Travel Fundamentals for St. Lucia

Learn the basics before you travel: St. Lucia has many different regions, each offering something unique

Photo credit: © Prayitno

St. Lucia is a unique destination as it offers visitors something most other islands are no longer able to, a traditional Caribbean experience. St. Lucia has remained relatively unknown as a Caribbean destination and only in recent years has the tourist industry begun to flock there. As St. Lucia becomes more of a tourist destination it becomes increasingly important to take steps to preserve the natural charm of the island and its people.


When visiting St. Lucia it is important to remember that you are visiting someone's home, and so you need to respect the local culture and environment. In general, the British influence as well as the strong presence of the Catholic Church has made St. Lucia a fairly conservative traditional culture. It is important for visitors to conduct themselves in a respectful manner and dress conservatively when not on the beach.


The local people of St. Lucia are incredibly friendly and accommodating, they will go to great lengths to make your visit to St. Lucia a wonderful and memorable experience. Treat locals with respect and always ask their permission before taking photographs of them, it is also a good idea to offer them a small gratuity in appreciation.

Street markets on St. Lucia are places where tourist-local relations can be strained. Tourists may become frustrated if local street vendors become a little forward and pushy with them to buy their goods. The best way to deal with this is to politely decline and be firm with any further persistence on the part of the vendor.


Although St. Lucia is a fairly small island, there are geographic and cultural differences throughout the island that visitors should be aware of. Knowing these regional differences can assist in planning a trip that is catered to your specific interests and resources.

Location Description
Castries As the capital of St. Lucia, Castries is one of the more developed parts of the island. The town of Castries has twice been destroyed by fires that have consumed much of the original architecture. The rebuilding efforts have created an interesting mix of surviving historical architecture and modern concrete buildings. Visitors will find a variety of things to do in and around Castries ranging from shopping to sightseeing. At Pointe Seraphine, located on the north side of the Castries harbor, you will find fantastic duty free shopping in a modern mall setting for tourists and cruise ship passengers. In the heart of Castries you will find shopping at street markets where local vendors sell their produce and crafts. The Castries Central Market is the largest of these street markets and offers the best deals in fruit and other produce. Across from the Central Market you can find the Vendor's Arcade which offers a set of craft stalls offering souvenirs and hand made crafts to visitors. There are certain landmarks in Castries that would be a shame to miss if you are planning a trip to the city, one such landmark is the 400 year old saman tree that defines the center square of the town.
Marigot Bay Just south of Castries is the small fishing village of Marigot, whose adjacent bay has become a very popular destination for sailing and yachting. Some of the most exclusive and expensive accommodations can be found here due to the picturesque surroundings. Marigot Bay has been featured in several movies including Doctor Doolittle, filmed in Marigot Bay in the 1960s. Visitors will find that life in Marigot Bay is a little slower than on the rest of the island, which makes it a perfect destination if you're looking for a romantic getaway.
Pigeon Island Off the coast of St. Lucia just north of Castries, you will find an island rich with history. Pigeon Island once served as barracks for the 18th century battles between the French and English for possession of the island. It also served as a U.S. Military base during WWII. Today Pigeon Island National Historic Park is a popular destination for tourists as it offers a little something for everyone. Visitors can explore the ruins of the 18th century barracks alongside hunting for artifacts of the Arawak Indians who inhabited the island long before the French and English. Beyond the rich history of the island, the beaches draw many people to Pigeon Island, they are said to be some of the best on St. Lucia. Whatever your interests, you are sure to find something that interests you on Pigeon Island, making it an essential stop on your visit to St. Lucia.
Rodney Bay Rodney bay is an eighty acre man-made lagoon located between Pigeon Island and Castries. This is the region that hosts the greatest number and variety of hotels and restaurants on St. Lucia. There are enough to satisfy the needs of any visitor, with the added bonus of being in close proximity to some of the island's greatest attractions. One such attraction is Rodney Bay Marina, which is said to be one of the best yachting ports in the Caribbean, and the reputation is quickly spreading. The bay is quickly becoming a very popular destination for private yachts and cruise ships alike. Another attraction in Rodney Bay is Gros Islet, the town which is the host to the popular Friday night "jump up" street party. Every Friday night streets in the town are blocked off and filled with local vendors selling food and crafts. Of course it wouldn't be a true St. Lucian party if locals and tourists alike weren't filling the streets with dancing and music. It has been said that the "jump up" street party is the best way for visitors to get a taste of true St. Lucian culture.
Soufrière Soufrière is located on the southwestern coast of St. Lucia and was the former capital when under French possession. It is also the oldest town in St. Lucia. Unlike Castries, much of the original architecture still stands today, so if you want a taste of French colonial architecture, Soufrière is the place to be. The waterfront of this town is so picturesque it draws movie studios and tourists alike. Soufrière is an excellent destination for visitors to experience both the St. Lucian culture and the environment. Soufrière has everything, from beautiful beaches to towering mountains. For the adventurous traveler, it is the perfect destination for both relaxation and adventure. Just outside of Soufrière is the popular drive-in volcano which is thought to have once been a site for human sacrifice by the Arawak Indians. Visitors are allowed to drive very nearly into the volcano and then be guided around the area by a tour guide. Just south of the town of Soufrière along the bay, the most distinguishing feature of St. Lucia can be found, the Pitons. These two towering twin mountains are not only beautiful to look at, but they a popular hiking destination that draw people from around the world.
Vieux Fort At the southern tip of St. Lucia you will find the town of Vieux Fort and the beautiful adjacent bay. Many visitors will arrive in Vieux Fort as it is the location of the Hewanorra Airport. As the second largest port on St. Lucia, visitors will find many services catering to tourists needs. Besides the airport, Vieux Fort offers a great number of attractions for visitors to experience. Vieux Fort is said to be one of the best places on St. Lucia to buy authentic local crafts, so for those looking to bring a souvenir of their trip to St. Lucia back home, a visit to Vieux Fort is a must. For those travelers interested in eco-tourism, one of the main draws to this area is the Maria Islands Nature Reserve. The Reserve is a wonderful place to experience local wildlife and get a chance to see some of the more rare species of animals and reptiles in the Caribbean. On site at the Nature Reserve is a museum that functions as a wonderful resource on everything from St. Lucia's wildlife to its culture.
Central It may seem as though most of the attractions on St. Lucia are located on the coast, but for those willing to venture to the center of the island, they will certainly not be disappointed. The center of the island, for the most part, is a dense rain forest maintained by the Forestry Department. Visitors can attempt the trails by themselves but the Forestry Department does offer visitors guided tours to help them navigate the trails and truly experience the St. Lucian wild. Trails range from easy to challenging so visitors can always find the level they are most comfortable with. Trail guides can be found at most major trail heads from 9:00 a.m until 12:00 p.m, but for less popular trails visitors will need to contact the Forestry Department directly to arrange for a guide.

Visitors to St. Lucia will find an island full of adventure and possibility. Being aware of cultural expectations and regional differences will help visitors have the best experience they possibly could have. St. Lucia is a wonder of natural beauty and it is important for visitors to respect the culture and environment to preserve St. Lucia for future generations.


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