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St. Lucia

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Did You Know … ?

  • On a clear day, St. Lucia visitors can see Martinique to the north and St. Vincent to the south.
  • Napoleon’s beloved Josephine spent most of her childhood in Soufriere.
  • Control of St. Lucia passed between the French and British 14 times before ending with the British in 1814.
  • Deemed the world’s rarest snake, the kouwes lives only on a St. Lucia coastal island called Maria Major.
  • Petit Piton (Small Piton) at 2,619 feet is taller than Gros Piton (Big Piton) at 2,461 feet.

Deux Pitons

St. Lucia is famous for a landscape of dramatic mountain peaks that is unique in the Caribbean. The island nation, independent as of 1979, takes pains to protect these natural attractions, having created its large National Rain Forest covering much of the mountainous interior.

It also created preservation areas to protect its reefs and charges fees to those entering those areas for diving or other recreation. The funds are used to protect the environment and marine life. Species of special interest include the leatherback turtles, which come ashore at Grande Anse Beach to nest.

However, the best-known gift of nature is a pair of mountains called Petit Piton and Gros Piton. Although not the highest points on the island, these ancient volcano cones rise dramatically skyward on the southwest coast. (The tallest mountain is Gimie, at 3,117 feet.)

In fact, the entire island is a volcanic mass, the tip of a dormant underwater volcano. Even the volcano at Soufriere (Sulphur Springs), where hot smelly mineral waters bubble, is classified as dormant.

Most Caribbean destinations offer sunny days, sandy beaches and palm trees, but visitors choose St. Lucia for more, especially its unique topography. Also, the island’s extensive reefs are a bonus, or the prime draw for some divers. Tourists can view the leatherback turtles at the protected nesting sites, and the island provides convenient access to several whale and dolphin species.

Through its architecture and in its languages, the island reveals its colonial history. It passed back and forth between France and Britain several times before the exchanges stopped with Britain in 1814. As a result, English is the national language, but many locals speak a French patois. At the same time, they are passionate about cricket and drive on the left side of the road.

Geography matters to the cultural mix, too. The Caribbean influence reveals itself in rum drinks, carnivals and festivals, open-air markets, music that includes calypso, reggae and the like and Creole cuisine. St. Lucia certainly has the beaches and water sports associated with the Caribbean, but such features are just the starting point for a holiday on this unique island.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Cas en Bas and Vieux Fort offer challenging waves for windsurfers with intermediate and advanced skills. Try them if appropriate. If you are a beginner, seek the calmer waters of the west coast.
  • Go scuba diving at Anse Chastanet, which gives you access to a wall of coral that falls away from the shore from 20 to 140 feet below the water. This is only one of several choice dive sites. Try your hand at underwater photography, too.
  • Climb the 2,461-foot Gros Piton. This is a tough half-day trek, best undertaken early in the day. You will need permission of the Forest and Lands Department and you must climb with a knowledgeable guide.
  • Snatch striking views of the Pitons while enjoying open-water kayaking. On island, get a closer look at the terrain on horseback, or by driving an ATV over mountains and across the countryside.
  • Visit the Maria islands and look for the two creatures that exist no where else in the world: the kouwes snake and the zandoli terre lizard. Also, schedule a turtle watching session in season (March to July); this involves a night in a tent for what will be middle-of-the-night sightings — assuming the turtles show up.
  • Get a close-up look at the island by following one of several hiking trails in the rain forest. The trails range from easy to difficult and will take you to beaches, old plantations or the tops of mountains, depending on the route chosen.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Get married on St. Lucia. Choose a beach setting, or stage the event in an old plantation house.
  • Go out on a chartered boat, equipped for a full day of deep-sea fishing in the Atlantic or Caribbean. You may return with barracuda, king mackerel or white marlin, among other area game fish.
  • Watch artisans demonstrate the making of batik fabrics and silk-screen printing at Caribelle Batik, located in a Victorian mansion on top of Morne Fortune, overlooking the capital Castries. Then, visit the establishment’s shop to buy clothing or wall hangings made from the fabrics.
  • Take an excursion at sea to watch whales and dolphins. So many varieties appear in St. Lucia’s waters that sightings are possible most of the year. Possible sightings include spinner dolphins, which literally spin in the air when they leap out of the water.
  • Drive to within a few hundred yards of Soufriere’s volcano (called Sulphur Springs) and get a look at its bubbling sulfuric waters (but, fortunately, no volcanic lava). Of course, it stinks to high heaven on a hot day.
  • Take a plantation tour. There are several to choose from, such as the Fond Doux Estate, a tropical Caribbean-style working plantation. Besides touring the establishment, you can relax over a rum punch and wind up the visit with a Creole lunch.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Play a few rounds at St. Lucia Golf Resort & Country Club, which accommodates players at all skill levels.
  • Spend your St. Lucia vacation in a villa. It could be a property high on a hillside with great views of the island’s mountains and waters or on the waterfront. It could be a French colonial plantation home or Spanish-style villa. Or something else.
  • Shop for local arts and crafts. Possibilities include wood sculpture from the Eudovic studios in Goodlands, south of Castries, and hand-woven baskets and other items at the Choiseul Arts and Crafts Center on the island’s southern coast.
  • Start a romantic evening with a sunset cruise, accompanied by sparkling wine, hors d’oeuvres and music.
  • Take a guided tour of Soufriere, the island’s first European settlement and the French capital.
  • Sightsee from a little distance, by joining a daylong skippered yacht trip along the island’s coast.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the St. Lucia Tourist Board at