Saint Lucia is an island country in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. Part of the Lesser Antilles, it is located north/northeast of the islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, northwest of Barbados and south of Martinique, and covers a land area of 238 square miles.
Saint Lucia is a volcanic island, with more mountains than most other Caribbean islands. The highest point is Mount Gimie at 3,120 feet above sea level. Two other mountains, the Pitons, form the island’s most famous landmark. They are located between Soufrière and Choiseul on the island’s western side. Saint Lucia is one of the few islands in the world that boasts a drive-in volcano.
Castries is the capital city of Saint Lucia is, home to about one third of the population lives. Major towns include Gros Islet, Soufrière and Vieux Fort. The island climate is tropical, moderated by northeast trade winds, with a dry season from December to May and a wet season from June to November.
Saint Lucia is popular due to its tropical weather, lush scenery, and its numerous beaches and resorts. Tourist attractions include Sulphur Springs(at Soufrière). The hot springs complex features a pool that the hot water runs through, so visitors should bring their swimming trunks. The twin mountain peaks “The Pitons” are a world heritage site, and climbing the Gros Piton is an achievable goal for most people. The trailhead begins at about 600 feet above sea level and requires about two hours of moderate-to-strenuous hiking to reach the summit of about 2,600 feet above sea level. A further hour and one-half is needed to descend. Guides are required and entrance costs $30 US. Taxis or local buses can be used to reach the trail head. There are also several other official hiking routes on the island. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ website has links to information about hiking routes.
Most tourists visit Saint Lucia as part of a cruise, usually aboard one of the major cruise lines. Most of their time tends to be spent in Castries, although Soufriere, Marigot Bayand Gros Isletare popular spots with visitors. Visits by cruise ships over the years have led to a duty free mall (at dockside, Point Seraphine, Castries) with jewelry, souvenirs, art, liquor/rums and other offerings typical for cruise shoppers. Travelers will also find lower, “duty-Free” prices available across the island in strip malls and resorts.
Local cuisine is prepared across St. Lucia; ask a local for a recommendation and you will be sure to be directed somewhere nearby. Many rum shacks in rural towns also prepare food if given advanced notice. Fish, veggie, chicken and goat meals are very common and usually come with a number of sides including salad, plantain, breadfruit, macaroni, and rice prepared a number of different ways. For a quick snack, barbeques with chicken and pork can be found in any community on a Friday night.
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