St. Lucia

Destination Location

St. Lucia
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Overview

As you land in St. Lucia, you'll see a beautiful paradise ready to be explored. In between the warm Caribbean waters at its western shores and the Atlantic against its eastern edge, a dream vacation awaits you. Whether you're looking to curl up on a hammock with a good book or prefer to head out on the water to explore, you'll never run out of things to do on this island of adventure.

Zigzag up St. Lucia's western shore and you'll see two distinct volcanic peaks, known as the Pitons. Both of these can be climbed, with the bigger of the two (Gros Piton) providing the easier trek. Nearby, coral coves offer spectacular diving and snorkelling.

Follow the East Coast Road north of the airport and you'll pass through the coastal villages of Micoud and Dennery, and eventually, the capital, Castries. Along the way, you'll spot kitesurfers cascading through the air and skimming over the Atlantic Ocean.

Take your eyes off the glittering ocean for just a moment and you'll see endless groves of bananas and coconut palms (two of St. Lucia's biggest exports). Follow the road inland around the mountains and you'll see a spectacular rainforest.

Most all-inclusive resorts on St. Lucia are clustered in the north, starting in Castries and spilling into nearby Rodney Bay. If you're after great dining and nightlife, consider staying in this area. Looking for total relaxation? Check out the resorts along the western shoreline.

With so much variety in St. Lucia, it's no wonder visitors return again and again.

St. Lucia is a fantastic destination for:

  • beaches
  • romance
  • spa and wellness

Airport served by: St. Lucia (Hewanorra) (UVF)

Destination basics

Combine average daily highs of 28 C with cool ocean breezes, and you'll get St. Lucia's tropical temperatures perfect for soaking up the sun year round. The island's dry season typically runs from January to April. Rainfall peaks between July and November, but don't expect a constant downpour. Typically, during the rainy season, you'll find short but intense showers—easy to manage with an umbrella tucked in your bag.

But be sure to pack both your swimsuit and a light sweater since the temperature often cools down in the mountains. Sun and blue skies are the norm here, but the cool breeze off the water offers visitors refreshing breaks from the heat.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for St. Lucia

St. Lucia is one destination where a vast array of cultural influences come together, offering travellers a unique cultural experience. English may be the island's official language, but most often you'll hear a distinct mix of French, English and Caribbean tongues, known more commonly as St. Lucian Creole.

You can even taste the island's many cultural influences at local restaurants. From traditional island fare to Indian entrees featuring fresh local produce, to British-inspired pubs, St. Lucia has something for every taste.

Tip: While you're here, make sure you try at least one of the island's 57 varieties of mangoes, as well as cassava and callaloo—vegetables unique to the island.

St. Lucian culture also values traditional customs—many of which are still practiced today. Here, you'll find the practice of obeah (voodoo) and remedies of the local medicine men. In fact, locals will tell you that many traditionalists still visit these natural healers for a range of holistic treatments.

Be sure to visit the Catholic Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. A must-see for those who appreciate unique architecture, the cathedral was completed in 1897 and is the largest church in the Caribbean. It was designed by Jesuit priest Father Scoles and is decorated with murals in prominent Caribbean reds, greens and yellows. The cathedral is also home base of the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Castries.

The official currency of St. Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC). U.S. Dollars are also widely accepted. ATM's are available to withdraw money and both major credit cards and travellers cheques are accepted.

Saint Lucia is not all beaches and coast line. Unlike some other Caribbean islands, this destination hotspot boasts a more varied landscape. Known as a volcanic island, high mountain peaks and lush jungle complement the expected sandy coastlines and ocean vistas. In case the spectacular views and untainted terrain are not enough, the weather is similarly perfect for vacationing. The average annual temperature is about 26° C (79° F) and the overall warm, tropical climate is ideal for outdoor activities and general lounging about. June and August are usually the hottest months while January and February bring in the cool breezes. December to April is the most popular time for tourism. As a result, months outside of this period often feature lower hotel rates.

