More than 22 dive sites, two UNESCO-listed peaks, one drive-in volcano, and endless adventures above and below the water. Here are the best and most memorable things to do in St. Lucia.
Take a Break at Marigot Bay
Soak in the sight of one of the prettiest natural harbors in the Caribbean, just five miles south of Castries. Daysail excursions along the island’s west coast all make a side trip into Marigot Bay just because it’s so lovely. Arrive on your own to hang around Capella Marina, ogle at the beautiful sailboats and yachts, enjoy a waterside lunch, toast the sunset, or have a classy dinner. A tiny ferry takes passengers back and forth across the bay to a tiny beach, and the voyage takes a minute or so.
Indulge at a Spa
Just about every large resort in St. Lucia—even many small hotels—boast an onsite spa, but two resorts stand out from the rest. BodyHoliday, at the northern tip of the island in Cap Estate, is just that—a holiday for your body. Incredibly, a one-hour daily therapeutic treatment is included in the room rate. Then, at Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, which is perfectly positioned between The Pitons in Soufrière, the treatment rooms in the Rainforest Spa are actually in tree houses. So, give in to your sybaritic side and treat yourself to a treatment.
Take a Dip Under a Waterfall
When the mercury is high, cooling down at a wonderful waterfall is one of the best things to do in St. Lucia. A mile or so inland from Soufrière Harbor and a stone’s throw from the main road through Fond St. Jacques, Toraille Waterfall cascades over a cliff and down about 50 feet to a pool where you can take a refreshing plunge or let the falling water massage your back and shoulders. A nature trail leads through the surrounding lush tropical gardens and changing rooms are nearby. Other glorious gurgling waterfalls worthy of your island time include the intimate Anse La Raye Waterfalls and La Tille Waterfall and Gardens on the east coast.
Meander Through the Botanical Garden
Each side of every pathway that cuts through Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens and Mineral Baths in Soufrière bursts with tropical flowers—pink, purple, red, yellow, orange, and blue—and a staggering amount of greenery. Visiting it is one of the best things to do in St. Lucia when all you need is a little peace, quiet, and nature therapy. The gardens are part of a 2,000-acre land grant presented by French king Louis XVI in 1713. Eventually, you reach Diamond Falls, where the mineral-rich cascade has caused the underlying rock to sparkle like diamonds.
Sail Along the Coast
The most enjoyable way to get from the north to St. Lucia’s fascinating natural attractions in Soufrière is by sea. Catamaran tours depart from Rodney Bay Marina and Capella Marina in Marigot Bay for the magnificent sail south to Soufrière Bay. The sailing excursion includes visits to the drive-in volcano, a botanical garden, and lunch at a historic plantation. No one ever tires of seeing the Pitons, so thankfully, they are always in view. There’s a snorkeling stop on the return sail and a quick pass through Marigot Bay, making this an absolute must-do in St. Lucia.
Hike in the Rainforest
St. Lucia’s rainforest covers more than 19,000 acres of the island. A strenuous hike into Edmund Forest Reserve, accessible from Fond St. Jacques just east of Soufrière, will take three or four hours, and the reward is a close-up view of exotic flowers and plants as well as distant views of mountains, valleys, and the sparkling sea. Closer to Castries, the mile-long trail through Barre de l’Isle Forest Reserve is an easy hike with similarly spectacular views. For either hike, you’ll need the permission of the Forestry Department and a guide.
Climb a Piton
The Pitons are UNESCO-listed pyramidical twin peaks that are the iconic symbols of St. Lucia. The view from the top of Gros Piton (2,618 feet) is breathtaking, and scaling this eye-popping volcanic spire is one of the most rewarding (albeit challenging) things to do in St. Lucia. It’s more of a hike than a “climb,” but the journey is still strenuous, and it takes about two hours on average to reach the summit.
You’ll need permission from the Forestry Department and a guide who will lead you safely along the trail while explaining some local history, geology, and botany.
