One of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean, St Lucia's twin volcanic peaks rise dramatically from turquoise seas. Along with idyllic beaches, the island offers a host of interesting activities in the mountainous interior.
There are plenty of hiking and trekking opportunities and archaeological and historical sites to explore. Or you might prefer to sail around the coastline in search of the many whales and dolphins that can be spotted in the waters here.
Our selection of highlights in Saint Lucia
Hike to the summit of Gros Piton
A good level of fitness is required to hike to the summit of Gros Piton, the second highest peak in Saint Lucia. Part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s the stunning views at the top which will keep you going on this exhausting, but exhilarating climb. The hike can take 3 to 6 hours in one direction, so starting in the cool morning hours is a must to ensure that you make it back to the bottom by nightfall.
As you ascend, you'll enjoy panoramic vistas from every angle. The flora and fauna provides a fascinating study as many species are endemic to the island. The bird-life is abundant and the mountain is replete with ‘Brigand’ camps (bandits that lived in the mountains) that form a part of the folklore and history of this incredible island. The view from the summit offers an unparalleled vista of Saint Lucia and other nearby Caribbean islands on a clear day.
A helicopter flight is another great way to get an aerial view of the Pitons. There are various options to explore the north or south. We suggest a 20-minute island tour that takes in the Pitons, the dense vegetation of the rainforest areas and the pretty bays along the Caribbean side of the island. If you’d like to see the rugged Atlantic coast and its fishing villages too, this can be covered on a 30-minute tour.
Explore the lush rainforest and waterfalls
If the Gros Piton climb sounds a little too strenuous, you can still explore the lush rainforest of the island’s interior by 4x4 or on one of the hiking and nature trails in the area. The vast and beautiful expanse of Saint Lucia’s dense rainforest stretches across the island and is home to an array of exotic flora and fauna as well as waterfalls and views of sweeping valleys and the sea beyond.
Take the Tet Paul Trail
Set slightly south of Soufriere, this relatively short and challenging trail rewards you with stunning views of the Pitons. The trail takes around 45 minutes in each direction depending on your speed up hill. On the way to the top you'll find lots of native species of flora and fauna. If you walk the trail with a guide he or she will explain the traditional medicinal purposes of many of these plants.
Explore the archaeological sites of Pigeon Island
Fascinating and picturesque Pigeon Island is managed by Saint Lucia National Trust and connected to the mainland by a causeway. This living museum is heralded as one of the most important monuments of Saint Lucia’s history. The number of interesting archaeological and historic sites includes the ruins of military buildings used during the battles between the French and British for Saint Lucia. A look-out point at the top of the fort provides panoramic views of the northwest coastline.
Experience the Friday Fish Fry
A must-do experience if you want to get out and mingle with the locals, as well as taste some delicious fresh fish, the Friday Fish Fry is held in both the north and south of the island. Large numbers of people from all over the island come to enjoy this bustling street party marking the start of the weekend. Sample simple fish, chicken and local lambi (conch) kebabs, freshly caught by the community’s fishermen and prepared using local culinary skills.
Go whale and dolphin watching
Saint Lucia has its fair share of resident and visiting cetaceans and the success rate of spotting them is high. Look out for pods of spinning, spotted dolphins, and the more elusive pilot, sperm and orca whales, just some of the mammals spotted in the waters here. And even if you don’t see all of these majestic creatures, the island’s mountainous landscape provides a stunning backdrop as you sail along in search of them.
Turtle watching at Grand Anse beach
From March to July, head to remote, little-visited Grande Anse beach, to see turtles lay their eggs. The three species that nest here are the green and hawksbill turtles, and the huge leatherback turtles, the largest reptile in the world. Sadly, all three species are endangered and a local turtle watch project is working with the Saint Lucia National Trust and the government to protect the turtles who reside here.
Discover Kweyol culture
Saint Lucia is a fascinating blend of cultures, descended from the Amerindians, the island’s first inhabitants, and the French and British colonists and the African slaves they brought with them. The island still shows plenty of its French heritage and although English is the main language, most islanders still speak Kweyol, a language similar to French. In the traditional calypso, sung in Kweyol, singers create verses based on local news and gossip, often getting progressively bawdy as the song continues, and with the audience singing along. The Folk Research Centre, set in an old estate house in Castries, preserves and documents local culture and folklore.
Discover the ‘other side’ of the island
With most development focussed on the west coast, the east coast and centre of the island offer a fascinating insight into a quieter, more rural and traditional way of life. For a taste of this rural life, head to Babboneau, a quiet farming community set in the hills and meet a local Kweyol family. Learn about their traditions, the spices and plants they grow and the traditions still practised within the community. Or head to the agricultural and fishing villages of the east coast.
Look out for exotic bird species
Saint Lucia is home to over 160 species of birds, including six endemic species. There are a number of key birding sites on the island including the Millet Bird Sanctuary, where over 30 species, including five endemic ones, can be found. The Des Cartier Rainforest Trail is one of the best sites for bird watching on the island. It offers possibly the best chance of seeing the rarer birds, including the Saint Lucia parrot, the national bird. If you're braving the strenuous trail up Gros Piton you can also spot endemic birds along the hike.
Dive and snorkel in the coral reefs
The west coast offers great snorkeling and diving opportunities with coral reefs and coral fish just a few metres off the shore in some areas. In particular, a marine management area protects much of the southwest shore line and the protected reefs offer good snorkeling and diving here.
Start planning your trip to St Lucia
Stay at an historic cocoa plantation set among Saint Lucia's rainforest and discover the famous pitons before heading to Grenada for a week of relaxation and exploration.
Enjoy incredible views of Saint Lucia's pitons from a beautiful resort set amongst the rainforest before heading to the north coast of the island for a relaxing week at an elegant beach resort.
Discover Grenada's nutmeg and cocoa plantations and beautiful countryside before heading to St Lucia for a week on the beach at the charming Ti Kaye Resort.