Should you rent a vehicle or use a taxi service?
Many of our guests rent a car for most of the stay. They usually accept the complimentary taxi ride from the airport to the villa (or use our pre-paid option), and have the vehicle delivered to the villa the next day. Other guests, that prefer to spend much of their visit relaxing at the villa, or prefer a lower-stress vacation, use a taxi service during their stay.
Before deciding whether to rent a car or just use a taxi service, consider the following factors:
1. How often will you use the vehicle and how far will you drive? Some of our guests leave the villa every day for activities and travel as far as Rodney Bay to explore the island. Others only go out a couple of days, and spend most of their time at our pool and take advantage of Doxie’s cooking skills for meals.
2. How big is your group? The smaller four-wheel drive vehicles (such as the Suzuki Jimny) are around $60-$80 US per day (depends on the season and insurance, etc.), and can fit four people rather snugly. But if you have need for a larger vehicle, they can get expensive quickly – about twice the price of the Jimny for a Hyundai Santa Fe.
3. Approximate taxi fares for two people (US $, rates as of late 2015): round trip from the villa to Soufriere is about $40; round-trip to Castries is $160; one-way to the airport is $80. Those fares are slightly higher for more people. Most taxi drivers will also quote you a price for the entire day within a certain area. A recent (August 2015) group of five was quoted $120 for all day around Soufriere.
4. If you are from the U.S. or Canada, or some other country that drives on the right-hand side of the road, how comfortable will you be driving on the left side of the road? How comfortable will you be driving a vehicle with the steering wheel on the right side of the car? We are not aware of any car rental companies offering the steering wheel on the left side (as in the U. S.)
5. Is there a reasonable chance you will enjoy some alcoholic beverages before driving back to the villa, or be driving when you are very tired? The road to the villa requires a good amount of attention, particularly after dark, since it is narrow and very rough.
6. Many of the roads are very narrow and you will have very little clearance to pass oncoming cars. The larger a car you rent, the less clearance you will have!
7. If you are still uncertain, ask us for the driving directions we provide before making your decision. We try to give an accurate picture of driving conditions in St Lucia and to the villa.
Taxi service in St Lucia is not the same as in a major city, where you frequently flag down a cab in the street. If you are headed out to a restaurant from the villa, it is usual the taxi driver will also pick you up when dinner is over and drive you back to the villa. They will give you their phone number or their card, and you call them shortly before you are ready to be picked up, or tell them when to be back at the restaurant. If they cannot drive you back, they will be able to find someone who can (the Soufriere taxi drivers know each other – it is a small town).
If you decide you would prefer taxi service, we can help you arrange for that, either before or during your trip.
If you decide to rent a vehicle, we strongly recommend renting a vehicle with four-wheel drive and high ground clearance. The road to the villa is rough, and we’ve damaged a car before (a rock dented the bumper of a car that was low to the ground when we hit a big hole). 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. But most won’t cover an open-bed vehicle, such as a pickup truck, so be aware of that when you select a vehicle.
When deciding on taking or not taking the rental car company’s insurance, be aware that you will most likely get some very minor scratching on the side of the car (from vegetation brushing against the car) when driving the road from Soufriere to the villa. The car rental company might charge you for the scratches if you’ve waived the insurance, even though the scratches polish out easily (a few dollars’ worth of polish and 20 minutes work and they are gone). And some rental companies will have you give them a significant deposit if you waive the insurance (we recently rented with Sixt and they placed a $1000 US hold on the credit card when we waived their insurance.)
We’ve found a Suzuki Jimny is a very good choice for two people, and seats four acceptably (it is only a two-door). It is rather shy on luggage space for more than two people, but you may find it more economical to use a taxi service on the way to the villa and back from the villa, and a taxi service (about $80 US) back to the airport if the Jimny is not large enough, instead of renting a larger vehicle for your entire stay.
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 are not aware of any car rental companies 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)|