St Lucia is a small island stretching 27 miles long (north to south) by 14 miles wide (east to west) but you will be overwhelmed by its rolling hills that grow to form volcanic mountains and reach to the sky. The iconic Pitons rise from the waves to the clouds like pyramids of volcanic stone. This isn’t some glammed-up, theme-park holiday spot – St Lucia has a pulse. Your senses are bombarded with the sights, smells and sounds of an island that’s truly alive.
Towns, like the capital Castries, move and shake to the sound of car horns, the smell of rotis fresh from the oven and reggae blaring on the speaker. The people are warm and welcoming and will offer a real taste of West Indian life!.
- St Lucia is a volcanic island and one of the most mountainous islands in the whole of the Carribbean
- The national motto of St. Lucia is “The Land, The People, The Light.”
- The national bird is the St. Lucia Parrot, or Jacquot; it is a bird that is native only to the island
Travel Highlights in Saint Lucia
- Dance at the St Lucian Jazz Festival – a party lasting many days
- Visit the sulfur springs on Mt.Gimie and experience the healing properties of these hot springs
- Scuba Dive in stunning dive sites and experience an underwater carnival as you swim amongst schools of brilliantly coloured exotic fish
- Lounge under a thatched hut, cocktail in hand and enjoy the legendary beach scenes of Saint Lucia
Where is St Lucia?
Saint Lucia is a sovereign island country in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. Part of the Lesser Antilles, it is located north/northeast of the island of Saint Vincent, northwest of Barbados and south of Martinique. It covers a land area of 617 km2 (238.23 sq mi) and has a population of 174,000 (2010). Its capital is Castries.
History of St Lucia
One of the Windward Islands, it was named after Saint Lucy of Syracuse by the French, the first European colonizers. They signed a treaty with the native Carib people in 1660. England took control of the island from 1663 to 1667; in ensuing years, it was at war with France 14 times and rule of the island changed frequently (it was seven times each ruled by the French and British). In 1814, the British took definitive control of the island. Because it switched so often between British and French control, Saint Lucia was also known as the “Helen of the West Indies”.
In 1979 it gained full independence from the British but Saint Lucia is a Commonwealth realm; Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State, represented on the island by a Governor-General.
Climate in St Lucia
As is the case with many Caribbean islands, St. Lucia’s visitors should expect hot and humid weather conditions year round, due to the island’s proximity to the equator. Fortunately, visitors will rarely feel uncomfortable as mild trade winds bring cool breezes off the water that offer some respite from the heat.
The average temperature in St. Lucia ranges from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to the upper 90s. Humidity on the island averages between 70 and 90 percent throughout the year. December and January are generally the coolest months with the temperatures being in the mid 70s to mid 80s in degrees Fahrenheit. The summer months of June through August are the hottest.
Languages of St Lucia
The official language is English; however Saint Lucian Creole French (Kwéyòl), which is a French-based Creole colloquially referred to as “Patwah” (Patois), is spoken by 95% of the population.
Music and Dance in St Lucia
A popular folk dance is the Quadrille. Together with Caribbean music genres such as Calypso, Soca, Dancehall, Reggae, Compas, Zouk and Salsa, Saint Lucia has a strong indigenous folk music tradition. Each May since 1991, Saint Lucia has hosted an internationally renowned Jazz Festival. If you think you have the moves then you have seen nothing yet when a St Lucian wants to dance the night away!
Food in St Lucia
The cuisine of St Lucia is influenced by West Indian, Creole and French food. Popular dishes are pepper pot stew, callaloo soup and fried codfish.
Shellfish and fish are caught daily. Salt fish is used in a number of recipes. Vegetables include cassava, dashing (taro) and sweet potatoes. Breadfruit is also grown.
Fruits cultivated are bananas, coconuts, guavas, mangoes, papayas, passion fruit, pineapples and Sousa’s Fresh fruit juices are available and alcoholic drinks, such as beer (Pitons) and rum (Bounty), are brewed locally.
Travelling in St Lucia
The bus service is probably the most common form of getting around and is via privately owned minivans. They’re a cheap way to get around, and the means by which most islanders get to town, school and work. St Lucia’s main road forms a big loop around the island, and buses stop at all towns along the way. They’re frequent between main towns (such as Castries to Gros Islet) and generally run until 10pm (later on Friday); however, there is no scheduled timetable. Very few buses run on Sunday. If there’s no bus stop nearby, you can wave buses down en route as long as there’s space for the bus to pull over.
Renting a car gives you greater flexibility but is more expensive, and is perhaps the best way to discover the areas of St Lucia that the bus network does not service. Although the roads are generally good many of the roads are steep and smaller ones can become little more than potholed mudslides after a bout of rain.
When flying into St Lucia you’ll be serviced by two airports: Hewanorra International Airport, in Vieux Fort at the remote southern tip of the island, and George FL Charles Airport, in Castries near the main tourist area. Scheduled international flights land at Hewanorra, which has a longer runway, while flights from within the Caribbean and charters generally land at the more central George FL Charles Airport.
In addition to the wide variety of opportunities to hike, bird watch and tour St. Lucia’s outstanding natural attractions, the island has a full range of recreational facilities. Visitors may enjoy the leisurely pleasures of touring the island by horse, chartering a yacht for an evening sail or day cruise, or relax with a round of golf. For those who enjoy the thrill of more vigorous pursuits, there are plenty of places to windsurf, dive, water-ski, or enjoy tennis or squash. There are also a number of activities more closely related to the traditional life of St. Lucia, including deep-sea fishing and the weekly “jump-ups” at Gros Islet.
Sport in St Lucia
Cricket is by far the most popular sport in St Lucia with Darren Sammy being the first and only St Lucian to be called up to the West Indies Cricket Team. St Lucia annually hosts games in the West Indies limited-overs and four-day cricket competitions, usually at the Beausejour Cricket Grounds, one of the most modern facilities in West Indies cricket.
Tennis is growing in popularity in St Lucia. St Lucia is an annual competitor in the Davis Cup, an international tennis competition, with former Sportsman of the Year Vernon Lewis and Kane Easter having been two of the island’s consistent players over the years. Netball, rugby, swimming and basketball are rapidly becoming popular around the island and we are proud to be working within this country as is develops it national and international sporting presence.
Gap Years and Career Breaks in St Lucia
St Lucia offers exciting opportunities for travellers of all ages and interests. The island has many natural sights and locations that will keep you in the Caribbean groove. From the palm-fringed, whit sand beaches, to the mud coated sulphur springs, from sports to parties, the laid back Caribbean lifestyle will make your gap year or career break visit to St Lucia an truly unforgettable experience.