Found in the eastern Caribbean, St Lucia is a small island nation known for its rugged and dramatic scenery. Two distinctive, mountain peaks rise from the ocean dramatically, side by side, to give St Lucia an unmissable look that has attracted tourists, travelers and cruise ships for years.
An island is a place of unforgettable mountain views, where the steep slopes meet with the warm waters of the Caribbean and the rough seas of the Atlantic.
Fringed by beaches and coral reefs, the island is one of the best places in the Caribbean to not only enjoy the tropical jungle and mountain peaks but also to explore vibrant marine life and beautiful beaches.
St Lucia is a small, but unique nation, but there is a lot to see on this Caribbean island. Here are the best things to do in St Lucia.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Caribbean Islands (Travel Guide)
Top 6 Things to do in St Lucia
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St Lucia is the perfect destination for anyone looking for either a beach break, an adventurous holiday or a bit of both. From epic mountainside hiking to colorful snorkeling, here are the best things to do in St Lucia.
1. Explore Castries
Not too many people stay for long in Castries, St Lucia’s capital, as compared to the spectacular beaches and scenery elsewhere on the island, the city isn’t quite as aesthetic.
Most travelers will pass through here though at least once, especially if arriving by cruise ship, and it’s where local life can be experienced, on the streets and in the restaurants. The best reason to visit Castries is to haggle and barter at the lively local markets which can be found across the city.
Efficiently visit some of the most popular shopping areas on St. Lucia accompanied by a shopping consultant. Enjoy relaxing transportation by air-conditioned coach bus and receive a coupon book filled with discounts and free gifts you can redeem at the various shops and markets. The highlight of the tour is a stop at the chocolate and coconut oil shop on Howelton Estate.
2. Visit the Sulfur Springs
Saint Lucia’s Sulfur Springs is known, famously, as the world’s only ‘drive-in volcano’. This spectacular natural sight is found in the southwest, in Soufriere Bay, and tourists are able to quite literally drive to the very edge of the crater that contains the sulfur pouring out of this somewhat dormant volcano.
The last eruption was a few hundred years ago. Further away from the crater itself, there’s a beautiful river that is heated by the sulfur, but that’s still cool enough to be bathed in by visitors.
Explore St Lucia by land and sea during this full-day excursion. Discover the island’s fishing villages and banana plantations in Morne Fortune. In Soufriere, view the iconic Pitons, then Diamond Falls and Sulphur Springs, the world’s only drive-in volcano. After lunch at a local restaurant, take to the sea aboard a boat for sailing, swimming, and snorkeling.
3. Go to the Pitons
The Pitons are the iconic mountain peaks that tower over St Lucia. They are one of the best reasons to visit the island, and one of the best things to do in St Lucia is to climb them!
These volcanic plugs rise high above the water, on either side of a beautiful, clear bay. Gros Piton is the southernmost mountain and despite being taller than its partner Petit Piton, it is easier to climb. Gros Piton can be climbed with a guide, and the ascent takes a few hours, but the views are absolutely fantastic.
Petit Piton can be climbed, but only with specialist mountaineering training and equipment. With a guide, you’ll pass by villages and a 200-year-old town before starting the trek up the mountain. This is a moderate to strenuous hike that takes about four hours. You’ll be rewarded with views of the island and the Caribbean Sea.
4. Visit the Pigeon Island National Park
Pigeon Island is one of St Lucia’s most popular tourist sights because there’s something for everyone within this national park. Found in the north, close to Rodney Bay, Pigeon Island is attached to the mainland by a short, man-made causeway.
The island is spectacular, with some of the best-protected beaches and greenest scenery. It’s also a huge museum, being the site of numerous old fortifications and colonial buildings from previous centuries.
Literally walk underwater with a St Lucia Sea Trek Adventure at Pigeon Island. Look for seahorses and trumpet fish, swim alongside squid and experience the feeling of walking in space.
5. Relax at the Grand Anse Beach
There are many beaches on St Lucia, but one of the most beautiful is Grand Anse Beach. Located far away from the crowds, this remote stretch of sand is found on the less frequented east side of the island.
It’s calm and uncrowded for the most part, and it’s also an amazing spot to potentially see leatherback turtles nesting on the sands.
