St. Lucia Guide

Know Before You Go...®

If your dream vacation includes lots of variety, both in scenery and activities, then St. Lucia has it.  The island is well-known for its changing landscape that includes the towering Pitons, black and white sand beaches, volcanoes, and rainforests.  There’s also a healthy sprinkling of bustling city life, so whatever your interests, there’s something for you when you rent a villa in St. Lucia.  Use the information here to help you as you plan your trip to this diverse island.

Why St. Lucia?

  • St. Lucia is the only country in the world to be named after a woman.
  • St. Lucia is the birthplace of the world's only drive-in volcano.
  • St. Lucia is home to two Nobel Laureates.
  • The Pitons, a pair of mountains in St. Lucia, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • St. Lucia is home to some of the best dive sites in the Caribbean.

St. Lucia Weather/Climate

Average Temperatures

January
82° F
76° F
February
82° F
76° F
March
83° F
77° F
April
84° F
78° F
May
86° F
80° F
June
85° F
81° F
July
85° F
80° F
August
86° F
80° F
September
86° F
80° F
October
86° F
79° F
November
84° F
79° F
December
83° F
77° F

Average Rainfall

January
2.22
February
1.75
March
1.45
April
1.5
May
1.8
June
3.69
July
4.61
August
4.41
September
5.3
October
5.8
November
5.24
December
2.42

Overview

The first thing visitors to St. Lucia will notice is how exotically green it is. The 238-square-mile island is dotted by protected parklands that preserve its lush foliage, which serves as home to parrots, wild birds and a range of four-legged critters that would rather avoid human contact.

Topographically speaking, St. Lucia resembles nearby Dominica in its mountainous, volcanic appearance. In fact, its two most widely known landmarks are Les Pitons, twin mountain peaks that drop dramatically to the water’s edge near Anse des Pitons on the island’s west coast. The site is beautiful and alluring.

The island has been occupied by a number of European invaders, but the influence of the French is still most deeply felt today, in the names of its cities, towns and bays, in the architecture still evident today and in the French-inflected patois spoken by islanders here. English, however, is spoken at all the major hotels and in island restaurants.

One of the island’s main attractions is the Sulphur Springs Volcano, where visitors can get up close to bubbling pools of lava and steaming sulfurous spouts. Another popular site is Diamond Waterfall and Mineral Baths, where visitors can splash in the sulphur-infused waters or take pictures of the lovely falls. Nearly every type of water sport—water skiing, snorkeling, windsurfing and the like—is offered here, either by hotels or local operators. Diving is a very popular pastime for visitors, and the west coast is most commonly the choice because of its calmer waters. Similarly, most hotels are located on the west coast. Although a few more budget-oriented inns and small hotels are located directly in the capital city of Castries, the great majority tend to be located on or very near the beach.

Visitors should be aware that long drives are part of the deal with a St. Lucia vacation; the roads do not provide quick, direct access from Vigie or Hewanorra airports, located at either end of the island. Hotel guests are advised to stay out of Castries on cruise ship arrival days, as the narrow streets are a mob scene and not fit for man nor beast!

Hotel types run the gamut, from sophisticated hideaways with spectacular views or tiny places known only by the cognoscenti to more commercial inclusive hotels and the like. In addition, vacationers who really want to get away from everyone can choose some off-the-beaten-track places to stay, such as villas, private homes and tiny inns.

Nature lovers, divers and those who want to experience an exotic Caribbean island with still many of the modern conveniences of home will find St. Lucia to far exceed their expectations.

History

St. Lucia is a small island nation located in the eastern Caribbean Sea. The island was originally inhabited by the Arawak and Carib indigenous peoples before being colonized by European powers in the 17th century.

The first European to visit St. Lucia was the French explorer, François Le Clerc, in 1502. However, it was not until 1635 that the French established a permanent settlement on the island. They named it after Saint Lucy of Syracuse and quickly began cultivating crops such as sugarcane and cocoa, using enslaved Africans as laborers.

Throughout the 18th century, St. Lucia was a highly contested territory between the French and the British. The island changed hands fourteen times between the two powers, with the British eventually gaining control in 1814 under the Treaty of Paris. This marked the beginning of British colonial rule on the island, which lasted until 1979.

During the colonial era, St. Lucia’s economy was driven by sugar production and the slave trade. However, with the abolition of slavery in 1834, the island’s economy declined. Many former slaves fled to the island’s mountainous interior, establishing communities known as Maroon villages and maintaining their African cultural traditions.

In the early 20th century, St. Lucia saw a rise in banana production, which became the island’s main export. This led to an increase in immigration from other Caribbean islands, as well as from India and China, to work on the banana plantations.

In the 1950s, the island experienced a surge in nationalist movements and demands for independence from British rule. In 1958, St. Lucia joined the short-lived West Indies Federation, which aimed to unite several British Caribbean colonies. However, the federation collapsed in 1962, and St. Lucia continued its push for independence.

On February 22, 1979, St. Lucia finally gained independence from Britain and became a sovereign nation within the Commonwealth. The island’s first prime minister, Sir John Compton, led the country for most of the 1980s and 1990s, overseeing economic development and modernization efforts.

Today, St. Lucia is a popular tourist destination known for its breathtaking natural beauty, with its lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and iconic Pitons mountains. The island’s economy has diversified beyond agriculture, with tourism, offshore banking, and manufacturing now playing significant roles.

