My husband and I just returned from a fabulous week in St. Lucia (first time) and I had so many questions before I went, and I see so many of the same questions, so I thought I would post my opinions and, of course, open to others.
First, we rented a Suzuki Jimny from Drive-A-Matic at the UVF airport for about $400 USD for a week, plus 1/2 tank of gas for about $38 USD (return empty), did not purchase any additional coverage thanks to what Visa provides, and had a great experience with them. Easy peasy, new car, no hassles. My husband is a good driver and did just fine on the mountainous roads (we do live in Colorado, but not in the mountains). I'll tell you what though, that road to Anse Chastenet/Jade Mountain is a joke. I'm pretty sure that they leave it that way because they want to keep people out. (beautiful beach!)
We stayed for 5 nights at Villa Eluna in Margretoute, near Soufriere and it was wonderful! Spectacular views, great location (though tough to find on the first try), rustic but very nice, and peaceful. Except for the construction at Freedom Bay. There was one day we were hanging out at the villa most of the day and it was distracting. The walk to the beach wasn't too bad and though it's a more 'raw' area, we really enjoyed it. Yikes to the mosquitoes however. I tried candles and natural deterrents, but it was finally Cutter that did the trick. We did rent a car because we like to have freedom to do whatever we feel like at the moment.
Grocery shopping in Soufriere is interesting, not much parking and we did feel harassed several times, not enjoyable. The fresh fruit from the vendors around the square is divine - a bit early for mango season, but they were delicious! We didn't really care for Soufriere for the most part or how unfriendly we found most of the people. Not mean, but not friendly either. We're nice, quiet people...
We chartered a sailboat for a day with Mystic Man (will do a separate review) and that was simply amazing and completely worth the money. What a day! Dolphins swimming under the bow, nicest crew, gorgeous shoreline, on and on.
Restaurants in the area - we found that our favorite food and views were at Boucan (ah-may-zing), Dasheen, and Mango Tree.
On to the north of the island, for a 2 night stay at The Landings in a beach-front 'villa' (more like a luxury condo). It's a stunning beach that they have definitely cleaned up and I can't say enough about the property and the luxury experience. Very wonderful in a different way from staying in the wonderful Villa Eluna - sadly without the Piton views. We really couldn't decide which we liked better and probably would split our time more equally on a future visit.
We couldn't stand the market in Castries, the people are SO pushy, it was awful and we couldn't wait to get out of there. We did find the workers at the resort and in the Rodney Bay area to be incredibly friendly. It's a different vibe altogether from Soufriere.
Truly an amazing vacation and experience of St. Lucia - I really hope to get back someday!