While hurricanes Irma and Maria took a huge toll on tourism to some Caribbean destinations in 2017, the region continues to thrive overall. Last year was the Caribbean’s eighth consecutive year of tourism growth. A key reason for that? St. Lucia. The island saw an 11 percent increase in tourist visits in 2017, thanks to its array of romantic resorts, breathtaking scenery, and relaxing beaches. Whether you need an outdoor adventure, a honeymoon getaway, or just a warm-weather escape, St. Lucia fits the bill. Keep reading to discover the best ways to experience the island.
1. Explore the Pitons.
The Pitons are two volcanic peaks rising from the sea near the southwest coast of the island. They lend a stunning backdrop to places such as Sugar Beach, but the Pitons offer more than views alone. The Pitons Management Area is UNESCO-protected and its features include coral reefs, rare tree species, hot springs, and petroglyphs. Go for a (strenuous) hike up either Piton, or soak up the incredible scenery from a boat, helicopter, or the road from the capital city of Castries.
2. Hit the beach.
Anse des Pitons (also known as Jalousie Beach and Sugar Beach) stands out for its location between the famed volcanic peaks, visible from the water and the (imported) white sand. While guests of Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort have easy access to this beach, it is open to the public. However, the public area can get crowded and non-guests of the resort must pay to park on-site or park about a 20-minute walk from the beach. Arriving by boat from Soufriere or elsewhere might be your best option, and many boat tours offer snorkeling, which is incredible here. Reduit Beach, which offers views of Pigeon Island and more than a mile of gold-hued sand, is another great option. Or, head to Anse Mamin, a rainforest-backed beach in Soufriere with a tranquil atmosphere.
3. Visit Pigeon Island National Park.
For a taste of St. Lucia’s history, head to Pigeon Island National Park, a 40-acre expanse that was connected to mainland St. Lucia in the 1970s by a causeway. Check out the ruins of military buildings used while the French and British battled for control of St. Lucia. Or, walk along the island’s perimeter to reach the remains of a cave used by legendary pirate Jambe de Bois (also known as Francois le Clerc). After working up a sweat by hiking to the lookout point at the top of Fort Rodney for panoramic coastline views, cool off at one of the park’s two beaches.
4. Go jungle biking.
Amid the 600-acre estate owned by Anse Chastanet Resort is Anse Mamin Plantation. Here, you’ll find a tropical jungle dotted with 18th-century French Colonial ruins and laced with eight miles of bike trails. Beginners are welcome to take it slow and easy, but there are also single-track trails filled with twists, turns, and hills, as well as an expert trail with steeper climbs and tight switchbacks. Wherever you ride, you’ll be cycling amidst the plantation’s fruit trees, including mango, guava, and cocoa, all organically grown.
5. Get revived at Sulphur Springs.
Exploring the Soufriere volcano, known as Sulphur Springs, is an invigorating way to spend an hour or so in St. Lucia. Since its last eruption was more than two centuries ago, you can freely drive through this dormant volcano -- a unique experience in its own right. The main visitors area offers multiple hot springs, warm pools of bubbling mud, and fumaroles (natural steam vents). Devotees claim that taking a mud bath here makes you look 12 years younger, and afterwards, you can clean off and cool down underneath a 50-foot waterfall surrounded by tropical vegetation.
6. Enjoy the water.
Snorkeling and kitesurfing bring you up close with the warm turquoise waters off St. Lucia. Anse Chastanet, a beautifully curved beach sheltered by cliffs, offers some of the island’s best snorkeling. Access is through Anse Chastanet Resort, where you can also purchase a day pass for use of the property’s water sports amenities. If you’d like to try kitesurfing, head to Anse des Sables (Sandy Beach), which draws kitesurfing enthusiasts from around the world. The conditions are ideal: regular winds, placid water, and open space.
7. Have a rainforest adventure.
Waterfalls, tropical birds, and lush scenery -- the Enbas Saut Rainforest Trail has it all. Located in the center of St. Lucia’s 19,000-acre national rainforest and at the base of the islands’s highest mountain, Mount Gimie, this isn’t the most accessible of adventures. And that makes the two-and-a-half-mile hike all the more special, with opportunities to spot the St. Lucian parrots and orioles and go swimming in two waterfalls. Visitors can also go zip-lining or take a tram ride through Babonneau Park, a protected area of rainforest about a half-hour east of the popular hotel area of Rodney Bay.
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