INSIDER TIPIt is not advisable to climb Petit Piton (2,461 feet), Gros Piton’s smaller sibling. The trail is steeper, unmarked, and even dangerous in some places.
Explore the Depths
Come nose-to-nose with resplendent sea dwellers–slithery eels, tubular trumpetfish, sergeant majors, and the like–while exploring St. Lucia’s vibrant underwater world. The coastal waters around the Pitons and north to Anse Cochon are protected as Marine Reserve areas and, as such, they are excellent places for scuba divers to explore reefs, walls, and wrecks—sunken cargo ship vessel, the Lesleen M, is a prime diving playground.
There is no shortage of dive centers to facilitate your marine adventures. Dive St. Lucia, in Rodney Bay, is a state-of-the-art, purpose-built, full-service facility with classrooms, a training pool, and a pair of snazzy, 30-passenger dive boats. Several large resorts also have onsite dive shops that offer day trips, courses, and certifications.
INSIDER TIPSnorkelers find plenty to see, too, whether swimming off the beach or tagging along on a dive trip.
Jump Up on Friday Night
One of the most fun things to do in St. Lucia on a Friday night is attending the Gros Islet Street Party, the island’s most popular “Jump-Up”. From sunset until the wee hours, this is the place to be on Fridays when giant speakers set up on the village’s main street blast Caribbean sounds—from calypso to reggae, soca, and zouk—and much revelry ensues fuelled by ice-cold Piton beers, rum punch, and other island libations. On the side streets, villagers barbecue chicken and fish and also sell beverages. Tourists and locals alike join in the fun—and, of course, the dancing.
INSIDER TIPDon’t worry about getting back to your hotel…your taxi driver will arrange a pick-up time.
Head for the Fish Fry
If you find yourself in the small fishing village of Anse La Raye, midway between Soufrière and Castries, on a Friday night, you’re just in time for “Fish Fry.” The entire main street (Front Street) is closed off to cars and lined with folks preparing grilled or stewed fish, crayfish, conch, lobsters, roasted corn, and bakes (biscuits). The DJs, live music, and your choice of beverage should keep you hopping well into the night.
Ride a Horse on the Beach
Creole horses are relatively small and sturdy—and love to trot along St. Lucia’s sandy beaches and swim in the sea. Saddle up and fulfill your beachside equestrian fantasies with Atlantic Shores Riding Stables, which offers two-hour guided trail rides to beaches on the southern coast as well as a beach and countryside trail combo. This route takes in the Atlantic coastline, a banana plantation, and magnificent mountainous terrain along the way. These trips are fun for the whole family and don’t require any previous horseback riding experience. You can also gallop along scenic trails during a private two or three-hour session with Sandy Hoofs St. Lucia.
Zip Through the Rainforest
One of the most exhilarating things to do in St. Lucia is soaring over dense tropical rainforests on a zip line. Rainforest Adventures in Babonneau will help you tap into your inner Tarzan on their Adrena-Line Canopy Tour. Those seeking a more sedate experience should opt for the aerial gondola ride. This eight-seater open-air tram is a wonderful way to experience the jungle with knowledgeable guides pinpointing the resident flora and fauna. You can also get your kicks at the Morne Coubaril Historical Adventure Park, which runs zipline canopy adventures as well as rum and chocolate-tasting tours.
Play in a Water Park
For young ones, one of the most fun things to do in St. Lucia pays a visit to Splash Island Water Park. This group of inflatable water “sports” activities particularly appeals to youngsters (over six years) and teens, although adults love it too. Just offshore on Reduit Beach in front of Bay Gardens Beach Resort, this is the Caribbean’s largest open-water sports park boasting a trampoline, climbing wall, swing, hurdles, high jump, water polo…and lifeguards.
INSIDER TIPAt the southern tip of St. Lucia, the family-friendly half of Coconut Bay Beach Resort has a huge water park—activity pool, lazy river, waterfalls, and multiple water slides—all included in its all-inclusive rates.
