Top 10 Things to See and Do
1. To truly immerse yourself in the colour and chaos of local life in St Lucia, venture into the bustling alleyways of Castries central market. At its most lively on a Saturday morning, peruse stalls piled high with souveniurs, fresh fruit and vegetables, baskets and all kinds of miscellaneous trinkets!
2. Sailing is a popular pastime in St Lucia, and any size of vessel can be hired at Marigot Bay and Rodney Bay Marina; sail down the West Coast making stops to visit the volcano and Diamond Falls, strike out for the Grenadines or simply kick back on a relaxing fishing trip.
3. Particularly popular between the months of June and November, sperm and humpback whales can be spotted on organised trips and tours off the coast of the island, often alongside playful schools of dolphins.
4. The crystalline turquoise waters off the west coast of the island provide some excellent diving opportunities, although this is somewhat dependant on the weather. A number of professional diving outfits afford you the chance to explore the colourful coral reef that lies beneath the serene surface of the Caribbean sea, often offering lessons and PADI-accredited course as well.
5. St Lucia’s two majestic volcanic mountains, Gros Piton and Petit Piton, soar majestically above the Caribbean Sea and are iconic fixtures of the islands dramatic landscape. Hiking to the peak of Gros Piton is an experience unlike any other, with jaw-dropping panoramic views across the island and coast that are perhaps unrivalled by those anywhere else in the world.
6. For keen golfers, the St Lucia Golf and Country Club in the north of the island has a pristine, 18 hole course and driving range and is perhaps one of the most challenging courses in the whole of the Caribbean. Set amid truly stunning scenery, it also boasts additional amenities such as a fully stocked bar, pro shop and restaurant.
7. Pigeon Island (which is in fact a small peninsula) is a place of great historical significance and a lot of fun to explore, with the ruins of barracks, garrisons and batteries situated along winding paths. Atop Ford Rodney Hill there is a small but well-preserved fortress, and awe-inspiring views across the coast.
8. Castries Cathedral of the Immaculate conception is an imposing stone structure with a vibrant painted interior colourfully relaying biblical scenes and incorporating a colourful blend of Caribbean and African influences.
9. Nestled atop Morne Fortune at a dizzying 2795 feet, Fort Charlotte overlooks Castries and was the site of vicious fighting between the French and the British during colonial times. Having recently been renovated, it is now a community college, but still worth a visit if only for the astonishing views and small obelisk monument behind the building.
10. Although the rainforest region is restricted, it can still be explored on a guided tour; trek through the tangled green foliage, swim in a warm tropical waterfall and keep your eyes peeled for the rare St. Lucian parrot.
Top 10 Family Experiences
1. The endless array of water sports available across the island will be sure to satisfy the water lovers; from motorized sports such as banana boating and jet-skiing to sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and kitesurfing as well as numerous excellent reef sites ideal for top-quality snorkelling and scuba diving, your only issue will be choosing what to dive into first!
2. For families of intrepid adventurers, the Treetop Adventure Park is sure to be a list-topping destination. Release your inner-Tarzan’s as you clamber across rope bridges and swoop across zip lines of up to 100 feet in height!
3. Cricket is one of St. Lucia’s main spectator sports, and is played all over the island. Head to any of the villages at the weekends and you are likely to se a cricket game taking place, sometimes with makeshift equipment – watch from the sidelines, or even get involved yourselves!
4. For a real family adventure, embark on an overnight turtle watch together; cruise the islands dirt roads and beaten tracks and camp out under the stars in tents set up by your tour guide. When the turtles begin to scurry ashore, the tour guide will wake everyone up to watch them in what is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
5. Explore the island by horseback with picturesque countryside trails and brisk canters along Cas En Beach. Rides can last for up to two hours and pick up services can be arranged from most hotels in the Rodney Bay area.
6. Head off for a day out at the Millet Bird Sanctuary, a nature reserve that lies roughly 10 kilometres inland from the islands west-coast highway. Take a tour with a knowledgeable forest ranger for the chance to see endemic species including the St Lucia warbler and the St Lucia parrot.
