Saint Lucia is an island nation in the eastern part of the Caribbean Sea where it borders the Atlantic Ocean. This tropical paradise covers 238 square miles (617 square kilometers) of rainforests, mountains, volcanoes and beaches. The capital and largest city is Castries. The highest point is Mount Gimie at 3,120 feet (950 meters) above sea level. Two other mountains, the Pitons, rise in the western part of the country. There are also numerous waterfalls, including the Toraille Falls, as well as a drive-in volcano.
The French were the island’s first official settlers in 1635 and signed a treaty with the native Carib Indians in 1660. After that, the British and French took turns ruling the land. Then in 1814, Britain took over final control until the island gained its independence in 1979. As a result of its past, Saint Lucia’s people has English as its official language as well as Saint Lucian Creole French as its unofficial means of communication.
The island’s economy relies mostly on tourism, but is also supplemented by petroleum storage and transfer, foreign investments, and the banana industry. Festivals such as the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival in early May and the Carnival in mid-July are meant to increase tourism. Fancy resorts line the beaches of this volcanic island, and there is a cruise port in its capital as well as the George F. L. Charles Airport and Hewanorra International Airport.
Besides expensive resorts, there are many small guesthouses, B&B’s, inns, and beachside lodgings available for the budget-traveler. While there are no real hostels on the island, a lot of the family-run guesthouses and B&B’s provide accommodations and prices similar to those offered by hostels. A room in one of these venues shared by two persons easily can end up costing the equivalent or even less than an average hostel bed per person.
The hostel-type lodgings can be found in the major cities, hidden within the rainforest or lining the beautiful shoreline. These accommodations, just like hostels, tend to offer communal kitchens and bathroom facilities as well as a cozy, familial atmosphere. Rooms and facilities tend to be clean and locations are usually ideal for the traveler in search of an authentic, native experience among the island’s inhabitants. With included breakfasts and wifi for an extra fee, the majority of the guests find themselves happy to return during future vacations.
The biggest draw of Saint Lucia are the beaches along the Caribbean along with the tropical weather. Due to the location’s moderate trade winds, there are ample opportunities for wind- and kite-surfing. Canopy zip lining tours through the rain forest as well as ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) tours are offered in order to explore the natural beauty of the island. Many tourists enjoy hiking and even mountain-biking through the tropical landscape to view the birds, plants, and waterfalls. If you wish to visit different cities such as Gros Islet, Vieux Fort, Soufrière, and the capital, Castries, then you can rent a car, take a taxi, or get on one of the public buses for an adventurous ride around the island.
Since St. Lucia is such a blend of European and African influences with an admixture of Carib Indian flavor, a comprehensive experience of life on this island is incomplete without tasting the unique food of the region. There are many eateries providing home-cooked meals where you can sample Saint Lucian cuisine from a native chef. You can even attend cooking classes or join a food tour. Saint Lucians’ staple foods include salt fish, green figs, and plantains. For beverages, the locals enjoy fresh coconut water right out of the fruit, rum, and the local beer, Piton. So be sure to eat meals at various eateries and experience the unique Saint Lucian palate.
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Saint Lucia hostels. Welcome.