Trekking St. Lucia: Travel Tips
Are the lush, rolling hills; cascading waterfalls and brown-sand beaches of St. Lucia calling out to you for a Caribbean getaway? If so, we’ve got travel tips to help you plan where to stay, what to pack, where to visit, and how to make the most of your holiday in St. Lucia.
Air Travel and Accommodations:
Arrivals are through St. Lucia’s only international airport – Hewanorra (UVF) – in a town called Vieux Fort located on the southern tip of the island. Another airport (SLU) is located in the northern part of St. Lucia and closer to Rodney Bay, Marigot and Castries but it only handles inter-island travel. Know the difference when you’re booking your flight and be prepared to settle in for a long ride (about 90 minutes) if your airport transfer from Hewanorra will take you to accommodations in the north.
Trek tip: the trek to the north cuts through a lush rain forest before continuing along the island’s ocean-lined, western coast. Have your camera handy as the route is absolutely gorgeous.
Resorts in the south are all about seclusion and tranquility. Apart from excursions to some of the island’s must-see attractions in the neighboring area (more on those later), much of your stay in that area will be focused on amenities located on the property. On the other hand, a stay in the north is a far hike from the natural wonders of the island but a short trip to the shops, nightlife and restaurants of Rodney Bay village, picturesque Marigot Bay or the island’s capital of Castries.
For our eight day trek to St. Lucia, we checked in at crowd favorite, Bay Gardens Beach Resort in Rodney Bay.
Trek tip: St. Lucia is a destination where splitting your stay between the north and south actually might make sense. For example, booking your first two nights in Soufriere spares you two to three hours of round trip travel (each day) while trekking between must-dos like the Pitons, sulfur springs, waterfalls and botanical gardens. Spending the remainder of your stay in Marigot Bay or Rodney Bay will give you a taste of the livelier side of the island.
Crisp U.S. dollars. Local vendors and taxi drivers (who also double as tour operators) don’t take credit cards but will gladly accept U.S. dollars. Bring enough cash for tours, souvenirs, fresh fruit and tipping. Be sure your bills have no tears or wrinkles as St. Lucians cannot exchange even minimally damaged bills for their local currency (EC$) at the bank and so will not accept them from you as payment. Trust us, they will check.
Extra bathing suit for the Sulfur Springs. You will definitely want to slather yourself in the therapeutic, sulfur-rich mud at one of St. Lucia’s most popular trek stops. But know that this is not the place to wear your best suit or one that you plan on wearing later on in the week. Sulfur is quite clingy and quite stinky. You’ll need more than a rinse in your hotel sink to get that real clean feeling and smell again.
Trek tips: water shoes might also be a good idea at the mud baths and nearby waterfalls where the spot for taking the best photos is a bit rocky.
Sterling silver jewelry turns black from the sulfur. Don’t wear it in the Sulfur Springs.
Shoes and clothes for activities. St. Lucia has plenty to do and see along nature trails, mountainous hikes, historic forts and even zipline courses. Some of your best photo ops and adrenaline thrills will come from these. Depending on how far you plan to venture from the beach, consider packing the right clothing and shoes to support your wanderlust.
Before you go:
We were in touch with a driver and scheduled our airport transfers plus two days of touring before we touched down in St Lucia. Doing so allowed us to personally tailor our own private tours to include all must see items on our itinerary, plan for our transportation budget, and get reliable information about our upcoming trip which also happened to be our first trek to St. Lucia. The peace of mind that came along was priceless.
We recommend these two drivers: FABIAN TAXI TOUR SERVICES – Contact him at http://www.fabiantoursstlucia.com or cell: 758-384-7847.
STANIS TAXI SERVICE – Contact him at http://exploreslu.com or cell: 758-286-4737.
As with any international trip, let your credit card company know you’ll be out of the country.
Once you get there:
At hotel check in, ask your concierge if you’ll need an adapter and voltage transformer for razor, laptops, cell phones and other gadgets. If so, they’ll most likely have some to loan you during your stay.
We found it helpful to check the cruise ship schedules to plan out our touring days. A soak in the mud baths could go from leisurely to hectic depending on the number of cruise ship guests visiting along with you. The same went for beach days on popular Reduit Beach.
Trek tip: if impossible to plan around cruise ship schedules at least try to reach your favorite spot early in the day before the crowds.
Tourism is a huge industry in St Lucia. You will be approached by vendors selling everything from jewelry, wood carvings, boat trips, and fresh fruit as you trek around the island. If you’re interested, select what you like and make sure you have those crisp dollar bills on hand. If not, be firm but politely decline and keep it moving.
Eat fresh. St Lucia is one of the most lush islands we’ve visited in a long while. Bananas, grapefruit, papayas, mangos and coconuts are plentiful and sold at roadside stands, markets or restaurants. You won’t believe the freshness! Make a point of indulging often along your treks.
Trek tip: bananas are the island’s largest export and are used to make everything imaginable – even banana ketchup! See how many ways you can sample bananas while in St Lucia.
Sink your teeth into chocolate. There are cacao farms and production labs growing, drying, grinding and blending the richest chocolate you will ever taste. If you have a chance to try cacao fresh off the tree, do it! You’ll be amazed by the delicate and tangy flavor – nothing like the bitter chocolate bean itself. You’ll find chocolate bars, chocolate tea, chocolate desserts and even a chocolate-themed hotel in St. Lucia
Get off the beach and get it in! You’ll be missing out on the full island experience unless you trek off the beach. Land tours take you to a number of historic, nature and culinary sites. If the water is calling, why not take a catamaran tour at sunset or around the island? You will be glad you did.