Several years passed before anyone could create a colony on Saint Lucia. The French became the island’s first successful settlers. They named the island in honour of Saint Lucy of Syracuse. This makes the island the only country in the world named after a real woman! Local legend tells us that shipwrecked French sailors landed here on 13 December. This day is the feast of Saint Lucy. Therefore they felt that Saint Lucy had saved them from peril.
After some initial resistance to colonisation, the French signed a treaty with the native Caribs in 1660. Three years later, the British took control of the island until 1667. Throughout the following century and a half, France and Great Britain fought over the island fourteen times, causing a frequent rule change. Finally, in 1814, the British definitively won the battle at the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
Nonetheless, French influence remained, and the island is often called “Sainte Lucie”. Apart from being a beautiful and fertile island, the main attractions were the abundance of sugarcane and bananas. These were valuable commodities. African slaves worked the land. The British abolishment of slavery was in 1836. By then, people of African ethnicity greatly outnumbered both Europeans and the remaining Carib descendants.
Eventually, on 22 February 1979, Saint Lucia became an independent state. Concurrently, Saint Lucia is part of the Commonwealth. The Head of State is Queen Elizabeth II. The island has a Governor-General and a Prime Minister.
The volcanic island of Saint Lucia has more mountains than most other Caribbean islands. The tallest is Mount Gimie, at 3,120 ft above sea level. However, The Pitons are the island’s most famous landmark. These twin peaks are on the west of the island, between Soufrière and Choiseul.
Saint Lucia is the only place in the world with a drive-in volcano! Soufrière (meaning Sulfur in French) is a popular tourist destination because you can literally drive up to the edge of the lava springs. Downstream, the water temperature remains hot at 45°C, the perfect temperature for a medicinal mud bath! The last volcanic eruption was in 1776.
Tourism is the crux of the island’s economy. Saint Lucia is very popular as a sailing destination and for holidaymakers who enjoy the year-round sunshine and fabulous scenery. The island has numerous white sandy beaches and secret coves for snorkelling and diving. The many all-inclusive holiday resorts book solidly, year after year.
Major cruise liners dock at Saint Lucia. Cruise guests enjoy visits to the town of Castries and visit Soufriere. The more adventurous trek to Marigot Bay, Rodney Bay, or sail to Gros Islet for fabulous beaches, seafood and scenery.
The official language is English. However, another French legacy is Lucian Creole, the local Patois tongue spoken by 95% of the Islanders. Patois is a mix of French and African languages which evolved over the years.
The Saint Lucia Jazz Festival is the biggest festival of the year. Held in early May at multiple venues on the island, visitors and musicians worldwide come to participate. Pigeon Island hosts the Grand Finale.
Cricket is a favourite sport in the country. The Daren Sammy Cricket Ground hosts international cricket tournaments for the West Indies.
Daren Sammy was the first Saint Lucian cricketer to represent the West Indies in 2007. He is the captain of The Windward Islands cricket team.
The ARC race
The annual Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) begins in the Canary Islands and ends in Saint Lucia. This challenging race attracts more than 200 boats. Over 1,200 people sail across the Atlantic to Saint Lucia in November each year. The ARC is now in its 30th year.
Saint Lucia’s cuisine is a unique blend of West African, European and Indian cuisine. All sorts of Caribbean delights await you here. Macaroni pie, jerk chicken, rice ‘n’ peas and tasty fish soups accompanied by an abundance of home-grown vegetables and fruit. The island’s national dish is green figs and saltfish. “Johnny Cake” is a local speciality. It is a kind of fried dough, often served with spicy saltfish, peppers and onions. Local desserts include “Turnovers” – delicious, hot fruit pastries dipped in sugar. You probably won’t lose any weight on this vacation!
Afro-Indian influence ensures that even the street food is interesting.
Caribbean curries are usually mild but carefully seasoned. Roti is a well-loved fast food meal – flatbread wrapped around curried chickpeas and potato, or seafood such as shrimp or conch.
Northeast trade winds moderate the tropical climate. The dry season runs from December to the end of May, with the wet season being from June to the end of November.
The average year-round temperature is 29°C during the day. The evenings stay pretty warm too. It is close to the equator, so the temperature does not fluctuate much between winter and summer. Annual rainfall ranges from 1,300 mm on the coast to 3,800 mm in the rainforests and mountains.
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