Famed for its sun-kissed beaches, lush landscapes and warm Caribbean vibes, St Lucia is one of the world’s most desirable destinations.
The Piton Mountains seen across the glistening waters surrounding Saint Lucia (Photo: cjuneau via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)
Contrary, perhaps, to the stereotypical image of a Caribbean vacation, Saint Lucia is far from a place where the attractions start and end at the beach. This is an island packed full of history, culture and geographical diversity, with everything from tropical rainforests to charming hillside trails to explore. If you’re planning to visit Saint Lucia and would like some inspiration for unique things to see and do during your stay, then look no further than our carefully curated selection below.
Soak up Saint Lucia’s spectacular twin peak views
Of all the incredible natural scenery in Saint Lucia, nothing captivates those who see it quite like the Piton Mountains. Located on the southwestern coast of Saint Lucia, these incredible twin peaks – both volcanic plugs (meaning ‘dormant’) – are an officially designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and over the years have become a symbol of the island, adorning postcards and serving as the backdrop to many a tourist photo. There are several ways to experience the best of the Pitons, including traversing one of their many hiking trails, admiring them from the vantage point of a catamaran cruise, or most indulgently, by booking onto a helicopter ride.
Go hiking in an historic national park
A 44 acre islet in the northern regions of Saint Lucia, Pigeon Island National Landmark is one of the island’s most historically significant attractions, having served as a highly strategic point for battles between the British and the French during the 18th century. As a reminder of its past, there remain several ruins of military buildings, cannons and bunkers that you can wander through, complete with information signs. Today the area is most popular for its hiking trails that meander through the forest, as well as its wide green spaces, beaches, and two peaks where you can trek to the top. There’s also an Interpretation Center and museum that takes you on a potted journey through the history of the island.
A walker ambles past an ancient ruin on Pigeon Island (Photo: Gord Webster via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)
Admire luxury yachts in a prestigious marina resort
You may not be able to stretch to buying one yourself, but Marigot Bay offers the perfect chance to indulge in some vicarious yacht-spotting. Surrounded by jewel-coloured waters and lush green mountainsides, the bay’s picturesque harbour is dotted with floating pleasure palaces that positively compel you to stop and admire them. The marina village itself offers less prohibitive entertainment, with a number of upscale bars, restaurants and shopping outlets, plus a small strand of sand that juts out into the middle of the bay, providing the perfect spot for an afternoon’s sunbathing and swimming.
Try your hand at deep sea fishing
Saint Lucia is one of the Caribbean’s finest spots for deep sea sport fishing – also known as Big Game Fishing – which requires angles to take a trip out into the ocean to try their luck at catching, Blue Marlin, Wahoo, Dorado, and Tuna to name a few. Those keen to give it a try can book onto a fishing charter, such as those offered by Hackshaws Boats, the oldest charter boat company in Saint Lucia, who offer a range of guided excursions helmed by expert captains. The company focusses on private trips aboard their fleet of boats that range from 28ft speed boats to 50ft luxury power catamarans. Cruises can be fully customised to include activities as big game sports fishing, whale and dolphin watching, sightseeing along the scenic West coast, snorkeling on pristine reefs, and swimming off of secluded beaches. For more info, visit www.hackshaws.com.
Anglers show off their catches (Photo: Hackshaw Boats St Lucia Tours and Charters)
Attend a jazz & arts festival
Belying the island’s relative geographical remoteness, the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival is an internationally renowned event that has been attracting major names from the world of music since its inaugural edition back in 1992. Among the eminent performers to have appeared here over the years are R. Kelly, Diana Ross and Amy Winehouse, but it’s the line-up of Caribbean musicians that gives the event its distinctive appeal, with everything from Cuban pianist to brass-blowing Dominican zouk bands to bass-thumping Jamaican reggae groups taking to the stage. Besides music, the festival also highlights Saint Lucia’s vibrant local arts scene, and there’s also street parties, Caribbean cuisine, and more.
Join a rum-tasting tour
Along with chocolate, Saint Lucia’s other major export has for many years been rum. Visitors keen to learn about this rich rum-producing heritage can do so by joining the St Lucia Rum Tasting & Tour. During the 3.5-hour tour, you’ll visit St. Lucia Distillers, where you’ll learn all about the rum-making process, including how sugarcane is turned into rum, as well as enjoy tasting some of the distillery’s 25-plus home-made rums, including delectable treats like white rum and flavoured rum creams. Later you’ll head to Castries Market, a 100-year-old farmers’ market, for a chance to purchase spices, fruits, or locally made souvenirs, before your return journey.
Guests on a rum-tasting tour sample some of the local tipple (Photo: Viator / Courtesy Barefoot Holidays)
Explore stunning coastal scenery on horseback
Saint Lucia’s eastern Atlantic coast is breathtaking from whatever your vantage point, but one way to elevate the experience is to traverse this dramatic shoreline by horseback. The Private Caribbean Beach Horseback Ride and Swim invites you and a select group of family or friends to enjoy a gentle trot along the area’s sandy beaches and stunning hillside trails, before later taking a refreshing dip in the sea. Horses are available to suit all level of riders and tours last for around two hours.
