An Overview of St. Lucia
St Lucia is one of the Windward Islands and proves popular both as a destination for family vacations as well as romantic honeymoons. The island has some wonderful beaches, some of traditional golden sand and others with black sand. Some beaches are famous for being turtle nesting sites. Its most famous landmark is the Pitons which are considered to be the symbol of St Lucia.
The waters surrounding St Lucia are excellent for diving, snorkeling, windsurfing and other watersports, with part of the west coast being designated as a marine park. One of the best marinas in the West Indies can be found at Rodney Bay. The interior of St Lucia is mountainous and quite beautiful, with several areas of forest reserve which helps to protect the wildlife of St Lucia, which includes the St Lucian parrot.
There are wonderful sightseeing opportunities such as sulphur springs, colonial fortifications and old plantation houses. The heritage of St Lucia is diverse and draws on a history of French and English colonists and African slaves. Many artists and writers hail from St Lucia, including 2 Nobel prize winners.
It is easy to get to St Lucia, with direct flights from North America, Europe and other parts of the Caribbean. There are two airports, Hewanorra which serves international flights, and George Charles which is a regional airport connecting St Lucia with the rest of the Caribbean.
The capital of St Lucia is Castries, which is built on a natural harbour and surrounded by mountains. The city has been extensively rebuilt after suffering four major fires during its history, the most recent in 1948. Although the buildings are mostly modern, there are a few examples of 19th and early 20th century French style wooden buildings remaining. The tallest building in the city is the seven-storey Financial Centre which features a sculpture by Ricky George, a local artist. Ceremonial occasions take place in Derek Walcott Square, in the center, of which you will find a 400 year old Saman Tree.
Other places worth a visit include the Rain Forest Sky Rides at Babbonneau, a gondola ride above the rain forest, Pigeon Island; managed by the National Trust and considered to be of considerable archaeological and historical importance. Dennery, which hosts a “fish fest” every weekend – a street party where you can enjoy music and dancing whilst enjoying freshly caught fish. Marigot Bay is beautiful, the 1967 Dr Doolittle film was shot here. It is a natural harbour whose marina is a popular choice for yachts looking for a place to rest. Elsewhere on the west coast, the town of Soufriere sits in the most picturesque part of the island. The town dates back to 1713 and consists of lots of French colonial style houses. A short distance from Soufriere is the marine park at Anse Chastanet. If you enjoy snorkeling this is an absolute must.
St Lucia is also home to the worlds only “drive-in volcano” – you can smell it well before you see it, as there are sulphur springs here. The Pitons are volcanic plugs and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you want to get away from it all, it might be worth paying the west coast a visit. The beaches are much more isolated and so create perfect nesting sites for wildlife. The Forestry Department maintains a network of trails throughout the island.
Sailing is a popular past time, with boats readily available to hire with or without crew. Some of the best views of the island can only be seen from out at sea, so it’s well worth taking at least one boat trip during your stay.
The local food is Creole style and includes local specialities such as Accra – a deep fried fish cake. To wash it down there can be nothing better than an ice-cold Piton beer (the local brand) or a cocktail made from some local rum.
Nightlife tends to be hotel based, although you can venture out to a number of clubs and bars around Rodney Bay, or to a local “jump up” a kind of ritual street party where you eat local food, and dance to music in the street.
St Lucia offers a wide selection of places to stay to suit all tastes and budgets, including luxury hotels, small guesthouses, apartments and private villas. Many airlines offer package tours which include your flight and accommodation.
The local currency of St Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar although the US Dollar is also widely accepted.