Despite its small size, St. Lucia has a rich and complex history, shaped by colonialism, slavery, and a struggle for independence. The island continues to preserve its unique cultural heritage while embracing modernization and development.

St Lucia Helicopters

See the most amazing scenery in the Caribbean - its breathtaking!

St. Lucia Helicopters is an amazing way to see the island from a birds-eye-view. The staff is very friendly and the pilots are always informative.

Castries Market

Plan a Saturday trip to Castries market for fresh produce and lots of interesting things to look at.

Jeremie Street, Castries, St. Lucia. Discover St. Lucia's colorful, friendly nature while visiting the 100-year-old Saturday Market in the capital of Castries. Here you'll find bountiful bananas, the day's seafood catch, local spices such as mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, cocoa and hot pepper sauces, which make great gifts and souvenirs. In the adjacent Craft Market are baskets, brooms and other straw goods, wood carvings, pottery and local artist's wares at excellent prices.

Anse La Raye fish fry

You can not miss this great event, tourists and locals mix and have fun!!!

Anse La Raye fish fry is a popular Friday night destination for locals and visitors alike, the west coast village is just twenty minutes drive from the capital. It is a great way to experience island 'liming', or hanging out with friends over drinks and your choice of fresh fish.

Transportation on St. Lucia

Getting to St. Lucia and getting around. Our transportation tips will help make your trip smoother. More good sand advice.

Entry Documents

One form of identification, either a photo ID or passport as well as an on-going or return ticket, is required for U.S. citizens. Others will need a passport or visa depending on the country of origin.

Airlines Flying Here

  • US: American Airlines, Delta Airlines, JetBlue and United Airlines
  • Canada: Air Canada, Sunwing Airlines and WestJet
  • UK: British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and TUI
  • Germany: Condor
  • France: Air France, Corsair and Air Caraibes
  • Caribbean: Air Caraibes, Air Antilles, Caribbean Airlines and LIAT

Airport

Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) and George Charles Inter Island Airport (SLU)

Departure Tax

US$20

Driving

On the left. Seat belts are mandatory.

Local Transportation

1. Public buses: St. Lucia has a reliable and affordable public bus system that covers most major towns and tourist spots. The buses are usually colorful and easy to spot, and they operate between 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.

2. Taxis: Taxis are readily available in St. Lucia and can be hailed on the street or found at designated taxi stands. They are a convenient mode of transportation for shorter distances or for exploring off-the-beaten-path areas.

3. Water taxis: For those staying near the coast, water taxis are a unique and scenic way to get around. They can take you to popular beach destinations or remote coves and offer a different perspective of the island.

4. Rental cars: Renting a car is a great way to explore St. Lucia at your own pace. There are several car rental companies available on the island, and you can choose from a variety of vehicles, including SUVs, jeeps, and compact cars.

5. Minibuses: Minibuses are a popular mode of transportation for locals and tourists alike. They operate throughout the island and are a more affordable option than taxis. However, they can get crowded and may not be the most comfortable option.

6. Helicopter transfers: For a luxurious and unforgettable experience, consider taking a helicopter transfer to your desired destination in St. Lucia. It is a great option for those staying at remote resorts or for visiting neighboring islands.

7. Walking: St. Lucia is a small island, and many attractions and destinations are within walking distance. This is a great way to explore and get a closer look at the local culture and scenery. Just be sure to stay hydrated and wear comfortable shoes.

Know Before You Go...® - St. Lucia Travel Tips

Before making their way to St. Lucia , vacationers like to know a little bit of helpful information to make them feel more at home during their stay. Take a look at our travel tips to make your time in villas in St. Lucia even more relaxing.

Capital: Castries
Population: 183,000
Size: 238 square miles. 27 miles long, and 14 miles wide.
Electric Current: 220
Time: zone:-4 (GMT/UTC )
Official Language: English
Currency: Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC) and U.S. dollars are widely accepted. The rate of exchange between the two is fixed at $2.67EC to $1.00 US. If you bring US$ 50.00 or $100.00 notes you will have to change them at the bank on St. Lucia.
Tipping and Taxes:
  • Villa Staff: $50 per couple, per week
  • Restaurants: 10% gratuity, on average
Dress Code: Even though St. Lucia is a tropical island, it's a little on the formal side, meaning that you’ll want to cover up when not at the beach. Bring light clothes suitable for the tropics - loose tops, shorts & dresses for the ladies, shorts and polos for the guys. Some restaurants do have a dress code. Please note that it's illegal to have army/combat type clothing or print.
Topography: Mountainous, tropical
Telephone: Local area code is 758.

St. Lucia Weddings and Honeymoons

Vacationers don’t just stay in St. Lucia villas - they come to paradise to get married and celebrate their honeymoons! You must be in St. Lucia for two days before the wedding.

After the two days, a local Solicitor can apply for a license on your behalf. You need to have received this two working days before the wedding date. Most tour operators can make all the arrangements.

You must bring the following documentation: Passport; birth certificate;
Decree Absolute (if one of the parties is divorced); in the case of a widow/widower a Death Certificate of first spouse is required.

Also, if a name has been changed, a Deed Poll is required. If one of the parties is under the age of 18, evidence of a consent of parents is required in the form of a sworn affidavit stamped by a Notary Public.
If any required documents are not in English, an authenticated translation must be available

See our favorite St. Lucia villas for weddings.

See our favorite St. Lucia villas for honeymoons.