The Best Things to Do in St. Lucia
Iconic mountain peaks and picture-perfect beaches make St. Lucia a favorite with travelers and photo editors alike. See those sites, then go even deeper to discover what other enchantments this glorious island has to offer.
Soufriere, St Lucia
The terrific Anse Mamin beach is walking distance from Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain resorts. The beach is rarely crowded, and the calm turquoise waters and towering palm trees are hard to resist. Take refuge under a thatched seating area with loungers (for a fee), and splurge on lunch at the pricey beach bar, which offers tasty burgers, salads, and cocktails. Or just throw down your towel and enjoy the scenery, swimming, and snorkeling for a no-frills afternoon.
Soufriere, St Lucia
The 12 miles of private trails that wind through the jungle just inland from Anse Mamin Beach are ideal for mountain biking. The trails, on land belonging to Anse Chastanet Resort, run past the atmospheric ruins of Anse Mamin, a former sugar plantation. Lush jungle flora are also part of the scenery, from flowering bushes and dramatic vines to fruit and cacao trees. Whether you are a novice or an expert, there is a route to accommodate your biking skills. Guests of the resort have priority, but spots are saved for nonguests, so book in advance. After a ride, of course, Anse Mamin Beach provides the perfect spot for cooling down.
Cas-en-Bas beach, St Lucia
On the northeast coast in the Cap Estate area, you’ll find the lovely Cas en Bas Beach. The white-sand beach around a C-shaped bay offers some fun diversions, including horses—you can ride on the sand and even venture a bit into the water—as well as kitesurfers and windsurfers who take advantage of the steady trade winds. A visit will provide you with a contrast to the beach experience on the calmer, busier Caribbean coastline. On the weekend, locals come to fish and picnic. Another draw to the beach is one of the island’s most popular local restaurants and bars, the rustic Marjorie’s Beach Bar, which serves up local food and ambience.
55 John Compton Hwy, Castries, St Lucia
Built in 1891, St. Lucia’s most colorful and largest open-air market sits in the heart of its capital. It’s a one-stop-shopping favorite for fruits, vegetables, spices, handmade arts and crafts, and even handwoven beachwear. The produce is definitely the highlight. The stall tables are beautifully set and decorated, while the fragrance of herbs and condiments fills the air, turning it into a multisensory island experience. The market is open daily, 7 a.m.–1 p.m., but the most active morning is Saturday. After shopping, grab a seat at the adjacent annex to sample some local foods—a breakfast bowl of cow-foot soup (the perfect hangover cure) or a Creole fish lunch.
Choiseul, St Lucia
On the prowl for one-of-a-kind, handmade St. Lucian arts and crafts? This gallery, in the fishing village of River Doree, is filled with creative art from local artists—from paintings to handmade furniture, jewelry, and wood carvings. Not just the artwork is local: Most of the materials used are locally sourced, too, making this the best stop for an authentic piece of the island. Owner-artist Hattie Barnard is an entertaining wealth of information and will share her creative process with visitors.
The interior of the Catholic Church of the Assumption, in the heart of Soufrière town, will surprise with its decidedly Caribbean hues and French design: an ornate wood ceiling vaulted to resemble the ribs of a boat, baby blue pillars, and brightly colored stained-glass windows. Visitors are welcome to join in the Saturday evening mass at 6:30 or Sunday morning mass at 8:30, both with the sermon in English and Creole. A quick and respectful tour is also possible at other times to admire the architecture, including the partially blue-painted exterior. While there is no printed information on the church inside, it’s worth a stop.
Take a break from days at the beach with a stroll through these quiet, lush gardens. The nature trail is well marked and easy to navigate. Identify the local birds, including the St. Lucian parrot, with the help of labels and pictures along the trail. The water of the garden’s Diamond Falls is a unique rustlike color due to the minerals picked up along the stream’s path past a volcano, two miles upstream. The waterfall’s colors change according to the recent rainfall. Though you can’t swim in the falls, you can relax in hot mineral spring baths. Visit early in the morning, and avoid cruise-ship days so you can have the place to yourself.
Vieux Fort, St Lucia
A permit and a guide are required to hike in the Edmund Forest Reserve, in the interior of the island. A permit can easily be obtained through your guesthouse or hotel, and a forest guide can be hired at the reserve. The 18,000-acre park offers various hiking trails: The Edmund Rainforest Trail is a four-hour, seven-mile strenuous hike concluding with a view of Mount Gimie. A less intense hike is the Des Cartier Rainforest Trail, on relatively flat terrain, with plenty of flora along the way. Bird-watchers will love the Millet Bird Sanctuary Trail, a two-mile loop through the habitat of over 30 species, including the St. Lucian parrot and hummingbirds.