Head out to see the Piton Mountains on a great combined land and sea tour. Out on the water, learn about the history of St. Lucia before stopping at Anse Chastanet and Sugar Beach (depending on the conditions) to snorkel and sunbathe.
6. Go Snorkeling and Diving
St Lucia is surrounded by excellent dive and snorkeling spots, and a huge array of diverse marine life can be found in the waters.
The most beautiful of spots to hit the water in is either Pigeon Island or the equally magnificent Piton Bay, where you can snorkel between the two imposing mountains that St Lucia is so famous for.
Cruise around St Lucia aboard a catamaran named ‘Tout Bagay’ during a relaxing full-day excursion. With an expert captain and crew as your hosts, spread out on the deck for some sun and relaxation while sipping rum drinks from the open bar. Use the provided snorkel equipment to explore the underwater world in Anse Cochon and Marigot Bay.
St Lucia Travel Planning Guide
How to Travel to St Lucia
St Lucia has two international airports, situated at different ends of the island. The largest of these is Hewanorra International Airport – airport code, UVF – which is found at the southern end of the island, close to the town of Vieux Fort.
This is where larger aircraft can land and so the majority of passengers arriving on flights from the US or from Europe will land here. There are regular flights from London, Toronto, Miami, and New York to name a few.
The smaller airport is found next to the country’s capital, Castries. George F.L. Charles Airport is close to the largest city, in the north of St Lucia, however, it can only take on smaller aircraft and tends to operate flights to and from other, nearby Caribbean Islands, which are all fairly well connected.
Inter Caribbean ferries are also available, as well as infrequent cargo and mail ships between the islands. Many cruise ships will call into the deepwater port on the island too, and it’s a popular stop on the Caribbean cruise circuits.
Don’t forget: Fodor’s Caribbean Cruise Ports of Call
Travel Around St Lucia
The easiest way to traverse St Lucia is to either rent a vehicle on arrival or to hire taxis. There are local buses running different routes, but these are slow and may stop frequently along the roads.
They are a cheap option, however, and a good way to interact with the local communities. Taxis in comparison can be very expensive, but much more convenient, and it’s easy to arrange private tours with drivers to the island’s main tourist sights, a great option if your time on St Lucia is limited.
Best Time to Visit St Lucia
December to April are the busiest, most popular months for tourists to visit St Lucia. This is when the weather is at its optimum. It’s not as hot and humid as the rest of the year, the weather is cool and the winds are generally calm. This is the island’s dry season but being the best time of year to visit, is also the most expensive.
The hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from June to November and coincides with the wet season when storms are common and the air is tremendously thick and humid throughout the day.
Destructive hurricanes are rare, however, travel during these months should be taken with caution, as the storms can prove to be unpredictable.
Where to Stay in St Lucia
St Lucia has a wide range of accommodation spread out across the island, with most of the best options found on the western side of the island, which tends to be the more sheltered side. Choose from a variety of hotels and hostels, such as the luxurious Jade Mountain Resort and Villa Beach Cottages to the more budget-friendly hotels like Casa del Vega and Stephanie’s Hotel. No matter your budget, you are sure to find a great place to stay.
Popular places to stay are Soufriere Bay, Gros Islet in the far north and the coast around the capital Castries. The north tends to be busier and is more popular with nightlife lovers while the southwest is best for those in search of a quiet getaway.
Is St Lucia Safe to Visit?
St Lucia is a very safe Caribbean destination for tourists to visit. Visitors are very unlikely to be the victims of crime, although there are of course pickpockets and petty criminals in urban areas, and particularly at the weekend island parties.
Taxis aren’t metered, so ensure you agree on prices before getting in a vehicle. The winding mountain roads can at times be dangerous, especially in adverse weather, and the strong currents offshore can be potentially fatal for inexperienced or unprepared swimmers.
St Lucia uses the East Caribbean Dollar, a currency used across much of the eastern Caribbean islands, including other countries such as St Kitts and Nevis and Grenada, all former British West Indies countries.
Often, however, the US Dollar is accepted as a common form of currency across St Lucia, as it’s pegged to the East Caribbean Dollar.
Although many of the island’s place names all look and sound distinctly French, the official language of St Lucia is in fact English. While all the locals do speak English, the majority of people also speak a local Patois dialect, which is distinctly French.
The island’s languages are a leftover from the turbulent colonial days when St Lucia changed hands between the French and British before ultimately becoming a British colony until independence.
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