How to best prepare your visit to Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia, an enchanting island nestled in the Eastern Caribbean, is celebrated for its mesmerizing coastlines, extravagant resorts, awe-inspiring scenery, and the iconic Pitons. Situated among the Windward Islands, it is positioned between Martinique and St. Vincent. One of the remarkable facets of Saint Lucia is its extensive array of transportation options catering to visitors.

With more than a dozen airlines operating at Hewanorra International Airport and George Charles Airport, travelers can conveniently reach Saint Lucia from various international and local destinations. Furthermore, for those arriving by sea, cruise lines and local ferries regularly dock at Port Castries and Soufriere. Whether you prefer a direct flight, a cruise stopover, or a quick trip from neighboring islands, an inviting Caribbean reception awaits you in Saint Lucia.

Admission criteria to Saint Lucia

Foreign individuals planning to visit or enter Saint Lucia must possess a passport currently valid issued by their respective country. In order to gain entry, visitors must ensure that their passport remains valid throughout their sojourn in the island and be able to provide evidence of a confirmed departure from St. Lucia. It is important to note that visas are not mandatory for citizens of the United States, United Kingdom, or Canada, and exemptions may apply based on bilateral agreements between the visitor’s origin country and Saint Lucia.

However, it is advisable to check the specific visa requirements for your country of origin, as certain nations may necessitate visas for entry into Saint Lucia. Moreover, all travelers arriving by air or sea must complete the Online Immigration Form before their arrival in Saint Lucia. The Immigration document should be requested at least 72 hours prior the scheduled travel to ensure a smooth entry process and avoid delays.

Visitor information

For convenient access to tourist information, consider the following options:

  • Seek assistance from the front desk of your hotel or resort, where staff can provide valuable information and recommendations.
  • Visit the Information Centers operated by the Saint Lucia Tourist Authority. You can find these centers at Pointe Seraphine and La Place Carenage in Castries (Tel: 452 7577), as well as in Soufriere (Tel: 459 7419).
  • Take advantage of the information desks located at both George F.L. Charles Airport (Tel: 452 2596) and Hewanorra International Airport (Tel: 454 6644).

These sources serve as excellent hubs for obtaining up-to-date tourist information. Typically, the information centers are open from Monday to Friday between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm. Pointe Seraphine also extends its operating hours whenever cruise ships are in port. Additionally, the information desks at the airports are available during flight times.

Electricity

The electricity supply in Saint Lucia is 220-240 volts at 50 Hz. The country uses Type G power outlets, which have three rectangular pins in a triangular pattern. If your electronic devices use a different type of plug, you will need a travel adapter to ensure compatibility with the power outlets in Saint Lucia. It is recommended to bring a universal adapter to cover any variations in plug types. Additionally, some hotels may provide adapters or have outlets that can accommodate different plug types.

Timezone

Saint Lucia operates on Atlantic Standard Time (AST, -4 hours from London time). However, it is important to note that Saint Lucia does not observe Daylight Saving Time, so the time remains consistent throughout the year. Therefore, when planning your activities or coordinating with others in Saint Lucia, it is advisable to be aware of the time difference based on your location.

Currency

The official currency of Saint Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (XCD). When visiting Saint Lucia, it is convenient to have some Eastern Caribbean dollars for cash transactions and small vendors who may not accept credit cards.

Currency exchange services are available at the airports, banks, and authorized exchange offices on the island. Major credit cards as well as US dollars (USD),are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, and larger establishments. It’s always a good idea to inform your bank about your travel plans to ensure smooth usage of your cards while in Saint Lucia.

Language spoken

The primary language spoken in Saint Lucia is English, reflecting its historical ties to the British Commonwealth. However, you will also hear a beautiful local Creole language known as Saint Lucian Creole French, which incorporates elements of French and African languages.

Both English and Saint Lucian Creole French contribute to the vibrant linguistic tapestry of the island, adding to the cultural richness experienced by visitors and locals alike.

Weather and Seasons

St. Lucia, similar to its fellow Caribbean islands, enjoys a year-round tropical climate characterized by warmth and consistent temperatures. While there isn’t a distinct contrast between winter and summer, the island experiences distinguishable wet and dry seasons. The dry season, spanning from late December to May, showcases the most pleasant and temperate conditions. This period offers a respite from heavy rainfall and is ideal for those seeking comfortable weather to explore the island.

On the other hand, the rainy season in St. Lucia occurs from June to December. During this time, the coastal areas receive slightly less precipitation compared to the forested regions. It is important to note that this season coincides with the potential for hurricanes to make landfall in the region. As you plan your visit to St. Lucia, it’s advisable to consider these climatic patterns to ensure an enjoyable and safe experience on the island.