Laborie, St Lucia
There isn’t much to do in Laborie, but the colorful spot on the southwestern coast offers visitors the experience of an authentic St. Lucian fishing village. The point is to slow down to local speed. Enjoy the views of the white-sand shore lined with pirogues, the traditional fishing canoes. Walk around the village, where plywood homes and ancient churches exist alongside newer structures. Whet your appetite with a trip to the open-air market, where you’ll spot green figs (bananas) and cassava bread for sale. Settle in for a grilled lobster lunch with a side of breadfruit at Mama Tilly’s. Then walk north along the water to Rudy John Beach Park, a shaded stretch of sand ideal for an afternoon nap and sunset.
P3F9+R73, Vieux Fort, St. Lucia
The Maria Islands—Maria Major and Maria Minor—off the southeastern coast are among the region’s most pristine environments. You can visit the protected wildlife reserve via a 20-minute boat ride from Pointe Sable. On Maria Major, a verdant trail leads you past a variety of unusual tropical flora and fauna, most notably the habitats of six rare native reptile species. Look for St. Lucia’s whiptail lizard and the racer, a nonvenomous grass snake that might appear from a rock crevice. Snorkeling off the beach is part of the experience, too, as the island’s waters are rich with coral reefs. The reserve, a birder’s paradise most of the year, is closed to the public in the summertime to accommodate the nesting season of migratory birds that flock here from Africa.
Marigot Bay, St Lucia
Marigot Bay, the crown jewel of St. Lucia’s harbors, is easy to fall in love with: Its nearly jade waters are dotted with sailboats, and brighter green hills hug its shores. Even hard-hearted pirates fell for this paradise. Take in views of the bay from the lookout, then spend a couple of hours down at sea level. There’s plenty to do: You can stroll the boardwalk, stopping at various waterfront bars and dining spots, or try something more active and rent a catamaran or kayak at the beach, or even hop a ferry across the bay to catch the sun setting over the water.
Castries, St Lucia
Hike around the ruins of Morne Fortune (“good luck hill”), a former military outpost overlooking the harbor it was meant to protect. The site was hardly good luck during the 18th century: Several bloody battles between the French and the British took place here. The remaining structures on Morne include guard cells and a powder magazine, the building used to store gunpowder and ammunition, as well as French and British burial grounds. At the top of the hill, near a memorial to the British infantry regiment that captured Morne Fortune in 1796, you’ll find a great spot for a panoramic view over Castries and its harbor.
Stretched out from the northwest corner of the island like a small arm, Pigeon Island is a historical landmark and a satisfying all-in-one nature, beach, and hiking escape minutes from Rodney Bay Marina. The 44-acre mountainous green plot is home to the preserved ruins of British military forts and garrisons; the Brits chased the Caribs out and used the islet to monitor French activity. Walk among the ruins, and hike up to the cannons of Fort Rodney, where the lookout point offers a breathtaking panoramic view of St. Lucia’s coastline and the sea below, dotted with sailboats. Hike down to the beach for a swim and a toast to history at Jambe de Bois, a restaurant on the water.
Rodney Bay Marina, St Lucia
Rodney Bay Marina is a lively entertainment hub located across the water from the resorts along Reduit Beach. Head over and take in the breeze, or dine at a number of small restaurants, bars, and cafés at any time of the day. Stop in at the Bread Basket in the morning, or visit the waterfront Boardwalk Bar for the sunset and dancing to a DJ or live soca music on Saturday nights. A catamaran cruise from Rodney Bay to Soufrière is one of the most memorable and popular activities while on the island. The marina also boasts a grocery store, a bakery, a liquor store, and ATM facilities.
Pigeon Island, St Lucia
Every May, the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival celebrates great music with a long weekend’s calendar of performances and educational activities (some with free admission) showcasing local and international recording artists. The festival is based on Pigeon Island National Park, with satellite performances in towns and resorts around the whole country. The success of Jazz Festival has spawned a new event: the Soleil summer festival, which extends the positive vibrations with summer weekends set aside to celebrate food and rum, arts and heritage, and musical genres beyond jazz. The festivities continue through October’s Creole Heritage Month, or Jounen Kwéyòl.
