Get up close to cute sea turtles, descend into dark caves and enjoy fresh Caribbean cuisine in this beach-fringed island territory.
St. Lucia is a tropical eastern Caribbean island of forest-covered mountains, banana plantations, coconut palms, beaches and fishing villages. At 27 miles (43 kilometers) long and 14 miles (22 kilometers) wide, it is the second largest of the Windward Islands group.
For more than two hundred years St. Lucia was the subject of a fierce tug of war between Britain and France; the island changed ownership several times. Today it is an independent member of the British Commonwealth.
One of the first stops for many visitors is Castries, the island’s capital city. Savor fresh food and spices and enjoy local culture at the market in the main square. It’s open every day except Sunday. Learn of the area’s history at the 19th-century Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and the old barracks of Fort Charlotte, which are now government buildings. Relax in the sun at Vigie Beach.
Visitors who are fit and adventurous hike up the Pitons, the twin pyramid-shaped peaks that tower more than 2,500 feet (750 meters) above sea level. They are visible from most parts of the island. Less strenuous hikes take you into St. Lucia’s interior through rainforest reserves. One of the most popular is the Barre de l’Isle Trail, a 1.25-mile (2-kilometer) hike that is suitable for children. Remember to bring your binoculars or camera to spot some of the indigenous bird life, including the brightly colored Saint Lucia parrot.
Plan to visit some of the island’s other natural attractions. La Soufriere Volcano is billed as the world’s only drive-in volcano. It last erupted 40,000 years ago and then collapsed in on itself. A road runs up and through the crater, passing bubbling pools of mud and sulfur and spewing steam vents.
Stop by the mineral-rich Diamond Waterfall. Fed by rainfall and sulfur springs, the water and rocks change color depending on mineral content at any given time. Bathing under the pool is not permitted, but for a small fee you can slip into nearby mineral baths.
St. Lucia has a hot tropical, humid climate with average temperatures of around 78 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius). The hottest months are from June to August and the coolest are January and February.