September 27, 2018 | By Marc Beaulieu |
Caressed on all sides by aquamarine seascapes and pristine, palm-fringed beaches, the volcanic wonder that is Saint Lucia also boasts lush rainforests tucking much of the island’s looming mountains and plunging valleys under a dense emerald blanket. But her iconic Pitons, captivating twin peaks rising majestically out of the sea, truly define her rarefied geography.
Offering the Caribbean’s only drive-through volcano, restorative mineral mud baths, reef-rich waters that beg for snorkelling escapes, quaint fishing villages peppered with colourful boats, mesmerizing music festivals, award-winning luxury resorts and world-class culinary delights, Saint Lucia provides unforgettable getaways leaving no traveller unsatisfied.
What to do
SEA, SUN & SAND
For sun-kissed waterskiing, bumping banana boat rides, or a refreshing cocktail at dusk it’s hard to beat the golden, family-friendly sands of Reduit Beach. For the snorkeller set, it’s the unspoiled offshore reef of jungle-adjacent Anse Cochon or the cliff-backed edges of Smugglers Cove to peep technicolour rainbows of marine life. Seasoned divers will find their sanctuary in the volcanic outcroppings and famous Key Hole Pinnacles submerged off the Bay of Soufriere—do keep an eye out for brightly speckled peacock flounders and parrot fish.
Those seeking a truly rare shoreline event can camp overnight on Grande Anse during nesting season, from March to August, to spy protected leatherback sea turtles laying their eggs in the sand.
SUPERNATURAL NATURE ESCAPES
Towering almost 3,000 imposing feet above sea level, Gros Piton and its smaller sidekick, Petit Piton, are UNESCO World Heritage hot spots and not-to-be-missed excursions for the outdoorsy type. A winding hike through Caribbean flora to the panoramic summit of the Pitons will forever etch itself into your memory. For family treks, the Tet Paul Nature Trail never disappoints—an aptly named Stairway to Heaven handily showcases the divine allure of the island.
Family adventure is on hand both high and low. While a rainforest Aerial Tram tour will glide you effortlessly up and over crawling forest canopies, an intimate bike escapade to Errard Falls amid a serene rainforest leads to its refreshing waters and cascading falls.
INFINITE ISLAND FLAVOUR
Harbouring world-class chefs who’ve creatively exploited an abundance of homegrown tropical fruit and ocean-to-plate seafood, vibrant Rodney Bay is punctuated with over thirty refined restaurants sure to satisfy every one of your taste buds. Saint Lucia is a true sensory experience no foodie will forget.
At the other end of the culinary spectrum is the “Friday Night Fish Fry”—an electric weekly street feast in Anse-La-Raye—where paper plates of lobster, grilled snapper, and Caribbean BBQ are all an easy grab. While colourful boats line the beachfront, musicians, residents, and local artists fill the streets for outdoor concerts with improvised dancefloors. Bring comfy shoes—the party often spills over until sunup.
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
Cradled in the heart of the Lesser Antilles, romance is simply a matter of course here. No matter where you land, Saint Lucia’s vistas of matchless natural beauty guarantee an unparallelled lover’s retreat. Guided walks through rainforests amidst birdsong, galloping on horseback over virgin sands, plunging into a secluded private pool with the Pitons providing that quixotic backdrop, slinking into a swaying hammock built especially for two as the orange-pink sun melts into the horizon with champagne in hand—love comes easy here.
Giddy honeymooners or life-long partners—all are seduced by Saint Lucia’s infinite charms. Unsurprisingly, many come to her golden shores to tie the knot too.
NON-STOP CULTURE FEST
From French colonial architecture and the artisanal handcraft of vine-woven baskets to traditional bright plaid dresses still honoured by the descendants of the Carib people, Saint Lucia is a constant cornucopia of culture and tradition.
Promising five explosive festivals in one running from January to October, the Soleil Saint Lucia Summer Festival offers Food & Rum, Jazz, Carnival, Roots & Soul and Arts & Heritage events letting you immerse yourself in local culture all year-round.
But the “Jump Up” block party that goes off without fail every Friday night in the fishing village of Gros Islet is a surefire way to sample serious Lucian culture—charcoal-grilled street treats, spiced rum and resonant Caribbean bass lines fill the ocean air long after the stars have come out.
With a mind to restore his troops through the therapeutic powers of hot, mineral-rich springs flowing forth from Soufriere’s volcano, King Louis XVI ordered baths built on Saint Lucia in the late 1700s. Today, the rich history of restorative healing continues.
Visitors can indulge in the height of spa treatment splendour by caking their faces, and the rest of them come to that, in a purifying mud mask at Sulphur Springs. Or soak in Louis’s restored baths at the nearby Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens.
Self-care gets elevated at the Rainforest Spa on Sugar Beach—which lives up to its name—tranquil treatments take place in gazebos perched on stilts above a gushing stream on the forest floor below.