Best Period to Sojourn in St Lucia

The peak season in St. Lucia falls between December and April, attracting a larger influx of visitors seeking the island’s driest weather. Although this period tends to be busier, it presents an excellent opportunity to engage in exhilarating activities like hiking and ziplining.

For those who don’t mind occasional afternoon showers, the period from June to December holds its own charm. During this time, the weather remains warm, and accommodations are more budget-friendly. Additionally, this season showcases vibrant local celebrations, highlighting the island’s rich art, music, and historical heritage. Whether you prefer the bustling atmosphere of the peak season or the affordable accommodations and lively cultural festivities of the later months, St. Lucia offers captivating experiences year-round.

Where to Lodge in St Lucia

  • Soufriere, one of the oldest towns in St. Lucia, beckons history enthusiasts and architecture admirers. Immerse yourself in the rich historical heritage of this town, where captivating stories and remarkable architecture await at every turn.
  • If you’re seeking an energetic area, we suggest Gros Islet, a vibrant hub renowned for its lively nightlife scene. For those seeking excitement and entertainment, this is the ultimate hotspot to immerse yourself in the bustling energy of the island.
  • On the other end of the spectrum lies the charming village of Choiseul. we suggest it for those looking to relax and enjoy a quite stay. This idyllic destination offers tranquility, allowing you to rejuvenate and recharge your energy.
  • When it comes to shopping, a visit to Castries is a must. Here, we had the pleasure of perusing numerous independent boutiques and local markets, indulging in the diverse offerings of St. Lucia’s vibrant retail scene.

St. Lucia experiences its peak season from December to April, attracting a multitude of visitors seeking the island’s dry weather. Despite the crowds, this period offers the perfect opportunity to engage in thrilling activities such as hiking and ziplining, catering to adrenaline enthusiasts.

If you don’t mind occasional showers later in the day, we recommend visiting between June and December. During this time, the weather remains warm, accommodations are more affordable, and the island comes alive with vibrant celebrations of local art, music, and history.

Tipping habits

Remember to have some cash on hand for tipping purposes as not all establishments may accept credit card tips.

While gratuity is not typically included in most bills or transactions in Saint Lucia, it is customary to offer a tip as a token of appreciation. The standard practice is to tip around 10% to 15% of the bill. Tipping is generally expected for services provided by bellhops in hotels, taxi drivers, spa staff, tour guides, butlers, certain artisans, and other service providers. It is a way to acknowledge their efforts and the quality of service they have rendered.

VAT & TAX

Please note that hotel and restaurant bills in Saint Lucia are subject to a value-added tax (VAT) of 10%. Additionally, a service charge of 10% is typically applicable. It is important to clarify whether these charges are already included in the prices quoted to avoid any confusion. When shopping at retail stores and supermarkets, the prices on labels may also include the value-added tax. Therefore, it is advisable to be aware that the displayed prices may attract additional taxes.

TAX when leaving

For air travelers departing from Saint Lucia, the departure tax is typically included in the price of the ticket for passengers aged 12 and above.

However, for those departing via sea travel, there is a separate departure tax. The departure tax amount for sea travelers is EC$33 or approximately US$13, which should be paid at the time of departure.

It is important to ensure that you have the necessary funds available in the appropriate currency to settle the departure tax before leaving the island via sea travel.

Customs

When entering Saint Lucia, travelers are subject to customs allowances and restrictions. While it’s important to stay updated with the latest information, as of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the following general customs allowances apply for visitors to Saint Lucia:

  • Personal Belongings: Travelers are allowed to bring personal belongings for their own use during their stay
  • Duty-Free Allowances: Duty-free allowances may apply to certain goods, such as alcohol and tobacco products, for adults over the age of 18. The specific allowances can vary, so it is advisable to check the latest customs regulations. As of June 2023 the allowances quantities
  • are: 50 cigars, half pound of tobacco or 200 cigarettes. 40 ounces (120 CL) of wines or spirits. Pointe Seraphine offers Duty free services, along with the airport Hewanorra and La Place Carenage.
  • Prohibited Items: Certain items are strictly prohibited from being imported or exported. These may include illegal drugs, weapons, and counterfeit goods. It is important to familiarize yourself with the prohibited items to avoid any legal issues.
  • Please note that customs regulations can change, and it is crucial to consult the official government sources or contact your local embassy or consulate to obtain the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding customs allowances and restrictions when traveling to Saint Lucia.