St. Lucia

St. Lucia

Take advantage of what everyone else isn’t doing and make this year the year you visit St Lucia. There’s no way a place this charming can stay secret for long.

Essential information:

Population: 673,000

Foreign visitors per year: 350,000

Capital: Castries

Languages: English, St Lucian Creole French

Major industries: tourism, bananas

Unit of currency: East Caribbean dollar ($)

Cost index: beer in beachfront bar EC$5 (US$1.90), double room at boutique resort in high season EC$662 (US$245), minibus fare EC$1.50 (US$0.60), single tank dive EC$105 (US$40)

Why go ASAP?

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Soufriere Volcano is considered as the only drive-in volcano in the world – St Lucia

This ravishing island of emerald mountains and golden beaches sings its siren song year-round. Its main city of Castries is loaded with shopping, dining and sightseeing opps. And with primo diving and snorkelling, hikeable rainforests, and even a drive-in volcano (yeah, you heard us), it’s also got all the right stuff for the off-the-beaten-path adventurer.
When it comes to nature, St Lucia thrills. Swim in the blood-warm waters alongside dolphins, take out a pair of binoculars and try to spot the island’s unique species of parrot, catch sea turtles laying eggs on Grand Anse beach,
or observe an iguana sunning itself on a log.

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This little hawksbill turtle says hello to us from Grand Anse – St Lucia

Those seeking solitude can explore the secluded villages of the interior or the quiet sandy coves of the east coast. Thrill-seekers should climb the Piton mountains, kite surf Sandy Beach, or dive magnificent coral-crusted undersea walls.
But despite its splendour, this remote island paradise is still little-visited except for the usual cruise-ship traffic and in-the-know French couples. Take advantage of what everyone else isn’t doing and make this year the year you visit St Lucia. There’s no way a place this charming can stay secret for long.

Festivals & Events:

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St Lucia Jazz Festival

In May, national and international musicians jam together at the St Lucia Jazz Festival.

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Images from St Lucia’s Carnival 2015

In June, St Lucia’s Carnival is a bacchanal of street dancers, calypso music, costumes, food and rum.

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The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) – Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia

The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, a global sailing event, sees enthusiasts arriving in St Lucia in November and December, after sailing 2,700 miles from their embarkation point in Spain.

Life-changing experiences:

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Rain Forest Adventure offers high altitude amazing view over the wild forest of St Lucia

Glide through the treetops in the heart of the St Lucia rainforest on a zip-line tour with Rain Forest Adventure. If you’re an adrenaline junkie who finds walking nature tours a bit… pedestrian, this is the activity for you. Take in the sights, sounds and smells of the tropical forest – prehistoric-looking ferns, buzzing insects, voluptuous jungle flowers – from a bird’s perspective. For the less Tarzan-spirited, there’s an aerial tram tour as well.

Current craze:

Though St Lucia is no stranger to celebrity visitors, actor Matt Damon recently set tongues wagging when he and wife Luciana Barrosso rented out the entire ultra-luxe Sugar Beach Resort for a vow-renewal ceremony. The star-studded guest list reportedly included Ben Affleck, Chelsea Clinton, Chris Hemsworth and Gus Van Sant, who partied for three days to the tune of a mid-six-figure price tag.

Trending topics:

Who owns the beaches? Can a beach be privatised, or does it belong to everyone? Historically all the beaches are part of the ‘Queen’s Chain’, open to the public even if they’re in front of a hotel. But many developers are keen to change this tradition.

The environment has been a hot topic lately as growing development threatens biodiversity ‘hot spots’, potentially causing land degradation and species loss.

Random facts:

  • St Lucia has the highest population-to-Nobel-laureate ratio of any country, with two winners: Arthur Lewis in economics and Derek Walcott in literature.

  • Control of the country went back and forth between the British and the French 14 times.

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    St Lucia Parrot

     

  • The national bird, the St Lucia parrot, only exists on the island.

  • It is illegal to wear camouflage clothing on St Lucia.

Most bizarre sight:

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This old cannon can be seen at Pigeon Island – St Lucia

On Pigeon Island, so-called despite the manmade causeway linking it to the rest of St Lucia, visitors will be confronted with photogenically spooky ruins worthy of a Gothic romance novel. Back in the 1550s, the island’s first French settler, Jambe de Bois (Wooden Leg), used Pigeon Island as a pirate base. Later, the British turned the island into a fort for use in warfare against the French. Today it’s a historic site dripping with vines and thick with the mystery of ages past.


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