Worth the trip
Getting down to St. Lucia is a hike, especially in winter, because the weather can be rough. That’s 400 miles of open ocean. It definitely takes a captain who wants to go exploring.
When you do make it, though, you can take guests places where there are few other boats. It’s a beautiful island. Much of the western side is a no-go zone for Jet Skis. The diving is great, but there’s not a lot of shallow water. The bottom is black sand from the volcano, so night diving is really cool. There are stunning, winding roads, plant life, and just looking at the Pitons is magical.
The main airport at Vieux Fort at the southern end of the island is a 45-minute, gorgeous drive from the Pitons and Soufriere Bay, which has a concrete commercial dock. Better for guests to fly into the airport at Castries, take the 30- to 40-minute drive to Rodney Bay and see the Pitons by boat.
The marina at Rodney Bay has proper concrete docks and a marina village. It’s my first choice. The staff is superb. Even a very big boat can anchor out in Rodney Bay as it’s very protected.
St. Lucia doesn’t have a lot of great beaches, which is why it’s not as popular with guests. There are some nice beaches on east side, but it’s rough.
You have to send guests to the chocolate inn, Hotel Chocolat. They grow the cocoa and roast the cocoa there. You can take a class to learn how to make chocolate. The Dasheene Restaurant there is where all the great photos of the Pitons are taken.
I highly recommend calling Ben (bensconcierge.com). He’s got an extreme amount of charm and warmth. He rents jeeps, villas, and will be a driver.
The St. Lucians do their Carnival all summer, from early May to mid-July. The Jazz Fest (early May in 2017) is fantastic and brings people from all over the Caribbean.
The water is calmer in summer so you can go to the windward side to dive the reefs. And you could do an overnight run from Rodney Bay to Bequia. St. Vincent is about four hours away.
— Capt. Herb Magney of M/Y Island Heiress
Locals make it fun
Rodney Bay is a great little marina with all sorts of local/cute little stores along the marina front. It is well run and with super staff; we thoroughly enjoyed our stay there. Don’t miss the Gros Islet Jump Up (street party) every Friday night (walking distance from the marina). It’s a fun mix of locals and tourists.
It’s safe, but watch out for the deep gutters on each side of the street.
Gros and Petit Piton are very scenic. Anchoring on the north side is a great day trip. There is tremendous snorkeling and/or diving here, but it is not well protected for
overnight. Hiking up the Pitons is possible but arduous and dangerous. Guests will definitely need a guide and a stout heart.
As our agent, we used Benny at Harmony Yacht Services, who coincidentally lives on the beach at the Pitons anchorage). He took great care of me and my guests with transportation, provisioning, customs/immigration and all the little things. I understand that Ben’s Yacht Service is also good.
— Capt. Mac McDonald of M/Y Lady Lola
Watch the winds
St. Lucia is best avoided during Christmas winds, December through February. The Pitons anchorage is beautiful, but you will drag like crazy and mooring buoys are small so only good for smaller boats.
Petit St. Vincent and nearby cruising is also beautiful but tender fuel can be an issue (hard to get and therefore expensive).
— Capt. Martyn Walker