St. Lucia Travel Tips
Part 2

St. Lucia contains a fine mix of luxury resorts and upscale all-inclusives.

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Part 2

Getting Around: For a rental car, drivers must be 25 years old and possess a St. Lucian driver's license. Driving on some of the crater-pocked roads of St. Lucia is not unlike off road driving over very bumpy terrain. Drive on the left.

The following driving time estimates assume good road conditions:
Cap Estate to Castries: 20 minutes
Castries to Soufriere: 1 hour
Soufriere to Vieux-Fort: 1 ½ hours
Vieux-Fort to Fregate Islands Nature Reserve: 25 minutes
Fregate Islands Nature Reserve to Castries: 45 minutes

Carnival: Held for 2 weeks in July, it embraces all of the nation's art forms: theatre, music, dance, song, costumes and drama. As on many islands, St. Lucia 's Carnival traditionally took place in February, 45 days before the start of Easter.  Realizing that many islands also held their Carnivals at this same time, most notably Trinidad, St. Lucia moved its celebration to July when there is much less competition. Visitors are encouraged to take part in the two-week event by joining one of the carnival bands in costume. Information is available at www.luciancarnival.com.

Special Doings: Every Friday is fete or party night at Gros Islet, a fishing village near Castries . The Mardi Gras-like street party features crowds, blaring reggae, rum carts and coalpot barbecue cook stands. See all the weekly special events.

Where to Stay: If you intend to hike daily, Anse Chastanet near the town of Soufriere is the most conveniently located hotel for the price. The 400-acre resort has been a leader in organizing walking and hiking tours for its guests with local, very knowledgeable guides. (From the beach, its main restaurant has 125 steps to the top, a nice vigorous climb before breakfast.) The snorkeling on the reef out front is superb. Web site: www.ansechastanet.com.

On the east coast, close to the Des Cartiers rain forest walk and the Fregate Islands Nature Reserve is the 12-bedroom Fox Grove Inn at Mon Repose. The Swiss/St. Lucian owners run a terrific restaurant here; try the garlic soup! Room rates are $55 for a single including breakfast, or $72 with dinner. A double is $65 including breakfast, $99 with dinner added. Horseback riding is available on the beaches or hills. Call 758/455-3271 or fax 758/455-3800. Web site: www.foxgroveinn.com .

St. Lucia has many good all-inclusives. The famous couples-only Sandals chain ( www.sandals.com ) has two operations here. Less well known but equally good is Le Sport, which emphasizes outdoor activities, including early morning walks and spa treatments and other specialties. Despite its Club Med sounding name, Le Sport has no real French affiliation.

Camping: The National Trust operates the Environmental Education Centre along a stretch of beach (Anse Liberte) in the fishing village of Canaries, 8 miles north of Soufriere and 25 miles south of Castries. Camping gear is available for rent. There are five miles of hiking trails. Staff gives tours explaining the emancipation history.

Safety & Health Warnings: Unfortunately, the rivers aren't the cleanest. It's advised you not swim in them, much less drink from them. St. Lucia is one of the few islands with Bilharzia (also called schistosomiasis) a parasite that generally occurs in slow-moving, snail-infested water. It can enter the body by being consumed or through open wounds.

A guide and/or group is recommended when touring for the remote areas. Crime being what it is these days--prevalent--a few tourists have been robbed while walking on their own.   

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