Saint Lucia East Caribbean Dollar - XCD
If you should visit Saint Lucia in the Caribbean, you will have to use the East Caribbean dollar. This is a currency that is used in more than one country, since it is used for the Eastern Caribbean states of the world. Saint Lucia is one of these states, along with other examples such as Montserrat and Dominica.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
The currency is represented by the ISO code XCD and as with other forms of the dollar around the world it is simply divided into 100 cents per dollar. You will have a number of coins to use while you are on the island, and these are the 1, 2, 5, 10 and 25 cent coins. You might be surprised to find the biggest coin is just 25 cents in value, since most dollar currencies have a 50 cent coin as well. However this is not the case for the East Caribbean dollar. Thus you might find it useful to get a few of the ‘quarters’ to have in order to use if you need them. In addition to these coins though you do also have the option to use a one and a two dollar coin.
There are also several banknotes in use on the island. These range from the $5 note through to the $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes. Quite often you will find the dollar sign used to signify a price, but it usually has the letters EC in front of it. So something priced at five dollars would appear as EC$5, to show that it is worth that amount in East Caribbean dollars.
From past to present – the history of the Saint Lucia East Caribbean dollar
The British Empire once meant that the British West Indian dollar was the currency of choice in this part of the world. There was a monetary union in force in this area before independence was brought about. If you look back into the past you will find many islands and countries in this region had a currency that related in some way to the British Empire.
It would not be until 1965 that the East Caribbean dollar came about, and since then it has been used by a variety of countries and islands in this area.
How to get hold of the Saint Lucia East Caribbean dollar
Saint Lucia is a popular holiday spot so it is not difficult to get the local currency here. If you cannot get hold of the currency prior to arriving in Saint Lucia don’t worry – the best alternative is to get the US dollar and take that with you instead. This is because the East Caribbean dollar is tied to the value of the US dollar, so it is quite readily accepted and is the preferred currency for banks and other similar outlets to receive and exchange for you.
Getting more cash is pretty easy too. Cash machines are rife here and you can also withdraw money direct from inside a bank. You will also find it easy to pay for larger purchases with a credit card, regardless of which card you have. Smaller shops may not take them but the bigger ones almost certainly will. Just check first if you are unsure as to how you can or should pay.
You can take traveller’s cheques with you as well if you want another way to get more money while you are in the country. You can get the best exchange rate if you ensure these are denominated in US dollars as well, so bear this in mind.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Saint Lucia East Caribbean dollar
The East Caribbean dollar has a fixed value to the US dollar as we have already seen. However if you use another currency at home and you need to find out how far it will go when transformed into the East Caribbean dollar, use a currency converter to work this out. It is easier to find the currency if you use the ISO code mentioned above (XCD). Remember you should bear in mind the potential exchange rates might vary depending on where you get hold of your cash. You may also want to check the exchange rate for the US dollar if you intend to get some of these before you head out to Saint Lucia.
There is a High Commission for Saint Lucia in London but there is no need to visit this place to get more information if you are planning on visiting. You can visit their official website at http://www.stluciahcuk.org/ to learn more and to make sure you know what is required for entry.
Travelling safely with the Saint Lucia East Caribbean dollar
Saint Lucia is a popular place to go for many people who decide to visit the Caribbean. According to the UK government website thousands of people go to Saint Lucia on an annual basis and the vast majority experience no problems at all. However it is always wise to be alert to any potential problems that may occur so you can stay safe at all times.
For the most part this means little more than basic common sense with regard to your own safety. You wouldn’t leave your doors unlocked at home so make sure you don’t do so here either. If you have cash or cards on your person make sure they are safe and you don’t make a big show of what you are carrying. This can attract the attention of the wrong people and it may mean you end up being targeted. Don’t let this frighten you – incidents like this are rare but they have occurred, and some crimes have been serious in nature. Do whatever you can to minimise the risk to your person and your valuables.
Where to spend your dollars in Saint Lucia – and what to spend them on
Saint Lucia is one of a series of islands off the northern coast of Venezuela. It also lies roughly to the south-east of Puerto Rico, albeit a long distance away. The closest land masses to the island are Martinique to the north and St Vincent and the Grenadines to the south. St Lucia is also referred to as one of the Windward Islands.
The capital of the island may already be familiar to you: it is called Castries. This is a city located in the north-west of the country, near the coast. It actually sits on land that was once reclaimed from the sea. Tourism is a major draw for the capital and many cruise ships dock here on a regular basis. Indeed if you opt for a cruise to this part of the world this may well be the area of the island you see.
Another popular area for tourists to visit is on the west coast of the island, again near the sea. This is Soufriere, which is popular in its own right and also because it is very close to perhaps one of the best natural sights on the island – the Pitons. This refers to Gros Piton and Petit Piton, which as you can probably guess from the name differ in size! A ridge provides a connection between the two peaks, which were originally volcanic plugs. Many people like to attempt to climb one or both of the Pitons but it is best to do so only with a knowledgeable guide. There are some good tours that make a climb of the larger of the two Pitons very pleasing and much easier, ironically, than tackling the smaller of the two. Thus you are better off going on a tour up the main peak and you can see the smaller one from there.
Elsewhere on the island you have the Quilesse Forest Reserve, which you might also hear called a nature reserve. There are some wonderful walking trails through this particular reserve, and they bring you various opportunities to spot both flora and fauna as well as to enjoy the bracing air and amazing views. Make sure you go prepared and have comfortable walking shoes and food and drink with you. The Des Cartiers Rainforest Trail is of particular interest as it does indeed give you the chance to wander through a rainforest where many rare birds live. Keep your eyes open and you never know what you may see there.
It is not difficult to see what Saint Lucia has to offer, even though we have barely scraped the surface of its charms. There are many delightful beaches on the island for example, offering the classic Caribbean beach setting to sit back and relax and enjoy. If you are keen to explore the island there is plenty to offer in this respect too, so make sure you really do make the most of every day you spend there.
While you can easily get through a few local dollars during your stay, it could be argued many of the best experiences won’t cost you a thing.