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When planning your next sailing holiday, a private yacht charter to St. Lucia is a great option. Peppered with gorgeous beaches, natural wonders, lush flora and fauna and mesmerising marine life, the ‘Helen of the West’ is a great destination. But you don’t need to be a Popeye to enjoy one of the Windward Islands.
Whether you are sailing on a private yacht or on one with a crew, we have pulled together everything you need to know about sailing St. Lucia.
St. Lucia is known as the ‘Helen of the West’ due to the frequency in which she swapped between British and French control!
Are there any hazards on the approach to St. Lucia?
In short, no! The approach to St. Lucia is relatively simple and the lack of hazards make it a perfect destination for less experienced sailors looking to further their sea miles.
While there are no reported hazards at this time, it is always recommended that you keep a close eye on any events that may be occurring on the countdown to your departure, to ensure you are fully informed and can make alternative plans should you need to amend your route.
Marinas and Anchorages in St. Lucia
St Lucia has two marinas – Rodney Bay Marina, which is located towards the north of the island, a short distance from Pigeon Island National Park and Marigot Bay Marina, which is located south of Castries.
Most of the charters available through LateSail depart from Rodney Bay Marina. Built in 1985, it has over 220 berths, including 30+ for super yachts, and can facilitate vessels up to 200m in length. It is a full-service marina with a variety of facilities, including showers, swimming pools, restaurants and bars, fuelling services, car hire, laundry services and Wi-Fi.
The marina acts as an excellent base for exploring St. Lucia and is approximately 30 mins drive from Castries and 1hr 40mins from Soufriere, the home of The Pitons.
Mooring costs in St. Lucia are charged overnight and are around £10 per night. Mooring costs in the marina are, as can be expected, more expensive than a mooring buoy.
In addition to mooring fees, sailors will be required to pay port and customs taxes, which are approximately £1.50 per person, per day and cruising permits, which are a one-off purchase that are, on average around £10, depending on the size of your vessel.
While it is not a legal requirement to hold a sailing certificate in St.Lucia, it is recommended. If booking in advance, some charter companies will require you to hold a valid sailing qualification before allowing you to hire a private yacht and and others will happily accept a sailing resume.
Snorkelling and diving in St. Lucia
How ever you are sailing the beautiful island of St. Lucia, chances are you are going to want to enjoy a spot of snorkelling or diving. After all, that’s the beauty of a sailing holiday, being surrounded by the ocean – the world’s biggest swimming pool, which is full of beautiful wildlife.
With its temperate climate, the waters surrounding the St. Lucia are full of colourful marine wildlife.
- Anse de Pitons – without a doubt the most popular snorkelling site in St. Lucia, head to the base of The Pitons where you can see a huge variety of corals, fish and reefs.
- Virgin Cove – great for beginners due to its relatively shallow waters, Virgin Cove is a great place for those new to snorkelling while still enabling individuals to see a wide variety of beautiful sea creature.
Diving spots in St. Lucia are plentiful and choosing which to dive will be more of a challenge than catching a glimpse of exotic sea life. Whether you are PADI certified or wishing to join an organised diving expedition, there are a variety of options.
- Piton Wall – at the base on Petit Piton, the 1,500ft underwater wall is home to an array of marine life, including rays, turtles, colourful corals and around 160 different species of fish
- Turtle Reef – misleadingly, Turtle Reef gets its name from its shape rather than its inhabitants! Don’t let this put you off though! The reef is alive with sea creatures, including Hawksbill turtles, barrel sponges and moray eels
- Lesleen M Wreck – perfect for divers who are new to wreck diving, the Lesleen M Wreck was sunk to create a verdant environment for copious amounts of marine life, including octopus, turtles, neon sea spiders and schools of colourful tropical fish
- The Pinnacles – head to Soufriere Bay and dive The Pinnacles, one of the Caribbean’s most impressive marine sites. As well as the four natural monuments that rise royally from the sea, you’ll be surrounded by abundant sea creatures, including Venus fish, butterfly fish and moray eels and may even encounter a barracuda!
French for ‘sulphur’, Soufriere is named after the sulphur springs located at Petit Piton.
Food and drink in St. Lucia
What provision options are available when sailing in St. Lucia?
There are several restaurants and bars situated on or near to Rodney Bay Marina in addition to a well-stocked supermarket.
Typical food prices for popular food items are* (Pounds Sterling):
- Milk (1litre) – £1.70 – £2
- Cheese (1kg) – £4 – £4.50
- Rice (1kg) – £1
- Loaf of bread – 60p
- Bananas (1kg) – £80p
- Bottle of red wine – £10
- Bottle of imported beer (0.33litre) – £1.50
*Prices correct at time of writing
The best places to eat in St. Lucia
Jade Cuisine at the Jade Mountain Club – for one of the most sensational views and mouth-watering experiences in St. Lucia, anchor off Soufriere and visit Jade Cuisine at the Jade Mountain Club. Watch the sun set over The Pitons as you enjoy a true culinary delight. Reservations are recommended to avoid disappointment.
