I just returned on Monday from my first land vacation to St. Lucia. In a word, it was AMAZING/AWESOME/FABULOUS. O.K., O.K. that was three words but. . . words do not do St. Lucia justice.
It is more beautiful than Hawaii and has much more to do than any of the other Caribbean islands I have visited. In fact, many of the "attractions" are either free or close to free. The hardest thing about St. Lucia is negotiating the twists, turns and hills of their highway system. My solution was that I engaged a cabdriver/tour guide for my entire vacation. We went out somewhere every day. At the end of my stay, I had seen just about every corner of this gem of an island.
The people are very nice, extremely soft-spoken and friendly. They are not as gentle and docile as those in Antigua or as outgoing and engaging as Bajans but, nonetheless, they are friendly, helpful and sweet. They may not say more than hello uninvited but, if you engage them in conversation, they are a wealth of knowledge and assistance. I have no complaints about the population of St. Lucia. They were great.
Crime seems to be minimal with little or no trouble given to tourists. The streets are mostly safe to walk at night, especially in Rodney Bay which is the Tourist Mecca of the island. I walked back to my hotel all hours of the day and night with never a worry or problem.
I stayed in Rodney Bay at the Harmony Suites Hotel. I was originally booked into the Bay Garden Hotel and switched it to the Harmony. I am so very glad I did. While the Bay Garden Hotel and Inn both look like perfectly fine hotels, they are in a bit of an out of the way location on the far side of the second mall from everything else in Rodney Bay Village. I was cautioned a couple of times that the road in front of the Bay Garden Hotel/Inn can at times be the only perilous location in the immediate area because these hotels front on the main road where the buses coming to and from Castries run rather than actually being inside of Rodney Bay Village. They are right on the edge so they are also convenient but for my purposes Harmony Suites worked out much much better.
The maps that are available online of Rodney Bay Village gives the impression that things are much closer together than they really are. They are close but not quite as close as the picture appear.
Harmony Suites was PERFECT for a cost conscious traveler like me who is not interested in a lot of hotel bells and whistles. I was given a premium suite which was actually a 1 bedroom apartment. It was large, bright, and spotlessly clean with a giant balcony that overlooked the pool, restaurant (closed) and gave a partial view of the harbor. The unit had a complete kitchen with all of the appliances, cookery, dishes and utensils needed to complete a full course meal. The bathroom was large and comfortable to move around in. The king sized bed came with 4 of the best pillows I have ever slept on. I want them for my bed at home. There were two full closets in the unit with more hangers than I have ever seen in a hotel room. (This is important for us women who tend to over pack.) The door had two locks, one being a deadbolt. The hotel had 24 hour security/reception with the gates and doors locked after 11 but an attendant was right there to let you in no matter what time you came home. The pool was small but spotless, peaceful and beautiful. The entire hotel grounds were very quiet with a tranquil, calm feel to it. It faced the marina with loungers right on the dock for that mid-afternoon siesta by the water. The hotel was perfect. I cannot say enough about this sweet little hotel. The few things that were less than perfect with this establishment was more than made up for in the customer service, friendliness, cleanliness, location and price. The beach is across the road from the hotel, a mere 2 minute walk. The "strip" where all the restaurants and clubs are located is no more than a 5 minute leisure walk from this hotel. There is only two other hotels in all of Rodney Bay that can boast a closer location. This hotel was perfect because it was both so close but yet not close enough to be infected with the noise of the bars/clubs/etc.
The only thing that St. Lucia lacks is a regular nightlife. Other than small functions in resorts and perhaps during the heavy tourist season, there is no nightlife to speak up in St. Lucia. Every night a few of the bars/clubs in Rodney Bay are open for business but those are mostly empty and tend to close relatively early, well before midnight. The only nights that see a steady stream of business are on Friday and Saturday nights. Otherwise, if it is a party scene you crave, look elsewhere because that is not what the population of St. Lucia do in their free time.
I was lucky and met up with a perfect gentleman named Smarty who owns and runs Smarty Tours (smartytoursstlucia.com). He took me all over the island throughout my vacation. He is the best of the best on the best island.
The conversion rate of US$ to EC$ is 2.70 but most establishments will convert at a rate of $1 to EC2.60-2.67 which is pretty good. If you go to the casino in Rodney Bay, you can use the slot machine as a money converter and get the full EC$2.70 for US$1.
There are many inexpensive but delicious restaurants in St. Lucia that mostly cater to the local population but will often be visited by the more travel savvy tourists and guests. It is not unusual to get a full dinner for approximately $5US (stewed/bbq chicken, mac pie, peas n rice, salad, yams and gravy).
The Reduit Beach in Rodney Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen with clear clear water, soft, clean sand and NO WAVES. It is like a giant bathtub. Pigeon Island National Park is nearby and is also a must visit. It is so peaceful and beautiful. Many weddings are held on that little island. It is easily reached via boat or car.
There are many sights and must-see designations in St. Lucia. Do yourself a favor and plan a holiday to this island. Just make sure you ditch the rented car and hire someone to drive you around. This way you can really drink in the sights without getting an ulcer trying to maneuver the turns, spins, climbs, etc of the Lucian roads.
I am so very glad I went to St. Lucia and am blessed to have been able to drink in its beautiful. If you are shopping for a vacation location, look no further and tell Smary of Smarty Tours that "Nadia" sent you.