Guide to Saint Lucia Caribbean Island
St. Lucia is one of the Caribbean islands that is perfect for any type of traveler to visit. The local inhabitants and their blend of French, English, Creole, and Indian culture are diverse, as are the accommodations and attractions available. For everyone from couples looking for a romantic getaway to families in need of some quality time, St. Lucia is a great destination.
Another perk of traveling to St. Lucia is their summer tourism programs. During the summer months, the St. Lucia Tourist Board works with a number of hotels, restaurants, and tour companies to create specialized packages to draw in tourists with discounted rates and enticing opportunities.
Geography and Weather
St. Lucia is a volcanic mass located in the Windward Islands region. The island has a total area of 237.8 square miles and is one of the most mountainous islands in the Caribbean. Mount Gimie features the tallest peak, reaching 3,143 feet above sea level. St. Lucia is volcanic in origin, and the island’s topography is comprised of rainforests, fertile valleys, sandy beaches, and natural harbors.
Due to its location near the equator, St. Lucia’s weather is typically hot and very humid. Temperatures range from averages of 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, with June through August being the hottest months. St. Lucia has an average of 51 inches of rain on the coast each year, which does provide a cooling element, and northeast trade winds take the edge off the heat as well.
Travelers can arrive on the island by a variety of methods. Two airports are located on the island, though Hewanorra International Airport is easily the most popular air travel destination, and the majority of long-distance flights arrive here. Guests may find that the rugged and winding road leading from the airport towards the hotel zone in the northern region of the island is an unpleasant way to begin a vacation, so consider an exciting helicopter flight to your hotel. Cruises and boat charters are another popular traveling method amongst tourists.
Around the Island
St. Lucia’s mostly warm, sunny days allow vacationers more than enough time to get outdoors and explore the island. Many start out their vacation with their toes in the sand or out in the ocean swimming, deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, or diving. All of the beaches are public, but in order to participate in water sports you’ll have to rent equipment or hire a professional to take you out in the ocean. Popular beach locations include Reduit Beach and the secluded stretch at Anse Chastanet. An alternative to the beach scene, taking a trip to the towering Pitons is highly recommended. At the Pitons, rock climbers of all experience levels will be thrilled with the climbing adventure of a lifetime as professional guides take you up one of the twin mountains.
The Saint Lucia National Trust and Department of Forestry host eight trails through the island’s rainforest, from easy paths to strenuous ones. You can try them on your own, or hire a guide to lead you through the brush and point out all of St. Lucia’s indigenous plants and animals. Horseback, ATV, and biking tours are also popular ways of viewing St. Lucia’s natural sites. For an extra special trip, take a whale-watching tour, where you can learn about 20 different species of whale, and possibly see a few in their ocean habitat. Other destinations where travelers can revel in the great outdoors include the Rainforest Aerial Tram Adventure, the ‘drive-in’ volcano of Mount Soufrière, the marina at Marigot Bay, hiking on the Petit Piton, and more.
After you’ve learned all about St. Lucia’s nature, it’s time to immerse yourself in some more cultural attractions. The island is famous for its annual St. Lucia Jazz Festival held each May, where artists from around the globe come to treat guests to ten days of musical performances. Numerous art galleries and studios allow visitors to view (and possibly purchase) the works of native artists; historic homes, forts, and businesses provide an opportunity to find out how locals lived and worked years ago; and museums such as Pigeon Island Museum and Interpretative Center showcase it all.
Relaxation is key on your Caribbean island vacation. St. Lucia has numerous ways for visitors to unwind, including golfing, shopping, and enjoying a spa treatment or two. Many resorts and hotels will also do everything they can to pamper their guests.
Attractions in St. Lucia
With some of the most stunningly beautiful tropical scenery in the world, St. Lucia’s topography and exotic ecosystem captivates vacationers and attracts many visitors to the island each year.
The coastal features of this Eastern Caribbean island boast a variety of breathtaking black sand beaches, as well as pristine white sand beaches. Although there are no casinos located in St. Lucia at the moment, vacationers will soon be able to enjoy the glitz and excitement of casino gambling while visiting the island.
