I love the Caribbean and with so many fabulous things to do in St. Lucia, it is one of my favorite islands. It is everything you picture a tropical paradise island in the Caribbean to be: gorgeous beaches, lush rainforests, colonial history and tons of vacation activities to do in beautiful weather. Here are just a few of the best things to do in St. Lucia.
The most distinctive geographical feature of the island is the Pitons. These two mountains are carpeted with lush dark green forest and dominate the skyline majestically. They even appear on the country’s national flag. Sometimes called the breasts of St. Lucia, the only thing about them that lacks imagination is their names – Gros Piton and Petit Piton – nowhere near as romantic as their aspect, but the boring names don’t take anything away from the fact that hiking the Pitons is one of the essential things to do in St. Lucia. If the thought of hiking is too much, take a boat trip and see them from the water.
If you balk at the idea of whizzing through the canopy on a zip wire, the aerial tram is a much gentler option. And in some ways, it is much better. The tram moves at a pace that makes it possible for you to get some really good close-up views of the rainforest, unlike the zip wire where everything flashes past you in a blur of green. The tram ride is a calm, serene experience where you get to see giant ferns and ficus trees, hear the wind whisper and listen to the calls of the birds and forest animals.
Lazing the day away on a stunning beach is one of the many favorite things to do in St. Lucia. But oh, how to choose a beach? You might choose Rodney Bay, one of the most visited on the island – especially if you like to see boats swaying at their moorings and from where you can see across to Martinique; Reduit Beach in Rodney Bay is popular among cruise line passengers. Divers generally gravitate towards the crystal waters and black volcanic sands of Anse Chastanet. There’s a nice boho-chic feel to Marigot Bay, and on Jalouise you can enjoy the fine white sand imported to cover the original black sand. Me though, I loved Anse Cochon. The fact that it is only accessible by boat adds to the romance of this tropical beach paradise.
When islands are small enough, a great way to see as much as possible is to be taken on a guided tour. It’s nice to hire a vehicle and head out on your own, but that way you don’t get the nitty-gritty of the life and times of a place. I don’t normally recommend specifics but in this case I will. Real St. Lucia Tours (realstluciatours.com) provide guided excursions all over the island, and what makes them so special is that all the guides are locals who are truly passionate about their island home and who bring St. Lucia to life in a way no guide book can.
The Soufriere Volcano is one of the top attractions of St. Lucia. It is the hottest and most active thermal area in the Lesser Antilles island group and is the Caribbean region’s only drive through volcano. The Soufriere Springs Park covers about 45 acres, and as well as the volcanic scenery and the walk through crater, there are steamy (and somewhat smelly) sulfuric pools and hot springs. Outside the park there are heated pools and black sulfur mud baths for you to bathe in.
Castries is the island capital and largest city, so it’s no surprise that many of the best tourist sights in St. Lucia are here. It is a crowded, busy place that enjoys a magical setting. Look out to sea and the bay is thronged with luxury cruise liners and sleek yachts, then look backwards to the towering Morne Fortune. Some of the places to explore are the impressive Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Derek Walcott Square and Fort Charlotte. The market area is a fabulous heaving hub of activity and thanks to the cruise liners, the retail scene is sizzling, so if you want to go shopping in St. Lucia, Castries is the place.
If you’re paying a visit to the Soufriere Springs Park, the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens is the next logical step. The falls themselves can hardly be called spectacular, although they are one of the most beautiful natural attractions in St. Lucia and they do make an excellent focal point for the gardens. Here you can enjoy the warmth of the tropics with a nature trail through a diverse collection of tropical flowers and plants that are havens for insects and birds. At the end of the trail is the Old Mill and Waterwheel, which was built in 1765 to crush sugar cane. There are mineral baths fed with the waters of the Soufriere hot springs and there’s a small restaurant on site too.
Just a point to note, the island did suffer damage from Hurricane Thomas, so some of the attractions and things to do in St. Lucia as of mid-2013 are under repair and may be restricted for a short while. What do you like to do in St. Lucia?
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