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Banks -- Banks are open Monday to Thursday from 8am to 3pm, Friday from 8am to 5pm, and Saturday 8am to noon. ATMs can be found at all bank branches, transportation centers, and shopping malls.

Currency -- The official monetary unit is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$), which is pegged at EC$2.67 per U.S. dollar (EC$1 = 37¢). Nearly all hotels, restaurants, and shops accept U.S dollars. Always ascertain which dollar prices are listed. Prices in this section are quoted in U.S. dollars.

Customs -- At either airport, Customs may be a hassle if there's the slightest suspicion, regardless of how ill-founded, that you're carrying illegal drugs.

Documents -- U.S., British, and Canadian citizens need valid passports, plus an ongoing or return ticket.

Electricity -- St. Lucia runs on 220-230 volts AC (50 cycles), so bring an adapter if you plan to use U.S. appliances. Some hotels are wired for U.S. appliances. Ask when you book.

Emergencies -- Call the police at tel. 999. For an ambulance or in case of fire, call tel. 911.

Internet -- Convenient Internet outlets at Rodney Bay Marina, Gros Islet, include Snooty Agouti (tel. 758/452-0321), Cyber Connections (tel. 758/450-9309), and Destination St. Lucia (tel. 758/452-8531).

Hospitals -- There are 24-hour emergency rooms at St. Jude's Hospital, Vieux Fort (tel. 758/454-6041), and Victoria Hospital, Hospital Road, Castries (tel. 758/452-2421).

Language -- English is the official tongue, but islanders often speak a French-Creole patois similar to that heard on Martinique.

Pharmacies -- The best is M&C Drugstore, Bridge Street, in Castries (tel. 758/458-8147), open Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm, and Saturday 8am to 1pm.

Safety -- St. Lucia has its share of crime, like every other place these days. Use common sense and protect yourself and your valuables. If you've got it, don't flaunt it! Don't pick up hitchhikers if you're driving around the island. The use of narcotic drugs is illegal, and possession or sale of drugs could lead to stiff fines or jail.

Taxes -- The government imposes an 8% occupancy tax on hotel rooms, and there's a $26 departure tax for both airports. Children 11 and under don't pay departure tax.

Telephone -- The area code for St. Lucia is 758. Make calls to or from St. Lucia just as you would with any other area code in North America. On the island, dial all seven digits of the local number. To access AT&T Direct, call tel. 800/225-5288; to reach MCI, dial tel. 800/888-8000.

Time -- St. Lucia is on Atlantic Standard Time year-round, placing it 1 hour ahead of New York. However, when the United States is on daylight saving time, St. Lucia matches the clocks of the U.S. East Coast.

Tipping -- Most hotels and restaurants add a 10% service charge. (Ask if it's been included in the initial hotel rate you're quoted.) If you're pleased with the service in a restaurant, by all means, supplement with an extra 5%. Taxi drivers expect 10% of the fare.

Water -- Water here is generally considered safe to drink; if you're unsure or have a delicate constitution, stick to bottled water.

Weather -- This little island, lying in the path of the trade winds, has year-round temperatures of 70°F to 90°F (21°C-32°C).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.