Lush, unspoiled St. Lucia has a growing fan base. Some of its vacationers are music lovers, letting loose at the springtime St. Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival, or adrenaline junkies, testing their limits climbing The Pitons or zip lining through the Chassin region's rain forest. Others are honeymooners, unwinding on one of the island's chalky beaches or holing up in one of its isolated resorts.
But what if you don't fall into any of these categories? Don't worry: St. Lucia refuses to be pigeonholed as any "type" of Caribbean vacation. Plus, you also don't have to spend a lot of money (its reputation as a luxurious hideout is only somewhat warranted). To discover some of the island's indescribable charms, you'll have to visit for yourself. Start your mornings basking in an orange-tinted Soufrière sunrise then round out your evenings at an evening "jump-up" (or dance party) along Gros Islet.
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The best time to visit St. Lucia is between May and June. These late spring and early summer months offer wonderful weather – high 70s to 80s – plus there are enviable room rates at the best hotels. Music lovers should consider visiting in early May specifically to attend the St. Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival that's held at Pigeon Island National Landmark. The island is flush with activity in the summer and late fall, but there's a greater chance of hurricanes. The busiest and most expensive time to vacation is from December to April, the driest season.
Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center
With such a rich history of cultures, from Amerindians to Africans to the French and British, it's no wonder St. Lucia has an enormous melting pot of cuisines. Of course, as an island, fresh seafood plays a central role, with everything from conch to mahi-mahi prepared in a myriad of ways. The island's national dish, stewed saltfish with boiled green bananas, has a long history dating back to when salted cod was a staple for sailors on long voyages. It is prepared by stewing it with seasoning peppers and onions and is served with boiled, unripe bananas. You'll find it on most menus across the island. Barbecued pork and chicken is also quite popular. Cocoa tea, made with local cocoa, spices and milk, is a standard breakfast drink, along with hot, deep-fried bread.
Since many of the island's best hotels offer all-inclusive packages and boast several restaurants on-site, you may be tempted to enjoy all your meals within the comfy confines of your resort. But those who ventured off property reported finding several delicious local eateries.
Recent visitors recommend the Pink Plantation House in Castries for brunch, giving it high marks for service, food and views. Masala Bay in Marigot Bay is another popular restaurant, with an Indian-Chinese fusion menu. Diners love all the options, including many vegetarian dishes, as well as the views. Many visitors love the casual Roots Bar, where you can enjoy barbecue, beers and views on the beach in Marigot Bay.
The best way to get around St. Lucia is by car or minibus, though taxis are also available and water taxis around the island are plentiful. Rental cars or scooters can be obtained at the Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) in the southern town of Vieux Fort, which is about 40 miles to the south of Castries. Rates average about $50 a day.See details for Getting Around
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You'll need a passport with six months remaining validity to enter and exit St. Lucia. Tourist visas are not required if you can provide proof of a return ticket. For more information on entry and exit requirements, visit the U.S. State Department's website .
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