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Top 7 Things to Do in St Lucia: An Insider’s Guide

With billowing palms, miles of verdant tropical forests and oodles of luxurious resorts, the Eastern Caribbean island of St Lucia surprisingly remains a down-to-earth, fun-loving destination. But that’s not to say it doesn’t pack a punch. St Lucia’s impossibly striking Pitons and wonderfully contrasting landscapes, has continued to delight history buffs, avid hikers and luxury lovers for decades.

From the relaxed  pace of Rodney Bay in the north to the gorgeous lush southern region of Soufrière speckled with old sugar plantations and hidden beaches, St Lucia really is two islands in one. Being just a stone’s throw away from St Vincent and Martinique, the best way to uncover this tropical paradise is on our bareboat charters. Can’t wait? Start planning your itinerary and take a look at what made Sunsail’s top 7 things to do in St Lucia:

1. Take a mud bath at Soufrière

Moor in Soufrière Bay and get inspired by Richard Branson’s and Oprah’s favorite St Lucia past-time – the famous mud baths at Soufrière Volcano. Not only are the surroundings spectacularly other-worldly, but these rejuvenating and detoxifying sulfur springs are also packed with minerals that claim to make you look 12 years younger. It’s also said to help heal sunburns, eczema and sore joints — the perfect cure after a spot of hiking.

On your way there, don’t forget to drive through the world’s only drive-in volcano! Located about 30 miles from the cruise port in Castries near Soufrière, this really is a must do when you’re visiting St Lucia. Once through the middle of the volcano, expect to be met with bubbling pools of mud, high-pressure outlets of steam and cashew trees!

De Pitons op Saint Lucia

If you’re looking to turn this into a half-day tour, contact Treasure Tours St. Lucia. They offer an extensive, fun-packed tour including a drive through the French town of Soufriere, a mud bath experience and ending the trip with a refreshing swim in the Toraille waterfall. Or, if you want to go off the beaten track after the Soufrière mud baths, you should check out the beautiful Piton Falls. Pay the $3 entrance fee and if you’re lucky you may even have these tranquil thermal springs to yourself.

2. Dive in the Tobago Cays

In St Lucia and its outer-lying islands, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to snorkeling in waters teeming with Disney-worthy marine life! For those that want the breath-taking sights of Anse Chastanet (one of St Lucia’s top diving center areas), with only a fraction of the crowds, head to Anse de Pitons to share the sea floors with trumpet fish, moray eels, parrot fish, and more.

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Once you’ve satisfied your thirst for snorkeling in St Lucia, we’d recommend setting sail towards the Tobago Cays. This archipelago located in the Southern Grenadines comprises five uninhabited keys that make up a National Park of protected waters. While you’re there, head to Horseshoe Reef to snorkel with nurse sharks under orange cup coral ledges. Or, grab your dinghy and paddle up to Worlds End Reef to see squadrons of spotted eagle rays and some of the most eclectic mix of marine life that has made this snorkeling ground a hotspot in the Caribbean for underwater photography.

We’d recommend that you end the afternoon by hopping across to Baradal Island on your cutting-edge Sunsail 454 to get up close and personal with the incredible wild iguana’s that inhibit this secluded Island.

3. Zip-line through lush forests

To get a real rush, why not take a swing at being Tarzan for the day and zip-line across one of the Caribbean’s top tropical rainforests. Named “Best zip line in the Caribbean” for a reason, we’d recommend you go on the Treetop Canopy Adventure tour. With 12 zip-lines, 20 platforms and four hiking trails, this excursion isn’t for the faint-hearted!

St Lucia Arial Tram

Or, if you want to see the treetops together with family and friends, book an Aerial Tram with Rainforest Adventures to get spectacular panoramic views of St Lucia’s forest reserve. Around a 20-minute drive from the Capital, Castries, this is also a perfect way to get a break from the heat and find out more about the area from their knowledgeable guides. Here, you can also take a gondola deep into the rainforest for the ultimate zip-lining experience fit for all the family.

4. Join the party in Gros Piton

For a bit of local flavor, go to the fishing village of Gros Islet for its Friday night street party. The party only really kicks off after 9 pm, so we’d recommend heading around this time to experience the lively local atmosphere.

Immerse yourself in Lucian culture during this weekly bash and navigate your way through this interesting culinary, musical and artistic experience. While you’re here, wander around the stalls selling steaming barbecued fish and chicken, whelks and crabmeat and top off your night with a taste of home-brewed rum punch and Piton beer while loudspeakers belt out Caribbean beats. This is one opportunity you do not want to miss. If you’re on the hunt for something a little more family-friendly, head to Anse La Raye’s Friday fish fry.

 5. Hike in nature reserves

Known for its photogenic, lush Pitons, this mountainous island has plenty of hiking trails to suit every level. For beginners and young families, we’d recommend the 45-minute Tet Paul Nature Trail close to the base of Gros Pitons. Here, you can climb up the signposted “Stairway to Heaven” to enjoy panoramic views of Mount Gimme and the surrounding villages of Chousiel nestled in between the larger-than-life Pitons. You will even see the neighboring islands of St Vincent and Martinique in the distance!

St Lucia Pitons

Another popular route is the 1.5 mile Barre de L’Isle trail that offers spectacular views of both the Caribbean and Atlantic. During the trail, take the opportunity to wander past some of the world’s most diverse flora, encountering chatty parrots in the treetops and giant land crabs deep in the undergrowth. For hiking permits, head to the trailhead, just off the highway between Castries and Dennery.  

If you’re looking for something more challenging, make sure to visit the Millet Bird Sanctuary in the heart of St Lucia. On this trail, you can come face to face with the country’s eclectic mix of 186 feathered species, including St Lucia’s rare parrots and tiny hummingbirds, surrounded by a backdrop of cascading waterfalls, vibrant orchids, and strangler figs. You can also hire a Forest Reserve guide to accompany you for an additional cost.

6. Taste their explosive cuisine

St Lucia used to be one of the world’s largest banana producers, so it comes as no surprise that bananas are a prime staple in their national culinary dish – green figs and salt fish. Despite the name, there are actually no green figs in this traditional family recipe, but in fact, unripened bananas boiled in salt water like potatoes.

St Lucia Food

With an interesting combination of French, West African and British influences, you’ll find their cuisine peppered with cinnamon, garlic, nutmeg, cloves, parsley, and cocoa that adds a perfect Caribbean kick to their colorful dishes. Dock in Pointe Seraphine and do as the locals do on the weekend – enjoy green figs and salt fish at The Pink Plantation House in Castries. If you’re wanting to branch out, we’d also recommend trying their grilled Dorado fish in garlic sauce with wild rice, and breadfruit balls with crabs back for a truly local experience.

7. Soak up some history on Pigeon Island

Not only is St Lucia the nation with the most Nobel Prize winners per capita, but it’s also rich in maritime history! If you have any history buffs in the group you should take the time and sail towards Pigeon Island. Here, you’ll find 18th-century cannons and a number stone forts the British employed to spy on French ships from neighboring Martinique.

After the British victory over St Lucia during the “Battle of the Saintes” in 18th Century, Pigeon Island was again used as a vantage point in WWII by the US Navy in the “Battle of the Caribbean” and has since become a national landmark protected by the Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT). While there, you should check out Fort Rodney, wander around its national park and end the day unwinding Pigeon Point Beach.

So there you have it. This storied island of cascading waterfalls, fortified islands, and volcanic thermal springs is enough to satisfy every travelers’ bucket list, and with direct flights from New York, St. Lucia is the obvious choice for that perfect winter getaway!

Contributor

Ian Pedersen

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