

Mount Gimie, St. Lucia
At 3,145 feet, this is the tallest of the islands pinnacles.

Choiseul, St. Lucia
This tiny town is known for its arts and crafts.

Anse Couchon, St. Lucia
A snorkeling heaven, this black-sanded beach also makes a great romantic getaway.

Cas en Bas, St. Lucia
One of the best beaches on the island for intermediate and advanced windsurfers.

Soufrihre Bay (Soufriere Bay), St. Lucia
Simply approaching Soufrière Bay by sea is an unforgettable experience; the spires of the Pitons rise and the sun blazes on the water.

Cap Estate Club, St. Lucia
The place to go for a round of golf.

Vigie Beach, St. Lucia
A excellent beach for sunbathing near the Castries airstrip.

Anse de Sables, St. Lucia
A long stretch of white sand and reef great for snorkeling and windsurfing.

Jalousie Beach, St. Lucia
This white-sanded beach sits right at the foot of the majestic Pitons.

Government House, St. Lucia
St. Lucias governor-general resides in this Victorian mansion.

St. Lucia Folk Research Centre, St. Lucia
Devoted to preserving the islands tangible and not so tangible history, like the patois of St. Lucian natives.

Union Nature Trail, St. Lucia
A relatively easy hike for the novice hiker in Castries.

Botanical Gardens, St. Lucia
The Diamond Waterfalls are the jewel at the heart of these lush gardens.

Gablewoods Shopping Mall, St. Lucia
A shopping mall in Castries.

Praslin Bay, St. Lucia
You may find men hollowing the gommier tree for use as canoe in this tranquil bay.

Central Forest Reserve, St. Lucia
The reserve encompasses the St. Lucian Rainforest and Mount Gimie, and its breadth is crossed with trails.

Savannes Bay, St. Lucia
A sheltered, mango-fringed bay with serene waters.

Mamiku Gardens, St. Lucia
This 22-acre garden estate includes the ruins of an 18th-century house and three distinct gardens.

Bougainvillea Walk, St. Lucia
A panoramic zig-zag trail scaling a mountainside up to an 18th-century estate.

Barre de L'Isle Trail, St. Lucia
A trail cutting through thick forest and, along the way, offering panoramas of the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.

Union Nature Center, St. Lucia
The center has a small zoo, herb garden and a 45-minute hiking trail.

Pigeon Island Museum and Interpretive Centre, St. Lucia
This Pigeon Island museum documents the islands colonial history, with a decided slant towards British victories.

St. Lucia Golf & Country Club, St. Lucia
An 18-hole course about a mile from Rodney Bay.

Laborie, St. Lucia
A pretty postcard of a village with lots of wooden colonial buildings.

Anse des Pitons, St. Lucia
A dramatic crescent bay right in between the Pitons.

Descartiers Trail, St. Lucia
This scenic nature trail can be traversed by either foot or horse.

Trou Diable (Devil's Hole), St. Lucia
The Devils Hole is indeed deep, steep, labyrinthine and full of developed coral head.

Turtle Reef, St. Lucia
One of six dives in the vicinity of the Pitons.

Rosemond's Trench, St. Lucia
Good for the both the novice and experienced diver, less commonly seen marine creatures like the Golden Spotted Eel and Spotted Eagle Ray are often seen here.

Japanese Wreck, St. Lucia
This large motorized barge sunk in 105 feet of water is generally suitable for more advanced divers.

The Wall, St. Lucia
This dive consists of a vertical drop from the coast descending about 25 feet before a zone of volcanic boulders.

Fairyland, St. Lucia
Vivid coral growth and excellent visibility; but strong currents make this preferable as a drift dive.

Coral Gardens, St. Lucia
A popular reef boasting dramatic coral growth and abundant marine life. Bring your underwater camera.

Edmund Forest Reserve, St. Lucia
This typical Caribbean rainforest is a popular hiking destination.

Louis XVI Mineral Baths, St. Lucia
With an average temperature of 106 degrees, these curative mineral baths are fed by nearby sulfur springs.

St. Lucia Forest Reserve, St. Lucia

Edmund Trail, St. Lucia

Quilesse Forest Reserve, St. Lucia

Des Cartiers Rainforest, St. Lucia

Grande Anse Beach, St. Lucia

French Wall Trail, Soufriere
An old hand-built stone wall that marks out a popular bike route.

Aqua Dulce Trail, Soufriere
A bike trail winding along the route of an old sugar plantation aqueduct.

Church of the Assumption, Soufriere
An imposing Catholic Church looming over the Soufrière town square.

Soufriere Marine Management Area, Soufriere
A protected strip of reef with a remarkable diversity of coral formations. A spectacular dive.

Learning Center, Soufriere
A natural history educational center for children.

Castries Waterworks Forest Reserve, Castries
A great place to go bird-watching. The St. Lucian parrot particularly abounds.

Central Library, Castries
Grab a beach book at Castries main library.

National Library, Castries
A stately columned building with a collection of antique maps.

William Peter Boulevard, Castries
A lively three-block plaza with lots of shops to browse in.

Columbus Square, Castries
At the very center of Castries, Columbus Square is full of remarkable 19th-century buildings.

St. Omer Artmagic, Castries
A gallery dedicated to the work of Dunstan St. Omer, the island's most famous artist.

Forest Reserves Hikes, Castries
Wander the scenic nature trails through the island's rain forests, which are bountiful in plants and wildlife.

 

 

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