St. Lucia (pronounced ‘Loosha’) is an island in the Lesser Antilles. Its closest neighbors are the islands of St. Vincent to the south and Martinique to the north. St. Lucia has a wide variety of attractions, from offshore diving and black or yellow sand beaches, to nature reserves in the mountainous interior. St. Lucia has a relatively well-developed tourist infrastructure and there are regular flights to the island from some major North American and European cities.
St. Lucia has two airports, Hewanorra International Airport, in the Vieux Fort area, and George F. Charles Airport, near to Castries, the nation’s capital. Hewanorra handles international air traffic, while the airport near Castries takes flights from nearby islands.
Taxis from Hewanorra to resorts north of Castries cost about US $60. St. Lucia Air Shuttle offers cheaper transportation at US $17.50 one way and US $33 round trip, but reservations are needed. People who don’t have too much luggage can also walk to the main road and catch a minibus to Castries. Another way to reach St. Lucia is by boat; ferry services connect the island with Martinique and Dominica.
Privately owned minibuses are the cheapest way to get around. But there are no fixed schedules. It is also possible to rent a car. Roads tend to be congested in Castries.
St. Lucia’s currency is the East Caribbean Dollar (EC$), which is also used by some neighboring islands in the Lesser Antilles. The official language is English, although many people also speak a French-based Creole (Kwéyol). In rural areas some people may not speak much English.
There is a departure tax of EC $68, or US $25, for travellers over the age of 12. St. Lucian or CARICOM nationals only pay a departure tax of EC $45. The departure tax by ferry is EC $30.
Major banks include Scotiabank, FirstCaribbean International Bank, RBTT Bank, and Royal Bank of Canada. Banks open at 8 am and close at 3 pm Monday to Thursday. On Friday they close at 5 pm.
Government offices open at 8 am and close at 4 pm Mon-Fri. Stores tend to open at 8 am and close at 5 in the afternoon on weekdays, although some businesses stay open later.
Around the Country:
Castries (population of about 75,000) is the capital city. It is located in the northwestern part of the island between inland mountains.
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