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Top Things to Know Before You Travel to St. Lucia

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

St. Lucia, a Caribbean island paradise that mixes rugged volcanic mountains, tropical rainforest, and sandy beaches.  It is the perfect vacation for honeymooners and divers alike since it finds a balance between a developed, tourist-friendly island and a rural location full of local character and untouched natural beauty. The island is full of waterfalls, sandy beaches, fresh seafood, and more, from the busy, party-loving north to the relaxed tranquillity of the nature-heavy south. Here are 8 additional things to consider before you leave for St. Lucia.

1. There are two (2) airports in St. Lucia: The main and larger airport, Hewanorra Airport (UVF) is located in the south of the island, and this is where international flights land (larger aircraft). The smaller airport in the Northern Castries area, George F. Charles Airport (SLU) is more often used for flights within the Caribbean islands (where your flight will land).

2. Exchange/Currency US Dollars: The official currency of St. Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD), but you don't need to convert a larger amount of cash before you arrive. Most places accept U.S. dollars, though you might be given change in EC dollars. Tip: Always carry some cash because the option to pay by card isn’t always available, you may need to take public transportation and smaller shops may not accept cards.

3. Lots of Nature & Cultural Activities are in the South of the Island (Soufriere) St. Lucia has a huge geographical variety. Some of the most beautiful, lush, tropical forest areas are located in the Southwest of the island. Here, outside of Soufriere, you will find the famous mud baths, waterfalls, botanical gardens, drive-thru volcano, and world class diving and snorkelling. You'll also find area fish fries and many cultural hot spots in the South. Many excursions especially catamarans come from the North of St. Lucia to the South to see these areas. While there are resorts located in the South, they are more spread out and remote than resorts in the North near Castries. If you stay in the North, you will want to plan at least half a day or full day of your vacation to see the South part of St. Lucia and experience the natural wonders.

4. St. Lucia offers more than just beaches. Sure, beaches are great, but St. Lucia is also home to a lush, tropical landscape worth exploring. There’s the 19,000-acre National Rain Forest, the Diamond Botanical Gardens, numerous waterfalls (including the amazing Sault Falls on the east side of the island), Sulphur Springs (complete with mud baths), and the Pitons — which you can hike up. Oh, and don’t miss a trip to a local market. Castries isn’t the greatest place to visit, but its bustling market is worth making an exception for.

5. Friday Night Gros Islet Street Party Friday night is street party night. Every Friday night, locals and tourists come together to dance, drink strong rum punch and ice-cold piton beer, and feast on fresh barbecued fish, crab, and lobster. The street party in the small town of Gros Islet features Caribbean music, food, dancing and top-notch people-watching and usually starts around 10pm. Here you can join the locals to sing and dance to the rhythm of the percussion steel bands and take part in this happy celebration. Make sure to stop at Dukes, which is the popular eating spot in Gros Islet.

6. Tipping is discretionary. Most restaurants and bars will add 10 percent for service to the bill — anything additional is up to you. That said, St. Lucia is an island that relies heavily on tourism, so feel free to tip to your heart’s content if you feel you’ve received exceptional service from your taxi driver, tour guide, or bartender.

7. Travel Adapters/Converters: In St. Lucia the common voltage is 230 V, so you may want to carry a travel adapter/converter as smaller boutique hotels do not usually carry the plugs that we're accustomed to in our home country. Some of the more upscale hotels do have adapters on hand, however you may want to invest in your own.

8. Don’t be afraid to rent a car. While a lot of hotels run shuttle buses to beaches and attractions, hiring a car offers you the freedom to explore on your own schedule. St. Lucia is mountainous, so expect some steep ups and downs and plenty of winding corners. That said, there is only one main road on the island, so it’s difficult to get lost. Bear in mind that rental cars can be identified through their license plates, so think twice before leaving valuables in the car, especially if you park up somewhere quiet.

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