Attend the Friday Fish Fry

This Friday-night event that takes place in Anse-La-Raye and Gros Islet (the one in southern fishing village Anse-La-Raye is more congenial than the bigger one on Gros Islet). At these popular street parties, locals and tourists crowd around stalls selling fresh home-cooked seafood (most of it grilled, not fried). There’s music and dancing and a celebration that lasts well into the night.

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Bateau Mygo

Docked in Marigot Bay, Bateau Mygo is a 44-foot sailboat that can be chartered for cruises around St. Lucia as well as island-hopping trips to Martinique and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. If you end up exploring along the coast, I recommend heading south (Marigot Bay is almost in the middle of the west shore), as it’s the more scenic route, and there are coves where you can stop for a swim or snorkeling. Besides the sailboat, the company also has a 42-foot catamaran for hire. Half-day and full-day charters are available, as are sunset cruises and deep sea fishing excursions.

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Those expecting sprawling white sand beaches will be disappointed on St. Lucia, which is more about small coves and short stretches of sand than endless expanses (and its vast marine life makes it a better place to snorkel and scuba dive than to lounge on land). All beaches on the island are open to the public, but some are easier to get to than others.

If you want to get to secluded Anse Lavoutte, for example, you’ll need a four-wheel-drive vehicle. The mile-long Reduit Beach, in northwest Rodney Bay, is the island’s largest but it gets quite crowded, because it’s easily accessible and flanked by massive resorts. Most of the high-end properties have their own beaches; the best are at Sugar Beach.


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Bike St. Lucia

The best mountain biking is found on an old sugarcane estate that spills onto Anse Mamet Beach, reachable by a complimentary boat service (located next to Anse Chastanet). Ranging from relatively easy to extremely difficult, the twelve miles of private trails crisscross dense jungle flora and zip past waterfalls. The most challenging route is Tinker’s Trail, named after American pro biker Tinker Juarez, who was a consultant on the project. Day packages that include transfer from hotels along the west coast, bike rentals, lunch and snorkel equipment are available.

Waterfall at  Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens, St. Lucia, Caribbean

Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens

It’s best to have a guide lead you through these gorgeous, privately owned botanical gardens, located a little over a mile east of Soufrière. Not because of the size (they’re compact), but because you’ll want someone who can identify the wealth of tropical plants, from soaring banana, plantain and palm trees to fuchsia crab-claw plants, wax roses and multi-hued hibiscus and allamanda. Part of an estate given to three French brothers by Louis XIV in 1713, Diamond Falls has been in the same family for nearly three hundred years. There’s also a waterfall and a natural mineral springs on-site, but what I loved most was wandering through the canopies of countless shades of green that were interrupted occasionally by a brilliant splash of color or the hurried movements of a hummingbird.

Under Water at Dive Fair Helen, St. Lucia, Caribbean - Courtesy Dive Fair Helen

Dive Fair Helen

This company can take you to dive in spectacular reefs off of the southern coast. The boat ride provides a great alternative way to see the topography of the island as well as the magnificent Pitons.

Mount Soufrière

Known as the island’s “drive-in volcano”—a confusing moniker, because you can drive up to but hardly into it—Mount Soufrière is worth a stop if it’s your first time on the island (a visit can be combined with one to the nearby Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens). Some 40,000 years ago, the volcano is believed to have measured eight miles in diameter before it erupted and fell in on itself. It’s technically still active today, but it has morphed into a massive area of boiling sulfur springs, which emit gases that have the distinctive smell of rotten eggs. A viewing platform overlooks a rocky, lunar-like landscape filled with bubbling sulfur pools.


St. Lucia’s thick, seemingly impenetrable rainforest, covering 19,000 acres of the island’s interior, can be explored on foot through a variety of hikes, from easier hour-long walks to strenuous, multi-hour treks through machete-cleared paths. The moderately difficult two-mile Enbas Saut hike snakes through scenic terrain at the foot of Mount Gimie, St. Lucia’s highest peak. It’s recommended that you have a guide accompany you on any level trek.

Diving at Scuba St. Lucia, St. Lucia, Caribbean

Scuba St. Lucia

The best scuba diving and snorkeling are found along the southwest coast, and many serious divers base themselves at nearby hotels like Jade Mountain and Ladera. Scuba St. Lucia, a PADI-certified dive center, is owned by Anse Chastanet, but its courses and equipment rental are also available to non-guests. Anse Chastanet’s reef, part of the Pitons’ UNESCO World Heritage site and a protected marine park, is covered in soft coral and barrel sponges. Its plateau area suddenly falls away from about 20 to 140 feet, making it attractive to both scuba divers and snorkel aficionados. More than 150 fish species populate the reef, including parrotfish, needlefish and peacock flounders. The center offers diving courses for all levels, including seminars on digital underwater photography.

Boat at  Sea Spray Cruises, St. Lucia, Caribbean

Sea Spray Cruises

Families can sign up for a pirate adventure (kids dress up) on board a replica of a 19th-century tall ship, including an an all-day cruise with stops at the Toraille waterfalls, the drive-in volcano and Marigot Bay. Face-painting, a treasure hunt and firing of the cannon are also on the program. Lunch is served on board.

The Pitons

Gros Piton, measuring 2,283 feet, can be scaled by active types who are in good shape (the second half of the two- to four-hour trek is arduous). The trail begins in the village of Fond Gens Libre, south of Soufrière, where you’re teamed with a guide at the visitors’ center. Try to start out early in the morning to avoid hiking in steamy temperatures. Bring lots of water, sunscreen and bug repellent.

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