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The Caribbean island of St Lucia is home to beautiful, volcanic, palm-fringed beaches, excellent reef-diving sites, countless little luxury resorts and some charming fishing villages. With a lush interior featuring soaring mountains, dense rain forest, fertile valleys, and acres of banana plantations, St. Lucia is mostly distinguished by the Pitons – a pair of dramatically tapered mountains on the southwest coast. Hike through the rainforest to discover magnificent waterfalls, zip-line over forest canopies or see boiling sulphur springs bubble away atop a volcano. If you’ve still got the energy for a night out, you will find a lively party scene the north of the island. Whether you’re after romance, rejuvenation or adventure, Saint Lucia is the perfect destination.
TRAVEL, TRANSPORT AND GETTING AROUND
Helicopter transfers operate between George F L Charles and Hewanorra airports.
All major centres are served by a reasonably good road network. The main cross-island route runs from Vieux Fort in the south of the island to Castries in the north. Roads are narrow and mountainous roads are steep, often with hairpin bends which are not marked. In rural areas watch out for livestock crossing the road.
You can hire cars in Castries, Soufrière and Vieux Fort, or through hotels. Most cars are suitable for driving in St Lucia, but if you’re driving through mountainous terrain or in bad weather conditions, a 4-wheel drive may be your best option. Hotels and local tour operators run coach trips for groups. Vehicles are driven on the left side of the road. You need to show your national driving licence or International Driving Permit to obtain a temporary local licence. These are available from car hire firms or police stations for a small fee.
Hiring a taxi is easy and cheap. Standard trips usually have fixed rates, but you should agree upon these before you get in as tourists are vulnerable to being overcharged. Doublecheck what currency the taxi driver is quoting (US Dollars or EC Dollars). When hiring a taxi at night, always choose a reputable company. Tipping is unnecessary.
Boat charters are easily available at Castries, Marigot Bay and Rodney Bay. Water taxis are an easy way to access private beaches or go island hopping.
CLIMATE AND WEATHER
The weather in St Lucia is typical of most Caribbean islands. There is a hot, tropical climate tempered by trade winds throughout most of the year with temperatures ranging from 21°C (70°F) to 32°C (90°F). The driest period is from December to May and there is increased rainfall in summer and towards the end of the year (June to November). Regionally, there is some variation. The beaches around the North (Castries, Gros Islet) whilst hot, receive cooling trade winds, whilst the rainforested interior of the island can get very hot and humid. St Lucia can also suffer from hurricanes; typically the hurrican season runs from June to November.
Food and Drink
Mains water is normally chlorinated, and whilst relatively safe, may cause mild abdominal upsets. Bottled water is available. Milk is pasteurised and dairy products are safe for consumption. Local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit and vegetables are generally considered safe to eat but take care to ensure that all foods are properly prepared and cooked. Barracuda should not be eaten due to risk of ciguatera poisioning.
St Lucian food is a combination of Creole with French and West Indian influences. Most hotels have restaurants, in addition to a wide range in the major towns serving many different types of food. Waiter service is the norm.
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