Saint Lucia is one of the Windward Islands, which also include: Grenada, the Grenadines, Saint Vincent, Martinique, and Dominica. They are called the Windward Islands because when explorers were originally sailing through the area, the east-west winds would steer ships toward these particular islands. Saint Lucia itself is separated into 11 political districts that also function as popular geographical distinctions. The most popular are Castries (where the capital city is Gros Islet) and Soufrière, while some of the others function mainly as agricultural areas.

Castries
By far the most heavily populated quarter, with over 60,000 inhabitants, Castries is located in the northwest portion of the island. The capital city of Saint Lucia is located here and goes by the same name, Castries. The country's main government offices are located in Castries as well as a large sheltered harbor where many of the cruise ships dock. Many of the tourists from these ships like to take advantage of duty-free shopping opportunities at facilities such as Point Seraphine and La Place Carenage. There are also many restaurants in this area as well as interesting ethnic supermarkets. Three of Castries' most famous landmarks are the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Derek Walcott Square named for Derek Walcott, a Nobel Prize winning poet and native of Saint Lucia, and Fort Charlotte. The famous Saint Lucia Jazz Festival takes place here annually.

Canaries & Soufrière
Just south of Anse la Raye, the Canaries quarter is also home to a large fishing community. This is the least populated quarter, and it was, at one point, one of the poorest parts of St. Lucia; however, this village looks beautiful from all viewpoints thanks to a winding main road that rises through the hills. One of Canaries' most popular attractions is the Creole Pot, a restaurant and gathering point that promotes the use of local products and serves up some delicious specialties. The establishment is all about local flavor and often hosts concerts and other cultural events. Also, if you find yourself in the Canaries quarter, be sure to pick up a loaf of the local cassava bread. It is made without butter or eggs but has a fantastic texture and comes in a variety of flavors. Soufrière, with a population of about 7000, is the western-most quarter of Saint Lucia, and it is located just south of Canaries. Soufrière is home to the famous Saint Lucia Volcano (Drive-in Volcano) and the stunning Pitons. The Pitons are two volcanic plugs—a volcanic landform that is created when magma hardens within a vent over an active volcano. One is referred to as the Petit Piton and the other as the Gros Piton. This world heritage site is one of Saint Lucia's most popular attractions. The black beaches of Anse Chastanet and the Diamond Botanical Gardens are also located here.

Choiseul
Located in the southwest, this quarter has about 6000 inhabitants and is famous for coal pots and other arts and crafts. This area was originally known as Anse Citron because of the large number of lime trees (citron meaning lime in French). It was not called Choiseul until around 1763 when the Treaty of Paris was signed. Choiseul is in reference to the Duc De Choiseul, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs at the time. Choiseul has, for more than 40 years, been organizing an exciting Carnival celebration. Nature lovers will be right at home in Choiseul thanks to the Saltibus Waterfall Trail. This trail leads hikers to a series of beautiful natural waterfalls. Just north of the Choiseul Village are the Morne Sion Windmills. These windmills date all the way back to the early 19th Century and were used for crushing sugar cane, an important crop at that time. Two of the windmills are no longer in good condition, yet one has been very well preserved. Located in one of the oldest parts of Choiseul is the Pon George or the Devil's Bridge. This small, rickety bridge was built over 200 years ago and spans a canyon that is 60 meters (200 feet) deep. No trip to Choiseul is complete without a visit to Sab Wee-Sha, a gorgeous black sand beach located just north of the Choiseul Village.

Anse la Raye
With a population of about 6000, this quarter on the western coast is comprised mainly of agricultural settlements and laborers. There is also a large community of fishers that play host to "Seafood Friday" each week. Tourists can expect to get their fill of seafood gumbo and local festivities, much of which can be found on the exciting Front Street. This street runs parallel to the beach and is lined with tantalizing restaurants and wooden rum shops. In fact, many of the buildings in this part of the city are over 100 years old and exemplify French and English colonial architecture. One of the quarter's most popular attractions is the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic Church. Records indicate that this chapel existed as early as 1762, and the church surely has seen quite a bit of history. It was destroyed by a hurricane in 1708 only to be rebuilt but then burned down during the French Revolution. In order to preserve its history, a new church was built on top of the original one. Nature lovers are often excited to visit River Rock Falls, another one of Anse la Raye's gems. The cascading waterfalls are perfect for a refreshing swim or for a picnic thanks to its surrounding facilities. Competing with the River Rock Falls are the Anse La Raye Falls. This beautiful waterfall requires a bit of a hike to find, but it is well worth the trouble. However, despite the waterfall's beauty, swimming is prohibited as the village relies on this as its water supply. With its colorful fishing boats, delicious cuisine, and welcoming locals, Anse La Raye feels like its own picturesque little world.

