One of the Caribbean’s most lush and luxurious destinations, there’s a lot to love about St. Lucia. Bordering the eastern Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, this Lesser Antilles volcanic island is a mountainous tropical paradise. On the northern side discover the beautiful Rodney Bay and to the south, the incredible hidden beaches, old plantations and “The Pitons” majestic twin peaks. From their Sulphur Springs to the Botanical Gardens and plenty more in between, here are seven reasons to visit St Lucia.
1. The Pitons
These two iconic green-sided mountains – Gros Piton and the steeper Petit Piton—are a Unesco World Heritage Site (as well as approximately 7,200 acres of land and sea around the twin peaks). More adventurous visitors can hike them, starting with the easier Gros Piton peak, which averages a three-to-four-hour round-trip climb up to 2,619 feet. Although the panoramic views of the Atlantic and Caribbean oceans are well worth the sweat, if you need more motivation just think about how rewarding that ice cold beer and dip in the ocean will feel once you make your way down!
2. The Drive-Through Volcano!
For an explosive experience unlike any other, check out the Soufrière Volcano in the southern part of the island. A major tourist attraction, this (dormant!) volcano has a road that goes right up to and through its center, making it the world’s only drive-through volcano. The crater still expels steam, sulphur, mud and boiling water, but you can rest assured – the last time this volcano erupted was in the late 18th century, and visitors are safe to drive through, well protected from the elements.
3. The Hot Springs
At the site of the Soufrière Volcano, which is also known locally as Sulphur Springs Park, there’s a stream that runs through the crater and meanders its way to the area’s nearby hot springs and mud baths. Hotter than your average bathing temperature, these natural ‘hot tubs’ are rich in volcanic minerals and are said to have many therapeutic skin benefits. To avoid the crowds, take a cue from the locals and head to this cleansing beauty bath towards the end of the day.
4. The Botanical Gardens
Just west of Soufrière, discover one of St. Lucia’s natural wonders, the lush, tropical Diamond Falls Botanical Garden. At one point this land was part of a sprawling 18th-century estate granted to the island by France’s Louis XIV for cacao, coconut and citrus cultivation, and today the six-acre garden is devoted to plants and flowers including ginger blossoms, heliconia, anthurium and bougainvillea. If the allure of a nature walk is not enough of a draw, there’s also a stunning waterfall, mineral baths, spa and on-site restaurant for a perfect relaxing afternoon jaunt.
5. The Jazz Festival
Calling all music fans! Running from May 5th to 14th May 2017, The St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival has just rebranded itself to include all things culturally and creatively St. Lucian. Spanning nine days and 15 locations, over 50 artists – both local and international – will descend on the tiny island for an all-out celebration. With everything from street parties to live improv shows, plenty of food and drink and, for the first time this year, a international fashion event, if you’re an aficionado of all things musical and cultural, this festival is not to be missed.
6. The Chocolate
One of St. Lucia’s most important crops, cocoa is a major part of the island’s history dating back to the 18th century when the industry flourished under colonial rule. Today, cocoa is having a island-wide revival and visitors can experience a vast array of chocolatey experiences including plantation tours, chocolate-making workshops, all-chocolate menus and spa treatments chocked full of cocoa goodness. There’s even a tree-to-bar tour at The Boucan Hotel Chocolat where guests can explore the estate groves, pick the perfect cocoa pods, roast their own beans, learn the art of chocolate making and create their own chocolate bars and truffles.
7. The World-Class Windsurfing
Fans of wind sports rejoice: St Lucia is perfect spot to try out windsurfing or kitesurfing, or for those who are already hooked, hone your surfing skills. If you ask any local where to find the best spot, chances are they’ll tell you to head south to the white sand beach of Anse de Sables in Vieux Fort for its consistent cross breeze and clear, sandy bottom (so you can surf barefoot without a worry). With plenty of rental places, restaurants and beach facilities (washrooms, umbrellas, loungers etc.), you’ll find everything you need here to hit the wind, and the water.
Where to stay in St Lucia