7. If you’re in the mood for a dip with a difference, head for the charming Pitons Waterfall, a tumbling, warm cascade fed by an amalgamation of natural streams and underground sulphur springs from the Soufriere volcano.
8. The archetypal Caribbean cove, dramatic Smugglers Cove (bordered on three sides by steep, rugged cliffs) is reminiscent of pirates and high adventure – sure to capture the kid’s imaginations! With a life guard on duty to look out for the little ones and a water-sports centre that doubles as a beach bar, the cove has something for everyone.
9. The colourful capital city of Castries overflows with excess energy, and is well worth setting aside a day or two to explore. Admire the huge cruise ships languishing in the bay against the backdrop of the majestic Morne Fortune, explore the vibrant central market and let the kids blow their holiday pocket money in the diverse array of shops
10. The eco-friendly Our Planet Centre is a fun and educational day out for everyone. The kids will be able to learn what its like to view the earth from space, be inside a hurricane and view the planet through the worlds largest mirror sphere! All the proceeds raised by the centre are used to help with funding for the islands environmental research and initiatives.
Top 10 Honeymoon Experiences
1. Learn the captivating story behind the islands last remaining rum distillery and gain an insight into the rum making process on a popular tour of the St Lucia Rum distillery; the tour concludes with an eagerly anticipated tasting session and the opportunity to buy bottles of rum at factory prices!
2. Visit Soufriere’s dormant volcano and steaming sulphur springs, said to have healing properties! Add a sensual dimension with a mud bath, an experience in which you smear fine grey mud on the skin before washing it off under the warm waters of a waterfall.
3. Located on the same site are the Diamond Estate’s botanical gardens, waterfall and mineral baths. The immaculately manicured gardens are intersected by well marked paths and adorned with beautiful tropical flowers and trees, while a small waterfall gushes down a rock face stained orange from the mineral waters at the back of the gardens.
4. For a chance to let loose and mingle with the locals, head to a traditional St Lucia fish fry held on a Friday. An impressive array of seafood is grilled on the barbeque, the celebratory start-of-the-weekend atmosphere is infectious and the music and dancing lasts into the small hours of the morning.
5. From the classically Caribbean stretches of powder white sand lapped by translucent turquoise waters to more dramatic black volcanic sands, and the wild beauty of the islands eastern side where the waves of the Atlantic Ocean churn more fiercely, St Lucia has beaches for every occasion, and they are all pretty spectacular.
6. For a serene yet spectacular experience, take an hour long tram ride above the rainforest with Rainforest Ariel Trams. Drift leisurely above the vast jungle for a chance to truly appreciate the rainforests biodiversity, admiring the many varieties of palm tree, vanilla vines, magnolias and the Castries Waterworks Reserve.
7. Transport yourselves back to the 19th century with a visit to the Balenbouche estate, a former sugar plantation that sprawls across 80 acres, surrounded by a tropical garden and historic ruins. A guided trail leads to the sugar mill, where you can find out how sugar was processed, and learn about the early Caribs and Arawaks
8. Take a cycling trip together through the jungle, meandering through the remnants of an old plantation and discovering the astonishing flora and fauna.
9. Climb aboard a yacht or catamaran and take a romantic cruise around the island, admiring its beauty from the sea; stop off to explore a mysterious cove or have a dive in the warm, turquoise waters.
10. Take an evening stroll and stop for a glass of wine or two in the trendy Rodney Bay Marina, where sleek yachts bob in the bay adjacent to a series of upmarket shops, restaurants and bars.
Culture in St Lucia
The vibrant culture of St Lucia has been developed and shaped through the interweaving of several different groups who have hailed from different regions, bringing their own traditions, cultures and beliefs to the island. Most of the islands inhabitants are of African descent and almost all are bilingual, speaking English as the language of business and education and a form of French Creole as a secondary language.