St. Lucia is best known as a romantic getaway. Who doesn’t love a tropical island with long, sandy beaches, and beautiful, natural surroundings on their honeymoon? The island caters to couples, families, and luxury tourists. It’s not the best island to visit if you’re traveling on a budget but it’s pretty damn beautiful and, for a short trip, worth the cost.
The island is filled with beautiful birds, orchards full of bananas, coconuts, mango, and papaya trees, world class diving, white sand beaches, and crystal blue water. This place is paradise on earth and I love coming here (my cousins used to own a B&B here).
But, no matter your budget, this St. Lucia travel guide will give you all the practical information you need to help you plan your visit so you can make the most of what the island has to offer!
Table of Contents
Top 5 Things to See and Do in St. Lucia
1. Go snorkeling and scuba diving
2. Experience Diamond Falls
3. Tour the Pitons
4. Visit Castries
5. See Pigeon Island
Other Things to See and Do in St. Lucia
1. Go birdwatching
St. Lucia offers many opportunities for birdwatching. The Bois D’Orange Swamp, the Rain Forest, and Boriel’s Pond are the best places to go to find species like the St. Lucian Parrot, the White Breasted Thrasher, the St. Lucia Peewee, the St. Lucia Oriole, and the St. Lucia Wren. On the Frigate Island Nature Reserve, you’ll see thousands of stunning migrant Frigate birds.
2. Explore the weekly market in Castries
This is the largest and most colorful open-air market in St. Lucia. Other than tropical fruits and veggies, the market sells handwoven baskets, mahogany statues and bowls, and souvenirs (pick up some St. Lucian coffee to bring home!). It’s open Monday to Saturday from about 7AM to 1PM.
3. Hike the trails
St. Lucia has many scenic hiking trails, including the Barre de L’isle Rain Forest Trail, which takes you to the top of Morne la Combe. The hike takes three hours in total, and it’s very steep — but you’ll be rewarded with views of Mount Gimie, deep valleys, the Caribbean Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean. Another favorite of mine away from the crowded resort areas is the Enbas Saut Trail, where you’ll get a chance to immerse yourself in the island’s rainforest. You’ll end up at the Enbas Saut waterfall where you can cool off with a swim.
4. Swim in Sulfur Springs
These hot springs are just south of Soufriere and one of the main attractions on the island. You can walk through the crater full of steaming, bubbling pools and hot springs, and there are warmer sulphuric pools where you can bathe. Admission to the springs is 22.50 XCD ($8.35 USD), while access to the baths costs 25 XCD ($10 USD).
5. Go zip-lining
If you’re looking for something adventurous, try zip-lining through the rain forest canopy. Adventure Tours St. Lucia has a total of 12 lines, including the highest, longest, and fastest line on the island. There are also five net bridges and lots of opportunities to catch some gorgeous views over St. Lucia. You’ll pay 230 XCD ($85 USD) for a full day of zip lining.
6. Visit Gros Islet
The village of Gros Islet has a party every Friday night. Vendors sell local food and drinks (including tasty barbecue), and a general carnival atmosphere turns the village into a giant street party. Local bands and DJs crank out Caribbean music, and you’ll spend the evening dancing in the steamy tropical heat.
7. Hang out on the beaches
St. Lucia’s beaches offer turquoise waters, powder-white sands, and plenty of opportunities to soak up the sun’s golden rays. Reduit Beach is one of the longest beaches on the island, with five miles (eight kilometers) of sand on Rodney Bay. If that’s too crowded, check out photogenic Jalousie Beach between Gros and Petit Piton, or Marigot Bay on the western coast with its scattered, secluded beaches.
For information about other Caribbean destinations, check out these guides:
St. Lucia Travel Costs
Hostel prices – Unfortunately, St. Lucia doesn’t have any hostels, and camping is also unavailable.
Budget hotel prices – A room with a private ensuite bathroom in a two-star hotel will start at about 108 XCD ($40 USD) anywhere on the island. If you want a place to stay that’s further away from town or not near the beach, you can pay as little as 81 XCD ($30 USD) per day. Basic cottage rentals also start from about 108 XCD ($40 USD) per night.
Airbnb is available everywhere on St. Lucia, with shared accommodation (like a shared room) starting at 103 XCD ($38 USD) per night, although those rooms are rare. For a private room expect to pay about 127 XCD ($47 USD) per night, while a full apartment averages about 397 XCD ($147 USD) per night.
Average cost of food – You’ll find food typical of the Caribbean here: dishes with lots of beans, plantains, rice, sweet potatoes, coconut, pork beef, chicken, and fish costing between 14-25 XCD ($5-9 USD). Fresh fruit and fruit juices for breakfast cost between 2.70-5.40 XCD ($1-2 USD).
A McMeal will cost about 22 XCD ($8 USD). A large pizza will cost about 40 XCD ($15 USD). A meal of duck breast or tenderloin will cost from 95 XCD ($35 USD) at a higher-end restaurant, and if you want to try St. Lucia’s national dish of salt fish and green figs, you can do it at The Coal Pot for 146 XCD ($54 USD).
