Saint Lucia Travel Guide
A lush volcanic island in the Caribbean, St Lucia has all of the beaches but much less of the bustle of some of its other neighbors. Good food, rum and music and plenty of dancing characterize the festivals; that’s if all the windsurfing, diving and sailing hasn’t already worn you out.
The warm waters of the picturesque Malgretout Waterfall are an excellent place to swim and have a picnic away from the usual beach scene, and Marigot Bay is somewhat of a yachter’s paradise. If you are traveling to Anse La Raye, be sure to arrive on a Friday to enjoy the legendary weekly barbecue.
Why You Should Go
What’s Cool: Local rum, the annual jazz festival, the warm waters of Malgretout Waterfall, sitting on the beach at Anse La Raye, sailing.
What’s Not: Hurricanes, humidity, banana ketchup, Bounty Rum hangovers, attacks on guests’ hotel rooms, hair-raising driving.
When to Go
December and January are the coolest times of an otherwise hot and humid, tropical year. Unfortunately, that’s when everyone else in North America will be escaping the winter, too.
Getting There & Away
There are two international airports on the island, although most visitors fly into Vigie Airport near Castries. Most flights from other Caribbean locations also use this airport. There is an express catamaran between Castries and Fort-de-France in Martinique. Most people get around the island by taxi or minibus. Both are good options except after dark and on Sundays when vehicles are almost impossible to find. Renting a car in St Lucia is easy, particularly in the main resort areas and at the airport.
Health & Safety
As a whole, St Lucia is a fairly safe island with few risks or concerns for tourists, particularly if you visit outside the hurricane season. Sunburn and dehydration are the most common health risks tourists encounter. There is a small risk of dengue fever from mosquito bites. There have been a few incidents of thieves making attacks on guests’ hotel rooms. There are several good quality hospitals on the island although if you don’t have insurance, they tend to be rather costly.
Food & Hospitality
Local food has a strong Creole flavor with noticeable traces of French and West Indian influence. Nightlife centers are mostly around the resorts and hotels, with a few restaurants providing live music. Most of the large hotels and resorts are on the west coast of the island where the swimming and beaches are better. You’ll find that accommodation on St Lucia isn’t the cheapest in the Caribbean islands, but with the beaches, breezes and range of good quality hotel options, you will get your money worth.
Some people decide they’d like to spend their whole life in St Lucia, but for those of us with shorter vacations: Two days in Castries.
- One day in Marigot Bay.
- One day at the Malgretout Waterfall.
- Three days on the beach at Anse La Raye.
- Two days in Soufrière.
- One day in Pigeon Island National Park.
Castries: the market is one of the busiest and most lively areas of the capital and the best place to take in the view of the wide bay and surrounding hills.
Malgretout Waterfall: you’ll find the waters here warm and perfect for bathing, and the beach quiet and untouched by the usual developments.
Marigot Bay: if you’re into yachts, this secluded bay, ringed in palm trees, is the place for you.
Anse La Raye: watch locals craft boats from gum trees, then sit down with them on Friday night for the Friday Night Fish Fry BBQ – a legend on the island.
Soufrière: this West Indian style village springs out of the jungle and is located at the base of two extinct volcanoes on the shores of a deep water port.
Pigeon Island National Park: take in the coastal views and the shade of the banyan trees while visiting ruins and rusting cannons.
Windsurfing: the abundance of trade winds makes St Lucia an excellent place to try windsurfing, with the southern shore being the best place.
Fishing: there are plenty of game fish in the waters around St Lucia.
Golfing: there are two courses on the island. Neither is exceptional, but they will give you a break from constant sunbathing.
Diving: the most popular dive sites off St Lucia feature reef walls, shipwrecks and excellent visibility.
Sailing: many hotels offer small dinghies and speedboats for rent, and you can also borrow small yachts and 60 foot crafts in Marigot Bay.
Festivals & Events
Good food, rum and music as well as dancing in the street are common features of celebrations in St Lucia.
May: at St Lucia Jazz Festival, the whole island dances while jazz fills the air.
June: Carnivale sees steel drum bands play in the streets, people caper to Calypso in colorful costume and the whole island coming alive for a week-long party.
July: at Parade of the Bands, revellers take to the streets while bands compete for the title Band of the Year.
November: St Lucia Food and Rum Festival promotes Caribbean rum while attracting international chefs to St Lucia.