Dennery, Micoud & Vieux Fort
Dennery is a quarter of about 12,000 inhabitants located in the central eastern portion of the island. It is mainly comprised of fruit farmers and fishers. Visitors looking for an authentic Saint Lucia experience will appreciate Dennery's delicious down-home eateries and extremely friendly locals. It is home to the famous Sault Falls (also known as Dennery Falls). The water falls over a rounded cliff that is approximately 20 meters (65 feet) in height. It is considered one of Saint Lucia's most scenic waterfalls. The Micoud quarter and village of the same name are located in the southeast. Micoud has a population of about 16,000. Vieux Fort is a quarter that reaches the southernmost tip of Saint Lucia. The town by the same name is the second largest on the island and includes the Hewanorra International Airport. The industrialized city offers a historic old town and local markets as well as access to the Anse Des Sables Beach. Vieux Fort also proposes one of St. Lucia's most creative accommodation options, the Reef Beach Huts. For anyone who has ever wanted to stay in a cottage on the beach, this affordable yet charming option will make for a pleasant stay.

Gros Islet
Gros Islet encompasses the northern portion of Saint Lucia. With lots of upscale restaurants, shopping malls, and night clubs, this quarter is an extremely popular destination spot for tourists. The area with the expensive hotels and ritzy night life is known as the Rodney Bay area in the town of Gros Islet on the western coast of the quarter. Gros Islet is also the spot where vendors and party-goers fill the roads for the popular Friday night street party known as "Jump Up." Nature lovers will be pleased to find the Pigeon Island National Park, a peaceful oasis filled with an abundance of wildlife. Another popular destination for tourists is the lovely Sandals resort.
While many people associate Saint Lucia with lush green foliage and stunning nature sites like the drive-in volcano and Pitons, Saint Lucia also boasts a number of galleries, many interesting shops, and a swinging nightlife scene.

Museums & Galleries
While Saint Lucia does not boast a large number of museums, the Pigeon Island Museum and Interpretive Centre is definitely an interesting one. The Pigeon Island National Landmark is located on the northwestern part of the island and covers 16 hectares (40 acres). Pigeon Island was once an isolated island, but in 1972, a causeway was built to connect it to the mainland. It became a national park in 1979 and a national landmark in 1992. The museum and interpretive center are located inside a former British officers' building that has been restored to its original 1808 elegance. The museum covers the island's history through ancient artifacts and objects as well as interactive audio/visual aids. The Saint Lucia Folk Research Centre, located in Castries, hosts rotating exhibitions and organizes cultural events throughout the year such as the Creole Film Festival and the Creole Music Festival. Visitors looking to browse local artwork (and potentially buy) may wish to visit the Inner Gallery, the Eudovic Art Studio and the Modern Art Gallery.

Outdoor Activities
Saint Lucia is a beautiful tropical island filled with wildlife, beaches and many outdoor attractions. The Saint Lucia Volcano (Drive-In Volcano) is by far one of the island's most popular destinations. Technically still an active volcano, this one emits gas (very pungent sulfur) as opposed to ash. Visitors can drive right up to this ancient crater and are then invited to follow a guide around the volcano for a 30-minute tour. This is an undeniably unique opportunity and one that most visitors take advantage of. Another great way to spend a day outdoors is to visit the Errard Plantation. This former spice plantation is filled with smells of nutmeg and cocoa trees. The plantation home itself was built in 1903 and is a great example of Victorian architecture. The lush rainforest surrounding the plantation makes for an excellent hike, and guests are also invited to dine on a home-cooked lunch at the Estate house. Hikers looking for another scenic point may wish to seek out the Sault Falls. These waterfalls are considered St. Lucia's most beautiful and fall close to 20 meters (65 feet) over a rounded cliff. Located in the eastern part of Saint Lucia are the Mamiku Gardens. These nine hectares (22 acres) of gardens are part of the original 162-hectare (400-acre) Mamiku Estate. These gardens were opened to the public in 1998 and are a nature lover's paradise. The gardens boast hundreds of flowers and trees, and the overall feeling is incredibly serene. No trip to Saint Lucia is complete without a day at the beach. The Jalousie Beach is a stunning white sand beach set right between the Gros and Petit Pitons. It is a great spot for sunbathers, and the drop-off at the base of the Pitons is 548 meters (1800 feet)! The Anse Chastanet Beach is a great place for snorkeling thanks to its stunning coral reef.

