Travel: Saint Lucia
St. Lucia is a surprising Caribbean powerhouse.
Breathtakingly gorgeous yet shockingly down to earth, you’ll find little to detract from this perfect island paradise. Honeymooners may have made a strong claim to its sandy shores, but St. Lucia is a destination for everyone, from the thrill seekers to the beach bums.
WHEN TO GO
April – June
Peak travel season runs from December to April when the weather is dry and sunny. Traveling in late spring means fewer tourists to contend with and less chance of encountering tropical rain. As a bonus, the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival takes place each May, and it’s definitely worth checking out.
Where Sea Meets Shore
Tropical paradise and stunning beaches go hand in hand, and you’ll want to do more than your fair share of sunbathing on the shores of St. Lucia. A truly remarkable collection of public and private beaches awaits you, and you won’t be able to stick to just one. Start with Sugar Beach, squeezed between the two Piton peaks this beach is iconic to St. Lucia, and though part of the beach is reserved by the Sugar Beach resort, the northern section is open to the public. The beaches of Marigot Bay and Pigeon Island National Park will also delight.
Find your way to Anse Cochon for seahorse sightings, and Reduit for a basketful of activities. Finally, for something a little different, visit the black volcanic beach Anse Chastanet.
The Grand Pitons
When you’re done with the sand, head inland to discover the lush vegetation-covered interior for even more adventure. The top experience has to be hiking Gros Piton, the larger of the dual volcanic spires that are iconic to St. Lucia. Be warned, the hike is not for the faint of heart. Then slip over to Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens for a peaceful afternoon spotting tropical flora and fauna.
Finally, head across the manmade causeway to Pigeon Island National Park and explore historic landmarks, including the cannons of Fort Rodney.
While most of St. Lucia caters to the tourist market, there’s a local side you should explore.
Creole and Caribbean influences combine to create a vibrant local culture. The best place to get a feel for the island life is Castries, the only true city on the island. Explore the Castries market for fresh produce and local handicrafts. Admire the colorful architecture around Derek Walcott Square and marvel at the 400-year-old monkey pod in the center of the park. If you want nightlife, stick around for Friday night. Hit up the Anse La Raye fish fry to sample freshly-caught seafood served close to the shore.
Then head to Gros Islet, where the streets come alive when the sun goes down with a street party known as the “jump-up”. Vendors, dancers and tons of people take over the sidewalks to have some fun.
Treat Yourself to Everything
Of course, your number one priority while visiting St. Lucia is to treat yourself. We’re talking decadent spa treatments, yoga classes and all the delicious food you can eat. Check out the thermal mud springs at the world’s only drive-in volcano. Sulphur Springs Park is home to bubbling mud baths where you can slather yourself with healing mud and relax. Check into one of the numerous luxury spas, particularly the Rainforest Spa at Sugar Beach Viceroy, which services clients in the middle of the tranquil jungle.
Finally, tour one of St. Lucia’s cacao estates to learn about the island’s chocolate culture and take home your very own sweet treat.
WHAT TO EAT
St. Lucia’s Creole influences, access to the ocean and rich soil make it a prime place for some delicious, fresh food. All produce is locally grown, and while it may be easy to just stay in your resort, don’t miss out on the island’s local eateries. Try Orlando’s for fresh Caribbean fare in a fine dining atmosphere. For some Creole, hit up Fedo’s, a simple and delicious spot in Soufriere. If all else fails, pick up some fresh fruit from a vendor and have yourself a little beachside picnic. Don’t forget to indulge in a traditional tropical cocktail, or just raise a local Piton beer to the sunset.
You Can’t Go Wrong
Rare is the destination where you truly can’t make a bad choice in accommodation. St.
Lucia’s collection of resorts, boutique hotels and luxury villas are nearly unrivaled in the Caribbean — which is saying something.
From the stunning views of Jade Mountain to the unparalleled decadence of Sugar Beach Viceroy, choosing accommodations will be by far the most difficult choice you’ll make here. Of course, you can’t ignore the smaller hotels and villas either, with spots like Bel Jou Hotel and Fond Doux making a strong case to forgo the sprawling resort properties and make yourself feel at home.