St. Lucia Destination Guide
St Lucia, One of the Windward Islands, it is located in the middle of the Eastern Caribbean chain of islands and is approximately 21 miles south of Martinique and 90 miles northwest of Barbados. Castries (population 50,000) is the island’s capital and is situated North-west of the island.
St. Lucia is the sort of island that travelers to the Caribbean dream about–a small, lush tropical gem that is still relatively unknown. One of the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, it is located midway down the Eastern Caribbean chain, between Martinique and St. Vincent, and north of Barbados. St. Lucia is only 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, with a shape that is said to resemble either a mango or an avocado (depending on your taste). The Atlantic Ocean kisses its eastern shore, while the beaches of the west coast owe their beauty to the calm Caribbean Sea.
In natural beauty, St. Lucia seems like an island plucked from the South Pacific and set down in the Caribbean. Its dramatic twin coastal peaks, the Pitons, soar 2,000 feet up from the sea, sheltering magnificent rain forests where wild orchids, giant ferns, and birds of paradise flourish. Brilliantly-plumed tropical birds abound, including endangered species like the indigenous St. Lucia parrot. The rainforest is broken only by verdant fields and orchards of banana, coconut, mango, and papaya trees.
St. Lucia has been inhabited since long before colonial times, and its cultural treasures are a fascinating melange of its rich past and its many different traditions. The island’s people have earned a well-deserved reputation for their warmth and charm, and the island itself is dotted with aged fortresses, small villages, and open-air markets.
Watersports are a way of life on this island, where a coastline of rain-forested mountains is frequently interrupted by natural harbors and bays. The island boasts some of the best underwater dive sites in the Caribbean. Many hotels offer scuba diving facilities and snorkeling equipment, as do a number of independent dive centers. Saint Lucia has also become one of the region’s main centers for yacht charters, with operations at the Rodney Bay Marina and at Marigot Harbor. Deep-sea fishing charters are also available for whole and half-day excursions.
FAMILY VACATION IN ST. LUCIA:
Planning a family getaway? St. Lucia is the ideal family vacation destination where everyone can have a time of their life. St. Lucia provides rest, relaxation and rejuvenation for the adults; and lots of outdoor fun and excitement for the kids. Several hotels on island welcome families and offer special facilities including kids clubs, special kids meals, and comforting sleeping arrangements – beds and cots in room or adjoining rooms.
Family vacations can include a variety of land sports and water sports.
Take a tour that the whole family will enjoy; for example, the Rain Forest or a biking tour.
A lovely, sequestered, natural harbor that once provided a hideout for pirate ships, Marigot Bay also served as the setting for the film Dr. Doolittle.
Maria Islands Nature Reserve
These tiny islands in southern Saint Lucia to the east of Vieux Fort are home to rare wildlife and birds. Several species exist nowhere else in the world.
Pigeon Island Museum and Interpretive Centre
This museum is housed in the former British officers’ mess building, which has been restored to its 1808 plans. A modern “hands-on” display brings Pigeon Island’s fascinating history to life.
Whale & Turtle watching
St Lucia is recognized as one of the leading whale watching sites in the area. Over 20 species are regularly spotted throughout the year, including humpbacks, pilot whales, sperm whales and spinning and spotted dolphins.
Turtles are another fascinating thrill for nature-lovers. The abundance of these majestic reptiles on St Lucia is due to the protection provided by local environmental activists, who have ensured there is a permanent suspension on turtle hunting.
OTHER MAIN ATTRACTIONS AND ECOLOGICAL SITES FOR THE ADVENTURIST:
St. Lucia possesses a topography and ecology of stunning beauty, matched by no other location in the Caribbean. The island’s pride in its natural resources is evident in the country’s ongoing protection and conservation efforts. In the mountainous interior lies the enormous National Rain Forest, and the island’s protected coastal sights include the breathtaking, unforgettable spires of Les Pitons. All sorts of nature hikes, tours, and programs have been developed to showcase these peerless assets, allowing visitors to enjoy the island without harming its complex and fragile environment.