Best Chef Steakhouse – steak lovers will be in for a real treat at the island’s Best Chef Steakhouse. The menu is varied, with a mixture of meat, seafood and vegetarian options, but you’d be missing out if you didn’t go for a nice bit of steak or the Veal Osso Bucco – one of the restaurant’s specialities.
What is the local food and drink like in St. Lucia?
St. Lucia is rich in diverse cuisine, with a mixture of French, English and East Indian influences. Here’s our tick list of the five main dishes to try when on a sailing holiday in St. Lucia:
Green fig and saltfish – the national dish of St. Lucia, green fig and saltfish has its roots set
in the slavery era and is relatively cheap and incredibly flavoursome. Don’t be fooled
though. When the St. Lucians refer the ‘green figs’, they actually mean green bananas,
making the dish sweet, salty and savoury – what’s not to love!
- St. Lucian Lambi – a popular Caribbean delicacy made with conch, it is often served as a spicy soup
- Plantain – a simple yet delicious ingredient, plantain is a staple addition to every St. Lucians diet and can be served on its own as a snack or as an accompaniment to local fish or seafood
- Callaloo soup – a real comfort food, callaloo soup is made with callaloo leaves (similar to spinach), okra, chillies, corned beef and crab meat
- Rum Cocktail – no visit to the Caribbean would be complete without a tipple of rum. Most bars will serve house cocktails containing rum, but for an extra special taste of the St. Lucia, be sure to order a Lucian Slammer! Just make sure you sleep it off before you next set sail!
St. Lucian Lambi’s main ingredient, conch, is actually a type of seafood – NOT LAMB!
Day 1 : Rodney Bay Marina – Enjoy the day at leisure in and around Rodney bay
Day 2: Rodney Bay Marina – The Pitons (15nm). Sail from the marina down south to the magnificent Ptions. Enjoy the evening in Soufriere
Day 3: Soufriere – Marigot Bay (10nm). Enjoy at day of snorkelling, diving and water sports at Marigot Bay
Day 4: – Marigot Bay – Grande Anse D’Arlet, Martinique (32nm). – Discover another little Caribbean gem on an overnight visit to the village of Grande Anse D’Aslet which is set on a white sandy beach.
Day 5: Grande Anse D’Arlet, Martinique – Anse Mitan, Trois Islets (8nm). Immerse yourself in sailing life in this little town full of yachts and nautical adventure
Day 6: Anse Mitan, Trois Islets – Ste. Anne (20nm). Enjoy a day’s snorkelling off the reef at Ste. Anne and head to the town to experience its buzzing nightlife
Day7: Ste. Anne – Pigeon Island (22nm). Take a walk up to Fort Rodney and enjoy a swim at Reduit Beach before spending your last night on-board
Day 8: Disembark at Rodney Bay Marina.
Travelling to St. Lucia
There are two airports in St. Lucia – George Charles (Vigie) Airport which is approximately 15 minutes from Rodney Bay Marina and Hewanorra International Airport, St. Lucia’s main airport, which is around 1hr 30 minutes away. Direct flights to St. Lucia are commonplace across the globe and are fairly regular.
Flights from the UK are available from London Gatwick with Virgin Atlantic and British Airways to both Hewanorra International Airport and George Charles Airport.
British Nationals possessing a valid UK passport do not need a Visa, however, if you are travelling via the USA, you must make sure that you meet all US entry regulations, which includes having a passport valid for six months following your return date and no criminal convictions.
All travel advice is subject to change and we recommend that you visit the Foreign Office website for up to date information.
We recommend booking any transfers in advance and you can expect to pay between £20 (from George Charles Airport) to £75 (from Hewanorra Airport) for three people. All additional people will be charged as approximately £7.50 per person. Book through St Lucia Travel and Tours.
December to May are the best months to sail St. Lucia, avoiding the hurricane season and ensuring the very best sailing conditions. St. Lucia’s position near to the equator ensures pleasant conditions all year round, with average temperatures around 26ºC.
Visiting St. Lucia allows mariners to couple excellent sailing with incredible sightseeing prospects. While you probably won’t want to spend all your time ashore, we recommend making time to experience the following:
- The Pitons – discover the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, situated close to Soufriere. Enjoy excellent diving at Piton Wall or hike through the two peaks on a Gros Piton Trail Climb
- Pigeon Island National Park – home to a number of historical landmarks, including Fort Rodney and two fabulous beaches, Pigeon Island National Park is a 44-acre paradise, perfect for a day’s relaxing ashore
- The St. Lucia Jazz Festival – visit the island in May and experience the St. Lucia Jazz Festival – a week-long celebration featuring music of Caribbean and International origin
- Diamond Falls – often described as ‘one of the natural wonders of St. Lucia’, Diamond Falls consists of lush botanical gardens, a nature trail, natural mineral baths and, as the name suggests, a 15m colour changing waterfall
- Castries – the capital of the Island, Castries is home to Vigie Beach, a beautiful palm lined coastline with opulent white sand. For a taste of history, venture further inland to the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, the largest church in the Caribbean.