Gorgeous beaches decorate St. Lucia’s coastline. Dazzling sugar sand beaches sparkle in the sultry Caribbean sun, and the dark sand of St. Lucia’s black beaches shimmers like ebony, creating amazing contrasts against the island’s emerald green hills. Because all of the beaches in St Lucia are public, vacationers can visit as many as they like. While you can find a few secluded beaches on the island, much of the ocean-front property is home to hotels and resorts. But some of the best – and most remote – beaches can only be reached by boat.
Important sites to see in St. Lucia are spread out between historic buildings, military forts, and religious sites. Fort Charlotte and Fort Rodney are the two fortresses used by the French and British, who fought for the island so fervently that it prevented St. Lucia from expanding the plantation business and sugar industry. Visitors can learn about these battles and what life was like for soldiers on the island by visiting the forts that still stand, though in ruins, today. Read our Guide to Landmarks by clicking here.
What lies outdoors in St. Lucia is miles of natural habitat to explore. There are six nature reserves and parks that provide space for local fora and fauna to flourish unhindered by development that can be dangerous to the future of each species. Visitors may explore the grounds of these habitats, which mainly take place in rainforest terrain and showcase an abundance of birds.
When it comes to exciting gaming and casino action, St. Lucia opened its first casino at the beginning of 2011. Due to opposition from the St. Lucia Labor Party and religious leaders, the opening of a casino on the island had been delayed for many years. However, efforts to boost St. Lucia’s tourism industry prompted island officials to begin the construction of the country’s first casino. For those visiting the island, the Treasure Bay casino is a welcome addition to St. Lucia’s nightlife and attractions.
From the calming beaches and the peaceful nature reserves to the awe-inspiring landmarks and the thrilling casino, St. Lucia’s attractions are varied enough that every vacationer will find excitement and enjoyment in the exploration of the island. Bring your camera, because you won’t want to miss capturing a single moment of what is sure to be the most memorable vacation of your life.
Activities in St. Lucia
After arriving in St. Lucia, active travelers will soon discover that the island offers an abundance of exciting activities. Fishing, golf, and water sports are just a few of the fun things to do during your Caribbean getaway. St. Lucia has something for travelers of all kinds.
As with most places in the Caribbean, fishing in St. Lucia is excellent. Game fishermen will be in paradise with the wide variety of fish found in the water surrounding the island. And with the abundance of game fish in St. Lucia’s waters, fishermen will have plenty of opportunities to catch the “Big One.” Fishing charters on the island can take you to the best places to fish, as well as supply you with any equipment you may need for your outing. Fishing in St. Lucia is not only a popular sport, but also a way of life for many of the islanders.
St. Lucia has become a popular vacation destination among snorkelers and divers. The clear, warm waters of the Caribbean boast a plethora of amazing marine life, including coral reef walls, countless fish, and other sea creatures. Divers and snorkelers will discover that the underwater world of St. Lucia is a fascinating place full of wonderful and mysterious sites. While on the island, scuba divers can choose to explore a number of places beneath the ocean surface. Wreck and wall diving are among the most popular kinds of diving in St. Lucia.
Golfers may find that St. Lucia is somewhat lacking as far as golf courses are concerned. But there are two courses on the island, so you can take a break from sunbathing and enjoy a few holes of golf on your tropical getaway. Though not a championship course, the St. Lucia Golf and Country Club offers 18 holes of challenging golf in an exotic setting. The island’s Sandals Resort is home to a 9-hole course. Guests of the hotel can play complimentary golf on a splendidly scenic course featuring rolling green hills and lush tropical landscaping.
Tennis is also a popular pastime in St. Lucia. Most major resorts offer floodlit courts free-of-charge for their guests, and even private lessons with the in-house pro. Guests who end up staying at resorts without tennis courts can often head to the nearest hotel and pay a small fee for a few hours of court time.
Shopping is a great way to spend a few hours here and there during your time in St. Lucia. There are a few things you want to be on the lookout for as you go from shop to shop. Locally made products, especially woven hats, batik fabrics, and pottery make great souvenirs; and duty-free designer goods and imports at deep discounts are items you’ll want to stock up on for your own collection.
Events and Festivals
Each season in St. Lucia brings new and exciting events and festivals for locals and visitors to enjoy. This is great news, because no matter when you visit the island, there is sure to be an event that you can attend, allowing you to further understand what life is like for those who live in St. Lucia. National holidays, music festivals, celebrations of religion, sporting events, and the ubiquitous Carnival are all possibilities.
