The beautiful Caribbean island of St Lucia is blessed with glorious beaches, stunning mountains and luxuriant rainforest scattered with waterfalls. Its attractions are many and varied, from the thrusting peaks of the Pitons to the panoramic remains of Fort Rodney in Pigeon Island. The island’s French, English, African and East Indian heritage have created a rich, cultural brew that is evident in St Lucian music, art and local cuisine. A romantic paradise for couples, and the perfect destination for beach-lovers and all inclusive seekers, St Lucia is also a magnet for hikers and nature-lovers.
St Lucia’s astonishingly beautiful beaches – white sands in the north, silvery volcanic coves in the south – are undoubtedly among the island’s top attractions, but they are equalled by its stunning natural attractions. First among these are the Pitons (Gros Piton and Petit Piton), two enormous peaks rising abruptly from the ocean in what must be one of the most spectacular natural scenes anywhere in the Caribbean. St Lucia’s other top attractions include the national park of Pigeon Island, the colourful little capital of Castries, the French port of Soufrière and the Sulphur Springs, a volcanic crater where you can watch the mud bubble in steamy pools. There is also a slew of spectacular walks, zip-lines and hikes in the rainforest, the breathtakingly lovely Marigot Bay, and some fascinating colonial plantations and gardens to explore.
Wine and Dine
You’ll find restaurants serving cuisine from around the globe in St Lucia, but don’t miss the local delicacies while you’re there. The island’s eclectic cuisine reflects the influence of the French, British and East Indian colonisers over the centuries, and is based on the fantastic range of local produce. The seafood is a highlight, particularly tuna, mahi mahi and snapper, and the Friday night ‘Fish Fry’ is an institution across the island. The classic local dish is ‘green figs and salt fish’, which is made with unripe bananas sautéed with garlic, vegetables and salt fish (much tastier than it sounds!). Although there is a wide choice of restaurants available, the island also has street stalls and road stands serving hearty local favourites such as ‘shark & bake’ – a fish and vegetable-filled sandwich. When the ‘bake’ (a kind of bread) is fried, it’s called a ‘float’. Accras, deep-fried balls of flaked fish and spices, are commonly served at festivals, and are dished up with hot sauce and local black pudding. Pouille Dudon is a tasty chicken flavoured with coconut. To finish up, enjoy an ice-cold, locally brewed Piton beer, or a glass of the outstanding island rum.
St Lucia is a superb destination for families. Besides the endless allure of the beaches and tropical seas, your kids can go zip-lining through rainforest, wallow in volcanic mud pools at Soufrière, clamber up the Pitons, or join in with the Friday night street parties. There’s a huge inflatable water park, Splash Island, on Reduit Beach, which is the best beach for kids, thanks to its shallow waters and excellent options for water sports. Children may also enjoy the steep scramble up to the remains of Fort Rodney on Pigeon Island – especially if rewarded with a swim on the nearby beaches.
Action and Adventure
You’re in for a treat if you’re looking for an action-packed holiday. You can hike and climb in the Piton mountains, which are a World Heritage Site as well as being the island’s most iconic landmarks. St Lucia’s magnificent rainforest is full of fabulous treks, and is home to a wide array of exotic birds, animals and plants. If you want to see the rainforest from above, you can glide over the rainforest canopy in a gondola, and then whizz back down on a zipline (there are several across the island). You’ll be able to try your hand at every imaginable water sport, from kite-surfing and sailing to snorkelling and diving. Plus, you’ll find tennis courts, golf courses, and even cricket pitches.
Life's a Beach
The best beach on St Lucia is Reduit Beach, a fabulous mile-long stretch of golden sand facing the singular silhouette of Pigeon Island. This is easily the longest of the St Lucia beaches, which are usually located in small, picturesque bays. Always busy, the beach boasts excellent amenities, including plenty of facilities for water sports. It shelves gently, making it ideal for families with younger kids. There are two smaller, sheltered beaches on the coast of Pigeon Island where you can relax after exploring Fort Rodney. Jalousie Beach has a spectacular setting next to the Pitons, while Anse Chastenet is very popular with snorkelers and divers. Grand Anse, near Dennery, is one of the longest beaches on the island, and is a haven for the endangered loggerhead turtles who nest here. There are scores of idyllic coves around Marigot Bay, and the adventurous could trek to the secluded beach of Anse Louvert to escape the crowds.
Resorts and hotels offer plenty of entertainment and nightlife, from live music to discos. Most of the bars and clubs in St Lucia are concentrated in and around Rodney Bay Village on the northern coast. Friday are popular nights for events around the island, including the Gros Islet Jump Up, which is the island’s biggest party. This has street stalls selling barbecued fish and chicken, along with local beer and rum, loud music and a fun, laid-back atmosphere. Similar but on a smaller scale, Anse La Ray has a Friday night fish fry – a similar street festival, with informal food stalls and music.
The breathtaking landscape and magnificent coastline of St Lucia have made it one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in the Caribbean. Whether you’re celebrating your wedding, or having an indulgent break with your partner, the island is imbued with romance. You could enjoy a sunset cruise, admiring the beautiful views of the Pitons, stroll hand-in-hand through botanical gardens, or have a couples’ massage at one of the chic spas. In the evenings, kick back with a cocktail by the beach, take your pick of scores of romantic restaurants, or join in with the party at the famous Friday night ‘fish fry’.
The rich and diverse culture of St Lucia can be experienced in all sorts of ways across the island. The fascinating Folk Research Center in Castries provides insight into the daily lives of the islanders over the centuries. Although much of the harbour town has been destroyed by fire over the centuries, some of the elegant historic buildings have been preserved on Brazil Street. You could also visit the remains of the Fort Rodney, built by the British in the late 18th century, which occupies a hill in Pigeon Island National Park. Or explore the Morne Battery, built by the French in the 1780s, which also contains the cells used to imprison British soldiers. Traditional music on St Lucia is a wonderful fusion of African and European elements, and you can admire the kwadril Creole folk dancing at local festivals.