An interesting fact about Saint Lucia, which I recently visited, is that it is the only country in the world to be named after a woman. Named by the French after Lucia of Syracuse (283–304 AD), a Christian martyr who died during the Diocletianic Persecution, the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia has stunning beaches along with a mountainous, lush green landscape and the majestic-looking Pitons, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Coupled with her warm, friendly, and inviting people with historic sites and rich culture, Saint Lucia attracts around 400,000 stay-over tourists each year. Popular with couples on their honeymoon as well as others seeking rejuvenation and adventure, below you’ll find my list of top ten things to do in St Lucia, which has year-round sunshine.
Top 10 Things To Do In St Lucia
1. Tour Lushan Country Life
Website | 📍 Location: Lushan Country Life, Morne Du Don Balata Road, Castries, Saint Lucia
Starting north of the island, I’d recommend a visit to the Lushan Country Life, which provides insight into the culture and heritage of Saint Lucia. As you are guided through the former banana plantation, you’ll see a Kai Pye, a traditional Amerindian Hut, as well as over one hundred and thirty plant species which are home to over thirty native species of birds, including the Black finch, which is most common.
Touring Lushan Country Life, you will learn about the history of Saint Lucia as well as the Anthony family, who have owned the seven acres of land where Lushan Country Life is located for over 200 years. For example, the Lovers Lane Flower Garden Trail tells the story of Georgina and BJ Anthony, who were married for 59 years married and had six children, nineteen grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. The Lovers Lane Flower Garden is in addition to other gardens, including the Medicinal Gardens and Herbal Garden.
A highlight of the heritage Lushan Country Life tour is at the end sampling of local dishes and rums, including the Saint Lucia Spice Rum made with white rum, Grenadine syrup along with cinnamon, bwabaday, bay leaf, star aniseed, nutmeg, cloves, and other spices. According to folklore, Saint Lucia Spice Rum is a natural viagra for men and can help reduce the pain associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle and reduce cold/flu symptoms, chills, and bellyaches. Taken on its own, it’s extremely strong but can be mixed with fruit juice to make a delicious cocktail.
2. Visit Eudovic Art Studio
Website | 📍 Location: Eudovic Art Studio, Morne Fortune, Saint Lucia
Eudovic Art Studio was established in 1975 by Vincent Joseph Eudovic, one of the Caribbean’s leading wood sculptors. His sculptures can be found in some of the prominent art galleries and museums across the globe. Here in Saint Lucia, his abstract sculptures are on display in the art gallery section of Eudovic Art Studio. The beautiful sculptures with a dark finish range in value from US$200 to US$28,000 and are made from local woods, including Laurier Canelle, Mahogany, Teak, Laurier Mabouey, and red/white Cedar. As no two pieces of wood are the same, each sculpture is unique.
Along with Eudovic’s work, you’ll also find sculptures by other artists in residence, including his son Jallim Eudovic and Earl Claude Joseph. And depending on the time of day you visit Eudovic’s Art Studio, you might see and be able to have a chat with one of them working in the studio, which is open to visitors. Beyond the studio and art gallery, there is also a shop with more moderately priced items that make for great souvenirs.
Two of the best-selling items at Eudovic Art Studio are the traditional mask and plaques, which provide insight into Saint Lucia’s history. More specifically, the face on the plaques typically represents the farmers, and the trees are bananas which used to be the main crop grown and exported from Saint Lucia.
Sidebar: As you drive from Eudovic’s Art Studio to Castries Central Market, have your driver slow down at the crest of Morne Fortune to get a glimpse of Government House, the official residence of the Governor-General in Saint Lucia. The Government House in Saint Lucia is not open to the public but worthy of a look as it is historic and picturesque. Just below is Morne Layby, where you can officially stop to take pictures of Castries, the capital of Saint Lucia.
3. Shop At Castries Central Market & Vendor’s Arcade Annex
📍 Location: Castries Central Market, Jeremie and Peynier Street, Castries, Saint Lucia
Another of the top things to do in St Lucia is to explore and shop at Castries Central Market. Hustling and bustling like most Caribbean markets, Castries Central Market houses over 300 regular vendors and local sellers hawking a wide range of products, including spices, fruits, and vegetables. So if visiting in the summertime, be sure to try guavas and guineps, two of my favorite Caribbean fruits.
Beyond fresh fruits and vegetables, you can also purchase a wide range of artwork, pottery, souvenirs, wood carvings, and trinkets at Castries Central Market. There are also some restaurants and food stalls. Beyond the 300 traders located in the main Castries Central Market building opened in 1894, there are an additional 100 traders in the Vendor’s Arcade Annex, which opened in 1996.