A beer is about 5.40 XCD ($2 USD) on the island.
Avoid restaurants near cruise ports and resorts, as this is where the biggest influx of tourist crowds come through and prices will be much more expensive than elsewhere. If you can find local markets, pick up your food there. Basic groceries for the week (milk, eggs, bread, chicken, fruit, and veggies) will set you back about 135 XCD ($50 USD).
Backpacking St. Lucia Suggested Budgets
If you’re backpacking St. Lucia, my suggested budget is around 190 XCD ($70 USD) per day. This budget will cover a budget hotel, local buses, local food, cooking most of meals, free attractions, and some admissions to hiking trails and parks.
A mid-range budget of about 405 XCD ($150 USD) will cover staying in a private Airbnb room or budget hotel, eating out for most of your meals, a few drinks, and more activities including touring the Pitons.
For a luxury budget of about 1,080 XCD ($400 USD) per day or more, you will stay in a nice resort, eat out for all your meals, enjoy some drinks, and do lots of activities like diving or sailing. After that, the sky is the limit!
You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.
St. Lucia Travel Guide: Money Saving Tips
Although St. Lucia caters pretty heavily to vacationers and resort goers, there are lots of ways to explore the island on a budget. Here are the few ways to save money in St. Lucia:
- Go duty-free – St. Lucia has a wealth of duty-free shops where you can pick up discounted designer goods such as perfumes and jewelry, etc.
- Book online – If you’re planning on going diving, or doing any other expensive activities, be sure to check online with tour companies for discounts beforehand. You can usually find some deals if you do a bit of research.
- Look for discounts and deals – The tourism board for St. Lucia has a whole section dedicated to seasonal discounts and deals on their website (mostly for accommodations).
- Enjoy nature – Relax on the beach, go for a hike, or take in a sunset. St. Lucia’s natural beauty is breathtaking – and (mostly) FREE!
- Couchsurf – Use hospitality networks like Couchsurfing to stay with locals for free. There are a lot of hosts on the island and people are very welcoming!
- Don’t drink the tap water – The tap water isn’t safe to drink here. A water bottle with a purifier will come particularly in handy — my preferred bottle is LifeStraw ($49.99).
Where To Stay in St. Lucia
There are no hostels in St. Lucia, but there are plenty of budget-friendly options. My suggested places to stay in St. Lucia are the following:
How to Get Around St. Lucia
Minibus – Minibuses are the primary transportation means for getting around St. Lucia, including for residents. Routes form a loop around the main towns. They’ll get you just about anywhere you need to go for between 2.50-8 XCD ($0.95-2.95 USD) each direction.
Taxi – Taxis are readily available around St. Lucia. A taxi from the airport to Castries will cost about 190 XCD ($70 USD), while Castries to Soufriere will cost about 243 XCD ($90 USD). Rodney Bay to Gros Islet is about 27 XCD ($10 USD), while Rodney Bay to Pigeon Island is about the same price.
Car Rental – A small economy-sized car will cost you from 130 XCD ($48 USD) per day, making this a much more economical and efficient way to get around than taxis. ACE Rent a Car and SIXT usually have some of the best rates. Bicycle World and Bike St. Lucia are two excellent companies to go with.
Bicycles – You can rent a mountain bike for as little as 68 XCD ($25 USD) per day, but depending on availability rentals can cost up to 190 XCD ($70 USD) for a full day of biking.
Hitchhiking – Although St. Lucia is safe for hitchhiking, you’ll have difficulty getting a lift. It’s just not that common. HitchWiki is the best website for hitchhiking info.
When to Go to St. Lucia
December to April is peak season in St. Lucia, with room rates spiking as the island experiences the highest numbers of tourists. The weather is the most pleasant and breezy during this time, however, with temperatures averaging between the mid-70s°F (low 20s°C) to the mid-80s°F (high 20s°C). There isn’t much rainfall during this time.
May to June is a good time to visit for more affordable room prices and lovely temperatures still in the mid-80s°F (high 20s°C) range. If you want to take a chance on hurricane season between July and November, you’ll find the cheapest rates. (Get cancellation insurance just in case of a hurricane!)
How to Stay Safe in St. Lucia
St. Lucia is very safe. It’s a small island with a low crime rate. There have been a few physical assaults against tourists reported in the Rodney Bay Village area over the past few years, but the St Lucian authorities have since opened a new police station here. Just to be cautious, you may want to avoid this area alone after dark.
It’s best to not leave your valuables out in the open at the beach (or anywhere) to avoid petty crime like theft.
If you’re worried about getting scammed, you can read about the 14 travel scams to avoid right here.
Remember to always trust your gut instinct. Avoid isolated areas at night, and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID.
If you don’t do it at home, don’t do it in St. Lucia! Follow that rule, and you’ll be fine.
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past.
St. Lucia Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel to St. Lucia. They are included here because they consistently find deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the ones I use the most and are always the starting points in my search for travel deals.
