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.
The 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 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.
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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 your 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.
The 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.
Things to do in St Lucia
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.
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.
Our recommended tours for exploring Castries:
- St Lucia Pirate Ship Sunset Cruise
- Private Catamaran Sunset Cruise from St Lucia
- St Lucia North Island Half-Day Shopping Excursion
- St Lucia Half-Day Shopping Experience
Saint Lucia’s Sulfur Springs are 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 which is heated by the sulfur, but that’s still cool enough to be bathed in by visitors.
Interested in visiting Sulphur Springs? Check out these tours:
- Land and Sea Adventure to Soufriere, St Lucia
- Private Half-Day: Time Travelers Tour
- St Lucia West Coast Catamaran Cruise to Soufriere and Sulphur Springs
- Private Half-Day: Time Travelers Tour
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, is the 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.
The best tours for experiencing the Pitons:
- St Lucia Castries to Pitons Tour
- Climbing the Pitons Tour
- Private Gros Piton Hike in St Lucia
- Gros Piton Nature Trail Hike in St Lucia
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.
Discover the Pigeon Island Landmark during one of these tours departing from Port Castries:
- Day Trip to Pigeon Island
- St Lucia Sea Trek Adventure at Pigeon Island
- St Lucia Snuba Adventure at Pigeon Island
- St Lucia Segway Nature Trail Experience
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.
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, are 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.
- St Lucia Full-Day Catamaran Sightseeing Cruise With Snorkeling
- St Lucia Snorkeling Tour with Lunch
- St Lucia Beginner Scuba Diving Tour
- St Lucia Catamaran Day Sail
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. 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.
Here are a few excellent hotel choices for your stay in St Lucia:
Top luxury hotels we recommend in St. Lucia:
Ladera Resort ****2018 Traveler’s Choice Rating by TripAdvisor
East Winds ***** 2018 Traveler’s Choice Rating by TripAdvisor
Jade Mountain Resort ***** 2018 Traveler’s Choice Rating by TripAdvisor
Top mid-range hotels we recommend in St. Lucia:
Villa Beach Cottages ***** Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
Tet Rouge Resort ***** Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
Crystals St Lucia **** Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
Top budget hotels we recommend in St. Lucia:
Casa del Vega **** Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
Bay Gardens Marina Haven **** Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
Leisure Inn **** Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
Top hostels we recommend in St. Lucia:
Stephanie’s Hotel *** Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
Harmony Suites **** Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
Villa Cleopatra **** Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
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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Looking for more on the Caribbean?
Resources for Planning Your Trip to the Caribbean
Recommended Guide Books For The Caribbean:
- Lonely Planet Caribbean Islands (Travel Guide)
- DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Caribbean (Travel Guide)
- Fodor’s Caribbean Cruise Ports of Call
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Search for Tours and Trips in St. Lucia we recommend:
- Viator offers several tours throughout St. Lucia. You can also find shore excursions if arriving by cruise ship.
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