St Lucia
 
Introduction
 
St Lucia is a real Caribbean beauty, from the tips of her lush fertile plains to the soft, sandy beaches that ring her northwest coast.
Yet she is not simply a visual treat, but one of the friendliest islands you are ever likely to visit.
Among the most popular of the Windward Islands, St Lucia offers so much, from inland rainforests to secluded coves. Approached from the sea, the Pitons – twin volcanic peaks – seem to rise up from the depths to welcome you.  
Throughout the island the countryside is diverse as well as breathtaking, encouraging visitors to laze on beautiful beaches or hike through dense and mysterious rainforests. Add this to St Lucia’s rich cultural heritage and intriguing history and you have the perfect holiday destination.
This island’s lively pulse is centred on its capital, Castries – home of hectic streets, colourful markets and a continuous calypso beat. Here is where most people do their souvenir shopping, although the island’s busiest resort is Rodney Bay in the north, a popular yachting centre, where hotels line a sandy coral beach and restaurants and bars fringe the marina. From here you can walk to Fort Rodney in the Pigeon Island National Historic Park to enjoy great views across Rodney Bay – while a little to the north is Signal Peak and yet more stunning vistas.
Beaches around the island range from sparkling white to black volcanic sand and water sports are popular from many of them. Everywhere there are first class diving opportunities, and especially on the northwest coast. The secluded west coast beaches, to the south of Marigot Bay, face the calm Caribbean and can only be reached by boat. The east, on the other hand, is open to the sometimes rough Atlantic Ocean which, although not safe for swimming, provides spectacular views and attracts far fewer tourists.
St Lucia has much to explore, from a ‘drive-in’ volcano at La Soufrière to the Diamond Botanical Gardens Waterfall and Mineral Baths, and numerous villages set against an idyllic backdrop
St Lucia’s currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar, which is linked to the US dollar. All major credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are available at banks. Traveller’s cheques are accepted but US dollars are preferred.
There are plenty of package tours to St Lucia and all-inclusive holidays are very popular. Self catering is available and for those wishing to get away from it all there are opportunities to stay in more remote areas off the tourist track.

See & Do

St Lucia has a wealth of places to visit, walks to follow and resorts where it’s possible to just chill out. Here are a few of the highlights:

·         Castries – the bustling hub of the island with shopping, markets and historic buildings, including a 19th century cathedral, old Caribbean houses preserved on Morne Fortune’s green slopes, and the remains of an 18th-century fort – Fort Charlotte

·         Rodney Bay – among the island’s most popular resorts, with plenty of social life and great sailing on its man-made lagoon. Visit Pigeon Island National Historic Park and Fort Rodney.

·         Marigot Bay – famed for its perfect beach and mountain backdrop

·         Anse des Sables – always popular with windsurfers

·         Great beaches – try Choc Beach, Anse Chastanet, Anse Cochon, Reduit, Vigie

·         Soufrière – soak up the local culture and be sure to visit the volcanoes

·         Gros Islet – renowned for its Friday night street party

·         Outdoor activities – choose from parasailing, water skiing, diving, snorkelling, sailing, windsurfing, whale and turtle watching, a zip ride through the rainforest canopy, hiking, climbing, plantation tours and simply lazing on secluded beaches


Shopping

Favourite souvenirs include artworks and carvings, batik and silk-screen clothing items and bags, straw mats, clay pottery, straw hats, baskets, brooms (made from palm fronds), coffee, cocoa and spices.

Castries, with its markets and arcades, is the main shopping centre. Try the Vendors Arcade across from the market, and be prepared to negotiate on price. The port area, Pointe Seraphine, has a large number of duty free shops. There are more souvenir outlets in the main resorts, along with specialist art galleries and craft centres. Even if you don’t buy a great deal the spectacle and colour while browsing is an experience all of its own.

 

Food & Drink

A host of restaurants greets the visitor, with food ranging from standard Western-cuisine to West Indian and Creole dishes, which often betray a strong French influence. There is plenty of fresh fish plus lobster and other seafood. Fast food abounds with stalls in all the major resorts and along the beach areas. Choose everything from fish and chips to local foods such as callaloo (a spinach-like vegetable) soup, plus all manner of stews. Don’t miss the mouth-watering fresh fruit juices, including passion fruit, pineapple, coconut and soursop. Local beers include Piton beer, great for a cool off after the beach, and of course there is rum.

Here are a few restaurants you might like to try:

  • Eagles Inn, Gros Islet, Rodney Bay
  • The Lime, Rodney Bay
  • The Great House, Rodney Bay
  • Coal Pot, Vigie Marina, Castries
  • Restaurant de Palétuvier, Castries
  • Green Parrot, Castries
  • Rainforest Hideaway, Marigot Bay
  • The Still, Soufrière
  • Dasheene, Soufrière
  • Lifeline Restaurant at the Hummingbird, Soufrière
  • La Mirage Guest House & Restaurant, Laborie

 

Entertainment

Most of St. Lucia’s nightlife is based around the hotels, restaurants and bars. Take a trip to Gros Islet for their Friday night street party and you will meet the locals – expect loud music and lively dancing. At Anse La Raye’s Seafood Friday event enjoy feasting and lively entertainment. Popular nightspots in Rodney Bay are Indies Night Club, Le Chalet and The Late Lime, and The Wharf at Castries.

The winter months are always great for local music and dance.

 

Excursions

If you want to go beyond the beaches there are plenty of companies or hotel reps to organise trips, such as Heritage Tours St Lucia. Based in Castries, they arrange general, cultural and historical trips around the island. See also the See & Do section.

 

Health & Safety

Bilharzia, a parasitic disease, is endemic to St Lucia. Avoid swimming or wading in fresh water. Take the usual precautions against mosquitoes.

It is perfectly safe to drink the water however bottled water is widely available.

Stick to well-trodden trails when hiking as the poisonous snake, fer-de-lance, may be in the undergrowth.

Most of the island is trouble-free, but take the usual precautions against robbery and theft – don’t flaunt expensive jewellery. Avoid isolated areas, such as beaches and back streets, after dark.

 

 

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