There’s far more packed into the Caribbean island of St Lucia than you might expect. As well as the picture postcard palm-fringed beaches and turquoise seas, you can discover old colonial plantations where cacao is still grown today, trek through rainforests and visit volcanic sulphur springs and kick back in charming seafront villages, all dominated by St Lucia’s two iconic peaks, the Pitons. Ideal for active types, you can hike the Pitons, do an adrenaline-fuelled zip wire through the rainforest, and kayak, sail or scuba dive to your heart’s content.
Out on the waves, the winds make it ideal for kitesurfing and windsurfing, and the miles of golden beaches attract holidaymakers all year round. With both French and British influences, the local Creole culture also flavours everything from the island’s cuisine to its music.
What to do
The island divides itself roughly in half, with the capital Castries and main resort of Rodney Bay Village in the more developed north, along with some of the loveliest beaches. In the south and centre, around the Pitons, are many of the smaller more boutique properties and unusual days out. The size of the island means it’s possible to base yourself in one and arrange day trips across St Lucia, either by boat or by car.
Where to stay
Whether you’re looking for five-star all-inclusive or barefoot luxury, St Lucia has plenty of choice. St James Club Morgan Bay is one of the island’s best all-inclusive beachfront resorts. For ultimate luxury Cap Maison in the north is built on a stunning headland and has one of the best restaurants on the island, Cliff at the Cap. Sandals Regency Le Toc Golf Resort & Spa has secluded ‘Love Nest Suites’ that are set away from the main resort and have a personal butler and stunning ocean views – ideal for a second honeymoon.
Boucan by Hotel Chocolat is a chic resort set on a cacao plantation and the luxury rainforest lodges are a beautiful haven for a couple of days.
Where to eat
The majority of the island restaurants cluster around Rodney Bay in the north. Unlike other Caribbean islands, the popular north doesn’t feel too touristy and has just enough life, bars and restaurants to give it a good vibe.
Many resort restaurants are open to the public, including the award-winning Dasheene at Ladera resort, which focuses on sustainable and local ingredients. For romance or a celebration head to The Cliff at Cap and enquire about the private dining options.
The Naked Fisherman next door to Cap Maison is a good choice for lunch or a weekend evening. For a real taste of St Lucia, Petit Peak restaurant in Soufriere has fabulous views across the sea and to the Pitons as well as some great Creole food.
While it’s around the same size as Ibiza, St Lucia’s twisting mountain roads mean you need to allow more time to explore if you’re heading inland. Unless you’re planning a lot of days out and are very confident behind the wheel, it’s better to arrange a driver or one-off excursions. You can also take boat trips along the coast.
When to go
The island’s dry season runs from December to May, with the wetter months between June and November. September and October have the highest chance of hurricanes. North-east trade winds cool the tropical climate so it’s rarely unbearably hot with temperatures in the high 20s. St Lucia’s jazz festival takes place in May, followed by their chocolate heritage month in August.
Three things we like
- Discover more of St Lucia’s long chocolate history with a tree-to-bar tour at Boucan by Hotel Chocolat, where you can graft your own cacao tree, make your own chocolate and have a cocoa-themed lunch in the restaurant.
- A day out on a boat is the best way to see the island. You’ll get the best snaps of the grand Pitons from the sea and there are some beautiful coves only accessible by boat.
- With huge piles of fresh fruit, spices galore and plenty of trinkets, Castries market is ideal for people-watching and picking up a few souvenirs, check if your hotel does a market visit and cookery class as it’s always good to go with a local.
Something we don’t like
The mosquitoes – while most travellers will experience nothing worse than itchy bites, cases of Chikungunya virus are on the rise across the Caribbean so take good repellent.
Seeing the Pitons – visible across the island, you can climb one of the peaks if you’re feeling energetic or try the gentler Tet Paul trail with its incredible views if not.
Heading into the rainforest – take the aerial tram ride into the canopy at Babonneau with Rainforest Adventures, before zipwiring back down through the trees.
The Soufriere sulphur springs, aka St Lucia’s ‘drive-in volcano’ where the last volcanic explosion left smoking steam vents. There are also thermal springs which you can bathe in.
High50 insider tips
- All beaches in St Lucia are officially public ones, although some resorts may set different areas aside for non-guests.
- Take a water taxi – if you’re looking to travel a short distance or heading to one of the resort beaches, Soufriere is a good spot to pick up a boat. Do haggle on the price though.
- Visit a Friday night ‘fish fry’, an open-air party where locals cook fish on the streets. Gros Islet is one of the biggest, while Anse La Raye has its own version.
Need to know
- Flying time is around nine hours from the UK, with non-stop flights available.
- Hewanorra international airport is in the south of the island, with transfers to resorts in the north taking an hour to 90 minutes. There are also 10-minute helicopter transfers between Hewanorra and George FL Charles Airport in Castries in the north.
- Three-pin UK-style square plugs are standard in hotels.
- It’s GMT -4 (-5 in summer)
- Currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar, although you can pay for most things in US dollars as well.