Fact: 5 days in St. Lucia is not enough.
But my mother and I made the best of it!
I had a to-do list a mile long, chocked full of great recommendations from St. Lucians. Beaches, restaurants, hikes, plantations…unfortunately, we weren’t able to get to it all, but that just means I have a great excuse to return. Of all I activities I was able to experience though, these are the top 6 things I believe you absolutely must do, while you’re on the island.
1. See the Pitons Up Close
The towering peaks of Gros Piton and Petit Piton are a sight I won’t soon forget. At 771 and 743 meters high respectively, these two mountains are one of St. Lucia’s greatest attraction for good reason. We took a day trip to Soufriere with Cosol Tours and spent some time on Anse des Pitons, the idyllic beach between both peaks. The beach is home to the ultra chic Sugar Beach Resort, and with a variety of fish and (harmless) jellyfish swimming close to the shore, it’s great for snorkeling. For the adventurers who don’t mind dedicating a few hours of their day to clambering up and down these magnificent mounds, a trek to the highest point of either or both pinnacles gives you an unparalleled view of the island.
2. Experience the Sulphur Springs
St. Lucia’s Sulphur Springs are the hottest and most active geothermal area in the Lesser Antilles. If that’s not interesting enough for you, they’re also located in the Caribbean’s only drive-in volcano. The biggest lure however, are the sulphuric pools that I must say provided the most therapeutic experience of the entire trip. Once we overcame the smell (very close to that of rotten eggs), we took the mandatory soak in the toasty water then happily slathered our bodies in gray mud. It was fun getting all messy on purpose, but the best part was the rejuvenating feeling we got after washing it all off in the steamy way. My skin felt brand new. So brand new that all I wanted to do after climbing out of the bath was cover myself from head to toe to preserve the baby-softness.
3. Go Diving
If you’re a diver, St. Lucia has the perfect underwater landscape for you to take in. Great visibility and vibrant reefs make the island’s dive sites some of the best I’ve had the privilege to explore. Spotted eels, lobsters, squirrelfish, blueheaded wrasse and blue chromis are just a few of the species I spotted on my dives at Superman’s Flight at the Pitons, as well as Keyhole Pinnacle. If you’re looking for an excellent dive outfit, Dive Saint Lucia is a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Center with a professional, personable and fun team. I highly recommend them. And added bonus was the lunch included in the package, which was greatly appreciated during the rest stop. Need a little more convincing? Check out this short video of my dive experience on the island.
4. Spend at least Half a Day at Pigeon Island
The Pigeon Island National Landmark can easily keep you occupied for an entire day. If you can’t spare that much time however, carve out half a day for this heritage site in Gros Islet ($19 EC entrance fee). I really wanted to see the much-talked-about view from Fort Rodney but I was concerned about ‘the hike’ because of my mother. It turns out, what people kept referring to as a hike was a cool 20 minute walk with an admittedly steep, but brief climb, at the very end. She breezed through it like a pro and we were treated to an amazing 360 degree view of the island and the ocean. While it wasn’t a challenging activity, we did work up a sweat under the mid-morning sun so we made our way to the beach and lounged on rented beach chairs ($7 EC each). The water is great for snorkeling and we were able to enjoy a delicious, local lunch at the restaurant, Jambe de Bois without leaving the compound. Bonus: If you spot an eclectic boat covered in national flags, patronize the colorful vendor selling fresh coconut water and St. Lucian rum punch.
5. Take in the Scene at the Gros Islet Street Party
Authentic St. Lucian cuisine, including a wide assortment of freshly prepared, homestyle seafood; soca music blasting through the speakers; handmade crafts; indigenous art; drinks and thousands of people clustered along the narrow streets of this charming fishing village…the Gros Islet Street Party is certainly not to be missed. Food and drinks are available from 8 pm but the vibes get real nice and the party atmosphere kicks off a couple hours later. Sample crab back from a street vendor, steel yourself and taste the powerful St. Lucian Spice rum, do some souvenir shopping and dance the night away under the stars. It’s an event that suits the tastes of everyone: visitors and locals alike, as well as the occasional stray dog who’ll befriend you in the hopes of getting a free meal.
6. Drink and Eat Local
If there’s one thing you must do in every destination you visit, it’s sample the local food and drinks. From green fig and saltish to breadfruit salad, ripe bananas to banana ketchup, St. Lucia has a lot of native eats and treats you don’t want to miss out on. Whether you’re tasting from the menu of a fine dining restaurant, enjoying the flavors of a market vendor, or biting into a fruit from a roadside stall, make sure you have at least a little taste of the local flavor. When it comes to beverages, you have to drink at least one beastly cold Piton, the local beer; have even the smallest taste of the 160 US proof spice rum, made from a variety of spices native to the island; and of course, the enjoy the sweet and festive rum punch that tends to creep up on you (so take it easy).
The island has so much more to offer than these six major highlights but, as I said, these top my list. I can’t wait to return to conquer the rest of my very extensive list. Have you been to St. Lucia, what activities did you enjoy the most while visiting this little slice of paradise?