St. Lucia’s environmental philosophy also extends beyond its shoreline to the protection of its beautiful coral reefs, with their rich and diverse tropical sea life. The government has created four preservation areas, encompassing all of the island’s outstanding reefs. Watersports enthusiasts, divers, and boat owners are required to purchase a permit before entering the reserve, and the fees are used for repairs to the reef and preserving threatened marine species.
Located near Soufriere, these primeval twin peaks, topping 2,000 feet, are St. Lucia’s most famous landmark. Only the most daring climbers have ventured an ascent to their summits, but they can be seen in all their glory from Mt. Gimie or from the decks of a boat offshore.
National Rain Forest
Of particular appeal to bird watchers, hikers and nature lovers, it covers 19,000 acres of lush mountains and valleys. It is home to giant ferns, birds of paradise and many other indigenous tree species, exotic flowers and fruits, and its paths are strewn with tiny bromeliads, wild orchids and mushrooms. Among the rare and beautiful birds adding color to the scene are the brightly-hued St. Lucia Parrot, known locally as the “jacquot,” the White Breasted Thrasher, the St. Lucia Peewee, and the St. Lucia Oriole. For organized tours, contact the Forest and Lands Department at 450-2231.
The Sulphur Springs
Now dormant, it is the world’s only drive-in volcano. A tour of its bubbly, steamy sulphur springs offers a direct and fascinating lesson in the violent geology of the Caribbean Rim.
At 3,117 feet, it is the highest point on St. Lucia. One of the best eye-filling views of this peak is to be had on emerging from the rain forest. Guided tours are conducted up the mountain.
France’s King Louis XVI had bathhouses built for his troops at these natural, mineral-rich falls. An invigorating shower under the cascading waters is still a refreshing break.
This beautiful hidden treasure of St. Lucia is filled with luscious fruits, blooming flowers, thriving plants, shading trees, and vibrant waterfalls. A walk on the waterfall trails or a relaxing night under the moon and stars, amidst the scent of healthy vegetation, are adventures not to be missed. For more information, contact the Gardens at (758) 454-0202.
Two small islands off the coast of Vieux Fort, the Maria Islands are a nature reserve and the refuge of two species found nowhere else in the world. The Kouwes Snake, noted as the world’s rarest snake, and the Zandoli Te, a ground lizard whose males display a brilliant blue tail. Frigate Island is a haven for frigate birds during mating season.
Nature Hikes, Tours, and Programs – Barre de L’isle Rain Forest Trail
The highlight of this trail, which runs along the perimeter of the rain forest, is a climb to the top of Morne la Combe that is only for the stout of heart. The mountain, towering 1,446 feet, lies on the Barre de Lisle ridge and offers panoramic views west to the Roseau and Mabouya valleys. The walk takes approximately three hours. For more information, call 450-2231/7-8.
Union Nature Trail
A beautiful, looping, graveled path parades through a dry forest punctuated by hummingbirds, warblers, and finches. The nature of the trail allows up close and personal views of several spectacular introduced tree species, medicinal herbs, and local fruit trees, plus exotic wildlife at a miniature zoo. There is also a center that provides information about the island’s endangered species, vegetation zones, and life in the forest. The tour lasts just over one hour.
This tour is particularly appealing to those interested in horticulture, biology, entomology, ornithology, and native flora and fauna. Though it is guided, the tour will venture off the beaten track to wherever the participants desire to go, including up and down mountains, into the forests and bushes. The schedule and prices vary, depending on the type of tour and the number of participants. For further information contact the Forestry Department.
Fregate Island Nature Trail
This tour along St. Lucia’s Atlantic Coast offers several scenic views on a mile-long trail circling the national park. The tour calls on the breeding ground of St. Lucia’s Fregate bird population, a locale that is also home to a number of rare species of birds, Boa Constrictors, and some unusual forms of vegetation. Tours are arranged through the St. Lucia National Trust.
