St. Lucia is in the Eastern Caribbean. The coastal island boasts fishing villages, luxury resorts, reef diving, volcanoes, waterfalls, and beaches aplenty.
You’ve never been, but you’ve always longed to go, and you’d love to take your drone with you. Can you fly a drone in St. Lucia?
You can fly a drone in St. Lucia per the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation. When you get there, you have to declare your drone. You must also have flight approval from the MCTA.
Today’s article will tell you everything you need to know about operating a drone in St. Lucia, including what to do before launching, the rules to follow when in the sky, and where you can fly.
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Can you fly a done in St. Lucia?
St. Lucia has some truly breathtaking sights, from the Tet Paul Nature Center to Pigeon Island, Gros Piton, and the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens & Mineral Baths.
The Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation regulates drone usage in this country. Under the MCTA’s rules, drones can enter St. Lucia and fly within the established parameters.
For instance, when your plane touches down in St. Lucia, don’t forget to declare your drone to customs there.
You should also declare that you’ll bring your drone home when you leave (well, you hope you will, and if you fly safely, you certainly should).
Further, you must have approval from the Ministry of Economic Development, Urban Renewal, Housing, Transport and Civil Aviation to launch your drone.
You can’t use your drone until you contact the Civil Aviation Department and receive approval.
If you operate your drone anyway, that’s considered illegal use, and you could face fines or other punishments.
It’s always best to err on the side of caution when visiting another country, so don’t start your trip to St. Lucia on a sour note by illegally using your drone.
The best way to get approval is to email the Civil Aviation Department directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You must CC email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org in the email.
If you have the time for snail mail, you can send a letter to the Permanent Secretary, Department of Economic Development, First Floor, Finance Administrative Centre, Pointe Seraphine, Castries, St. Lucia.
Even though you’re not completing a formal application, you should still include information like:
- Your full name
- Your contact information like a phone number and email address
- The information for any other drone pilots you’ll travel with
Also mention why you want to use the drone (for recreational or commercial purposes), its make and model, its serial number, where you’ll fly your drone, and for how long.
Given that you’re emailing or mailing your application request, set aside ample time to hear back from the Civil Aviation Department.
You should send the application ideally a few weeks in advance or even a month or two before your trip so you get the approval in time.
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The 4 best places to fly a drone in St. Lucia
St. Lucia is a gorgeous island, but you cannot fly freely throughout. The following are places where legal drone use is permitted.
You can’t go wrong at any beach in St. Lucia, as each offers a perfect slice of paradise. Sugar Beach is popular for drones, as many pilots have captured photographs and video footage of its rolling seas.
If a beach has a resort in the vicinity, such as the Anse Chastanet Resort, you cannot use drones on that beach or the entirety of the property.
That said, different resorts may have varying policies, so read up before you fly.
Even if you find a beach in St. Lucia that allows for drone usage, you should still take precautions to avoid crowds.
Fly earlier or later in the day, or plan your trip on an overcast day, during the offseason, or in the middle of the week when fewer crowds will gather.
Enbas Saut Trail
St. Lucia is beloved for its waterfalls, and the Enbas Saut could be the most popular on the entire island.
The trail leading to the waterfall in Soufriere is approximately 1.4 miles long. It takes about an hour to hike it at a moderate pace.
The trail is considered easy to traverse, so even if you’re not so athletically inclined, you should still get across without too much difficulty. Once you’re there, you can take gorgeous shots of the incredible falls.
Just limit your distance to the waterfalls, as you don’t want your drone to get splashed or soaked. It could incur damage and even break!
St. Lucia is home to the Pitons, dual mountainous volcanic spires. Petit Piton is 2,438 feet, and Gros Piton is 2,618.9 feet, so both are tall and stately.
The Piton Mitan mountain ridge connects the two mountains.
Since the Pitons are World Heritage Sites, you might not be able to fly across the entire 7,190 acres, but you can get close enough that you should be satisfied with the quality of your footage.
Choose a clear day for flying across the Pitons so they’re not obscured in fog.
Tet Paul Nature Trail
One way you can see the Pitons without exploring them directly is to take the Tet Paul Nature Trail. This southern St. Lucia trail by Soufriere is a loop that takes about 45 minutes to traverse.
Much of the route takes you through a plantation farm, but you’ll see more than farmland and the aforementioned volcanic mountains.
The trail also allows you to witness much of St. Lucia’s beauty.
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St. Lucia drone laws to know before you go
You received approval to fly your drone in St. Lucia. Now that you’re up in the air, keep these drone laws in mind for the duration of your stay here!
Do not fly around airports without permission
As is tradition in countries worldwide, St. Lucia doesn’t want drone pilots lingering around its airports. You put manned aircraft at risk when you do.
The Castries has the George F.L. Charles Airport and Vieux Fort the Hewanorra International Airport. You cannot pilot a UAV within three miles of either airport.
The only exception to the above rule is having Air Traffic Control permission for the specific airport that’s part of your flight route.
While requesting permission, you must share pertinent flight details with Air Traffic Control, like how long you’ll fly your drone and precisely where.
You also have to include the drone usage purpose (like recreational or commercial use), the make and model of the drone, the drone’s serial number, and your name and contact information.
You need insurance
To use a drone in St. Lucia, you should have third-party insurance to protect yourself and any other parties with whom you’ll use your drone.
You must have your qualifications on your person
Any licenses, registration, or written approvals you acquired to fly a drone in St. Lucia should stay safe and sound with you.
Don’t leave this documentation of your qualifications back in your hotel room in case you’re asked to produce it.
If possible, translate the documentation to Patois, which over 90 percent of the St. Lucian population speaks.
This is a French Creole language. If you can’t, don’t stress too much, as many people here also speak English.
No flying over moving vehicles in most instances
The laws in St. Lucia allow pilots to fly a drone over a moving vehicle, but only in those areas that are very sparsely populated.
Do not fly over people unless you have permission
Whether a small crowd or a larger one, you’re prohibited from flying your drone over people in St. Lucia unless you ask for permission first.
This rule is designed to maintain the privacy of tourists and residents.
Avoid nature reserves and parks
St. Lucia drone law prohibits pilots from accessing nature preserves and parks. Use a drone map to determine these key locations and keep your distance.
Keep your drone in sight when using it
You must follow VLOS rules when operating your drone in this part of the Caribbean.
If your drone ventures out of your line of sight, you must return it to where you can see it immediately, or you risk a fine.
Only fly during daylight hours
You cannot use your drone after sunset and before sunrise during your travels to St. Lucia. Plan your itinerary accordingly.
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St. Lucia is a Caribbean paradise with oceans, volcanoes, and waterfalls.
You can bring your drone here for a friendly flight (or to get some work done), but make sure you declare the drone at customs, have flight approvals, and follow drone usage rules.