Shopping
Tourists will be pleased to learn that there are many shopping opportunities to be seized in Saint Lucia. Pointe Seraphine is a relatively new cruise ship docking area that is filled with many duty-free shops. This is a great shopping opportunity for departing visitors who have not found the time to souvenir shop and for arriving visitors who are eager to begin their shopping extravaganza. Water taxis shuttle shoppers from these quays to the center of Castries. La Place Carenage is a shopping mall located in Castries. It is also a great opportunity for duty-free shopping and houses many stores (jewelers, clothing boutiques, perfumeries, and gift shops) as well as dinning opportunities. Fans of large shopping malls will also be pleased to stumble upon the JQ Charles Mall in Rodney Bay. This mall is home to numerous stores, art galleries, a post office and even a supermarket. However, visitors who prefer the idea of an open-air market should head for the Castries Craft Market or the Soufrière Market. Castries Craft Market is over 100 years old, and shoppers will be dazzled by the locally designed and handmade clothing, paintings, spices and other crafts. The Soufrière Market is also known for making locally produced items such as straw hats, clay pots and hand-woven baskets.

Nightlife
Whether honeymooning couples or spring-breakers, many visitors come to Saint Lucia looking for a night out on the town, and Saint Lucia will not disappoint. Spinnakers Beach Bar is a happening spot right on Reduit Beach in Rodney Bay, one of St. Lucia's most picturesque beaches. At night the lights are dimmed for a more romantic feel. Visitors looking to dance the night away will not want to miss Pulse Night Club in the Rodney Bay area. Pulse opened its doors in 2008 and has had revelers swaying to the beats ever since. Pulse's resident DJ knows how to get the crowds going, and the club offers VIP service. Fans of live jazz should head to Jambe de Bois on Pigeon Island, and a place like Planter's Pub has it all—TV screen, pool tables, darts and live music!
If eating bananas counts as a true dining experience, then Saint Lucia is its own culinary reverie. The banana is Saint Lucia’s principal cash crop, and many plantations throughout the island are devoted solely to its cultivation and dissemination. While the ubiquity of fruit, and especially bananas, is undeniable, the island also offers a wealth of other gastronomical delights. Traditional Caribbean cuisine exhibits a melting pot of national influences. African, Native American, French, Indian and Spanish flavors could all make appearances on a restaurant menu. As a general rule, the Spanish influence on cuisine is more evident among the northern islands, closer to Cuba, while dishes in Saint Kitts and Trinidad and Tobago in the south more closely resemble a traditional Indian or African fare. Saint Lucia adds to the mix a French-influenced Creole flare where seafood gumbos and Cajun grilled meats are reminiscent of Louisiana-style cooking in the United States. Indeed, even explaining the myriad of Caribbean flavors can be a mouthful.

Castries
As in much of the Caribbean, many noteworthy restaurants are attached to hotels and cater to wealthy tourists. In full embrace of the expectations of these island visitors, the restaurants will often include warm and relaxing amenities. Castries is home to the Coal Pot. The Coal Pot is an upscale restaurant right on the waterfront serving a combination of French and Caribbean cuisine. It is ideal for honeymooning couples. However, this overview would not be complete without mentioning Jacques Waterfront Dining. While the cuisine is defined as French-Caribbean fusion, Chef Jacques has traveled all over the world and uses many eclectic flavors and influences in his cuisine.

