An expert travel guide to Saint Lucia

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• Flight time: approximately nine hours from London, eight hours to London.

• Currency: the official currency is the East Caribbean dollar – written EC $. It is pegged to the US dollar at US $ 1 for EC $ 2.70. You can pay most things in US dollars as well as EC dollars, although change is given to you in EC dollars, and establishments normally use a rate of EC $ 2.60 to US $ 1. Some things, such as hotel prices and sometimes food and drink in hotels, are listed in US dollars. Vending machines issue EC dollars.

• Costs: If you book directly with a hotel, keep in mind that most exclude a 10 percent service charge and 10 percent VAT in their published rates. There is also a new tourist accommodation fee of $ 3-6 per person per night.

• Car rental: driving in Saint Lucia can be quite difficult. Some hotels are accessible by awful and bumpy tracks, the roads can be full of potholes and, especially in the south, steep and very windy. But if you are a fairly confident driver, having a car is highly recommended as it is the best way to see a lot of the island. Rental company fleets include Jeeps, and although these are more expensive, having a vehicle with high clearance is a good idea given the condition of many roads.

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