St Lucia is a very popular tourist destination in the Caribbean. The island is 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, it offers beautiful beaches, natural hot springs and mud baths, lush tropical rainforests that cover over 70% of the island, an amazing variety of endemic and migratory birds for bird lovers, a romantic black sand beach, and a year-round temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s no wonder that hikers, nature lovers and romantics frequent this island. But is St. Lucia an affordable trip and what currency do they take?
So, what is the St. Lucia currency? The accepted currencies are East Caribbean Dollars, US Dollars and British Pounds. But East Caribbean Dollars are, by far, the most preferred.
What is the History of St. Lucia Currency?
The island of St. Lucia has passed through many hands.
The Carib tribe are said to be the original inhabitants of St Lucia. In the 1600s, the French, English and the Dutch tried to make St Lucia one of their colonies but they were all pushed out by the Caribs.
The French eventually purchased the island from the Caribs in 1650 but the English immediately sent over 1000 men to take the island. The 2 countries fought for the island continuously until 1814 when the French finally gave the island to the English.
In 1851, St Lucia adopted the British sterling as its main currency, and began slowly pushing out the circulation of the Spanish and Mexican dollar that existed there at the time.
In 1949, the British West Indies dollar was created as a standardized currency throughout the region, and that replaced the sterling as Saint Lucia currency.
The West Indies dollar, however, was short-lived and, in 1965, the East Caribbean States Dollar was established and circulated as the official currency in:
- Saint Lucia
- St Kitts
- Saint Vincent
These 9 islands form the East Caribbean Currency Union and the East Caribbean dollar is represented as XCD in currency charts.
What Is The Best Currency To Take To St Lucia?
The best currency to take to St Lucia is East Caribbean Dollars but other currencies, such as the US dollar or the British pound can be used.
The best way to get your hands on East Caribbean dollars is through an ATM on the island. However, it is never safe to walk around with a lot of cash on you, so unless you plan to shop at street markets and buy from street vendors, using a credit card is the smartest choice.
If you still use travel checks, that’s a safe option as well.
Visa, American Express and Mastercard are widely accepted at most hotels, restaurants and shops. The EC$ currency is available in 5, 10, 20, 50 & 100 dollar bills. 1, 2, 5, 10 and 25 cent coins. There is also a 1 dollar coin.
St. Lucia Currency to USD: How Much Is $1 USD In St. Lucia?
The currency has a fixed exchange rate to the US dollar at 2.7 East Caribbean dollars for 1 US dollar. The currency has been “pegged” to the US Dollar since July 7, 1976 at this rate and will remain at this exchange rate.
This fixed exchange rate provides the EC Dollar with confidence in its value, the fixed rate almost acts as a “gold standard” providing permanent value to the EC dollar. This fixed exchange rate also provides the EC dollar with the stability it needs on an international level.
Can You Use The US Dollar In St Lucia?
You can use US dollars in St Lucia. USD are accepted by most hotels, taxis and many restaurants on the island. However, many local stores, street vendors and markets will not take them and if they do, there is a good chance they won’t be able to make proper change for US dollars.
It is smartest to use East Caribbean Dollars on the island. Just like you would while traveling to another country, it’s always best to use the local currency.
St. Lucia Currency to Pounds
As of writing this, the current ratio of an East Caribbean Dollar to a British Pound is 3.65 East Caribbean Dollars to 1 GBP.
The British Pound exchange rate will fluctuate unlike the US Dollar exchange rate since British currency does not have a fixed exchange rate with the East Caribbean Dollar, so plan accordingly.
Is It Expensive In St Lucia?
St Lucia is part of the Lesser Antilles chain of volcanic islands and caters mostly to couples, families, and luxury tourists so it’s not the best island to visit if you’re traveling on a budget.
Here are some examples of what you can expect to pay in St. Lucia (for comparison to your own locale):
- You can find a beer for around $2.25 if you look hard enough.
- A budget hotel will run you around $70 USD per night.
- A midrange hotel is around $160 per night.
- The island is blessed with 3 all-inclusive Sandals resorts. Check this guide to find the best St. Lucia Sandals Resort (with prices) for your trip.
- A plate of street food will cost you between $6.50 and $8 USD.
- Your average taxi ride around the island is around $12 USD. Pro Tip: That will all add up pretty quickly.
- Avoid restaurants near cruise ports and resorts, as this is where the biggest influx of tourist crowds come through and prices are much more expensive than elsewhere on the island.
- Pre-booking activities online before you travel will insure the best rates.
Traveling during off-peak times will help you save money. December to April is peak season in St. Lucia, with room rates spiking as the island experiences the highest numbers of tourists.
The weather is pleasant and breezy during this time, with temperatures averaging in the mid-70s to mid-80s F. There isn’t much rainfall during this time either.
May and June are a good time to visit for more affordable room prices and lovely temperatures still in the mid-80s F range. The island isn’t as busy either during May and June.
Off-peak season is considered July to November. You can find the cheapest rates during this time, but you may also have an issue with a passing hurricane! Purchasing travel insurance during hurricane season in the Caribbean is always a wise decision.
Recap: St. Lucia Currency 2023
As an American, the cost of a trip to St Lucia will not fluctuate as much as a trip to another country that has an ever changing exchange rate.
The cost will always be 2.70 USD to 1 XCD making a trip to St Lucia costing roughly the same amount each time. However, the British pound and Canadian dollar exchange rates are going to change.
Traveling can be as frugal or as extravagant as you prefer, however, this island doesn’t offer a lot of the cheaper options that you’d find in other tropical places.
The island caters to tourists and it’s natural beauty and unique geography make it a popular destination in the Caribbean. The Pitons are twin volcanic mountains that soar above the coastline on St Lucia and were declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, which adds a whole new dimension of popularity.
St Lucia offers visitors a little bit of everything: history, nature, nightlife, wildlife, food, culture. It’s a perfect mix for any traveler!
Its strong currency, natural beauty and extreme popularity keep the costs on the high side, so plan ahead!