When I was in St. Lucia, I was mostly traveling by tour bus - some smaller vans and some larger buses. But for people not arriving by cruise ships, they have the option of bus, rental car or taxi. Keep in mind that they drive on the left and not on the right.
Note that a BUS in St. Lucia is a mini-van. Buses are very affordable, but it may be easier to get TO a destination rather than back as some bus routes only run during hours when people will be working or shopping and so not after mid-afternoon.
Buses run frequently on standard routes in northern St. Lucia from Castries to Gros Islet or to Rodney Bay. Travelers can catch one of the privately owned, 14-seater minivans at marked bus stops or by flagging one down along the three major bus routes on the coastal road: The Vieux Fort - Soufrière Route; the Soufrière - Castries route; and the Castries - Vieux Fort route. Catching a bus away from a designated stop should be easy as long as the driver has enough room to pull over to the side of the road...
Taxis in St. Lucia are not metered, but have fixed fares for standard trips. * (This is usual for the Caribbean). Visitors should negotiate the fare with the driver before embarking on a trip, and agree on whether the fare will be paid in United States Dollars (USD) or Eastern Caribbean Dollars (EC). Remember, there will be an additonal charges for extra passengers and luggage.
Visitors can negotiate a guided taxi tour for up to four people. The average cost for a tour of the whole island is about $200(USD).
Obviously since St. Lucia is an island, you can't get there by driving. It's either FLY or come on a boat. Both times I have been there, I have been by cruise ship.
But St. Lucia actually has TWO airports
Castries TLPC SLU George F. L. Charles Airport (formerly Vigie Airport)
Vieux-Fort TLPL UVF Hewanorra International Airport
Since George F. L. Charles Airport in Castries only handles turboprop and short distance local flights, most tourists are going to come in to TLPL Hewanorra International Airport down on the south end of the island which handles 500,000 passengers a year and has the capability to handle the Boeing 747, Airbus A330, Airbus A340, Boeing 777 and other similar long range intercontinental aircraft. Hewanorra International Airport was originally named Beane Army Airfield and was used as a military airfield by the United States Army Air Forces Sixth Air Force and used in World War II. I haven't been to or seen this airport
All the photos I have are for the TLPC George F.L.Charles Airport
You need to drive on the left hand side, and be aware that other drivers do not always keep to their side on the road. Apart from the main through roads, potholes, very narrow roads with bends and steep inclines are common. Be aware of pedestrians, dogs and other animals suddenly appearing on the roads. At night, the lights of traffic coming your way are sometimes blinding.
But you still can get around nicely, and are independant.
Taxis are an easy way to get into town. Just to be safe it is best to have the hotel arrange the taxi for you. Most drivers will arrange a pick up time with you so you are guaranteed to get the same ride back to your resort. A taxi from our resort into Castries cost $40 roundtrip; which isn't bad for a 15 minute trip.
The easiest way to et from the airport to Rodney Bay is by taxi. 200ECdollars. I will recommend one particular person Stannis... if he cannot do the job he will arange another person to do it. My friend booked this for me, tellinghim that I couldnt see, I would be wearing a panama hat, the driver ( not Stannis for me trip form airport) cam and found me, ok St Lucia is a small airport but there was good intention there.
Stannis also does island tours, I didnt do this , we hired a car so I cannot review this service.
There is no bus from St Lucia Airport to Rodney Bay, you have to go into the closest town, then go to Catries then on to Rodney Bay
St. Lucia is a cruise ship port and during our trip we encountered several in Harbor. Holland America and Carnival were the two lines I remember seeing in the port by Castries. The cruise ships seem gigantic compared to the little island town.
Taking a helicopter was an option for arriving at the Sandals properties. We were arriving at SLU so our drive was about 15 minutes but if you are arriving from Hewanorra Airport the drive is anywhere from one and a half to two hours depending on road conditions (and very winding narrow roads). We met a couple at our resort who took the long winding road to the resort and deciding to spring for the $250 one way fare back to the airport.
Airport Transfers were included in our Sandals vacation. After clearing Customs & Immigration we collected our luggage. Do not let the men in red shirts take your bags; they are just looking for money and the exit is only two feet away. After we exited; a representative from Sandals was waiting. We gave him our names and hopped into the shuttle van. We were with 4 other couples who were also going to the resort. The trip from airport to hotel was about 15 and gave a little tour of Castries.
As always we chose American Airlines as our carrier to SLU. We departed JFK to San Juan. A short layover later and we were on a prop plane to St. Lucia. The flight from JFK was a good one and not very full. We had an extra seat to ourselves to stretch out. Our friends Chris and Karen had the same situation.