Morne Le Blanc/Laborie
Morne Le Blanc towers over the coastal community of Laborie and the southern plains of St. Lucia. The mountain’s summit affords a view of distant St. Vincent and a scenic, shady rest spot for picnics.
This tour by bus travels through St. Lucia’s interior with stops at historic sites, including a working still at an old plantation house in Balembouche, interesting remains of a waterwheel, and ancient Amerindian “potholes.” Another version of this tour includes a visit to the Pitons and a petroglyph site, returning by boat along the west coast. Lunch is included in the tour. For further information, call 452-5005.
Hardy Point Cactus Valley Walking Trek
This walking tour (which can also be taken by bus) begins at Hardy Point, a natural outcrop with splendid views of the entire Esperance Bay, the northern coast and the La Sociere mountain range. There are stops in Cactus Valley (aptly named because of its numerous resident species) and at several of the “blowholes” created by the force of the Atlantic Ocean. Across Donkey Beach, the trek visits Pigeon Island for sightseeing and swimming. Lunch at the Jambe de Bois Restaurant is included.
Located on the southeast coast, just outside of Vieux Fort, it is the principle source of nutrients for the island’s natural fish nursery in the nearby Savannes Bay. A viewing tower provides an excellent vantage point for bird watching and a diorama and brochures provide information on the unique features of the Mangrove. Guided tours can be arranged through the St. Lucia national Trust (452-5005) or the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (454-6060).
St Lucia Tours: ST LUCIA Sightseeing Tours Events & Attractions
St. Lucia is the perfect destination for Caribbean weddings and honeymoons. The natural beauty of beautiful Caribbean tropical island seems to have been created for romantics. Palm fringed beaches, elegant old plantation houses, the soft tropical air, hypnotic steel band music, the tantalizing aroma of the cuisine combined all make weddings, honeymoons and anniversaries popular on St. Lucia. Wonderful climate, astounding beauty and friendly islanders makes St. Lucia simply perfect for your special wedding day.
It’s easy to get married in St Lucia. You just need to stay here for 2 days before the wedding. After you’ve been here for 2 days a local Solicitor can apply for a license on your behalf. You need to have received this 2 working days before the wedding date. Most tour operators can make all the arrangements. All you need to bring is the following documentation:
Decree Absolute (if one of the parties is divorced)
In the case of a widow/widower a Death Certificate of first spouse is required
If a name has been changed, a Deed Poll is required
If one of the parties is under the age of 18, evidence of a consent of parents is required in the form of a sworn affidavit stamped by a Notary Public
If any required documents are not in English, an authenticated translation must be available
Application to be married in St. Lucia must be made by a local solicitor to the Attorney General or notary who prepares and signs the license after a two-day residency period in St. Lucia. The Attorney-General should receive the application about four working days before the Wedding date.
Notary Fees & Marriage License EC$402.50
Registrar Fees EC$100.00
Marriage Certificate EC$8.00
All of these details are taken care of by your hotel from whom a variety of Wedding packages are available. However you may wish to speak to your Reps or Tour Operator about getting married in St. Lucia.
The hotels can also usually arrange any other requirements – bridal bouquet, button holes and other floral arrangements, photos, video, steel band music, wedding cake etc. Prices vary.
Arrival and Entry Formalities:
Valid passports are required for all visitors, except US and Canadian citizens who possess valid return tickets and I.D. and stay for less than six months. Visas are not required for citizens of the US or Commonwealth countries, or where there is agreement for exemption between the home country and St. Lucia. (More entry requirements)
The currency of St. Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar which is linked to the US Dollar at the exchange rate of US$1 to EC$2.65. US Dollars are readily accepted throughout the island. Most hotels will exchange reasonable amounts of foreign currency, and there are change bureaus in Castries. The National Commercial Bank (NCB) has a branch at Hewanorra International Airport where EC Dollars can be exchanged for foreign currency. It is open daily from 12:30pm until the last flight departs. A passport and ticket are required as proof of returning visitor status.
There is a Departure Tax of EC$35 for all passengers leaving the island.
St. Lucia’s principal language is English, but a French-based patois is widely spoken.
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