Gros Islet
Gros Islet in northern Saint Lucia is home to Rodney Bay, an extremely popular area for drinking, dining and nightlife. Therefore it is no surprise that Gros Islet is home to a plethora of diverse restaurants and bars. A hearty option is the Big Chef Steak House known simply as "Big Chef." The quality of the meat is excellent, and the cuts are paired with delicious sauces and great red wines. If the quality steaks and fresh seafood are not enough to suit your pallet, try some upscale Asian cuisine at Tao, located in the The BodyHoliday at LeSport resort. Located on the second floor of the resort, this restaurant offers lovely views and a delicious blend of Asian and Caribbean flavors—what more could one desire?

Soufrière
Thanks to the Saint Lucia Volcano (Drive-in Volcano) and the stunning Pitons, Soufrière is one of St. Lucia's most popular areas. Therefore, it is no surprise that Soufrière is home to several delicious restaurants and lively bars. Camilla's Restaurant & Bar is an unpretentious joint serving solid West Indian and Creole fare. The shellfish is particularly popular as is the chicken curry. However, many of these dishes are only available for dinner; lunch is a more basic menu of salads and sandwiches. Dasheene Restaurant & Bar is one of the most popular restaurants in all of Saint Lucia. The restaurant blends Caribbean and Creole flavors with the innovations of Californian cuisine. The restaurant is considered fairly high-end, and a dress code is imposed in the evenings. However, most diners agree that it is worth the trouble and the expense. Lifeline Restaurant is located inside the Hummingbird Beach Resort. Lifeline specializes in French-Creole cuisine, and many of the vegetables served come directly from the Hummingbird's garden. The Mango Tree is another popular Soufrière eatery. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, locals and tourists alike rave about this place. For breakfast try the Creole omelet or the banana pancakes. The menu also features a nice selection of vegetarian dishes, and on certain nights, a buffet is offered for a fixed price. The Mango Tree also hosts local musicians on certain nights and doubles as a very popular venue for nightlife.
Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia By The Numbers
Population: 184,999
Elevation: Ranges from 0 meters at sea level to 950 meters (3,117 feet) at its highest point.
Average Annual Rainfall: Ranges from 130 centimeters (51.2 inches) on the coast to 381 centimeters (150 inches) in the mountains.
Average January Temperature: 26°C / 79°F
Average July Temperature: 28°C / 82°F

Quick Facts
Electricity: 220 volts, 50Hz, three-pin square plugs are standard

Time Zone: UTC-4; Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)

Country Dialing Code: +1

Area Code: 758

Did You Know?
Saint Lucia has two Nobel Prize winners: Sir Arthur Lewis for economics in 1979 and Derek Walcott for literature in 1992.

Saint Lucia is home to the world’s only “drive in volcano”.

Orientation
Saint Lucia is located in the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. The island is about 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and about 35 kilometers (21 miles) south of Martinique.

St. Lucia is the largest of the Caribbean's Windward Islands. With 158 km of rugged coastline tucked around its 616 sq. km land mass, it is approximately the same size as Toronto. In the north, it's dotted with lush rainforests and sandy coves. To the south you'll find rugged volcanic peaks and the island's famous Piton Mountains.

Most resorts are found along its western coast leading to the capital of Castries in the northwest. Between Castries and Soufriere in the south lies Marigot Bay, a natural harbour that was once a common hideaway for pirate ships.

There's plenty to discover in St. Lucia's central mountain range and the landscape is strikingly beautiful. Explore lush forests filled with wild orchids and giant ferns. You might even catch sight of the Jacquot—St. Lucia's national bird.

Like the ever popular flip-flopping politicians of modern times, Saint Lucia shares a reputation for having played the political field. The French and British used the island as a bargaining chip for many years resulting in numerous switches of national identification between the two over the past centuries. This explains why natives can speak a French-influenced Creole language known as Kwéyòl while swinging wickets on the cricket pitch.