The plane ride from San Juan to SLU on the prop plane was a bit noisey and bumpy but it was a short ride.
George FL Charles Airport (SLU) is the closer of the two airports to the major resorts of the island. This airport though is much smaller than Hewanorra International and you will be arriving via prop plane. I think despite it's small size it is the way to go if you want a short ride to your resort. Our ride from the airport to Sandals La Toc was under 15 minutes. The ride from Hewannorra can take up to two hours on winding and steep roadways.
Most young St. Lucian men aspire to be taxi drivers -- that's where the money is. To be honest, most taxi drivers are a great source of knowledge about the island. You can hire a taxi for as little as $100/day (US). Just remember to tip, as well. The drivers will take you as short a distance as the nearest town for shopping, and as far as an entire island tour. Choose carefully -- you'll want an older driver, as opposed to a young hot-shot. There are no traffic laws in St. Lucia -- even for taxis -- and it shows. If you're a flat-lander, take a dramamine for an island tour. The roads can be narrow and curvy. If you're used to driving these kinds of roads, or if you live in mountainous terrain, it'll be just like home! If you're taking a short shopping trip, just tell your cabbie what time you want to be picked up, and he'll be there with bells on. The majority of the taxis are of the mini-bus variety, and are all Toyotas. You'll be amazed at how many people can fit into one.
Several posts on this site warn against renting a car on the island, and driving St. Lucia is definitely not like driving in the an American suburb. However we did rent a car and everything worked out fine.
It is left side driving, like in England. The roads are twisty and often steep on this volcanic island. Hairpin turns abound. Rather than guardrails, the roads are rimmed by 2 foot deep, open storm water culverts that threaten to engulf your car. The local taxis and minibus drive fast, although generally courteously. On the plus side, the main roads have been recently repaved (as of Nov 06) and the views are gorgeous. If you are into challenging drives, driving the island can be fun. The road between Castries and Soufriere out-does Maui's Road to Hana, in my opinion.
Side roads, on the other hand, are sometimes unpaved or poorly paved ruts. The road to Anse Chastanet was probably last paved a few decades ago and is little more than a path of rubble. Its negotiable, even with our little euro-car, but you need some patience. You cheer when the "pavement" gives out and you're on a relatively smooth dirt road.
If you do drive, take your time and be careful. Compared to back home, these roads are hazardous. Overall though, driving gave us a lot of freedom and we got to see a lot of the island.
St. Lucia has two airports. Vigie in the north (in Castries) is much smaller and can't handle large planes, but is much closer to most of the hotels, restaurants, etc. We flew into Vigie (had to change planes in Puerto Rico), and it was a short $15 US taxi ride to our hotel in Rodney Bay. Our flight home however left from Hewanorra in the south (in Vieux Fort), which was a 90 minute taxi ride (with no traffic at all) costing $70 US.
The only problem with Vigie is that since it can't take large planes (like the 757 we took from Hewanorra) you'll be stuck with smaller planes.
If you're going to be staying in the north-west part of St. Lucia, it's definitely worth it to learn how the buses work. A taxi from Castries (airport) to Rodney Bay (hotel) was $40EC ($15 US), but later we took a bus for $2EC ($0.75 US) between the two cities. The buses run continuously - we never had to wait more than 30 seconds (REALLY!) for a bus to come along. You can stand anywhere along the road and just flag them down. However, you have to know where to get off, and yell "stop here" to the driver when you get to your destination, otherwise he'll keep on driving past, as there aren't really any designated "bus stops". Our hotel front desk was helpful, telling us which bus # to take (usually "1A").
In Castries there is an area which is kind of a "grand central" for all the bus routes, where you can change buses in order to continue on to other areas. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any kind of published bus route list.
Arriving from the US usually means coming to Hewanorra UVF on the south end of the island. You can get a cab ride with a tour guide to boot for US$50 to Rodney Bay, which is probably where you are headed. Once there take Jitney Bus for EC$1, best deal around and you get to meet the locals. Make all deals with cabbies in advance, where to, how long etc. US$100 will get you a car and driver all day. Dont even think about renting a car yourself, you will be killed. Cricks Funeral Home is just outside of Castries on the Gros Islet road. Do the jump up there on Friday nights, if you can make it. You can't walk onto a Sandals property, but if you are a good swimmer, then go that way. Once you are there the drinks and food are free, pretend you own the place, then take a cab home. You can have a blast for a whole lot less than you might expect.
Used to be called Sandals Regency - I've stayed here twice. Grounds are well-kept, rooms are clean...more
100 Anse Chastanet Rd, PO Box 7000, Soufriere, Caribbean
Good for: Solo
Rodney Bay Lot B, Gros Islet, 9999, LC
Good for: Couples