Apart from at markets and streetside stalls, bargaining is not mainstream in St Lucia. It's possible to negotiate a bit on longer taxi rides. Asking for a discount in the expensive duty-free shopping malls is not unheard of either.
Dangers & Annoyances
- St Lucia gets a lot of visitors and things are pretty well set up to look after them, so problems are rare.
- Once the night wears on at the various open-air parties where locals and travelers mix, you might find more and more drunkards bothering you for beers, but they generally lose interest after a while.
- While the island doesn't look so big on maps, the central wilderness is expansive. Make sure to take a local guide on longer treks into the mountains to avoid getting lost.
220V (50 cycles); three-pronged, UK-style plugs.
Embassies & Consulates
Emergency & Important Numbers
Emergency line 999
Entry & Exit Formalities
St Lucia has fairly standard customs regulations, apart from the regulations prohibiting the importation of 'articles or other matter associated with black magic, secret magic, obeah, witchcraft or other magical arts and occultism' and shaving brushes made in Japan.
On arrival visitors are required to show a valid passport and fill in an immigration form detailing the length, purpose and location of their stay, plus any customs declarations they may have. An onward or round-trip ticket and proof of sufficient funds is officially required.
- For short visits of up to six weeks most nationalities don't require a visa.
Some nationals of Latin America, Africa and Asia must get a visa before arrival.
All EU passport holders are able to remain for a 90-day period.
- St Lucians are friendly yet socially conservative.
- Greetings are usually verbal rather than an immediate handshake or peck on the cheek.
- Public displays of affection are rare.
- It's polite to greet everyone upon entering a bus or boat with a 'good morning' or 'good afternoon'.
As with most destinations in the region, St Lucia isn’t all that friendly to those identifying as LGBT. While problems aren't as serious as in some larger Caribbean nations, gay men should be especially aware that homosexuality is generally not accepted in St Lucian society.
Internet cafes are not widespread, but most accommodations and many restaurants offer wi-fi. Connection speeds vary, but are generally fast.
Apart from the odd patrol driving around Rodney Bay, you're unlikely to come across St Lucian police during your stay. They tend to keep a low profile and are not known for targeting or shaking down visitors.
Newspapers & Magazines
- Newspapers The Voice (www.thevoiceslu.com) is the island’s main, triweekly newspaper.
- Radio Tune into music, news and patois programs on Radio Caribbean International (101.1FM).
The Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$) is the island's currency.
Visa, American Express and MasterCard are widely accepted at hotels, car-rental agencies, shops and restaurants.
ATMs are available at bank branches and shopping centers throughout the island. They dispense Eastern Caribbean dollars.
Prices for many tourist services, including accommodations, activities, excursions and car hire, are often quoted in US dollars and can be paid in US dollars. But you can also pay the equivalent in EC dollars or with a major credit card.
The Eastern Caribbean dollar is pegged to the US dollar at a rate of 2.70 to 1.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
A 10% tax and 10% service charge are added to the bill at all but the cheapest hotels and restaurants; there’s no need for additional tipping.
The following are common business hours in St Lucia.
Banks 8am–2pm Monday to Thursday, to 4pm Friday
Bars noon to midnight
Restaurants breakfast from 8–10am, lunch noon–2:30pm, dinner 6:30–9pm
Shops 8:30am–12:30pm and 1:30–4:30pm Monday to Friday, 8am–noon Saturday
St Lucia has a modern and efficient postal service with post offices all over the island, including in small villages.
In addition to holidays observed throughout the region, St Lucia has the following public holidays:
New Year’s Holiday January 2
Independence Day February 22
Labor Day May 1
Corpus Christi Ninth Thursday after Easter
Emancipation Day August 3
Thanksgiving Day October 5
National Day December 13
- St Lucia does not yet have blanket regulations on smoking and for the most part it's left up to individual businesses to adopt their own policies. In general smoking is not permitted in enclosed spaces.
- Most hotels and resorts permit smoking on room balconies or patios and in open public areas as long as it doesn't interfere with other guests.
- Most restaurants and bars no longer permit smoking.
Taxes & Refunds
St Lucia has a 15% VAT on most retail products. There is no mechanism in place for visitors to reclaim taxes upon leaving the country.
St Lucia’s area code is 758. To call from abroad, dial your country’s international access code plus 758 and the seven-digit local number.
Your cell phone can be used in St Lucia. If you have a GSM phone that is unlocked, you can purchase a new SIM card for about EC$25 from any Flow (www.discoverflow.co/saint-lucia)or Digicel (www.digicelgrouop.com/lc) branch. This gives you a local number to call from and is much cheaper than global roaming in the long run.
St Lucia is on GMT/UTC-4; the same as its Windward Island neighbors.
Public toilets are not common in St Lucia; you'll find a couple in downtown Castries. You'll also find facilities in larger shopping malls and marinas.
The main tourist information office is located in the La Place Carenage mall in downtown Castries.
Travel with Children
Although purpose-made kids’ attractions are scarce, St Lucia is an eminently suitable destination for those traveling with children. With its abundance of beaches and opportunities for outdoor activities, including horseback riding, snorkeling, zip-lining and diving, there’s plenty to do in a generally safe environment. Whale- and dolphin-watching excursions are also popular with families.
There are some hotels that won’t take children under a certain age, but a number of all-inclusive resorts cater specifically to families and have an impressive range of amenities for children. Most hotels also offer reduced rates for children staying in their parents’ room.
- Most resorts have some facilities for travelers with disabilities, but it is best to inquire before heading out.
- The area around Rodney Bay Village has good wide sidewalks and some ramps but the rest of the country is difficult for travelers with limited mobility.
- Public transport is not designed for travelers with disabilities, and getting in and out of minivans is likely to pose some difficulty.
St Lucia has a more developed volunteering program than many of the neighboring islands. A number of pay-to-volunteer opportunities are advertised on international recruitment boards but finding a placement directly in country is also possible.
Opportunities for qualified volunteers exist in nongovernment organizations working in education, health care, tourism and community development.
Weights & Measures
- Weights & Measures St Lucia uses the imperial system.
Despite its growing economy, unemployment and underemployment remain issues in St Lucia and there are few opportunities for foreigners to turn up and find a job.
If you plan on working, you'll need to obtain a work permit in advance of your arrival in the country.