A man snapped in the saddle on the Saint Lucia coast (Photo: Viator / Courtesy Sandy Hoofs St. Lucia Riding Stables)
Visit a chocolate-making plantation
Though St Lucia has produced cacao for centuries, blending chocolate with tourism has been a relatively recent endeavour. At the epicente of these burgeoning choco-tourism efforts is the Fond Doux Plantation, located within the UNESCO World Heritage site of Soufriere Saint Lucia on a 19th-century working cocoa estate. Framed by 135 acres of picturesque rainforest landscape, cocoa fields, and tropical gardens, the plantation regularly opens its doors for public tours, with visitors invited to discover the history of the site, witness how cocoa beans are processed, and even try your hand at creating your own choccy treats courtesy of an experienced chocolatier.
Soufriere Estate / Mon-Sun 9am-4pm
A tour guide poses for a photo at the Fond Doux Plantation (Photo: Brent Ozar via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)
Bathe in black water pools
This Idyllic escapade takes you on a sun-soaked adventure from Castries to Soufriere home to many iconic landmarks. The tour highlight is the mud bath pools of the Sulphur Springs, the Caribbean’s only drive-in volcano. The pools are said to have various health benefits and leave you feeling rejuvinated and refreshed. On the drive, you’ll catch majestic views of the iconic Piton volcanic plugs. The tour culminates with a stop at the Toraille Waterfall, leaving you with an overall rejuvenated experience. Round trip transportation, entrance fees to the mud bath pools and waterfall are included. As a bonus, you’re also treated to delicious snacks and local piton beers.
Bathers sink into the black waters of Sulphur Springs (Photo: Viator / Courtesy FRAM Tours & Taxi Services)
Let your hair down at a buzzing street party
From legendary “jump-up” street festivities to full-moon beach parties to club-hopping on bustling restaurant strips, when darkness falls in Saint Lucia, the island’s celebrated nightlife emerges. Among the regular shindigs to take place on the island is the weekly Gros Islet Street Party, which every Friday sees the streets of Gros Islet – a colourful fishing town in Saint Lucia’s northern tip – closed off to traffic and given over to live bands, DJs, arts & crafts vendors, and a raucous crowd of revellers. Be sure to bring your appetite too, with sizzling pit-masters on hand serving up everything from zest chicken and pork to the freshest local catches.
Learn to kitesurf
The extreme sport of kitesurfing has undergone something of a global boom in recent years and in Saint Lucia the awesome winds, white beaches, and crystaline waters provide the perfect backdrop and conditions to give it a try yourself. One of the island’s most popular kitesurfing spots is the beach town of Cas en Bas, situated in the northern part of Saint Lucia, which is home to two renowned kite schools where beginners can book themselves onto lessons, while the more experienced can simply hire the gear and be gone with the wind. There’s also a bar and restaurant offering hard-earned refreshments after your airborne exertions.
Book onto a catamaran cruise
With so many things to experience in Saint Lucia, one way to escape the fear of missing out is to pack as much as you can into your itinerary. A handy way of doing this is to book onto an organised tour, such as the Sapphire Falls Hike with Cruise and Creole Lunch, with expert guides ensuring your time is optimised to the max The full-day tour starts with a catamaran cruise to Soufriere, where you’ll embark on a hike to the magical Sapphire Falls. Starting at Morne Coubaril Estate, you’ll pass by a replica Carib village and historic 18th-century plantation house before entering the lush tropical rainforest. On arrival at Sapphire Falls you’ll get to marvel at the 35-foot waterfalls before tucking into an authentic Creole buffet lunch. Later, enjoy a swim or snorkel in the crystal waters and, as the day winds down, dance to traditional Caribbean tunes before returning to the docks in the evening.
A catamaran traverses the Saint Lucia waters (Photo: GetYourGuide / Courtesy Sea Spray Cruises)
Swim under a waterfall at a Botanical Gardens
There’s something almost cinematic about the vision of someone bathing under a waterfall, and in Saint Lucia visitors have the chance to recreate such a ‘silver screen’ moment at the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens. Among the scenic delights at this sprawling attraction just outside La Soufrière is the 17-metre Diamond Falls Waterfall, arguably the most colourful waterfall anywhere in the Caribbean owing to the minerals that emanate from rainwater mixed with volcanism, lending the rock face behind the falls its constantly-changing kaleidoscopic appearance.
Soufriere Estate / Mon-Sat 10am-5pm Sun 10am-3pm
Cascading water at the Diamond Falls Waterfall (Photo: jplahm via Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0)
Shop for crafts at a local market
Wherever you are in the world, visiting a local market is a great way to gain an authentic insight into a place’s heart and soul. In Saint Lucia, the historic open-air Castries Market buzzes with activity, with over 300 regular stall-holders selling a wide variety of wares, from small trinkets and souvenirs, to handicrafts, local spices and handmade soaps, to everyday essentials. The market is open daily, but the most active time to visit is Saturday. After some perusing and purchasing, grab a seat at the adjacent annex to sample some local dishes.
55 John Compton Highway, Castries / Mon-Sat 10am-6pm Closed Sun