Diving in Saint Lucia
The island of
Saint Lucia (Loo-sha) is at the tip of an
underwater volcano where divers can enjoy the stunning variety of coral,
sponge and marine life: huge gorgonians, black coral trees, gigantic
barrel sponges, purple vase sponges and lace coral. Many dive sites
consist of seamounts rising from incredible depths to within a few feet
of the surface. Angelfish, black beauties, golden spotted eels, seahorses,
stingrays, nurse sharks, turtles and many varieties of schooling fish
are as plentiful as they are colorful and varied. A few submerged shipwrecks
and a mysterious serpentine creature known as “The Thing”
(Saint Lucia’s very own “Loch Ness Monster on Vacation”)
add to the excitement of diving in the waters of St Lucia. Divers from
all over the world and every skill level have experienced the exotic
beauty and warm crystal waters of Saint Lucia. A great deal of care has
been exercised to ensure that the island, as well as the surrounding
water remains as pristine as it was a generation ago when it first began
attracting divers in search of a paradise less traveled.
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
Beginning December 31, 2006, the U.S. Department
of State requires that travelers to and from the Caribbean have a valid
passport with at least 6 months validity remaining after the date of return from the destination. No Visas are required for U.S. and Canadian citizens. Check the entry/exit requirements here.
Vaccinations are not required for entering the Caribbean
if you’re coming from the U.S., Britain, or Canada. Before traveling check with the CDC here.
Culture and Customs
Since the first European discover of Saint Lucia, power over
the island has passed between many hands, and each of the island’s
inhabitants has helped to create a unique culture. Amer-indian culinary
styles are just the beginning of the cultural diversity you’ll find
in Saint Lucia. Though the British hold political control of the island,
there are many other cultural influences in Saint Lucia. Remnants of the
French influence are found throughout the island in everything from names
to language. You can read more about the people of Saint Lucia here.
Electricity, Telephone and Internet Access
St. Lucia runs on 220- to 230-volt AC (50 cycles), so bring
an adapter if you plan to use U.S. appliances. Some hotels are wired for
Saint Lucia has a modern, fully and reliable digital telecommunication
system. The country code for Saint Lucia is 758. International Direct Dialing
is available from your hotel rooms.
Email and internet access is available at internet cafes
throughout the island.
The water is of good quality and safe to drink, however
if you are accustomed to drinking bottled water or have a sensitive system,
it may be best to drink bottled water, which is available for purchase
at restaurants, bars, hotels or at local grocery stores.
Language & Currency
English is the official language, but islanders often speak
a French-Creole patois similar to that heard on Martinique.
The official monetary unit is the Eastern Caribbean dollar
(EC$). You can see the current exchange rate here. However nearly all hotels, restaurants, and shops accept US dollars.
Saint Lucia is on Atlantic Standard Time, 1 hour ahead of
Eastern Standard Time in the United States. Saint Lucia does not observe
daylight saving time, so when the United States changes to daylight saving
time, clocks in Dominica and the U.S. East Coast will be on the same time.
History, Art, and Culture
Saint Lucia was first inhabited by the peaceful Arawak Indians,
but they were conquered by their old enemies, the fierce Caribs. These
early Amerindian cultures called the island "Iouanalao" and
"Hewanorra," meaning "Island of the Iguanas." Juan
de la Cosa, a lesser-known explorer who had served at one time as Christopher
Columbus' navigator was the first European to discover Saint Lucia in 1499.
Then the British came and in 1667 the French arrived. Saint Lucia was alternately
British and French for the next 150 years, before it was finally ceded
to the British in 1814. St Lucia gained internal autonomy in 1967 and
full independence, as a member of the British Commonwealth, in 1979.
In spirit, the island is influenced by many cultures. British
and French customs linger to this day. Saint Lucians drive on the left and
have a passion for cricket, yet the majority of locals speak a French-based
patois, attend Catholic churches and live in villages with French names.
The Caribbean influence surfaces in the drinks, (rum and locally brewed
beer), in the music (calypso, soca, reggae), in the richly flavored Creole
cuisine, in the carnivals, festivals and days of national pride, and in
the open-air markets. St. Lucia is also widely known for its yearly jazz
festival, where performers from around the world come to play and enjoy
the best in jazz. Read more about the history of Saint Lucia here.
Location and Size
A mountainous island of 238 sq. miles, Saint Lucia is located
in the Windward Islands, about 25 miles north of St. Vincent and 25 miles
south of Martinique. Saint Lucia, "the Helen of the West Indies",
boasts numerous beautiful sandy beaches along the coast with lush vaulting
forests in the interior. A subtropical climate, with an average high of
87 F and a low of 77 F, ensures year round sunshine with some extra rain
during the rainy season from June to October.