What comes to mind when you think of Saint Lucia? If it’s lush greenery, tranquil beaches, vibrant culture, tantalizing food and drinks, and a buzzing nightlife – you’ve pretty much nailed it. Saint Lucia is a stunning Caribbean island brimming with lively people and plenty of engaging attractions to make your trip memorable. I traveled there with my friend Kim, a St. Lucian native who gave me the most amazing tour of her country. Here’s our guide to making the most of your visit– what to eat, what drinks to try, and what attractions to enjoy.
1) CLIMB THE PITONS
The Pitons are two giant volcanic plugs located on the southwestern coast of St. Lucia near Soufrière. These majestic twin peaks are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most photographed landmark on the entire island. Not only can you take pictures of them from afar, you can hike to their summits for breathtaking views of the rest of the island. The hikes are pretty strenuous in the tropical heat, but Gros Piton has the easier climb of the two and requires a tour guide. Petit Piton has better views, but the climb is significantly more challenging. There are no tour services or welcome center for Petit Piton, so you will need to seek a local who can guide you to the top.
Phone: 758-450-2231; 758-450–2078
Cost: Tour Guides – $45
2) SULPHUR SPRINGS DRIVE-IN VOLCANO
Often referred to as the “world’s only drive-in volcano,” this major tourist attraction has a road that runs straight up to and through the crater of the volcano. Be sure to prepare your nostrils for the smell of rotten eggs though, as this volcano emits more gas than it does lava.Address: Sulphur Springs Access Rd, Malgretoute, St Lucia, Soufriere, St. Lucia
3) SULPHUR SPRINGS MUD BATH
After checking out the volcano, make your way over to the hot springs for a muddy bathing session. While the term “mud bath” may seem like quite the contradiction, it’s just one of those things that you have to do when you visit St. Lucia. The bathing pools are reputed to have therapeutic properties – so while your nose may not appreciate the smell, your skin will certainly love the healing volcanic minerals (just don’t forget to bring a towel like I did).
Whether you choose to participate in the parade like I did, or opt to watch from the sidelines, Carnival is a bucket-list worthy experience. The parades are held every year in July on a Monday and Tuesday and they are preceded by a series of fun parties you can attend. Our recommendation is to arrive in St. Lucia no later than the Friday before the electrifying street parties so you can enjoy all of the events. Check out our article and video on Carnival in St. Lucia to learn more about this thrilling annual festival.
5) CATAMARAN SAILING
Ah, what a relaxing way to see the St. Lucian coastline. I chose a catamaran tour that enticed me with the words “rum punch included” in its description. Yep – that’s all I needed to read and I was sold. It definitely made the tour even more interesting! If you don’t get a chance to climb the Pitons, make sure you at least schedule some time to do a catamaran tour that will sail past them. It’s a view you can’t leave St. Lucia without seeing.
6) SAINT LUCIA JAZZ & ARTS FESTIVAL
Are you a music aficionado who loves attending a good festival? This annual internationally known event is perfect for you. It gathers local artists and musicians from all around the world and features a variety of music including jazz, R&B and Calypso. Get all the information you need about this music fest here.
7) FIRE SHOW
Who doesn’t enjoy a good fire performance? There are resorts all over the island where you can catch shows featuring people who do all sorts of amazing fire tricks. When researching accommodations, find out if fire performances will be scheduled during your stay.
8) GROS ISLET STREET PARTY
One thing that stands out about this tiny, but charming Caribbean island is the people. St. Lucians are so warm and welcoming and love tourists! One fun way to socialize with the locals is to attend one of the Friday night Gros Islet street parties, known as “The Jump-Up.” Dance the night away to blaring Caribbean music, all while indulging in delicious local food and beverages – the bars and street vendors stay open pretty late that night.
Address: Dauphin St., off the Castries-Gros Islet Hwy., Gros Islet
9) EAT GREEN FIGS AND SALTFISH
Eat like a local! St. Lucia’s national dish, green figs and saltfish, is mainly comprised of salted fish and green bananas, which are peeled and sautéed with onions, garlic, celery, and peppers. I’m trying not to drool as I type. If this doesn’t tickle your fancy, you will find something that does. St. Lucia offers a variety of food options to satisfy any palate. Fresh seafood combined with locally-grown seasonings are sold everywhere. Follow up your meals with some deliciously fruity island desserts. According to Kim, “the chefs have managed to incorporate every single fruit you can imagine from the island into the desserts.” Yum.
10) DRINK RUM PUNCH AND PITON BEER
What can you wash your tasty Caribbean meals down with? Anything with rum in it! Kim explains that for the most part, all the touristy drinks sold in St. Lucia “are made with rum as the base.” If you want to take a local St. Lucian liquor home with you, she suggests buying a bottle of Bounty Rum, which is considered the national rum of St. Lucia. For beer lovers, Piton Beer is a must. Named after the Piton Mountains mentioned earlier, this local beer is cool, light, and refreshing with a floral aroma. This is a favorite among tourists, while Heineken is preferred by the locals.
11) RODNEY BAY
This bay is located along the northwestern coast of the island, about 15 minutes north of Castries. It is one of the more touristy areas of St. Lucia according to Kim, but you can find different kinds of food, parties, and music to enjoy on this side of the country. Additionally, it’s home to multiple resorts, a huge mall and the island’s only casino.
12) MARIGOT BAY
Considered by some as one of the most stunning bays in St. Lucia, anyone who visits can instantly see why celebrities so often frequent Marigot Bay. It’s located on the western side of the island, just south of Castries and is a historic landmark where a number of battles between French and British natives took place. Travel enthusiasts might be put off by its commercialism, but if you are looking for something glamorous, this romantic bay lined with fancy yachts floating atop turquoise waters might be for you.