The world’s best airport pre-boarding experience is…

Beaches and airports don't usually go together, unless you're in the Caribbean, our writer Gunnar Garfors explains...

Take your shoes off for more than just airport security and dip your toes in….You know you want to… Images: Gunnar Garfors

Airport security often leaves people hot under the collar. But not at one airport in St Lucia, where travellers can cool off by going for a swim at the beach between check-in and departure.

The check-in area at George F. L. Charles Airport (SLU) – the smaller of St Lucia’s two airports in the Caribbean – sits just 20 metres from the white sands of Vigie Beach, which makes for an unusual but very attractive airport experience: pre-flight swimming.

I checked in for my flight at 7am and was on the sand in less than a minute, with my boarding card still in hand.

The beach is pristine with crystal clear water at a temperature that encourages a boycott of any plan to leave.

After a quick outfit change, I was in the water for a swim with a view – of an airport control tower. The beach is the same length as the runway and is rarely crowded.

It is protected from the wind, so don’t expect surfing conditions on the beach, which slopes gently into the Caribbean.

Half an hour in the water still gave me plenty of time to go through security and raid the souvenir shop.

I boarded my LIAT flight to Antigua (ANU) just before 8am and we were airborne five minutes later, my hair still wet.

I was the only passenger on board to have taken up the opportunity of an early morning pre-flight swim, but I’m sure I won’t be the last.

The airport lies just a few miles from Castries, St Lucia’s capital. Its facilities include a pretty decent coffee shop and a newsagent’s shop that sells postcards and stamps so that you can write home about your one-of-a-kind airport experience.

It is easy to reach George F. L. Charles Airport. Air Antilles, Air Caraibes, Caribbean Airlines, LIAT and SVG Air all offer international flights here from a number of destinations in the Caribbean. The island is also a popular stop-off point for cruise ships.

Over in Europe, Barcelona El Prat Airport plans to open a beach club next year in the airport’s grounds for shared use between passengers and locals.

Have you visited other international airports where you can hit the beach as soon as you’ve checked in or landed at your destination? Drop us a comment below.

What others have said

  1. I reckon it’ll be pttrey disappointing. Not even close to what Sony Paint was to Sony Balls. I reckon it will be really hard to emotionally engage with machinery in the way that we can engage with animals or humans. And I really hope they don’t use something obvious for the music track like they did with Like A Rainbow on Play Doh. By obvious I mean like Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen as the little cart tries to get past the bigger vehicles

  2. So far I have taken over 2500 pictures. But the ireenntt is too slow for me to upload them.So here is a teaser to hold you over until I get home and can go through all the pics and upload the good ones.

  3. I always used to enjoy pumpkin soup in the airport cafe before departure. Wonderful airport. I hope they do not close it to build a hotel, it is what makes St Lucia unique. My 20th visit to the island and not my last…..

  4. I`ve been doing dip in the salts at Vigie for years as a 100% Lucian, always min. twice p/a whenever i`m leaving from (slu) i also enjoy having whatever eats are around before i say bye to my lovely Island, Thank you Mr Garfors for opening the eyes of our visitors,and locals alike, you also have a lovely country Norway which i`ve visited several times ! In Norway, i usually have fish for (breakfast, lunch, and dinner !)lol.

  5. It is so lovely to hear this, i am a st.lucian and so never take these oppotunities to do things like this, so enjoy whenever you come visit us.

  6. West Jet is an incredable airline. my flight to St Lucia Thursday August 5th, was a memorableone, the Air hostess’s were friendly very entertaining, the hostess organized a flight game during the flight engaging all passengers in this game passing the toilet paper from the front of to the back. 2 teams competition left side & right side, this was hilarious. This was my 1st exciting experience I ever encountered on a flight, I am always a very nervous passenger. I had so much fun on this flight which altered my fears for flying. The Pilots kept us informed of any turbulance or bumby uncomforatble feelings.(forgot to menion after upplauding the team we were told one of the hostes’s of the day was won hostess of the year.)a well deserved award.
    I must admit no better way to fly. I am recommending some rcognition for the team on the flight to St Lucia Aug.5, 2012. I thik flight number 26 cannot remember the first 2 digits.

    Thank you for your wonderful service. I will continue to fly WEST JET always.

    Thank you

  7. When ever my Dad’s leaves St. Lucia via the Vigie Airport, which is normally about 7 a.m. we would go seat near the beach and have some hot cocoa tea and have a final farewell chat, and that’s after he has checked in at the airport.

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