Natives of the land are known as Caribs who ruled there until European explorers entered the area in the early 16th Century. While the Spanish had their hands in Caribbean waters and affairs early on, it was not until 1635 that the French officially claimed Saint Lucia as their own. Meanwhile, the British had other plans and started settlements shortly after. This marked the beginning of a long struggle between the two empires for dominance over Saint Lucia and other islands in the Caribbean. The French maintained control from 1651 to 1654, only to watch the British reclaim a strong presence there in 1664 after many French soldiers died of disease.

The island continued changing hands through the 17th and into the 18th Century. At the time it was largely used as political leverage in trades, but it was also starting to exhibit a burgeoning sugar industry. This made it a desirable economic asset. The French moved more people into the land until fighting with the local Caribs intensified. Across the seas, the French Revolution of 1789 spread new ideals that led to dramatic changes in French control of Saint Lucia. In 1794, the French freed the slaves on the island and then joined them in battle against the British who wanted to continue ruling slaves there. After years of fighting, the French eventually ceded control of Saint Lucia.

In the early 1800s, the British put a halt to the slave trade and later freed all slaves on the island; but it was not until 1924 that a constitution was written and Saint Lucia gained its first form of representative government. Some time after, universal suffrage was instituted, and all citizens began electing government officials. Saint Lucia became a member of the short-lived West Indies Federation and of associated statehood with the United Kingdom before becoming fully independent on February 22, 1979. It remains an active member of the Commonwealth of Nations that recognizes the monarch of Great Britain as its head of state and has entered into economic agreements, such as the East Caribbean Common Market and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, with its island neighbors.

The most efficient way to get around the island is by hailing a taxi. Taxis are readily available throughout the island and the drivers are extremely knowledgeable about restaurants, stores and all of the tourist attractions. Just remember to negotiate cost before accepting a ride since taxis in St. Lucia do not run on a meter.

Bus transportation and bike rentals are also available. Speak with your hotel concierge for more information.

Arrival

All guests travelling to St. Lucia require a passport valid for at least six months beyond their expected departure date. Proof of return airfare and sufficient funds to cover cost of your vacation are also required.

On board the aircraft, you will need to complete the necessary customs document provided to you by your friendly WestJet flight attendants. Upon arrival at Hewanorra International Airport, you will present this document to an immigrations official.

If you've booked airport transfers with WestJet Vacations, look for a St. Lucia airport transfers representative. He or she will be holding a WestJet Vacations sign and will shuttle you to and from your hotel. Simply identify yourself as a WestJet Vacations guest and you'll be on your way.

From Hewanorra International, it's about an hour to hour-and-a-half long drive to the resorts in Soufrière and Castries.

Departure

Smiling WestJetters will greet you at the departure check-in counters, beginning three hours prior to your flight. There is a departure tax from Hewanorra International Airport, but it has been included in the cost of your airfare.

Vaccinations

Be sure your vaccinations are up-to-date. Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, malaria, typhoid and tetanus are commonly recommended. Check with your local clinic should you have questions.

St. Lucia uses the 220-240 volt UK Standard three-pin plug. You will need a transformer to convert voltage along with a plug adapter in order to use North American devices. Dual-voltage items, such as laptop computers, will still require a plug adapter. A few of the larger hotels have 110 volt outlets for electric razor use.

St. Lucia is consistently ranked as the No. 1 honeymoon destination in the Caribbean by the World Travel Awards. But expect more than just beachfront gazebos and posh digs frequented by the likes of Oprah, Denzel Washington and Nicolas Cage. This island offers a variety of experiences for all travellers.

There are many spas in St. Lucia, along with one of the world's first health resorts and numerous top-notch restaurants. There are mountains to climb (20,000 steps will get you up and down Gros Piton's rocky elevation), rainforests to zipline and according to National Geographic, one of the Caribbean's top dive centres at Anse Chastanet. And don't forget about the incredible public beaches offering plenty of rest and relaxation in the area of your choice.

All guests travelling to St. Lucia require a passport valid for at least six months beyond their expected departure date.

The official currency of St. Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC).

The most efficient way to get around the island is by hailing a taxi.

Departing from:

^Total price one-way per guest. See terms and conditions.

*Prices are per guest, based on double occupancy and are limited; may not reflect real-time pricing or availability. See terms and conditions.

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