St Lucia - the Caribbean's most Captivating Island

Lauren Hill

Senior Contributor

Pristine beaches and lush forested mountains make up this island, home to countless natural attractions from waterfalls to dive sites and hot springs. Each traveller's experience draws on this verdant environment, whether cruising around the coast at sunset, hiking the island's many nature trails or visiting one of the many rum and chocolate estates on offer.

Immersed in nature

The second largest of the Windward islands in the Lesser Antilles, Saint Lucia lies between Martinique and Saint Vincent in the Caribbean Sea. Formed by volcanic activity, this is an extraordinarily fertile island that’s set apart by its lush rainforest and dramatic mountainous backdrop. Amid this verdant flora are wildlife-rich expanses of national parkland and reserve, picturesque waterfalls including the falls of Diamond Botanical Gardens, a network of rivers and streams, and owing to its volcanic origins, mineral-rich hot springs.

When visiting Saint Lucia you can fully experience this side of the island by setting out on a hike through Pigeon Island National Park, accessed via a causeway in the north, or by climbing one of the island’s two iconic Piton mountains with a guide. Snorkel from Anse Chastanet Beach on the west of the island and get to know the central part of Saint Lucia by exploring an area of wilderness such as Edmund Forest Reserve known for its rushing streams and waterfalls. Stroll amid the flamboyant flora of Diamond Botanical Gardens and bathe in the Sulphur Springs by Soufriere volcano.

Food and drink

Bringing together the island’s abundant fruit and vegetables, locally caught seafood and reared meat in Creole dishes, Saint Lucian cuisine is a reflection of both the culture and environment found here. Try local specialities like green figs and saltfish, hearty bouyon soup, curried meats, lobster and grilled fish, not to forget the locally produced coffee, chocolate and rum.

One of the most famous places to taste Saint Lucian chocolate is Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate. This tour provides a multisensory tree-to-bar chocolate experience, enabling you to walk amid the cacao groves before making your own chocolate bar and then sampling the estate’s chocolate in various culinary creations. Rhythm of Rum tours are offered at St Lucia Distillers, which is located in the Roseau Valley on the island’s west coast, ending with a tasting of the distillery’s rums, such as Chairman’s Reserve, and other rum-based liqueurs.

Cultural experiences

Rainforest also now envelops the ruins that remain from colonial plantations. Insight is given into this side of the island’s past on tours of sites like the 18th-century plantation ruins at Anse Mamin home to the crumbling remains of a sugar mill and church. More of the island’s history and cultural identity can be uncovered on tours also taking in the capital of Saint Lucia, Castries, which is known for its palm-lined beach, harbour and landmarks like the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

Visit the Derek Walcott Square, also a park, named after the Nobel Prize-winning Saint Lucian poet and playwright, and make your way up to the 18th-century Fort Charlotte located on a hilltop overlooking the city. Delve further into the island’s history and culture at the Saint Lucia National Museum and peruse local products including artisanal crafts at Castries Market.

Where to stay

Saint Lucia’s most remarkable hotels all offer a unique experience as they each come with an entirely different outlook and setting. Jade Mountain is among the island’s most legendary hotels having been built according to an inspiring design concept in the lush vegetation of slopes overlooking the Pitons and leading down to Anse Chastanet Beach. This architecturally impressive stone structure features sprawling sanctuaries on each of its sea-facing levels connected by private bridges. These ultra-luxurious suites are then joined by Kai en Ciel spa, the Jade Mountain Club and the Celestial Terrace, which is found at the very top of the hotel.

Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort can be found on the white sand shores of the Pitons UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stay in one of the beachfront villas with plunge pool, unwind in the Rainforest Spa and dine by these shores in the Bayside Restaurant.

Also providing dramatic views, the panoramic Ladera Resort is set on a volcano ridgeline, offering a luxurious base for both in-land and coastal exploration. 

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