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.