Saint Lucia: The Treasure Island

Just a few hours’ sailing south of Martinique, Saint Lucia is an ideal stopover en route to the destinations further south such as St Vincent & The Grenadines, Grenada or even Venezuela. Yet the island of the Pitons merits more than just an overnight pit stop.   

Saint Lucia is well known to the participants in the ARC because it is here that the fleet meets up. In general, it is here that English, American and Canadian yachts tend to gather, while there are very few French. This is no doubt down to the proximity of Martinique, less than 20 miles to the north. Saint Lucia is a volcanic island with a rugged relief and a highest point of 950m (3,100 feet). There are also two spectacular coastal peaks, the Pitons, which are around 800m (2,600’) high. The windward, Atlantic coastline is buffeted by the swell. A few bays are protected to a certain extent by coral reefs but it is not recommended to access them. The leeward side, on the Caribbean coast, is much more suited to sailing.  

The Best anchorages

Rodney Bay

A huge, perfectly protected bay, a vast marina, boatyards and various nautical services can be found here: Rodney Bay is the place for any technical stopovers. There is always a good atmosphere in the bars and restaurants that line the quayside. For a real immersion, don’t miss out on the ambiance at Gros Ilet (just north of the marina) on a Friday Night! Things to do: visit the Pigeon Island National Park, which is linked to Gros Ilet. Gorgeous panoramas and historical remains.

 

Marigot Bay

To the south of the capital, Castries, and its oil terminal, there is a channel which is hardly visible. It leads to a genuine postcard anchorage: welcome to Marigot Bay! The strip of sandy beach and giant coconut palms certainly helps to contribute to the bay’s charm. Unsurprisingly it fills up quickly, especially the inner anchorage and the small marina. It is still possible to drop anchor just outside though.  

 

Anse Cochon

Don’t be put off by the name of this black sand beach: it has some of the island’s very best snorkeling locations. Feeling hungry? The Ti Kayes Resort allows you to enjoy the sunset from the beach. Order a Piton, the national beer.

 

Anse Chastanet

Another highly recommended place for diving and easy to get to as the closest reefs to the shore are only 10 meters (30’) away, with a depth of 1.50m to 7.50m (5-25’). There are colorful coral reefs and 150 species of fish to try and spot!  

 

Soufrière

With its 8,500 inhabitants (compared to 66,000 in the capital, Castries), Soufrière is unsurprisingly more welcoming for a stopover with its many wooden shacks and houses. There is a large body of water and it is well protected from the prevailing wind and the swell. Don’t be surprised if you get a whiff of sulfur… the volcano which is downwind, is still active. A short taxi ride can take you there, or perhaps to the Diamond Botanical Gardens and the Mamiku Gardens.

 

Pitons Bay

A sublime anchorage between Saint Lucia’s two emblematic rocky peaks which are linked by a white sand beach lined with coconut palms. The northern part at the back of the bay, Sugar Beach, is occupied by a luxury hotel and other tourist infrastructure. It is still very attractive though. If you anchor a little to the south, the sand on the shore is less “sugary”, but you will have some peace and quiet.


Saint Lucia: Practical Information

The Spanish named the island Saint Lucia at the start of the 16th century after Lucia of Syracuse, a virgin and martyr. Bitterly fought over by the English and the French, it finally fell under English control in 1814 and became independent in 1979.

Population: 166,000 inhabitants. 81% of Saint Lucians are of African origin.

Language: English (official) and Creole.

Size: 620 km2 (240 sq mi)

Climate: tropical. Temperatures drop to 23°C (73°F) at their coldest in winter and rise to 31°C (88°F) at the height of summer. The rainy season runs from June to November, but rainfall is high throughout the year (1,400mm – 2,000mm / 55-79”). Squalls are heavy but short, which allows for up to 2,890 hours of sunshine per year (66% of daylight hours).

Sailing Conditions: from late January through mid-April, the north-eastern trade winds blow steadily. In the two intermediary periods (December to early January and mid-April to mid-June) which bookend the hot, less windy season, the area is impacted by the trade winds, but they are generally lighter and less regular. The sea can be rough when you leave the protection afforded by the island.

Currency: East Caribbean Dollar (1 US$ = 2.70 EC$). US$ are accepted pretty much everywhere.

Getting There: there are flights to and from the UK and USA from Saint Lucia International Airport in the South of the island. You can also fly to the neighboring islands (Martinique, Guadeloupe) from the small airport in Castries.  

Yacht Charter Companies: Sunsail, Dream Yacht Charter and all the main charter companies.

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