St. Lucia airport transfer – what can go wrong?

Chandan Caribbean 0 Comments

St. Lucia airport transfer - what can go wrong

Booking an Airport transfer in St. Lucia is very easy and can be done online in few minutes. We did it too but walked into a mess right after our exit from the airport gate. In this post, I will be writing about our St. Lucia airport transfer experience and the lessons learned.
There’re two airports in St. Lucia. Hewanorra International airport in Vieux Fort at the southern tip of the island and George F.L Charles airport in Castries in the northern part of the island. The first one caters to all international flights and the second one caters to the domestic traffic. The distance from airport to our resort was about 80 kilometers. So it was imperative, we book a taxi in advance prior to landing in St. Lucia. With a near 12 hours jet lag at landing, we thought it would be wise to get this done beforehand.

How we planned our St. Lucia airport transfer

So I scanned the internet for St. Lucia Airport Transfers. There’re a lot of guys providing taxis and I went for the one with the best reviews on trip advisor. After booking the taxi we emailed all the information about our flight details and arrival time to the taxi company and got their confirmation. It took us roughly an hour after landing to clear immigration, collect our luggage and walk out. Upon exit, surprisingly we were greeted by an empty airport with no taxi or human in sight. We were told before that there would be someone with our nameplate but we saw nothing. We could not call the local number too as our sim cards did not support international calling, and there was no shop nearby to buy a card. For the next hour, we were stuck there in the hot and humid outdoors, wiping sweat and scratching our heads to create an alternate plan. With every passing minute, things were getting worse because of the cocktail of humid climate with massive jetlag. It was gradually getting difficult to stand at a point.

What went wrong?

So what went wrong with our planning or the first question should be – why it took us an hour to exit? The answer is simple because we needed to make a visa on arrival to clear immigration. As Indian citizens, St. Lucia requires us to purchase a visa on arrival. Although it’s just a formality but still took about an hour. We knew everything about the visa requirements but never gave a thought about the time required to complete the formalities. We never considered the fact that this trivial thing could prove to be a disaster right at the start of our trip.
This brings us to the second important question – did we take much more than the required normal time to exit? Maybe in a different place the answer would be a certain NO, as it normally takes about an hour from landing to exit, but in St. Lucia, the answer is a definite YES. The reason lies in the fact that most of the tourists are either Europeans or Americans who do not require a visa on arrival. This saves a lot of time as it’s a simple “walk through the immigration” for them. The taxis are very much used to this quick exit time. Things became clear once we called up the taxi company after buying a local sim card. The driver on duty assumed that we missed the flight and would never show up. So he waited for about half an hour and left. The whole team apologized profusely and once our initial frustration was over we understood the situation. When we came out of the airport there was literally not a single person nearby. So maybe we would have done the same if in his place. I had booked my resort to resort transfer and airport return trip with the same company. To compensate for this debacle they waived the charges for the airport return trip, which was a nice gesture.

The Joy Ride

So we are waiting there in the hot and humid outdoor, scratching our heads about what to do next when this tall lanky guy approached us with his taxi. At first, we were reluctant and politely refused his offer. After about 15 minutes he made a second approach. Now the cocktail was getting too heavy on our heads and we had no option but to say yes this time. He took us to his sleek black, shining Lexus saloon that looked comfy from outside. I was sure today was my rip off day. Two lost tourists with no one to help! Surprisingly nothing like that happened. He just charged us just $5 more than the pre-booked taxi and boy! What an amazing ride it was.

Our St. Lucia Airport Transfer
Our black lexus airport transfer crusing by the Atlantic
My respect for this Caribbean nation grew 10 folds just after this ride. The first thing, this dude told us was – maaan!! Forget about your city time, take off your watches and flow along the island time; slow and steady. He made few pit stops along the way just to show us some nice views of the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea. We had a pit stop for some local beer too. We started talking and things came down to cricket. India shares a very passionate bond with the Caribbean when it comes to Cricket. We talked a lot, about the country’s history, economy, about cricket, since I myself adore the West Indies team so much. He was a fan of Sachin Tendulkar. I am a fan of Darren Sammy (who is from St. Lucia). So it made our day. Slowly winding our way through the hills, we reached our resort about 2 hours later just as the sun was setting. I should say the jet lag and beers along the way made an even stronger cocktail and pretty soon after the check in we crashed. Don’t worry we did not miss dinner.
St. Lucia airport transfer - pit stop along the way
A pitstop to taste our first Pitons overlooking the Atlantic
Customarily I did a review of the taxi service in Trip Advisor which you can find here.

Things to Consider

To sum it up the lessons we learned from our St. Lucia airport transfer are:
1. If you require a visa on arrival to enter St. Lucia, make sure to inform your transport company about your estimated exit time in addition to your other flight details. Ideally, this should be about an hour after landing.
2. Make sure to carry US dollars as you will need them to buy your visa.
3. It’s good to have international calling available in your sim card, which is by the way applicable for any foreign destination.
4. We trusted a local taxi and it turned out to be fun at the end. We believe from our entire experience that taxis are good here and do not haggle for prices or threat you afterward. Make sure to fix the prices before boarding.
Hope you had a good time going through this post. Do let us know through your comments.

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