- Momondo – This is my favorite booking site. I never book a flight without checking here first.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is another great flight search engine which searches a lot of different airlines, including many of the budget carriers that larger sites miss. While I always start with Momondo, I use this site too as a way to compare prices.
- Airbnb – Airbnb is a great accommodation alternative for connecting with homeowners who rent out their homes or apartments.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there, with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Couchsurfing – This website allows you to stay on people’s couches or spare rooms for free. It’s a great way to save money while meeting locals who can tell you the ins and outs of their city. The site also lists events you can attend to meet people (even if you’re not staying with someone).
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have a no money down policy, great interface, and the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Intrepid Travel – If you want to do a group tour around the Caribbean, go with Intrepid Travel. They offer good small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. If you go on a tour with anyone, go with them. And, as a reader of this site, you’ll get a discount when you click the link!
- Rome 2 Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
- World Nomads – I buy all my travel insurance from World Nomads. They have great customer service, competitive prices, and in-depth coverage. I’ve been using them since I started traveling in 2003. Don’t leave home without it!
St. Lucia Gear and Packing Guide
If you’re heading on the road and need some gear suggestions, here are my tips for the best travel backpack and for what to pack!
The Best Backpack for Travelers
Straps: Thick and cushy with compression technology that pulls the pack’s load up and inwards so it doesn’t feel as heavy.
Features: Removable top lid, large pocket at the front, hydration compatible, contoured hip belt
If you want something different, refer to my article on how to choose the best travel backpack for tips on picking a pack and other backpack suggestions.
What to Pack for Your Trip
- 1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easily dried, but I like them; a good alternative is khaki pants)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 bathing suit
- 5 T-shirts (Unbound Merino is my preferred company. If you’re a member of NM+, you can get 15% off your purchase)
- 1 long-sleeved T-shirt
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 6 pairs of socks (I always end up losing half)
- 5 pairs of boxer shorts (I’m not a briefs guy!)
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 razor
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of shower gel
- 1 towel
Small Medical Kit (safety is important!!!)
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Antibacterial cream
- Hand sanitizer (germs = sick = bad holiday)
- A key or combination lock (safety first)
- Zip-lock bags (keeps things from leaking or exploding)
- Plastic bags (great for laundry)
- Universal charger/adaptor (this applies to everyone)
- LifeStraw (A water bottle with a purifier)
Female Travel Packing List
I’m not a woman, so I don’t know what a woman wears, but Kristin Addis, our solo female travel guru, wrote this list as an addition to the basics above:
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 sarong
- 1 pair of stretchy jeans (they wash and dry easily)
- 1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
- 2-3 long-sleeve tops
- 2-3 T-shirts
- 3-4 spaghetti tops
- 1 light cardigan
- 1 dry shampoo spray & talc powder (keeps long hair grease-free in between washes)
- 1 hairbrush
- Makeup you use
- Hair bands & hair clips
- Feminine hygiene products (you can opt to buy there too, but I prefer not to count on it, and most people have their preferred products)
For more on packing, check out these posts:
St. Lucia Travel Guide: Suggested Reading
Under a Blue Flag, by Daniel Putkowski
Fifteen years ago Luz Revilla, a young prostitute, sent her son Hernán off to be raised by Nathan Beck, a tugboat captain who brings him up to “become a man.” Now she learns he is coming back to San Nicolas, Aruba, and Revilla’s life becomes ruled by the anticipation of reuniting with her son as he learns about her life in the red light district. This is the darker side to Aruba but it’s an easy beach read.
Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys
This book was released a few years after the Jamaican independence of 1962, and it explores some of the postcolonial issues from that time. It’s set in the 1830s and brings to life the fictional “madwoman in the attic” from the novel Jane Eyre. Antoinette Cosway is a sensual woman sold to Mr. Rochester, and this book is about the woman’s backstory as it explores inequality of race, culture, and gender. It’s heavy reading, but it’s a beautiful one.
An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude, by Ann Vanderhoof
In the mid 1990s, the author and her husband decided to take a break from their soul-sucking jobs in publishing and sail from Toronto down to the Caribbean and back again. During the trip, they traveled more than 7,000 nautical miles, dropped anchor in 16 countries, and adapted to ‘island time’. What I loved about this book was the change in the author: how she and her husband went from workaholics with rigid schedules to just going with the flow people who realize they don’t need a lot of stuff and loved the freedom of their journey. This book is well written, smart, inquisitive, and paints a vivid picture of the Caribbean. Highly recommended!
Out From Nassau, by Fia B. Scheyer
Out From Nassau takes you back to the Bahamas in the 1920s, when Prohibition was on in the United States and much of its illegal booze was being smuggled in from here. The book focuses on the lives of people in Nassau and the Out Islands, including the McKenzie family, as they become entangled in this dangerous trade. It’s a real page-turner, and although it’s fiction, much of the story is rooted in reality.
St. Lucia Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling the Caribbean and continue planning your trip: