St Lucia – an overview

  • Visited: April 2019
  • Time spent: 8 nights
  • 5 friends
  • Accommodation: Airbnb in Rodney Bay (north end of island)
  • Flights from Chicago: approx. $1,000 pp, villa: $2,000 (in total), car rental: $670 (in total)
  • Food, drink (miscellaneous, e.g. gas/petrol): approx. $450 pp
  • Total spend per person: $1,980. This didn’t include any excursions.
View of Petit Piton from Soufrière

Getting There: There are direct flights from Chicago to St Lucia’s main airport (Hewanorra International Airport/UVF, in the south) on Saturdays only. We flew direct there and the girls coming back to Chicago flew via Atlanta the following Sunday. The flight takes about 5 1/2 hours and St Lucia is one hour ahead.

Where To Stay: I prefer staying in villas vs hotels. It’s generally cheaper, especially as a group, you can keep costs down by buying groceries and cooking yourself, you don’t have to deal with any other groups (or their children! Teachers need a break!) and it’s nice to have a communal area to hang out in that isn’t a hotel room.

We researched A TON of Airbnb properties. I was keen to stay in the south near Soufrière with a view of the Pitons, but they were either out of our price range or had been booked up. We booked accommodation seven months prior to our trip so it looks like villas get booked up quickly! However, there were lots of lovely options further north in Marigot Bay, Rodney Bay and Gros Islet. We chose Villa Moringa in Rodney Bay: it had 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, pool and a huge veranda. We loved it!

Getting Around: We hired a car through Drive-A-Matic and found them to be very responsive to emails and questions. For example, we were able to pick the car up at UVF airport and drop it at the smaller SLU airport a week later with no extra charge. We decided on a ‘Chevrolet Trax or similar’ (L1 Vehicle Group; Transmission: Automatic; 1400 cc Engine Size; 5 Persons; 2 Bags). This car was absolutely fine for getting around, getting up the steep hills etc. However, the trunk/boot was not big enough for everyone’s bags. Luckily, one of the girls didn’t arrive until the next day so we were able to manage with stacking some of the bags on the back seat. They drive on the left in St Lucia so, even though I’ve been driving on the right for the past 12 years, I was volunteered to be the main driver. If you’ve driven in Europe, or anywhere with narrower roads and/or mountains, you’ll be absolutely fine. The local drivers in St Lucia are mental, however, and love to overtake at night, uphill, on a blind curve.

Currency: St Lucia uses the XCD (Eastern Caribbean Dollar). We made sure to take US$ in small bills as well as some XCD. In the end, however, we mostly used our credit cards to pay for everything; in grocery stores, restaurants, souvenir shops. They were much more widely accepted than I had anticipated. We used XCD when stopping at a roadside cafe for lunch one day. We used US$ cash when buying BBQ chicken one evening for dinner or when giving tips on our excursions.

Check out my posts on St Lucia’s beaches, where to eat, hiking Gros Piton and the boat trip you simply cannot miss out on!

Enjoying the sunset on the veranda

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