St Lucia Overview
- Rugged mountains, tropical rainforests
- Coast life
- Punch and plantations
Shades of emerald, ebony and teal form the colour palette on this breezy and relaxed island – making St Lucia, the second largest of the Windward Islands, the ultimate Caribbean destination.
The lifestyle here is laid-back – live music and Creole cuisine flow freely in its pastel-tinted towns – while the landscape switches between powder-soft beaches and lush pitons that soar 2,000ft up towards the deep-blue sky. Culture-proud St Lucians are keen to show you a good time, and with a myriad of spectacular viewing points (helpfully highlighted by hand-painted road signs), verdant botanical gardens and bustling markets to draw on, they’re bound to point you in the right direction.
Suitably St Lucia
Whales, dolphins and leatherback turtles inhabit the waters on the St Lucian coast and can be seen all year round. Captain Mike’s Sportfishing Cruises and Pleasure Tours (+1 758 452 7044) takes you out to sea to spot Pilot whales, humpbacks and false Orcas. The rule is that if you haven’t seen one, you’re guaranteed an extra hour. Turtle-watching is also very popular in Grande Anse Bay, and all-night patrols are held in leatherback season (mid-March to late August).
- Taxis are easily available but expensive. You can flag cabs down in the streets – licensed cars have red number plates. But, beware, the winding roads on the west of the island can make for a queasy journey.
- Tipping culture
- A 10 per cent service charge is included on all bills in St Lucia. Hotel staff and helpful taxi drivers are among those who expect to be tipped.
- Siesta and fiesta
- Shops usually shut between 12.30pm and 1.30pm on weekdays, and close at 4.30pm for the afternoon siesta in the sun. Sunday is mainly off-limits, though shops down by the marinas tend to stay open. If you want a night out, then Rodney Bay is the place to go – you’ll find drinking and dancing into the early hours.
- Packing tips
- Sun hat, umbrella, mosquito repellent and deck shoes – ubiquitous with both the locals and the super-yachters.
- Recommended reads
- Whispers from the Cotton Tree Root by Nalo Hopkinson is an anthology of stories from Caribbean authors, providing an entertaining insight into Caribbean culture.
- St Lucian Creole food is heavily influenced by French and West Indian traditions, and usually takes its principal ingredients straight from the sea. Mahi-mahi, red snapper and tuna can be found on most menus, barbecued with Creole spices or hot pepper sauce, though the top-end restaurants are more likely to cater for a US palate. ‘Fish Friday’ will offer you tastes of home cooking, served from rickety handmade stalls along the pedestrianised streets of Anse La Raye. Supplement the dishes with a dash of banana ketchup – a must-try delicacy. The real Caribbean joy, though, is rum, mixed into a punch or served as a cocktail.
- The currency in St Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, though any of the banks will exchange international currencies.
- Time zone
- GMT -4.
- Dialling codes
- North America country code: +1; St Lucia: 758.
- Do go/don't go
- Though it’s hot all year round, the best months weather-wise are between mid-December and mid-April, which predictably coincides with the biggest influx of tourists. June to November is the wettest time of year, and the island is occasionally threatened by hurricanes at this time.