St Lucia is a volcanic island which has lush rainforests and cooling breezes, thanks to its location in the Eastern Caribbean where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. More mountainous than other Caribbean islands, St Lucia enjoys a tropical climate and is at its driest between December and March. This is the most popular time to visit. The northeast tradewinds provide a constant cooling effect. The mountainous nature of St Lucia means that rainfall can be heavier over other smaller islands nearby.
Situated in the hurricane belt, the hurricane season runs between June and October. This is by far the most significant feature of St Lucia weather. Although severe storms are rare, directly affecting the area approximately once every 19.71 years, St Lucia has been affected by them in the past. 1780 saw the deadliest Atlantic Hurricane season ever, with a hurricane practically destroying Soufriere – the capital at the time and another storm causing severe damage across St Lucia.
Soufriere has been the victim of hurricane damage several times during its history, being hit again in 1817, 1831, and 1898. 1960 saw Hurricane Abby hit with 80mph winds which killed 6 people, 1963 Hurricane Edith killed 10, Hurricane Debby hit in 1994, destroying 60% of the banana crop. St Lucia was most recently hit by Hurricane Dean in 2007. This hurricane was so powerful that it blew the roof off of the children’s ward at Victoria Hospital and blew wave breaking boulders onto the highway. This is testimony to the fact that St Lucia weather can be very turbulent, although having said that, the island does not suffer anything like as regularly as some other parts of the Caribbean.
Hurricane Allen occurred in 1980, causing wide spread damage estimated at $235 million. Predictions estimate that the next hurricane to hit St Lucia will occur around 2011.
In January, the average high temperature is 81 Fahrenheit (around 27.5 Celsius), with the average low 68 Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). In July the high is 85 Fahrenheit (29.5 Celsius) and the low is 72 Fahrenheit (22 Celsius). These statistics show that the St Lucia weather is very similar throughout the year. Humidity is between 76% to 83%. The St Lucia weather is generally lovely all year round, although sporadic showers can occur during the summer. These can be quite welcome though, and the locals refer to them as “liquid sunshine”.
Meteorological records show that the lowest temperatures ever recorded on the island were 13.3 Celsius (57 Fahrenheit) in Soufriere, 15.6 (60 Fahrenheit) in Castries, and 17.4 (64 Fahrenheit) at Hewanorra Airport. The highest recorded temperatures in the same locations were 36.1 Celsius, 35.6 Celsius, and 33.1 Celsius respectively.
St Lucia generally enjoys between 7 and 9 hours of sunshine a day depending on the time of year. Water temperatures range between 79 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. The average annual rainfall is 60 inches.
Weather statistics show that St Lucia is wetter in general throughout the year than Barbados, this being due to its higher mountains.
The St Lucia weather is monitored and forecast by the St Lucia Meteorological Service. They have two weather stations, one in the north of St Lucia and the other in the south.
The main thing you need to know about the St Lucia weather is the fact that you are pretty much guaranteed plenty of sunshine and sub-tropical temperatures all year round. If you prefer the St Lucia weather to be a little more cooling, head inland to the rain forest where you will often be provided with a welcome shower.
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.