Untouched by commercialism, your days in St Lucia will be priceless
Regarded as among the world’s top destinations for honeymooners, you don’t need to be in love to fall in love with St Lucia. One of the Caribbean’s most precious jewels, St Lucia was considered so beautiful, the French and the British fought over it for 150 years. Today, the only battle you’re likely to face is when deciding whether to sightsee or laze around doing absolutely nothing.
Here you will enter a world of tropical ambience, where elusive parrots squawk overhead, orchids trail their scent in the air, hummingbirds buzz near brilliant heliconia and climbing palms encircle tall trees like lovers embracing.
Considering the island has an abundance of sprawling resorts and luxury villas, it isn’t overrun with tourist attractions, chiefly because it hasn’t succumbed to the commercialism that has saturated so many of the other islands of the Caribbean. Nonetheless, there’s plenty to see and do. Much of the island is rural, with picturesque fishing villages dotting the coast leading onto leafy coconut plantations fringed by mountainous jungle and the dramatic backdrop of twin volcanoes. Jagged parts of terrain lie beneath the sea, making it a diver’s paradise with underwater mountains and caves. But it’s the vision of hot sandy white beaches and the warmth of the locals that will stay with you forever.
When to Go
St Lucia is one of the windward islands, so make sure you pack a jumper if visiting in the winter season, as it’s famous for cold nighttime winds despite calm weather conditions during the day. High temperatures pivot around 28 to 21 degrees Celsius, but avoid summer, as it tends to be nastily humid.
There are two airports on the island: Hewanorra International Airport at Vieux Fort is located 40 miles south of Castries, and George Charles Inter Island Airport is just outside Castries. Be warned – fares from the airport to the inner districts usually drain the wallet. The most cost-effective are taxis, readily available from the Hewanorra airport to Castries and the north of the island.
Places to Eat
Prepare yourself for a feast – restaurants serve up a combination of international and Creole food using nothing but fresh local produce, and for fussy palates there are specialty restaurants. Dine in the Soufriere district with spectacular views of the volcanoes, or pay a visit to Oceana, with the Caribbean Sea spread at your feet.
Places to Go
Castries: The island's capital, this is a busy port city set on a large natural harbour and home to a lively nightlife and scores of handicraft stalls. Be sure to visit the delightful Derek Walcott Square, a quiet central square surrounded by a handful of 19th-century wooden buildings with gingerbread-trim balconies.
Marigot Bay: Backed by green hillsides, Marigot Bay is a lovely sheltered bay with a delicate palm fringed beach. Legend has it that the inner harbour is so deep, an entire British fleet once escaped French warships by sailing inside and covering their masts with coconut leaves.
Rodney Bay: A large protected bay that includes the resort area of Reduit Beach and the tiny fishing village of Gros Islet. Rodney Bay Marina, the island's largest yachting port, is situated between the two. Gros Islet is full of rural charm, with simple wooden houses and tin roofs, lots of rum shops and a shore full of painted wooden boats.
Frigate Islands Nature Reserve: Midway along the eastern coast, the Frigate Islands Nature Reserve, is a summer nesting site for frigate birds, herons and a couple of St Lucia's rare indigenous birds (the Ramier pigeon and the St Lucian oriole). We hope you’re feeling brave though – it's also home to boa constrictors and the more dangerous fer-de-lance pit viper.
Maria Islands Nature Reserve: Home to one of the world’s rarest grass snakes, this cluster of tiny islands is the only habitat of the kouwes snake and the Maria Islands ground lizard.
Sulphur Springs: A tad stinky, but incredible to look at. A barren terrain pocked with pools of boiling mud and steaming vents a stone’s throw from the volcano, the vents release great quantities of sulphuric gases, which are responsible for the yellow mineral deposits blanketing the area.
You can’t leave Lucia without…
Diving: St Lucia is a diving paradise. The island is at the tip of an underwater volcano where both beginner and experienced divers alike will enjoy the stunning variety of coral, sponge and marine life. Artificial reefs have developed around a number of sunken ships which have become home to huge gorgonians, black coral trees, gigantic barrel sponges, purple vase sponges and black lace corals. Exciting Caribbean diving trips will reveal turtles, nurse sharks, seahorses, angel fish, and golden spotted eels, to name but a few, among the dazzling cross section of Caribbean marine life.
• For further details visit www.saint-lucia.com.