Visiting St. Lucia – What You Need to Know
Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary way of life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere – Isabelle Eberhardt
St. Lucia is an incredibly beautiful island in the Caribbean. Not surprisingly, it is a popular wedding and honeymoon destination. It has a number of absolutely stunning private beaches that you can access by car or water taxi. These beautiful beaches reminded me of Jimmy Buffet singing Margaritaville.. need I say more?
So how do you plan a vacation to St. Lucia?
Flights: There are a number of flight options to St. Lucia, however if you are flying from Canada, you will most likely have to stop in Toronto, or somewhere in the US beforehand. Toronto seems to be the only city that has direct flights to St. Lucia from Canada. That being said, the flights weren’t actually that expensive. We paid about $635 CAD round trip, which we felt was a good deal! We also booked the flights and accommodation about 4 months in advance of the trip.
Accommodation: Instead of a hotel, we chose an AirBnb in the Rodney Bay area. This was a good option for us because it was inexpensive. We paid $1870 CAD for a condo for 4 people, over 8 days. So overall it was only $467 a person, which again, we thought was pretty good. We originally wanted to go all-inclusive so that we didn’t have to worry about meals and drinks. But in the end I think this was a better option because we were able to try some different restaurants out and experience the local culture a little bit more.
Activities: We hiked a Piton! The Gros Piton to be exact. It was phenomenal, and I would highly recommend it. While we were getting a ride to the base of the mountain, our driver told us that the hike was the ultimate Stairmaster… and he was right! But it was totally worth it. The hike itself is about 3 and a half hours; 2 up and 1.5 down. The top of Gros piton is the highest point in the country, so it is really cool to be able to stand on the highest point of a country and look out at everything. The views are stunning, as you can see almost all the way down to the south tip of the island.
Transit: We got rides everywhere. Sometimes the tours included a driver, but if they didn’t we would book a driver. The roads on St. Lucia are very erratic, and when combined with driving on the opposite side of the road, we realized we definitely did not have the confidence to drive there. St. Lucia is also mountainous, so when going in between towns you tend to go up, then back down, which meant a lot of switchbacks.
Tours: We did two tours while on this vacation. First we did the Private Half-Day: Time Travelers Tour, offered by Viator. This was an awesome introductory trip to the island. We were able see a couple of the fishing villages, the Pitons and visit the Diamond Botanical Gardens and mud baths. The Diamond Botanical Gardens are beautiful, and the guide gives you a great introduction to the history of the gardens, and certain plants. The mud baths are also fun because they let you cover yourself in volcanic mud, which actually does feel amazing on your skin.
The second tour we did was a snorkeling and jungle biking tour. This tour doesn’t seem to be offered on the Viator website anymore, but there are tons of similar tours. For this tour we boated over to Anse Chastanet beach where we were given bikes and allowed to bike throughout the jungle. Behind Anse Chastanet is an old sugar plantation which still has all the old buildings that you can walk through. This area was actually featured on one of The Bachelor episodes, as it is incredibly beautiful. After biking around the jungle, we went back to the beach and got a water taxi ride over to another area to snorkel. Snorkeling was pretty fun. It allowed us to see various tropical fish. I scared myself because I saw a jellyfish and got out, but apparently they weren’t the stinging kind! Silly me. Overall a good experience!
Tipping: People in St. Lucia accept US cash as tips. A couple of dollars seems to go a long way so we generally tried to tip each time we were given good service. Other purchases could be completed using a credit card.
I hope you find this information helpful in your trip planning! We had a great time, and would love to go back. I would recommend bringing a small amount of US cash, and using your card for the rest. It’s also important to be aware that there are hagglers on the beach, but they usually accept a polite “No”. I also wouldn’t let that stop you from visiting any of the beaches, because they really are beautiful and the water is so clear!