St. Lucia, which is one of the bigger islands in the Windward Island chain of the lower Caribbean, has done what most of the Caribbean islands have done after the tapering off of their once rich agriculture and exports industries: turned itself over to tourism. After the sugar industry collasped the islands of the Caribbean struggled to get by until airplane travel made visiting these once remote outposts just a few flight connections away. There are still some old fishing villages mixed in among the resorts and charter sailboat operations, but the main industry now is tourism and service.
That doesn’t mean that St. Lucia–with its high volcanic mountains–isn’t still a beautiful island. It has not yet been ruined by overdevelopment, and you continue get the special feel of its laid-back, if rugged, environment once you leave the craziness of Castries, the capital. There is plenty to see in St. Lucia, from towering peaks called the Pitons, to its wonderful coastline with so many picturesque beaches. This island has much to offer as long as the resort developers keep their distance.
Traveling in St. Lucia
Getting around St. Lucia is easy, unless you’re not used to driving on the left-hand side of the road: because it’s a member of the British Commonwealth, British traffic rules apply.
Flying in and out of St. Lucia is a little more complicated. The small island has two airports, the older Vigie Airport in the north, near the capital, and the newer Hewanorra International Airport in the south, near the town of Vieux Fort. If you are flying in, it may be a good idea to choose the airport in relation to where you’ll be staying.
Health Risks in St. Lucia
Besides a poisonous viper (called the fer-de-lance) that inhabits the island, the only major health risk is Bilharzia (schistosomiasis), an infection caused when you come in contact with contaminated water. This happens mainly in fresh water ponds, lakes, and rivers. You can avoid this by swimming in protected (chlorinated) swimming pools or the salt water ocean–which is, of course, why many people come to St. Lucia. For more information, contact your doctor or read about Bilharzia at about.com.
Weather in St. Lucia
Because of its location, the weather in St. Lucia is almost always warm. The average high temperature throughout the year is right around 80°F. The rainiest time of year is between June and December.
St. Lucia Information
Government: Independent republic within the British Commonwealth
Square Miles: 240 sq mi (616 sq km)
Capitol: Castries (pop 50,000)
Official Languages: English and French-based patois
People: African (90%), mixed descent (6%), European and East Indian (4%)
Religion: Roman Catholic (90%), Protestant (7%), Anglican (3%)
Major products/industries: Bananas, coconuts, cocoa, assembly of electronic components, clothing, tourism