The Real Saint Lucia
Fresh produce and breads on their way to yachts anchored in Rodney Bay
For seasoned travelers who prefer to truly indulge in the culture when visiting a foreign destination such as Saint Lucia, the island offers a great variety of options which are safe and accessible allowing guests to truly do what the locals do! Many such activities and locales have been mentioned in other pages within this website but for the convenience of our more adventurous guests, who want to experience the local culture and everyday Lucian life, some of what we deem to be the best options are listed together below.
As has already been stated, Saint Lucia is generally a very friendly and safe island where the people enjoy interacting with visitors and are happy to extend friendship and sincere assistance. But as with anywhere in today’s world, visitors should employ a bit of common sense in picking the areas they venture into. It is recognized that the island’s larger communities of Castries, Soufriere and Vieux Fort have some undesirable neighborhoods that should be avoided by visitors; but again, using common sense, these areas are easily recognized for the their appearance and the manner of the people. Otherwise, you will find the overwhelming majority of communities all around the island to be friendly and safe.
Enjoying the ‘real’ Saint Lucia…
Have a cold one at a classic local bar
It’s a universal concept… if you wish to really get to know the people, drop into a friendly local bar. This approach certainly can work in Saint Lucia, especially in rural areas where rum shops, as the classic old wooden establishments are called, are recognized as community gathering spots where friends socialize and carry on serious discussions regarding business, politics and any other topic that might come up.
Some of the more popular spots also serve a bit of local food, particularly at lunchtime or in the evenings. Nearly all will have some music going throughout the day. Karoke and a little dancing can also be enjoyed on special nights.
If you have a rental vehicle it’s easy to find places on your own, particularly in the countryside. Saturday mornings are often very popular with locals to catch up with friends and find out what’s been going on. A taxi driver can also take you to the more popular places, of course, but it should be noted that many may tend to take you to bars owned by friends, not necessarily the kind of place you might describe as what you are looking for. It makes sense to ask around at your hotel to get some consensus on the most fun places to check out.
While there are numerous places to choose from, consensus opinion would cite rum shops in the countryside as well as in Gros Islet Village and the town of Soufriere as being some of the best options.
Country & Western Dances
The popularity of old style American Country & Western music in Saint Lucia, particularly if you enjoy the music yourself, can make for a great evening attending a local dance. The local style of C&W touch dancing is easy enough to learn and there’s always plenty of food and drink to add to the fun. Ask at your hotel and you can find out about scheduled dance events, which are usually held on weekends or the night before a holiday. While there is a big C&W dance every weekend in the upper level of the Castries Central Market right on the waterfront, to insure safety it might best to check that one out accompanied by a local taxi driver or friend. Otherwise, every weekend there are plenty of C&W dances to be found countryside all over the island.
Mothers & Fathers Groups
Once a very strong tradition in Saint Lucia, Mothers & Fathers Groups are not-for-profit service organizations that assist their communities in a variety of ways including helping neighbors in times of need, assisting with school and other youth activities and so on. They also sponsor a variety of social and cultural activities. Nearly every community on island has a Mothers & Fathers Group although, unfortunately, in today’s busy world many are not as active as they once were. Nevertheless, many visitors would find participating in their activities such as dances, bazaars and special holiday activities to be very enjoyable and rewarding. The best way to find out what’s going on would be to start with guest services or reception staff at your hotel.
Church services and events
As has been noted, popular church denominations in Saint Lucia include Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist, Evangelical, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Church of the Later Day Saints and Pentecostal. Besides attending weekend services, island visitors are welcome to join in on a variety of other activities and events being held. Specific churches are listed in the local phone directory and most hotels have listings and contact information. Also, hotel management can assist to find a staff member that belongs to a particular denomination or church that can first-hand tell you all that is currently going on.
For visitors who wish to spend an adventurous day on a deserted beach, the island has plenty to choose from. First, keep in mind that while by law all beaches are open to the public the adjacent lands may be private and so caution must be taken in getting to some of the more private settings. The law does stipulate that ‘public access’ to a beach must be available but the route of that access is at the discretion of the landowner. Also keep security in mind when going to an out of the way location; certainly for some of the better known secluded beach options going with a local driver or guide would be wise to insure not getting lost as well as safety.
Lastly, several of the hideaway beach options are found on the east coast. Not only are some of these fabulous beaches a bit tricky to get to but they also generally have conditions – rough waves and dangerous currents – that warrant extreme caution. The trade winds relentlessly pound the east coast creating these conditions as well as the stunning landscapes.
Beaches that will be nearly empty where much privacy can be found:
- Anse de Sables (Vieux Fort)
- Sab-we-sha Beach (Choiseul)
- Cas-en-bas Beach (northeast coast)
- Secret Beach (Cas-en-bas)
- Fond d’Or Beach (Dennery)
Beaches that you will likely have all to yourselves:
- Grand Anse Beach (east coast)
- Honeymoon Beach (southeast coast)
One of the favorite special limes for locals and foreigners who live in Saint Lucia are the community ‘days’ which are held once a year in each locale taking place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Monday too on holiday weekends!). Virtually every community on island will select a weekend to hold their own ‘days’ street festival with food, music, dance and copious amounts of drink; we’re talking a serious Caribbean party tradition that is sure to be a highlight of anyone’s visit to the island. Of course, communities stager their schedules to avoid competition which results in one being held somewhere on island nearly every non-holiday weekend. Again, hotel guest service staff, taxi drivers or other locals whom you befriend can make recommendations.