Where we are
St. Lucia lies roughly between 60° and 61° West longitude and 13° and 14° North latitude. It is approximately 1,300 miles southeast of Florida. St. Lucia is part of the Windward Island chain, a sub-group of islands within the West Indies. This 238-square-mile island is 21 miles from its nearest neighbour, Martinique, a French department; 24 miles north of St. Vincent and 100 miles northwest of Barbados. St. Lucia possesses some of the finest natural harbours in the Caribbean, and is centrally located within easy reach of the rest of the region and North America. It was as a result of this strategic location that the French and British fought endlessly for possession of the island. St. Lucia changed hands 14 times between the two colonial powers. A tug-of-war that inspired one British historian to give St. Lucia the sobriquet “Helen of the West Indies”, comparing the island to Helen of Troy, a mythical Greek character whose beauty mobilised an entire navy.
How To Get Here
If you’re coming from North America, American Airlines offers a direct service between Miami and St. Lucia; American Eagle flies daily to and from Puerto Rico into George Charles Airport situated near the capital; US Airways directly, twice a week to and from Philadelphia; Delta offers a direct flight five times a week from Atlanta; BWIA flies weekly from Miami and New York via Barbados; and Air Canada has a direct service to St. Lucia from Toronto and Montreal. Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, British Midlands and BWIA fly weekly between the United Kingdom and St. Lucia. Air Jamaica offers three direct flights a week from New York. Air Jamaica also provides a regular link with Kingston via Barbados.
Between mid-November and mid-March, a number of tour companies operate charters from Frankfurt, London, Toronto and various Caribbean destinations.
Inter-island travel is well serviced by LIAT, BWIA, Caribbean Star and Air Caraïbes. By sea, Express Des Isles runs a high-speed ferry service between Martinique and St. Lucia. Cruise ships berth at daily at Port Castries and Soufrière. Major lines are represented in St. Lucia by Cox and Company Ltd. or Minvielle and Chastanet Ltd.
For visitors arriving by private or chartered yacht, moorings are available at the fully serviced Rodney Bay Marina, a picturesque lagoon on the Northern tip of St. Lucia, at the Moorings Marina at Marigot Bay (a famous hurricane hide-out) or at Soufrière.
When entering St. Lucia, American and Commonwealth citizens need to carry proof of citizenship, a birth certificate, some form of photo ID or passport, and a return or onward ticket. Other visitors need a passport along with return or onward tickets. Some countries do require visas. Valid vaccination certificates are required of travellers entering from infectious areas. When leaving St. Lucia, non-nationals are required to pay a departure tax of EC$54 (US$21) per person (credit cards not accepted).
St. Lucia’s currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar. Currency exchanges can be made at banks, most hotels and at Pointe Seraphine, one of two duty-free shopping complexes at Castries. The exchange rate for the US dollar is fixed at $2.70 EC to $1.00 US; however, commercial banks change at $2.68 EC to $1.00 US. The rate is around $2.60 EC if you purchase local currency at stores or hotels. For the European Euros, the exchange rate is about $3.40 EC to 1 Euro.
Banking hours are from 8 am to 2 pm, Monday through Thursday, and Friday from 8 am to 5 pm. Banks are closed on weekends and holidays. However, the Bank of Saint Lucia and the First National Bank have Saturday morning hours at their sub-branches in and around Rodney Bay. Most major credit cards are accepted in St. Lucia. All ATM machines on the island distribute Eastern Caribbean dollars.
St. Lucia lies in the Atlantic Standard Time zone - four hours behind Europe, five during daylight saving time. It is one hour ahead of North American Eastern Standard Time all year round.
The climate is tropical, with temperatures ranging from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties (25 to 30 Celsius). During the hottest time of the year, from June to August, temperatures can reach the mid-nineties (32 Celsius). Things are kept pretty cool, however, by the constant trade-winds. Average rainfall ranges from 60 inches in the coastal regions to 160 inches in the interior rain forests. The rainy season is from June to October.
The main language in St. Lucia is English. A French-based Creole is also spoken, a result of St. Lucia’s dual British-French heritage.
Electricity is available for the most part at 220 volts, 50 cycles AC, and unless you are coming from Europe, you will need an adapter for your travel appliances.
St. Lucia has a liberalised telecommunications market. Services are provided by Cable & Wireless (WI) Ltd. and Digicel.
Cable & Wireless offers international direct dialling to over 180 countries worldwide: mobile cellular services, credit card calling, and public payphones.
Digicel’s network, based on superior GSM technology, has introduced state-of-the art technology, smart new handsets and innovative and competitive rate plans.
Store hours throughout Castries, the capital city, may vary, but are generally from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday, and from 8 am to 12:30 pm on Saturday. Stores at the Gablewoods Shopping Mall at Sunny Acres are open from 9 am to 7 pm. Stores at J.Q. Charles Shopping Mall in Rodney Bay are open from 9 am to 7 pm Mondays to Thursdays, and 9 am to 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Most are closed on Sunday.
Super J’s is the leading supermarket chain with island wide outlets. At Rodney Bay, both supermarkets offer extended shopping hours, seven days a week.
Most St. Lucians are Roman Catholic, but other denominations include Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist and Pentecostal. Services are held on Saturday and Sunday, and most churches hold midweek services. Information on services is available at hotels.
Rotary International Clubs meet at: 12:30 pm on Tuesdays at the Royal St. Lucian Hotel in Rodney Bay; on Wednesdays at Juliette’s Lodge in Vieux Fort; and on Fridays at Sandals Halcyon St. Lucia at Choc Bay.
Lions Club: 1st and 3rd Thursday each month at Lions’ Den in Sans Souci; 2nd and 4th Thursday each month at Glencastle Resort in Gros Islet.
Kiwanis: 8 pm on Thursdays at Green Parrot Hotel in Castries; 5:30 pm on Tuesdays at Green Parrot Inn in Castries.
Taxis are a popular means of getting around. Drivers are well informed and friendly and are familiar with the points of interest. Before you hire a taxi, settle on the price. Fares are standard to all destinations. All authorised taxis have special number plates.
There are several reputable car rental companies on the island. Drivers need to purchase a local driving permit, which is issued on the presentation of a foreign or international license. These permits are obtained from the immigration offices at Hewanorra and George F. L. Charles Airports and issued by the major car rental agencies.
All towns and villages are connected by major roads. It takes roughly one hour to drive from Castries to Vieux Fort along the East-coast road, fifty minutes from Vieux Fort to Soufrière, and forty-five minutes from Soufrière to Castries along the West-coast road. Further inland, some roads may be difficult to negotiate. In St. Lucia we drive on the left.
What to Wear
Due to the tropical climate, light summer clothes are worn all year round. During the cooler evenings, you might need a pullover. Swimwear should be reserved for the beach and is not appropriate for the street or in town.
Stay safe in St. Lucia. Use the normal precautions that you would at home. Lock your door at night, avoid deserted beaches after sunset, and keep your valuables and personal documents in a safe place. The Rapid Response Unit is a special brigade dedicated to visitor security in the Northern part of the island, particularly in and around the Rodney Bay area. They can be reached at (758) 452-8155. For emergencies throughout the country dial 999.