St. Lucia Facts
- Tipping and Taxes: top
There is a government tax of 8% on hotel rooms. Hotels and restaurants will often add a service charge of 15% to your bill. Restaurant tabs should be tipped 10-15%, but be sure it is not already added.
- Water: top
Safe, but visitors prefer bottled water.
- Crime: top
St. Lucia has its share of crime, like every other place these days. Use common sense and protect yourself and your valuables. If you've got it, don't flaunt it! Don't pick up hitchhikers if you're driving around the island. The use of narcotic drugs is illegal, and their possession or sale could lead to stiff fines or jail.
- Getting Around: top
Taxis are the most common means of transportation for vacationers, but be advised that a journey from the north end of the island to the Piton region is an expensive one: about $50 US one way. Rental cars are available from the airports and the major hotels; look for Avis, Budget, or National Car Rental. You'll need to obtain a local license from the immigration desk at either airport, police station, or from the larger rental dealers. You will also need to present your local driver's license.
Taxis can also be rented by the hour for a private tour. Work out the price with the driver before you leave, but estimate about $20 US per hour.
- Mail Service: top
Airmail to Western Europe takes up to a week. Poste Restante mail will only be released on presentation of suitable identification.
- Getting There: top
4 hours flying time from New York, 3 1/2 hours from Miami, 5 hours from Toronto 8 hours from London.
- Economic overview: top
Though foreign investment in manufacturing and information processing in recent years has increased Saint Lucia's industrial base, the economy remains vulnerable due to its heavy dependence on banana production, which is subject to periodic droughts and tropical storms. Indeed, the destructive effect of Tropical Storm Iris in mid-1995 caused the loss of 20% of the year's banana crop. Increased competition from Latin American bananas will probably further reduce market prices, exacerbating Saint Lucia's need to diversify its economy in coming years, e.g., by expanding tourism, manufacturing, and construction.
- Banking: top
St. Lucian banks have a full range of banking and foreign currency services. Cash in local currency can be obtained by credit cards or bank cards through the ATM machines located at most banks. Normal banking hours are from 8: 00 a. m. to 3: 00 p. m. and some banks are open until 5: 00 p. m. on Friday. Banks at the Rodney Bay Marina are also open from 8: 00 a. m. until 12: 00 noon on Saturday.
- Cuisine: top
International cuisine is available at most hotels. French influenced Creole cooking is very popular.
- Official Language: top
English. Although English is the official tongue, St. Lucians probably don't speak it the way you do. Islanders also speak a French-Creole patois, similar to that heard on Martinique.
- Size of Island: top
238 square miles (616 sq. km.), 27 miles long, 14 miles wide. Mountainous with lush Tropical Rain Forest and white sand Beaches.
- Emergencies: top
Throughout the country, the number to dial for all police, fire, and medical emergencies is 911.
- Climate: top
St. Lucia's climate is hot and tropical, with an average annual temperature of 26° C (79° F) and mild trade winds for a good portion of the year. Lying in the path of the trade winds St. Lucia has year-round temperatures of 70° to 90°F. Humidity ranges from 66 - 94%.
Summer temperatures range from 75 to 95 F and in the winter from 65 to 85F.
Temperature is never an issue in St Lucia, making it a year-round destination for beach lovers. The average daily high is always within spitting distance of a balmy 80°F (27°C).
December-May is the driest and coolest time, with day temperatures in the 70s-80s F/23-32 C and night temperatures in the 60s-70s F/15-27 C. During the hottest time of year (June-August), daytime temperatures can reach the 90s F/32-37 C. The rainy season is June-November, but don't expect a constant downpour. Rather, there are numerous short but incredibly intense showers. Trade winds provide breezes year-round, regardless of the season. The average annual rainfall is 152 centimeters (60 inches).
- Time: top
Atlantic standard time zone: No Daylight Saving Time. 1 hour ahead of New York from Oct-Apr.
- History: top
For over 164 years since 1660, the island exchanged hands 14 times between the French and British. Although the island gained control of its own government on 22 February 1979, its official head of state still remains the British throne, represented by a governor general who appoints the 11 members of St. Lucia's senate. The House of Assembly is elected by popular vote.
St. Lucia has given birth to two Nobel Laureates: Sir W. Arthur Lewis won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1979 and the poet Derek Walcott won the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature.
- Dress Code:: top
Casual; some dress up a bit for evening activity. No topless or nude sunbathing.
- Visas: top
Citizens of the USA and Canada can enter St Lucia with proof of citizenship and a photo ID. French citizens can enter with a national identity card. Citizens of the UK, Australia and most other countries must be in possession of a valid passport. For all foreign visitors, stays of over 28 days generally require a visa and an onward or roundtrip ticket or proof of sufficient funds.
- Exchange Rate: top
The unit of currently used in St Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$) but a wide range of currencies such as US$, Canadian dollar, French francs, British pounds and German Marks are freely convertible in our banks. The EC dollar is fixed to the US dollar at the rate of US$1.00 = EC$2.70 and varies in value along with it against the other world currencies.
- People: top
Official language: English, French Patois
- Government: top
Constitutional monarchy and member of the Commonwealth. Executive power is vested in the British monarch, who is represented by a governor-general. Parliament consists of the 17 elected members of the House of Assembly and the 11 appointed members of the Senate.
Administrative divisions: 11 quarters; Anse La Raye, Castries, Choiseul, Dauphin, Dennery, Gros Islet, Laborie, Micoud, Praslin, Soufriere, Vieux Fort
- Marriage Requirements: top
Residency: 2 days
Cost: $150USD for lawyer to process registration, Registrar fee is $25USD to perform ceremony, Marriage Certificate is $37USD
Documentation: Valid passports or certified birth certificates with photo identification, and if applicable, divorce or death certificate.
Blood Test: not required
- Island Location: top
Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, north of Trinidad and Tobago. St Lucia lies at latitude 13 54’ north of the Equator and 60 50’ west. One of the Windward Islands, it is located in the middle of the Eastern Caribbean chain of islands and is approximately 21 miles south of Martinique and 90 miles northwest of Barbados. 616.3 sq km (238 sq miles).
- Driving: top
On the left - you'll need to obtain a temporary license from the Immigration Office upon arrival.
- Currency & Money: top
Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$). St Lucia is a fairly expensive destination since most hotels and resorts are of the all-inclusive variety, giving travelers less choice when it comes to finding alternative food and entertainment.
- Airports: top
St. Lucia has two airports: Hewanorra International Airport at Vieux Fort and Vigie Airport near Castries. British Airways, Delta, Amerijet International Inc., Air Canada, and BWIA provide international flights.
Vigie Airport just outside Castries is served by LIAT, BWIA, Air Martinique, American Eagle, and Helenair.
- Electricity: top
The electric current is 220 volts AC, 50 Hz. Plugs are square with three pins - Differant than the USA. You will need an adapter.
(Most hotels and guest houses can provide you with a 240V -110V transformer...but you never know.)
- Taxes: top
The government imposes an 8% occupancy tax on hotel rooms, and there's a $15 departure tax for both airports.
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