Should you rent a vehicle or hire a taxi/driver service?
Only you can pick the best option for you, but here’s some information that might help you make that decision. You can always call us at (1-832-808-3757) if you need help deciding.
Renting a vehicle
The process for renting a car in St Lucia is like most other places you’ve usually traveled – find a rental company, reserve the car, then fill out the paperwork and get the car after arrival. But in St Lucia, many car rental companies will deliver the vehicle to your hotel/villa at no extra charge over getting the car at the airport – and you may return it to the airport at no additional fee. Every person that will drive in St Lucia needs to purchase a St. Lucian driving permit, at a cost of about $20 US. The rental company issues that as part of the paperwork.
Many of our guests that rent a vehicle do not pick up the vehicle at the airport. They use our driver service to the villa, dine on the contents of our welcome basket for dinner that night and breakfast the next morning, then have the vehicle delivered late morning/early afternoon their first full day. No worries about having to find the villa on roads without street signs; no driving after dark if their flight is delayed; they can immediately get to the business of relaxing.
You’ll have to call a taxi service to make arrangements – there are no cab apps in St Lucia. We have two recommended drivers that know where the villa is (we don’t have a street address and our road is not on Google Maps):
Junior Taxi 487-8846 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph Taxi 714-8785
When you hire a taxi for a trip, it’s for the round trip unless you tell them otherwise. You’ll either arrange a time for them to come back and get you, or they will give you their card and you call them to come get you.
If you walk from the villa to Anse Chastanet beach, there should be taxis at the entrance and you can hire one of those drivers to go back to the villa instead of the hike back up. You’ll just need to give them directions on how to get to the villa.
You can also hire a driver service for a full day for a set rate for a region, which is more cost-effective than using them by the trip. You also won’t need to wait on them, as they are dedicated to you for the entire day.
Many of us think of a car that seats four people when we hear the word “taxi”. But in St Lucia, many of the taxi/driver services have several kinds of vehicles. Most of the local companies have cars they use for small groups or when you don’t have luggage or beach gear, and vans they use for other times. Here are pictures of typical vehicles:
Do I have to decide before I arrive?
Not really, but there is a very good chance you won’t be able to rent the vehicle you want at the price you want if you wait until you arrive. The rental companies frequently are sold out of the lowest cost vehicles several weeks or months ahead of time.
If you think you want to rent a car, but are a little hesitant because of the reports of the driving conditions, we suggest you read the cancellation policies of the car rental companies. Some of them do not charge any cancellation fee, so you can reserve a vehicle and then cancel with no penalty.
If you want to use a taxi/driver service, Doxie or Jacqueline can find one for you after arrival if you do not wish to organize that ahead of time. They can also help you find a rental car for a few days if you decide you want to try driving after you arrive (subject to availability).
Which is best for us?
Hopefully, this table will help you decide:
|Rent a vehicle if…||Hire a driver/taxi if…|
|You seek adventure. The worse the road the better – you love off-roading!||You want to just relax|
|You want to explore independently||You prefer having a tour guide|
|You don’t mind stopping to ask for directions or will use our directions, bring your own GPS, or use Google maps (offline or international phone service)||You don’t like driving in unfamiliar places where the roads don’t have street addresses, and the idea of being lost in a foreign country sounds intimidating|
|You are going to be out and about every day, or don’t mind paying for a vehicle even on days when you stay at the villa||You want to spend a lot of time at the villa and having Doxie cook for you, and won’t need transportation except for a few days|
|There are four or less in your group (our recommended vehicle only seats four average-sized people but is ideal for narrow roads and is reasonably priced)||You have four or more people (larger cars are more challenging on narrow roads and can be expensive)|
|One person will be the designated driver and will abstain from drinking then driving||No one wants the responsibility of being the designated driver|
|You prefer to make your plans for the day while you eat breakfast (or lunch….)||You like to plan ahead a bit on what you’ll do and when|
|Anyone driving will be between the ages of 25 and 65||The driver is under 25 or over 65 (more difficult/expensive for those age groups)|
|You are comfortable driving on the left-hand side of the road||You have not driven on the left side of the road and you don’t look forward to it!|
|Your whole group will be on the same schedule||You want the flexibility of splitting up for at least part of the time|
|You are comfortable maneuvering through tight spaces||You are worried every time you pull into your garage that you’ll side-swipe the door|
|You are great at parallel parking||The last time you parallel-parked was high school|
|You want to know your full transportation costs prior to arrival and pay via credit card in St Lucia||You are comfortable paying us with a credit card online before your trip for the services, or don’t mind paying with cash after arrival|
So what about the cost?
Rental vehicle prices presented are not binding quotes. Taxi/driver prices are valid through June 30th, 2019 for Junior’s (our main driver) driver service only.
Taxi prices: Round-trips for four people start at $40 US, and a driver for the full day starts at $100. Please see our Taxi Prices page. If you decide you would prefer taxi service, we can help you arrange for that, either before or during your trip.
Rental car prices: For groups of four or less, we recommend a Suzuki Jimny, a small two-door SUV. The Jimny seats four average-sized people, with storage for two carry-on roller bags. It’s not a powerful vehicle, but is adequate. The Jimny from Drive-A-Matic starts at about $45US per day during the low season for vehicle rental only and about 50% higher in high season. Add-ins (e.g., insurance, St Lucian driving permit) and tax increase that cost 20% or more. Gas is typically over $5 US per gallon. Every extra driver is $3 US per day rented plus a $20 permit.
