Often the most beautiful unexplored and less heralded islands are the best ones to visit. Teeming with unspoiled splendor, St. Lucia is just that place.
Located in the Eastern Caribbean northwest of Barbados and southwest of Martinique, St. Lucia is known for its scenic landscapes, jagged peaks and golden sandy beaches. Not the typical Caribbean resort, the island, nicknamed “Helen of the West Indies” (a nod to Helen of Troy due to battles of ownership between France and England), is filled with culture, history and activities ranging from diving, hiking, sailing and even parrot watching.
Here are a few things of interest while in St. Lucia:
Visit Castries, the capital and main port of St. Lucia and take in the city markets, cathedrals, historic buildings and the scenic backdrop of Morne Fortune. Coined “hill of fortune,” the former British and French fort is one of the best places to see the panoramic views (you can even spot Martinique) of the city. Also take in the scenery at the Marquis Estate in the community of La Guerre which was once the largest banana plantation on the island.
History buffs will appreciate the authentic 19th– century British fort known as La Toc Battery that was built to defend the island against invasion and protect coaling stations. Serving as a window to the days of the British military, visitors can explore passages of the fort including tunnels and an original shell store.
Go off the beaten path via a 4-wheel drive and take a X4 Beach Safari where you can visit the villages of Ti-rocher, Balata and Destrameaux along with a chance to swim and sun on one of the area’s most spectacular beaches.
Speaking of beaches, St. Lucia is home to some of the most stunning in the Caribbean. Sugar Beach (nestled between the Piton Mountains), Marigot Bay (often a backdrop in Hollywood movies), Pigeon Island (walk up Fort Rodney for more spectacular views) and the popular yet peaceful Grand Anse beach offer great places to stroll, sunbathe and swim.
Enjoy all that the rainforest has to offer on the Rainforest Sky Ride. Life in the rainforest includes an up close and personal view on a gondola where you can see unique flora and fauna, exotic animals (Black Finchs, rare St. Lucian parrots, boa constrictors and Mangrove Cockatoos just to name a few) and everything from gommier trees to lush, thick vegetation.
Sample the local cuisine that is a mixture of French and Creole influence. Fish stews, lambi (conch), chicken pie, langouste (spiny lobster), callaloo (spinach-like soup made from the leaves of the dasheen plant) and accra (fish fritters) are just a few of the exotic local fare.
And last but not least, add a hike to the Pitons to your itinerary. The two mountainous volcanic plugs of Gros Piton and Petit Piton offer strenuous workouts treks with breathtaking views as a reward for your efforts.