Ready to dive headfirst into the tropical paradise that is St. Lucia? Before you step off the plane, here are a few pieces of St. Lucia travel advice that you should know to help make your trip even better. I’ll even let you in on a secret about access to that ultra-private-looking beach you think is off limits.
St. Lucia Travel Advice: Bring Cash
When I first arrived in St. Lucia, I tried three different ATMs (attempting with multiple debit cards each time) and was unable to get cash. When I called my bank, they told me that there was no block on my card and that there wasn’t even a record of me trying to take out cash. I was finally able to get cash from a machine, but I heard from many people (including locals) that this was a common problem with ATMs. Fortunately, I had brought some American dollars that I was able to exchange at my hotel, but if you don’t want to be stuck without cash, make sure you bring U.S. dollars or exchange some local currency in advance.
The local currency in St. Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (XCD), but U.S. dollars are accepted pretty much everywhere. (The E.C. dollar is linked to the U.S. dollar, at an exchange rate of $1 USD to $2.70 XCD). If you do pay with U.S. dollars, you should be aware of these caveats:
- If you pay in U.S. dollars, you may not get as good a price.
- You may receive change in Eastern Caribbean dollars.
- Vendors may not accept wrinkled, older, or torn U.S. dollars.
St. Lucia Travel Advice: All Beaches Are Public
By law, all beaches and waterways in St. Lucia are public. So if you see a gorgeous beach, even at one of the more exclusive all-inclusive resorts in St. Lucia where you are not a guest, stroll right up and lounge on the sand or go for a swim in the water. Note that some resorts won’t allow non-guests to use any of their beach facilities (chairs, restrooms, etc.) although some offer limited access for a charge. You can bring your own chair or towel to enjoy the beach for free.
St. Lucia Travel Advice: Watch for Service Charges
Most establishments on St. Lucia will automatically add a 10 percent service charge to your bill (which will be clearly noted on restaurant receipts). If the service was especially great, you can add an extra tip on top of the 10 percent, but it’s certainly not required.
St. Lucia Travel Advice: Think Twice Before Renting a Car
In St. Lucia, drivers stay to the left and the roads are very narrow and winding (with steep drop-offs in some areas). I highly recommend using a taxi or hiring a driver for your stay, which is a much more relaxing way than renting a car to get around the island. If you do choose to drive yourself, go slowly and remember to honk around blind curves. Also be aware that many rental car agencies in St. Lucia have both a minimum age of 25 (or 21 with a hefty surcharge) and a maximum age of 65 for drivers.
St. Lucia Travel Advice: Don’t Forget to Pack Pants
St. Lucia is a laid-back and fun island, but many of the upscale restaurants do have a dress code for dinner, and many require men to wear long pants and closed-toed shoes (women can get away with a dress and fancy sandals). I did see this dress code enforced, so if you’re considering a special dinner out (or are staying at a nicer resort), be sure to pack a few outfits you can dress up.
St. Lucia Travel Advice: Daylight Savings Time
St. Lucia does not participate in daylight savings time change and remains at UTC -4 throughout the year. This means there’s no time difference between the eastern U.S. and St. Lucia during the daylight savings’ months in the United States (March to November), but that there’s an hour time difference during Eastern Standard Time months.
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More from SmarterTravel:
- Caribbean Update: Where to Go (and Not Go Yet) in 2018
- How to Avoid Caribbean Hurricane Season
- 7 Caribbean Destinations on a Budget
Caroline Morse Teel was hosted by St. Lucia Tourism on her visit. Follow Caroline on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline for photos from St. Lucia and around the world.
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