For larger groups, larger people, or more luggage, the Hyundai Santa Fe is recommended. It costs around $110 per day in low season (vehicle rental only), with high season rates 30%-50% higher.
Check your credit card before you leave – if you have rental car insurance included as a benefit, check to see if they cover international rentals. Most won’t cover an open-bed vehicle, such as a pickup truck or some Jeeps, so be aware of that when you select a vehicle.
Four-wheel drive is recommended but not required. It can be useful navigating steep roads while it is raining. The Jimny and Santa Fee both have four-wheel drive.
We strongly recommend you rent a vehicle with high ground clearance, as cars low to the ground run a high risk of damage from potholes and rough roads. The “Extra Protection” reduces your deductible to $250 US, but does NOT cover damage to tires/rims/vehicle canvas tops or cigarette burns to upholstery.
DriveAMatic’s Vieux Fort airport location closes at 11 pm and vehicles are not available after they close.
We recommend Drive A Matic Car Rental and Cool Breeze Car Rental. We also recommend reserving the vehicle as soon as possible, especially if you are travelling in high season and decide on the Jimny, as there are a limited number of vehicles available and the smaller 4-wheel drive ones are very popular with tourists.
Both car companies will deliver the car to the villa at your requested time and will bring the paper work (and temporary St Lucian Drivers Licenses) to the villa. Just give them the name of the villa (Villa Grand Piton) and tell them it is near Anse Chastanet, Soufriere and our telephone number 758-457-1263.
Age restrictions: We know of only one company (Best Rates) that will rent to you if you are over 70. If you are over 65 but not yet 70, Drive-A-Matic will allow you to rent if you have a certified doctor’s note that you are medically able to drive safely. (If you are 70, contact Drive-A-Matic, or ask us to contact them for you, to see if you can still rent – their information is a little unclear on whether the cut-off is 70 or 71). You may bring that note from your own doctor, or we can help arrange a doctor’s visit in Soufriere after you arrive. Cool Breeze does not rent to drivers over 65. Neither car rental agency rents to drivers under the age of 25.
Local driving permit or international driver’s license? You will need one or the other to drive in St Lucia. We recently confirmed that an International Driving Permit/License is acceptable instead of purchasing the St Lucian driving permit. Have the permit stamped at Immigration when you present your passport. Getting the permit was easy – we are AAA members here in the US, and we stopped at the local AAA office and purchased an international license that is good for one year. However, the fee for the picture for the license was $9, and the license itself was $15, so the total cost was $24. The St Lucian permit is $20US and is good for three months, and the car rental company will issue you the permit. You will need to have your valid driver’s license from your home country with you and present it to the car rental company representative in order to receive a permit.
Drive A Matic Car Rental (www.drivestlucia.com)
1-758-452-0544 (St Lucian number)
They have a good price on the Jimny, and have a more sophisticated web site than Cool Breeze. The Jimnys are automatic transmission – a big plus for those driving on the left side of the road for the first time. They do not require a deposit in order to accept a reservation.
Cool Breeze Car Rental (www.coolbreezecarrental.com)
St Lucia Reservatons – 758-459-7729 Fax 758-459-7729
Located in: New Development Soufriere
Read their website carefully – some of the vehicles are described as manual transmission. They require a one-day deposit to accept your reservation.
To rent a car, use the car rental company’s website, or call them. You can also call Loretta (832-808-3757) and she will help you figure out what to do.
Here is an example of a typical completed on-line reservation form for rental of a Jimny from Drive-A-Matic. If you want the vehicle brought to the villa, when you are presented with the “Delivery Location Selection” drop-down, choose “Other”. In the Contact Information form, in the “Deliver To” box, type in “Villa Grand Piton, Soufriere”. If you have an international cell phone plan, enter your cell phone in the “Telephone (St Lucia)” box. Otherwise, use the villa phone (758-457-1263)
Thank You for choosing Drive-A-Matic Car Rentals. Your booking details are shown below. Our Reservations Department will send you your booking confirmation number by email. Please note, your booking is not confirmed until you have received your Booking Confirmation Number. Should you require further assistance, please feel free to contact us via one of the following methods:
|B2 Vehicle Group|
|Suzuki Hard-Top Jimny|
|1300 cc Engine Size|
|2 Small Suitcases|
|TOTAL (USD)||$440.00 (Price Varies Seasonally)|
|FULL NAME:||Your Name|
|NUMBER:||Your contact information|
|COMMENT:||Tell the car rental car company that the car should be delivered to the Villa Grand Piton. (Located up near Anse Chastanet area) they know where the Villa is located. The owner B&B Associates, Ltd Phone Manager; Doxie (Manager) 519-9495. Car rental is for Villa Grand Piton Guests (your name) phone located in the villa is 758-457-1263|
|DELIVER TO:||Private Residence|
|LOCAL TELEPHONE:||VILLA TELEPHONE 758-457-1263|
|LOCAL ADDRESS:||Villa Grand Piton P.O. Box 215 Soufriere, Saint Lucia WI Your cell phone (if it works internationally)|