TravelMuse
 
 

Island Adventures in St. Lucia

A patchwork of colonial history, this Eastern Caribbean island offers a variety of activities, attractions and cuisines stemming from French, British and African influence.

 

Tiny St. Lucia is just 27 miles long, but packs a lot of activities for each mile. Located in the Eastern Caribbean just 90 miles northwest of Barbados, the island’s tranquil beauty offers mountains and rainforests, as well as beaches. A complex history of French and English colonization also adds to St. Lucia’s allure, with French and British influences melding with African culture for a truly singular nation. 

Although the island is divided into 10 quarters or districts, most visitors gravitate toward the northern tip, where the capitol city of Castries is located, or to the rural south, where the Piton twin peaks loom. A complete Lucian experience includes both northern and southern activities, mixing cultural excursions like sampling Creole dishes, with nature getaways like rain forest hikes. Here’s a rundown of can’t miss St. Lucia attractions:

Pigeon Island National Park

A stunning nature park boasting thousands of years of history, Pigeon Island is a 44-acre islet connected to the mainland by a causeway. It’s a great place to gather some St. Lucia history before exploring other parts of the island. Once the home of Carib Indians and pirates, the islet holds the remains of an 18th-century British fort as well as marked hiking trails, a Lucian Creole restaurant and white sand beaches.

Pigeon Island is the main venue for the annual St. Lucia Jazz Fest as well as the Pigeon Island Museum and Interpretive Center. The museum supplies interactive audiovisual displays and artifacts housed in a restored 1808 British officer’s mess hall. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and costs XCD$5.00 (about US$2) for adults and XCD$.50 for children. Park fees are XCD$13 (about US$5) for visitors and XCD$2.60 (about US$1) for children. Contact the St. Lucia National Trust for more info.

The Pitons

The two dramatic peaks that jut out of the Caribbean Sea on the southwest coast of St. Lucia are called the Gros and Petit Pitons, and represent the island’s most defining feature. Named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005, the Pitons offer spectacular views and a memorable climb. Formed of lava and rock, the twin peaks are carpeted with lush vegetation and rise 2,460 feet from the sea for Petit and 2,619 for Gros. Only Gros Piton is recommended for hiking; the mountain features a broader trail than its twin and also supplies a nature trail and several caves. The Gros Piton Tour Guides Association maintains the trail and conducts daily four-hour round-trip hikes for XCD$65 (about US$25). Call 758-459-9748 to arrange a hike.

La Soufriere Drive-In Volcano

After the Pitons, La Soufriere tops the list as St. Lucia’s most recognizable landmark. It’s also the smelliest, with the strong, rotten egg scent of sulfur wafting over the area for miles. An active volcano with bubbling gases and seething sulfur pools, La Soufriere allows visitors to drive up to 100 feet of the crater and then walk through a fault in the substratum rock on a guided tour.

It’s a fascinating display, especially Gabriel’s Hole, the place in a steaming fissure where a tour guide sunk into the boiling mud in 1985. He survived with second-degree burns, but now all of the vents are fenced off. Another essential item at La Soufriere is a dip in the gurgling hot sulfur baths. The warm, muddy sulfur deposits are reputed to help arthritis, eczema and instantly soothe mosquito bites. You can bring a bathing suit (the sulfur smell is difficult to remove from clothes) or just wade in. Tours daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost: XCD$7 (about US$2.50). Call 758-459-5500 for more information.

Gros Islet Jump Up 

Sure, St. Lucia holds unparalleled natural gems, but its people represent the island’s other treasure. You won’t meet more kind and openhearted folks anywhere else, and a great place to meet them is at the weekly Gros Islet street party. Every Friday at 9 p.m., the quiet fishing town of Gros Islet, about a mile north of Rodney Bay, transforms into a raucous outdoor festival. Huge speakers blare reggae, soca and pop hits, while locals and tourists crowd the streets. Smoke from barbecue chicken, grilled conch or lambi fills the air. Vendors sell crafts, CDs and hand-tooled jewelry. Locals dance and wear the hottest Caribbean fashions, while mingling and chatting with tourists. The jump up provides a great chance to observe and join in Lucian culture. The party is free and lasts until about 1 a.m.

Fond Doux Estate Cocoa Plantation Tour 

Once an agricultural mainstay, cocoa bean production is enjoying a revival in St. Lucia, and Found Doux Estates is one of the oldest working plantations in the Caribbean. The lush estate was first established in the 16th century and boasts 130 acres of flower gardens, fruit trees and cocoa plants. The tour demonstrates how cocoa is fermented, dried and polished with a picturesque “cocoa-rena” dance where workers dance on top of a basin of cocoa beans.

The beans are then shipped to Hershey’s Chocolate Company in Pennsylvania but some are saved for a sumptuous Creole buffet of cocoa tea, tablet coconut candy, accra fish cakes wrapped in banana leaves and Penne cornmeal pudding. The tour is offered daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for XCD$26 (about US$10)or XCD$13 (about US$5) if you order the Creole buffet lunch for XCD$65 (about $25). Visit www.fonddouxestate.com for more information.

St. Lucia Outdoor Activities

To really experience St. Lucia’s tropical splendor, you must explore its rain forest. Filled with exotic flora and fauna, including orchids, frangipani, wild nutmeg and the elusive, green-feathered St. Lucian parrot, the rain forest comes as close to Eden as you can get.

Take a four-hour hike through the greenery with a guided tour that features a waterfall stop or opt for a cycling tour over a trail festooned with towering ferns and trees. If you’re really adventurous, choose a zip-line rain forest excursion, where you glide over treetops with an integrated cable system. Swinging 800 feet between platforms, you’ll grab a panoramic view reserved only for the birds. Visit Palm Services at www.adventuretoursstlucia.com for more information.

Dining at Dasheene

The Ladera resort, perched in the rain forest 1,100 feet above the Caribbean Sea, is the ultimate St. Lucian experience, and dining at its internationally acclaimed restaurant Dasheene cannot be missed. With open walls and scenic landscaping, Ladera resembles a luxurious tree house with dramatic views of the Pitons as the backdrop. Chef Orlando Satchell creates show-stopping nouvelle Caribbean cuisine to compete with the scenery. Sip the signature Ladera Punch and nibble on delicacies such as curried fig balls, jerk lemongrass shrimp or Lucian lamb curry as you indulge in paradise. Dining is from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Pricing ranges from XCD$43 (about US$16.50) to XCD$95 (about US$36). Visit www.ladera.com for more information. 


Destinations: Saint Lucia

Themes: Beach Vacations, Outdoor Adventures

Activities: Arts and Entertainment, Museums, Sightseeing


© 2019 TravelMuse.com     Terms of use and Privacy policy