Saint Lucia is a sovereign island country of the West Indies in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. Part of the Lesser Antilles, it is located north/northeast of the island of Saint Vincent, northwest of Barbados and south of Martinique. It covers a land area of 617 km2 (238 square miles) its capital is Castries.
The official currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$).
St Lucia has direct flights from the UK, USA and Canada, so it’s fairly easy to get to. Do note that these flights come into Hewanorra Airport in Vieux Fort, which is on the southern tip of the island and it is a 1.5 to 2 hour drive to homes in the Marigot and Rodney Bay areas. If you aren’t hiring a car, remember to discuss the logistics of getting to your house sit with the home owners.
A smaller airport just outside of Castries is an inter-island airport connecting Antigua, Barbados, Curacao, Fort-de-France, Pointe-a-Pitre, Port of Spain, Saint Kitts, Sint Maarten, and Saint Vincent.
There’s also a ferry service connecting Dominica, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Les Saintes, Marie Galante and St Lucia. Ferry prices are comparable to flying with the smaller airlines, so no savings there, but it is a great way to explore the Caribbean.
Cost of living in St Lucia
As with most of the Caribbean islands, imported goods are expensive, as is eating out in the touristy places. However locally grown produce is plentiful and reasonably priced.
Fish is inexpensive and local raised chicken is very affordable. We shop locally – eat a lot of papaya, mango, banana, and passion fruit which are all just a few EC dollars when in season, and we experiment with new recipes using local staples.
The Massy Supermarket chain moved in a couple of years ago and bought up most of the other supermarkets on the island. They do have a good variety of goods – many things are cheaper than they are back in Canada – however, there is no longer the wide variety of goods that there was before.
Under a large orange roof in Castries you’ll find a bustling fruit and vegetable market (especially on a Saturday). The vendors carry everything you can think of, plus coconut oil, honey, spices and homemade guava jelly. Prices are not cheap like Mexico or Ecuador but tomatoes, plantain and ground provisions are inexpensive.
Toiletries, coffee and electronics, cost a lot more here due to import duties, so bring them with you if you want to save some money.
You can snack on salt-fish and bake from local vendors for 3 or 4 EC dollars or pay $50 US and up, per plate, depending on where you eat. Marigot Bay has a great Indian restaurant (Masala Bay) but a meal for two would be around $ 100 US without any beverages.
Reduit Beach on Rodney Bay is the hub for fine dining and nightlife and prices reflect how popular the area is with the tourists.
Roads in St Lucia are twisty and narrow, often with mountains on one side and sheer drops on the other, so it can be a challenging place to drive. Many of the smaller access roads are rough dirt tracks, so a four wheel drive is useful if you have to get up any of these.
Public transport is either by private taxi which is not cheap, or the dollar buses. These are minivans, which are packed to the gills with passengers, before roaring back and forth between the main towns, with fares costing just a few EC dollars per ride.
Medical care availability
There are two hospitals in St Lucia, one of which apparently is actually the mental asylum. So make sure you go to the new one. Thankfully we haven’t had to visit either of them.
Veterinary care and animal welfare in St Lucia
The veterinary office in Castries is tucked away behind a large warehouse store across from the Castries airport. We called in to pick us some cream for a dogs skin infection and they seemed very pleasant. Although we had to pay “the cashier” for it and get a receipt before we could go claim it from the veterinary assistant.
Attitude to pets varies immensely. There are strays, there are also animals with owners (who don’t actually care for them), and then there are a growing number who get their pets neutered or spayed, walk them at the beach on leash and take excellent care of them.
A lot of people have dogs to protect their property, so you will encounter barking dogs as you drive or walk around the neighborhood. These of course can be bothersome at night, but each neighborhood is different.
Warm and sunny and if you are tucked away in a hollow, it can be a little oppressive. During rainy season the mosquito population flourishes, so be prepared with long pants, bug spray or seek out a spot with sea breezes.
June to November is hurricane season, however hurricanes do tend to head further north, making St Lucia a little less prone to major storms.
Things to do while house sitting in St Lucia
Highlights for us have been visiting Tet Paul which is just past Soufriere. For just $12 US you can take a guided hike through the community garden up the “stairway to heaven” and admire a fantastic view of St Lucia’s iconic Pitons. You can hike Gross Piton itself if you have up to 3 hours to spare each way. You’ll pay a hefty $ 50 US fee plus the cost of hiring a guide.
A must do is a visit to Pigeon Point to explore the beaches that surround it (good snorkeling here) and the remnants of the old fort at its summit.
A lesser known spot is the kite surfing beach and bar near Vieux Fort. It’s a great place to watch the surfer’s antics, to walk the dogs or just to hang out and enjoy a burger and a Piton (local beer).
St Lucia is a hikers dream – there are hikes to pitons, waterfalls, and tropical gardens, as well as guided walks around Castries itself. Miles of beaches to walk and lots of clear blue water to swim in.
Our overall impression as a house sit location
St Lucia is a rugged, dramatic island that has attracted tourists for years, so it is quite developed and more touristy then the lesser known islands of the Grenadines. This means a lot more facilities, more things to do, but also more touts and locals looking for handouts.
Score out of 10 for St Lucia as a house sit destination
I would score it as a 9 (it is one of those bucket list destinations) although house sits are not advertised on the platforms for St Lucia very often.
You can find Yvonne Bauche at Nomadic Retirement Living