11 things to know about St. Lucia before going to your Caribbean holiday

With plenty affordable flights from Canada and USA, St. Lucia (or Saint Lucia) is a popular holiday destination for a week of summer in winter blues. Whether it’s your first Caribbean getaway or you are a seasoned traveler, it helps to know about a public transport, getting around  and ways of the island in advance to be able to fully enjoy your holiday.

sulfur spring_sized
Sulfur springs, located inside the volcano crater near the Soufriere town (also inside the crater). A walk through the geology.

Eleven things to know about St. Lucia to help you to enjoy your stay:

  1. Public transport – Buses don’t bother with anything as trivial as a time-table. They drives out from the first stop of the line when all seats are taken. Practice that, in addition to avoid waste of petrol, works as a free lesson on a patience and a time management.  Buses can be recognized by a green licence plate. Find an info about bus routes here . 
  2. Buses also pick up between the official stops when signaled and when they have a free seat (more likely further down the line).
  3. Taxis have a black-white licence place with letters TX.
  4. Hitch-hiking is possible but is likely to take time. Your driver may ask you for a petrol money at the end of a ride. Or they may invite you over for a church meal, like happened with me.
  5. Some beach hotels provide a shuttle between a car park and a beach. Sugar beach can be reached by a hotel shuttle. Ride down is free and you are suppose to pay on the way back up, unless you are a hotel customer. We took a free shuttle down, bought a pizza from a hotel restaurant for lunch and the recite gave us a free ride back up.

    palmid
    Walk among Saint Lucia greenery.

     

  6. When renting a car, make sure you get something that have enough power to get up the hills. A Canadian family who had settled for a replacement car after being declined their initial booking (car that was originally promised had claimed been in an accident) swore that occasionally they thought they have to get out and push to reach up a hill. They skipped a few locations they would have otherwise loved to explore. 

  7. Bring at least some cash (US dollars are generally accepted). Though bigger shops have a card terminals, they might refuse to work without apparent reason. 
  8. When asking for a price, make sure you confirm if number is in the US or Caribbean dollars. Services for tourists (taxi, food, accommodation etc.) are often quoted in US dollars that is about twice the cost of a Caribbean dollar.

  9. In a store produce section prices randomly fluctuate between per piece and per kilogram. It’s rarely specified, if you assume it to be what ever end costing more you are rarely wrong. It’s a small island, bringing things here are costly, don’t expect food to be cheap. 

  10. Yes, bananas are grown here. No, that doesn’t mean they are cheap. Bananas cost about the double of what I had got used to in Toronto, go figure.

  11. Panhandling happens, but it is not too common or aggressive. 

St. Lucia is a great holiday island with a tropical climate moderated by a trade winds and a surrounding sea. Everything one could wish for a tropical holiday a warm water, a lush greenery, hiking trails, hot water springs, surf waves as well as a lazy sandy beaches, coconut water sipped through the straw directly from this delicious drupe, it’s all here. You even get occasional monsoon rains, hopefully not too many though.

Finally a bonus tip about swimming –  if you like it rough check out the a Sandy Beach, nearest to the airport. It was my favorite spot, as it opens toward the Atlantic ocean (instead of rather tame Caribbean sea) and comes with a waves. With a really small kids probably the Sugar beach is more relaxed option. Bring your snorkeling equipment or at least swimming goggles.

Breakfast terrace at my Airbnb host place
Siesta time. A breakfast terrace at my Airbnb accommodation with a pathway going down to a local water hole at right.

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