The products sold at most markets are quite similar, but it is still fun to walk through both to check out what is on offer. That said, don’t be intimated by the vendors calling out for your attention, as all are friendly and just seeking to get noticed. Note that the busiest days at Castries Central Market are when cruise ships are in port and on Saturdays when locals do much of their shopping for fruits, vegetables, and meat.
4. Attend Gros Islet Street Party
Website | 📍 Location: Dauphin Street, Gros Islet, Saint Lucia
Another top thing to do in St Lucia is attending the Gros Islet Street Party, which has been held every week for the last 50 years. Every Friday night, come rain or shine, except on Good Fridays, tourists and locals gather for the Gros Islet Street Party to dance the night away while munching on local dishes, including BBQ chicken or seafood, and sipping on bottles of Piton beer or rum cocktails. One of the top places to get food is Duke’s Place, with its legendary fish dishes.
The atmosphere at Gros Islet Street Party, known locally as “jump-up,” is very friendly and laid back, so I highly recommend it for a large group of family, friends, or even singles. I actually went on my own to the Gros Islet Street Party as there was a shuttle from my hotel, the Royalton Saint Lucia Resort & Spa. If your hotel doesn’t offer a shuttle service, taxis are plentiful, so you can arrange one to take you there and back. Note that Gros Islet is a colorful fishing village on Saint Lucia’s northwest tip, so if you are staying further South, consider Anse La Raye Seafood Friday or Dennery Fish Fry on Saturday nights.
If you are in Saint Lucia on a Friday night, the best place to be is at Gros Islet Street Party in Rodney Bay. Locals and tourists mix to eat, drink, and dance the night away. 🥘🍹🍻#TravelSaintLucia #ccStLucia Posted by Caribbean & Co. on Friday, 2 November 2018
5. Explore Pigeon Island National Landmark
Website | 📍 Location: Pigeon Island, Saint Lucia
Located off the northwest coast of Saint Lucia, Pigeon Island National Landmark is a 44-acres national landmark with much to see and explore. Occupied by both the British and French during the 18th century, Pigeon Island National Landmark is now a living museum with military ruins, numerous hiking trails, two beaches, and two restaurants. Pigeon Island National Landmark is also the venue for major festivals like the annual Saint Lucia Jazz Festival.
To avoid the crowds, would recommend an early start at Pigeon Island National Landmark with a hike up to Fort Rodney to take in the picturesque views of Saint Lucia and also Martinique off in the distance. After taking a photo or two of the scenic views from the top of Fort Rodney, I would then recommend hiking to Signal Peak, which also has some fantastic views, including of Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort. Take note of the lush green landscape and the contrasts in the blue waters from the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. With hiking complete, I would then recommend exploring the military ruins near the entrance, including Soldiers’ Barracks. The afternoon can then be spent having lunch at one of the restaurants, followed by relaxing at one of the two beaches at Pigeon Island National Landmark.
6. Zipline Through The St Lucia Rainforest
Website | 📍 Location: Near Castries Waterworks Forest Reserve, Castries, Saint Lucia
If you are into nature and an adrenaline junkie, then a top thing to do in St Lucia is ziplining through the rainforest with Treetop Adventure Park or Rainforest Adventures. I went with ziplining Rainforest Adventures, and their base is located just 25 minutes from port Castries in the highland community of Chassin, in Babonneau. There you get hitched up to a series of cables and zip from 8 different platforms in the tree canopy. As you progress through the platforms in the rainforest, each gets a bit more difficult, but all very safe with the support of the two guides. If you prefer not to zipline but still want to explore and take in views of the rainforest, you can take the aerial tram, which is a metal gondola that goes to the top of the mountain and provides fantastic views of the rainforest. Hikers can also enjoy the Jacquot nature trail leading up to the highest point of the aerial tram.
7. Take In Views Of The Pitons, A UNESCO World Heritage Site
📍 Location: The Pitons, Soufriere, Saint Lucia
My first view of the Pitons, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004 consisting of two mountainous volcanic plugs, was from the car driving on St Judes Highway towards Soufriere in Saint Lucia. Once in sight, I was mesmerized by the Pitons, which include Petit Piton at 2,438 ft high and Gros Piton at 2,530 ft high. And as I explored tourist attractions around Soufriere which was the capital of Saint Lucia when it was under French rule, I couldn’t keep my eyes off the Pitons, which at 2,909 ha (7,190 acres) in size are linked by the Piton Mitan ridge.
