Post # 1
Hey Bee’s! I had a question for anyone who’s been to St. Lucia before and has done some of the excursions… I’ve been looking online trying to find the cheapest prices and was wondering if St. Lucia is at all like Hawaii where they have a GAJILLION coupon books and side vendors that sell the excursions for a lot cheaper then the major resorts and online. I’m wondering what the best way to do this is as we will be going on quite a few excursions and want to get the best price available. We will be staying at Sandals La Toc and I’ve already found out that Sandals inflates the prices for the tours and excursions they try to sell you directly on their website. Any comments and tips are greatly appreciated!
Post # 3
Read the message boards on http://www.cruisecritic.com
You will get lots of good information.
Post # 4
If you aren’t going to pre-book excursions as part of your original prepaid package, then I’d recommend booking them at Sandals. Yes, they might be more expensive, but at least you know that the resort itself, Sandals in your case, has contracted a specific local supplier, so you have someone to go back to in case you have any issues. You probably wouldn’t hop into a stranger’s car in your home town, so don’t do that in a foreign country. The extra money is well worth the peace of mind. A couple of years ago, we had some clients in St. lucia who did a horseback ride with someone they met on the beach. The “guide” suddenly left the couple and the horses for about an hour with no explanation. Not only were they worried about their own safety, but they were also concerned with the welfare of the 2 horses, so they felt they couldn’t just leave and try to find a taxi back to their resort. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Post # 5
I second cruisecritic – the boards are filled with recommendations from trusted companis, as well as those that are not recommended
Post # 6
I can tell you what we did. Like you, I noted that Sandals charges more for excursions than if you book directly with the same companies online in advance of your trip. However, I did not want to book in advance as I wanted to be able to decided spontaneously based on what we felt like doing and weather once we were there. Ultimately, we ended up booking a taxi for the day together with another couple. The island is not so big that you can’t drive from top to bottom in one day. We had wanted to hire a taxi after I read positive experiences online and then got to chatting with this other couple in the pool. Turned out they had taken a taxi into town for some shopping that morning and had a business card from their driver. As far as safety, they met the driver at Sandal’s taxi stand and he was in the lobby talking to the guy who books excursions so it was not completely random. Anyway, we negotiated a day rate with him that was something like $200 or $250 if I remember correctly. He took us to the “volcano”, Pitons, mud bath, rain forest, waterfall, etc. and gave us a bit of a private island tour. as we drove. He stopped and bought us some local sweet bread from a small bakery (and got some to bring home for his family, so you know it is legit). When we stopped at an attraction, he waited for us to do what we wanted and tell him we were ready. When the other couple wanted a weird souvineer that they couldn’t find, he took us to a couple of shops to search. When we were tired, he took us back to our hotel. Ultimately, we hit everything that the excursion tour would have hit (I forget what it was called, I think a guy’s name) but got to do it on our own time in a small group of 4 as opposed to 20. One of the highlights of our day was a natural waterfall in a park that we practically had to ourselves, it was not part of a packaged tour and we were not rushed to get back on a bus so we took some photos and enjoyed nature. We got a personal experience, never felt we were in danger of any sort and spent less than we would have paid on a package tour. We stayed 4-5 hours with him and felt content that we did everythign we wanted to. One of the reasons we choose St. Lucia was the relatively few touristy things to do so we could focus on beach side relaxation and not excursions so we were happy to see so much in one day. We also hired a guy on the beach at the Grande to do para sailing but this was not something Sandals offered so I don’t know that there was a more official to do such a thing. Everything I read and experienced shows St. Lucia to be a friendly island.