Who can resist a waterfall, especially on this lush tropical island? There are a couple of easy options: Diamond Falls (though you can’t swim in its mineral-laden pool) and the 50-foot-high Toraille Falls, right off the main road near Sulphur Springs. For the more adventurous, some rocky hikes through dense rain forest come with the reward of stunning cascades. Dennery Falls, also known as Errand or Sault Falls, tumbles down from 55 feet up and is rarely crowded, though you’ll need a guide to find it. A two-hour guided hike through the steep Edmund Forest Reserve leads to Enbas Saut Falls, and its clear, cold pool is well worth the effort.
A visit to Sulphur Springs, which is dubbed the world’s only drive-in volcano, is one of the most unusual excursions you can make in the Caribbean. You’ll smell the rotten-egg stench of sulfur and see steam rising around the dormant volcano’s crater upon arrival. (Don’t worry: The last time the volcano erupted was two centuries ago.) Locals claim that soaking in the mud baths then rinsing off with a dip in the hot springs will rejuvenate your skin and relieve mosquito bites and minor skin problems. Be sure to take a before-and-after selfie to determine whether you look younger after the experience.
Chateau Belaire, St. Lucia
For those who are not ready to face a strenuous Pitons climb but still seek to experience incredible views of the peaks, the trek along the community-run Tet Paul Nature Trail is ideal. Local guides lead you up the “stairway to heaven” (yes, that’s what it’s called!), a leisurely 45-minute climb. At the summit, catch your breath and snap away at the views not just of the Pitons but all the way north to Mount Gimie (the island’s tallest peak), east to Vieux Fort, and even as far as the neighboring islands of Martinique and St. Vincent on a clear day. Along the trail, the guide will point out native fruit trees and plants, many of which have medicinal properties.
St. Lucia’s iconic twin peaks—Gros Piton and Petit Piton—dominate the island’s scenery, soaring 2,500 feet from the sea on the island’s southwest Soufrière corner. Designated a World Heritage Site along with the surrounding Pitons Management Area, these volcanic spires take every first-time visitor’s breath away. There are various ways to experience the Pitons. The brave hike either peak—Petit Piton is more strenuous, and the trail isn’t marked; Gros Piton has marked trails and is a two- to three-hour hike from the village of Fond Gens Libre. Others opt to take it easy and sail past them on a catamaran cruise, or view them from land along the coast or from the terrace of La Haut’s restaurant. Sugar Beach, facing Gros Piton, offers a frontal view of the peaks as you swim.
Hop in a taxi from downtown Castries for the five-minute ride to this uncrowded white-sand beach. Locals come during the week for a breeze and on the weekends to chill out: No-frills Vigie Beach offers an escape from other travelers and commercialized stretches. It’s perfect for long walks, relaxing in the shade under the trees on the western end, or a quick dip. There are no vendors, save for a couple of snack shacks at the entrance, a place to rent beach chairs, and decent bathroom facilities. For those looking for a last-minute beach fix on the way back to the airport, Vigie Beach doesn’t disappoint.
From October to February, sperm whales, humpback whales, and pilot whales make their way from the cold Atlantic to the warm waters of St. Lucia to breed and mate. Whale-watching tours leave from Castries and some of the other towns on the west coast and sail north to south to spot the whales, breaching and spouting, from a safe distance. Over the last few years, sperm and pilot whales have more frequently been spotted than humpbacks. It’s not unusual to see schools of spinner and bottlenose dolphins along the journey. Some whale-watching trips offer lunch as well as a chance to snorkel and swim, so shop around for the excursion you want.
Anse L'Ivrogne, Soufrière, Saint Lucia
Spend the day hanging out with a St. Lucia local at Zion Lion Farm. Owner Paul Clifford leads visitors through his property’s organic garden, then follows the tour with a farm-to-beach outdoor clay-pot cooking session at Carib Beach Bar on Anse L’Ivrogne (also known as Sevoigne). This stretch of beach is a secluded part of the Pitons Management Area, accessible only by boat or on foot, so you’ll probably see only fisherfolk and locals. Clifford prepares fresh fruits, herbs, and vegetables selected from his garden—sweet potatoes, bell peppers, tomatoes—and grills freshly caught tuna, all the while sharing the history and food culture of the island. Ambitious visitors can combine this experience with a hike up Gros Piton from the trailhead right off the beach.