Fringed by largely unspoilt beaches, St Lucia – one of the world’s most romantic destinations – is scattered with sprawling banana, cocoa, coconut and mango plantations which are nestled in thousands of acres of pristine rainforest. The island has long been a popular destination for weddings and honeymoons, with a number of romantic hideaways dotting its golden shores.
Where is St Lucia?
The tropical mountainous island of St Lucia is one of the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles and its nearest neighbour is Martinique. The calm Caribbean waters lap the western shore while the choppy waters of the Atlantic Ocean break on the east coast of the island. Our best time to visit guide can help you decide when to visit St Lucia.
While it’s the perfect island for couples seeking secluded shores, there’s more to St Lucia than meets the eye. The best way to make the most of the island’s incredible landscapes is to get out and explore, from nature trails, zip line challenges and mountain biking and Segway tours to hot springs, whale watching, sailing, and diving.
The Pitons & Soufriere
On the south-west shore, the magnificent UNESCO-listed Pitons tower over the town of Soufriere, St Lucia’s first capital. These twin vegetation-clad volcanic spires rise dramatically from the coastline and the surrounding forest to form the island’s most recognisable landmarks. The luxury resorts set in this part of the island have the most spectacular views of the Pitons from the beach and high in the forested hills.
The vibrant capital city of Castries, which was founded by the French and later used by the British as a naval port, sits by a deep sheltered harbour on the island’s west coast. Enjoy the best views of the city from the summit of Morne Fortune, or the ‘Hill of Good Luck’, once a key battle ground. Many of our resorts are set on palm-fringed bays that dot the west coast between Castries and the island’s northern tip. The northern-most town of Gros Islet is a lively destination with a number of bars, restaurants and nightclubs. The town’s main stretch of sand – the family-friendly Reduit Beach – offers a great base for watersports such as parasailing, snorkelling and diving.
Head to Castries for the best selection of shops on the island. Pick up some bargains including jewellery, electronics and souvenirs at the Pointe Seraphine duty-free shopping complex which is a popular stop for cruise passengers. There are a few other malls in and around the capital which sell everything from clothing and food to locally-distilled rums and hand-made jewellery. At the heart of the city you’ll find the bustling Castries Central Market which sells the street food, arts and crafts, local spices and a range of souvenirs from cheap knick-knacks to quality handicrafts such as woven baskets. A number of studios and galleries in and around Castries offer unique souvenirs like wood carvings, paintings and sculptures.
Further north in Rodney Bay, you’ll find the Baywalk Shopping Mall, artisan shops selling souvenirs such as jewellery and batik fabric, and a few shops and restaurants by the marina.
Diving & snorkelling
One of the best snorkelling and diving sites in St Lucia is the Anse Chastanet reef which lies off the south-west coast of the island. One of the things that makes this site so special is its proximity to the shore – the shallow reef is just 15 yards from the water's edge so it's ideal for beginners. This award-winning marine reserve is home to turtles, parrot fish, moray eels, turtles and sea horses.
Nearby ‘Fairy Land’ is a popular diving spot with colourful corals and a good chance of seeing turtles. If you’re a fan of wreck dives then the Lesleen M, a sunken freighter in nearby Anse Cochon is worth exploring. If you’re entranced by the beauty of the Pitons then venture underwater to discover the Keyhole Pinnacles. These striking volcanic peaks are encrusted with Black and Orange coral and are located at the northern entrance to the Bay of Soufriere.
Food & drink
St Lucia cuisine is an eclectic mix of influences including French-Creole, European, African and Indian. The island makes the most of its abundance of local produce including tropical fruit such as mango, banana, coconut and pineapple as well as and vegetables including cassava and breadfruit, which is similar to potato.
Try the tasty national dish, green fig and salt fish which is actually made with banana – which is known locally as fig. Fried plantain, conch fritters and accra – fried fishcakes are popular side dishes and you’ll find plenty of fresh seafood including mahi mahi, snapper and lobster. A refreshing bottle of the Piton local beer to wash down some banana cake is a great end to a meal.
Although St Lucia is small – just 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, it can take a while to navigate the winding mountain roads. Most hotels are between 45 minutes and 1½ hours from the airport and if you suffer from motion sickness then it’s worth getting a helicopter transfer from the to your resort – this has the added bonus of offering a bird’s-eye views of the remarkable landscapes. Minibuses run between the main towns such as Castries, Gros Islet and Soufrière, and are a cheap way to get around and experience a taste of local life but drivers often wait for the bus to fill up before they depart.
Driving along St Lucia’s unmarked, narrow roads with steep drops can be a hair-raising experience so renting a car isn’t recommended; it’s much more convenient to jump in a cab. Water taxis are a quick and scenic way travel along the coast, especially if you want to travel from Rodney Bay in the north to Soufriere in the south west.
GMT -4 hours
East Caribbean dollar
English and Creole
All beaches in St Lucia are public.
Visitors should be aware that it is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing, which is reserved for military personnel only. Further, guests may be asked to remove any such items, at the airport on arrival and such items, including any items found by Customs in guests’ luggage are subject to confiscation.