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Yello’s Bite-sized Guide to the Caribbean: St Lucia

by Karen Rollins Jul 4, 2022

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Yello knows the Caribbean! We are based in 20 countries across the region, and each one of them is quintessentially Caribbean while also offering visitors a one-of-a-kind cultural experience. 

Our British, French, and Dutch colonial past can be seen in our food, art, fashion, music, and languages. Yet as a region, we are also slowly developing our unique Caribbean identity based on our distinct geography, values, and experiences.

It’s time to appreciate our shared Caribbean culture and learn more about the countries in our region – let’s visit St Lucia.

Capital: Castries

Independence Day: 22 February 1979

Background: St Lucia was initially inhabited by the Arawak Indians in AD200, who called the island “Louanalao”, which means “Island of the Iguanas.” In AD800, when the Carib Indians arrived, they named it “Hewanorra.” 

The Caribs lived in St Lucia until the 1600s. They fought off multiple attempts by the English, Dutch and French to settle on the island between 1605 and 1638.

In 1651, a member of the French West India Company is said to have bought the island from the Caribs to make it a French colony. England and France constantly fought to control St Lucia until 1814, when the French finally ceded it to the English under the Treaty of Paris.

Getting around: Travelling around St Lucia is relatively easy for visitors. If you want to navigate the island like a local, hop on a minibus. Minibuses run at various times during the day depending on the route. Fares range from $2.50 to $8.00 (EC dollars). All minibuses have a green number plate with an M prefix. 

Alternatively, you can hire a car at the airports, via a hotel or at a car rental office. Tourists require a temporary driving license which can be obtained with a valid driving license at the airport, the police station in Castries, or at car rental offices. Driving is on the left side of the road!

Taxis are easily available at the airport or taxi stands. All authorised taxis have a light blue number plate with TX on it. Fares vary depending on destination and the number of people travelling, so confirm the cost before you get in.

Caribbean island-hopping is possible from St Lucia which has regular ferry services connecting it to Dominica, Martinique, and Guadeloupe.

Must-see place of interest: St Lucia’s most famous and recognisable landmarks are two mountainous volcanic spires or plugs, known as The Pitons.  

Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, the Pitons are located on the southwest of the island, close to the towns of Soufrière and Choiseul. 

A popular hiking challenge for tourists and locals, Gros Piton is 770 metres (over 2,500ft) high, while Petit Piton is smaller at only 743 metres (over 2,400ft) high, but is more difficult to climb because it’s steeper. The peaks are linked by the Piton Mitan ridge.  

Visitors are advised to use a guide to navigate the tricky trail to the top of Gros Piton, and only attempt Petit Piton if you’re an experienced climber.

Must-do annual event: St Lucia’s Jazz Festival is usually held annually in May. It features a mixture of day and night, free and paying concerts, and is a week-long celebration of music and art held at intimate venues and luxurious resorts around the island.

The festival first took place in 1992 and was created by the island’s tourist board to fill the downtime between the peak season from December to April and hurricane season from June to November.

The event was rebranded in 2013 and various other cultural aspects were added including fashion, dance, spoken word, and visual arts. Past performers at the festival have included Ronald ‘Boo’ Hinkson, Luther Francois, and Lalah Hathaway.

Motto: ‘The land, the people, the light’

Fun fact: The national bird is the St Lucia Parrot, or Jacquot, which is native only to the island.

Check out the official St Lucia tourism website for all you need to know before visiting.

Sources: St Lucia.org, Britannica.com, and U.S. News