Regardless of what you like to get into, St. Lucia’s after-dark scene has something for you. If you like your nights to be wild and crazy, filled with lots of mingling and dancing, there is an endless selection of nightclubs. Some are themed, some are also live music venues, and others keep the party going with a DJ spinning the latest dance-able hits all night long. Visitors who are looking to have a few drinks, maybe talk to some locals and even hear some live music should stick to the bars. Options also exist that are more family-friendly. If this is what you’re after, try a moonlit ferry ride in Marigot Bay or a trip to the theater. Click here to read more about St. Lucia’s nightlife.
As a vacation in St. Lucia, you are encouraged to dip your toe into a little bit of everything. Whether it be the jumping nightlife or the cool, calm waves of the Caribbean Sea, you are sure to be thrilled with all that the island has to offer.
Food in St. Lucia
A top priority for every traveler is ensuring that your hunger needs will be satisfied while exploring new destinations. For vacationers headed to St. Lucia, the dining options are seemingly endless. Although guests can find anything from Continental cuisine to Chinese food, the most popular influence on St. Lucia fare is Creole flavor. Tempt your taste buds with traditional meals like salted fish, a variety of curried dishes, fresh seafood, green figs, and more. Local produce will impress you with fresh fruits like avocados, papayas, mangos, passion fruit, plantains, and more.
While many of the chefs in St. Lucia draw heavily upon the spices and garnishes of Creole cuisine, the island’s fish fries, hotel restaurants, and unpretentious beach bars ensure that the overall fare is varied, international, and compelling.
The majority of restaurants in St. Lucia are concentrated in the tourist areas, namely in and around Castries, Soufrière, Rodney Bay, and Gros Islet. Establishments are sparse on the eastern coast of the island, and the terrain becomes inaccessible north of Dennery. Expect to find all types of food in the tourist areas, from pizza and fast food to Asian, Creole, Indian, Mexican, and Nouveau American cuisine. Barbeque, drinks, and fruit can be purchased at vendors, although you should be sure that the fruit is both peeled and washed for health reasons.
Fish fries offer cheap and lively alternatives to restaurant dining. The Friday night fish fry at Gros Islet provides an exciting, vibrant atmosphere. It is, however, monitored by police, and women should seriously consider attending only with a group of people. The fish fry at Anse la Rey, also on Friday nights, is somewhat lower-key, and attendants dine at communal tables.
There is nothing particularly unique or exotic about the way that St. Lucian’s prepare their meals. What does stand out about St. Lucian food is the attention to detail. Presentation is everything to St. Lucian chefs, though the cost is never the taste. Luckily, the fertile soil of the island produces foods that are both wonderfully delicious and beautiful, and animals who consume these foods benefit from the natural bounty. This affords chefs the opportunity to focus on appearances rather than work on taste.
The typical diet of St. Lucians consists of limited protein, lots of starches, and fruits and vegetables. Typical protein choices are different than most American travelers will be used to chicken back, pork hocks, and pigtail to name a few. Seafood is available in abundance, however, and many travelers delight in dining on tuna, mahi mahi, and snapper. National specialties include conch, plantains, green figs, and salt fish.
Get into the island spirit by imbibing perhaps the most tropical of beverages, coconut water, drank directly from the split husk of the fruit. Fresh fruit juices are also great thirst quenchers and particularly tropical feeling. Sodas, coffees, and teas are easily accessible on the island, so you can find comfort and familiarity.
Straight up, on the rocks, or mixed into a fruity cocktail, rum is a popular alcoholic beverage in St. Lucia, and the island is home to its very own distillery. Piton is a top local beer, and coffee liqueurs are favorites. To really drink like a local, try a “shandy,” a drink mixed with beer, ginger ale, lemon, or sorrel.
Travelers can cater to their own culinary tastes and budgets in St. Lucia. Whether the evening dinner brings with it relaxation or excitement, many of the locals treat dinner as the optimal time for “liming,” or hanging out.
If you are looking to spend your next vacation in the Caribbean, there is no better place than St. Lucia. Not only is it filled to the brim with natural and cultural attractions, but the island is overflowing with tropical beauty. Everyone has a place here: from explorers to visitors who want to get away from it all; so what are you waiting for? Choose St. Lucia.