Thankfully, my hotel room from Jade Mountain Resort provided fantastic views of the Pitons. Failing that, I would have hiked the Tet Paul Nature Trail. Taking about 45 minutes to complete, the Tet Paul Nature Trial also provides impressive views of Petit Piton and Gros Piton and other areas of Saint Lucia, including Fond Gens Libre, Choiseul, Maria Island, and Vieux Fort. From the Tet Paul Nature Trail, on a clear day, you can also view other Caribbean islands like Martinique and St. Vincent. Schedule permitting, you could also climb Gros Piton starting in the town of Fond Gens Libre. For this mountain climb, I would recommend going with a local guide who knows the terrain well. Hiking Gros Piton takes between three to six hours in one direction, so I would recommend starting early morning to ensure that you make it back to the bottom safely before sunset.
8. Take A Mud Bath After Touring Sulphur Springs Park
Website | 📍 Location: Sulphur Springs Park, Sulphur Springs Access Road, Soufriere, Saint Lucia
Taking a mud bath at Sulphur Springs Park, the world’s only drive-through volcano, has become one of the top things to do in St Lucia. Here, would recommend starting with the short tour of the volcano, which allows you to get close to the pools and bubbling hot springs belching with sulfur-laden steam. Now I must admit it was a bit weird and slightly emotional being at this volcano in Saint Lucia. It was strange because I have memories of hiking close to the Soufriere Hills volcano in Montserrat as a child, never imagining that 20+ years ago, while I was living in Chicago, word would come that the Montserrat volcano had erupted, leaving most of the island in an exclusion zone and the majority of the population leaving to start over elsewhere.
But fear not; the drive-through volcano in Saint Lucia is safe as it has been inactive since the last major eruption in 1766. Also, about 80 to 100 people currently live just above the fallen-in crater of the volcano in Saint Lucia. I actually saw a few local people using one of the streams to do their daily wash. After seeing this during the tour, I took the mud bath near the entrance of Sulphur Springs Park, which was rejuvenating and refreshing for my body and skin. A fun thing to do while taking the mud bath is to spread grey mineral mud over your body, followed by black mineral mud in the shape of handprints. That said, note that the area for the mud bath is tiny, so if you want to avoid the crowds, go early in the morning. Note that there is a changing area along with showers to wash offer after you finish.
Sidebar: Consider combining a visit to Sulphur Springs Park with the nearby Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens, the oldest botanical gardens on the island of Saint Lucia, bursting with tropical flowers. There is also the Diamond Waterfall, the most colorful in the Caribbean at 17 meters in height and made from a mixture of rainwater and volcanism fed by the Sulphur Springs Park. After this, I’d recommend having a relaxing lunch at Dasheene Restaurant at Ladera Resort. The food at Dasheene Restaurant is award-winning, but on a bright sunny day, the star of the show here is the excellent view of UNESCO World Heritage Site Petit Piton and the Caribbean Sea.
9. Hike Historic Esperance Estate With Bon Nouvel
Website | 📍 Location: Bon Nouvel, Ravineau, Choiseul, Soufrière, Saint Lucia
Bon Nouvel is an agriculture tourism experience on the historic Esperance Estate nestled at the foot of the majestic Pitons. A former slave plantation that cultivated a wide variety of crops, including sugarcane, it is now a working estate with four nature trails, including the glace trail, the Carib trail, the rainforest trail, and the river-ridge trail.
As you take the guided tour through Bon Nouvel, depending on your pace, it will take about two hours, you learn about the history of 57 acres of the estate as well as about the various herbs, flowers, and trees in abundance. You also get to sample the fruits in season, and as we went along the hike, I munched on the fruit from a cacao pod, starfruit, and coconut. At the end of the hike, you are also rewarded with a traditional drink and snack.
10. Attend A Festival In Saint Lucia
Website | 📍 Location: Saint Lucia
Complimenting the long list of tourist attractions in Saint Lucia year-round, there are six festivals on the calendar. Part of Saint Lucia’s SOLEIL Summer Festival series, this includes the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival (May), Saint Lucia Carnival (June/July), Mercury Festival (August), Saint Lucia Roots & Soul Festival (August), Saint Lucia Food & Rum Festival (September), and Saint Lucia Arts & Heritage Festival (October).
On this recent trip to Saint Lucia, I got to see first-hand celebrations for Jounen Kwéyòl, the highlight of the Saint Lucia Arts & Heritage Festival. Also known as Creole Day, this has been celebrated in Saint Lucia for 30+ years on the last Sunday of October. Jounen Kwéyòl / Creole Day is filled with people getting together wearing a traditional dress while enjoying traditional food, music, and folklore.
And as you drive around the island on Jounen Kwéyòl / Creole Day in Saint Lucia, you will see roadside gatherings, small and large, but there are also official centers of activity, including Soufriere and Vieux Fort Town. At these official centers, there are a wide variety of cultural performances and people hanging out with family and friends, mostly wearing the Saint Lucian national dress (The Jip / Madras) or African print in all forms.
11. Lounge & Go Snorkelling At Anse Chastanet Beach
📍 Location: Anse Chastanet Beach, Soufriere, Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia, like most Caribbean islands, has a range of beautiful beaches. And in addition to the beaches at Pigeon Island National Park mentioned above, some of the more popular beaches in Saint Lucia include Sugar Beach, Marigot Bay, Grande Anse Beach, Reduit Beach, La Toc Beach, and Anse Chastanet Beach.
One of my favorites is Anse Chastanet Beach, used mostly by guests at Anse Chastanet Resort and Jade Mountain Resort. Surrounded by a lush green landscape, there you’ll find a beautiful black sand beach with palm trees, along with a restaurant, boutique, and snorkel shop. What’s also great is that you can take a short 10-minute walk to the more secluded Anse Mamin Beach, which has a super grill at the Jungle Beach Bar.
These are but some of the top things to do in St Lucia. If you have children, I would also recommend visiting Splash Island Water Park, located near Gardens Beach Resort & Spa in Rodney Bay Village, Gros Islet, Saint Lucia. For chocolate lovers, on the must-list would be taking one or more of the tours to historical cacao plantations, including Rabot Estate, Morne Coubaril, and Fond Doux.
Where To Stay In St Lucia
Saint Lucia has a wide range of accommodations, and during the first half of my recent visit, I stayed at the Royalton Saint Lucia Resort & Spa, an all-inclusive luxury hotel located on the island’s northern tip. With 456 suites in a series of multi-story buildings clustered around a beach, four pools, thirteen bars, nine restaurants, and numerous amenities, including a spa and children’s water park, the Royalton Saint Lucia Resort & Spa is perfect for a large group of family and friends.
Couples seeking an adult-only all-inclusive resort in Saint Lucia then would consider one of three beachfront Sandals Resorts: Sandals Regency La Toc, Sandals Grande St. Lucian, and Sandals Halcyon Beach. These are also relatively large hotels, so for couples seeking a smaller, more exclusive resort, consider Jade Mountain Resort which has just 29 luxuriously designed rooms that they call sanctuaries.
I spent the second half of my recent visit at Jade Mountain Resort and with most of the sanctuaries having infinity pools and stunning views of The Pitons. It is one of the best and most romantic hotels you’ll find anywhere in the world. Sister hotel Anse Chastanet Resort with 49 rooms, is just below the 600 acres of beachfront estate.
For other places to stay in Saint Lucia, check out Expedia, which allows you to read reviews, check availability and compare rates.
How To Get To Saint Lucia
The beautiful island of Saint Lucia, covering 238 square miles, is located north/northeast of the island of Saint Vincent, northwest of Barbados, and south of Martinique. Visitors arrive in Saint Lucia via cruise ports La Place Carenage in the center of the capital Castries or at Pointe Seraphine. Via airplane, visitors arrive via Hewanorra International Airport (UVF), which is located on the southern tip in Vieux Fort. A second airport George F. L. Charles Airport (SLU) is located in Castries and is primarily used by regional airlines and smaller planes.
To get to Saint Lucia from the United States, check flights via American Airlines, Delta Airlines, JetBlue, and United Airlines. From Canada to Saint Lucia, check flights via Air Canada, Sunwing Airlines, Transat, and WestJet. Within the Caribbean, check flights via Air Caraibes, Air Antilles, Caribbean Airlines, and LIAT. From Europe to Saint Lucia, you can take British Airways (daily) or Virgin Atlantic (5 times a week) from London Gatwick Airport. Thomas Cook also flies direct to Saint Lucia from Manchester. Also, you can fly to Saint Lucia via Condor Airlines in Frankfurt.
Once in Saint Lucia, you can use a number of airport transfer services, including highly-rated Island Taxi Tours. With regards to money, the official currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, but the United States Dollar is widely accepted. Should you wish to exchange money, the best place to do so is at the Hewanorra International Airport, where there is a currency exchange/bank located in the corner once you clear immigration.
Finally, Saint Lucia is warm and tropical, so I consider it to be a year-round vacation destination. This trip was in October, but note that the more popular and perhaps best time to visit Saint Lucia is from November through April, the dry season. This is also the more expensive time to visit Saint Lucia, so don’t completely discount the other months of the year as there is much to see and do in Saint Lucia, and there is not a huge variation in temperature.
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