Eat a Banana (or Two)
St. Lucia grows more than 100 varieties of bananas, and you’ll see endless banana fields along the roadside in Babonneau and near Marigot Bay. They often have blue plastic bags wrapped around the bunches to protect them from birds and insects. The familiar yellow fruit seems sweeter and more delicious here. You’ll see.
St. Lucia is an English-speaking country, but you’ll also hear local folks speaking a Kwéyòl (Creole) among themselves. It sounds like French—but not quite. You might like to try a few phrases during your visit. For example, the morning greeting is bonjou; in the evening, bonswè. Or you might ask, Sa kafèt? (How are you?)
A favorite St. Lucian dish is bouyon (rich boiled soup with meats and root vegetables), bananas are called figs, avocados are zaboca, and to eat is manjé. Pick out Kwéyòl words on menus, notice them on signs, and practice them with people you meet. Another useful word to learn is viwé for return because most visitors to St. Lucia usually do.
Enjoy Chocolate in Various Forms
St. Lucia has a cocoa trade that dates back to the 1700s. The cacao tree and its chocolate-producing pods can be spotted throughout the island and have ultimately become embedded in the nation’s cultural fabric, so much so that an entire month is dedicated to celebrating chocolate (each August). Therefore, partaking in any form of chocolate ritual is a must-do in St. Lucia.
At the historic Morne Coubaril and Fond Doux plantations in Soufrière, you can watch cocoa pods become chocolate bars. At nearby Rabot Hotel by Hotel Chocolat, delight in creating your own chocolate bar(s) during enlightening “Tree to Bean” and “Bean to Bar” tours. Chocolate-infused gustatory thrills are also served at the hotel’s restaurant—think white chocolate dressings and cacao-marinated scallops. Also in Soufrière, Jade Mountain has its very own chocolate laboratory and a spa (Kai en Ciel) offering every kind of chocolate-based treatment imaginable from chocodara to hot chocolate candle wax massages.
Drink Fresh Coconut Water
A common thing to do in St. Lucia is purchase fresh coconut water—the ultimate thirst-quencher—from roadside Jelly Men. When driving around the countryside—on your own, in a taxi, or on a tour—you’ll likely see a “jelly man” standing on the side of the road next to heaps of green (“jelly”) coconuts with a machete in his hand. He will skillfully use the machete to cut off the top of a coconut in one quick swipe and then hand it to you with a drinking straw, and You’ll enjoy the freshest coconut water right from the source.
Bathe in a Sulphur Spring
While a “mud bath” at a spa is a rejuvenating experience for your skin (and your soul), St. Lucia offers a unique “natural” mud bath experience. Regularly billed as the world’s only “drive-in volcano,” Sulphur Springs in Soufrière is one of the must-do things in St. Lucia. Head there to detoxify, heal, restore, tighten, and smooth your skin by taking a dip in the mineral-rich waters. Cover your body with the warm gray mud (wear an old bathing suit), wash off in the spring-fed thermal pool, and then cool off under a nearby waterfall. While visiting this dormant volcano crater—the last eruption was in 1766—many find the sulfurous odors in the air a tad uninviting, but the overall experience is surreal.
INSIDER TIPWhen planning your attire for swimming, keep in mind that wearing camouflage clothing is illegal in St. Lucia. This includes children.
Ride a “Dollar” Bus
Privately owned, 16-passenger vans comprise St. Lucia’s bus system—a quick, cheap, and fun way to travel a short distance—say between Castries and Rodney Bay or Rodney Bay and Cap Estate. While there are usual stops, you can hail one simply by raising your hand when you see one coming down the road. And just knock on the panel above the window when you want to get off.
INSIDER TIPThe “dollar” bus now actually costs slightly more than a dollar for a short trip. You should still take one if only to enjoy the local music blasting from the driver’s radio.
Buy Spices and Crafts at the Saturday Market
Trolling a Caribbean produce market is always fun, and though it’s open six days a week, Saturday morning is the best and liveliest time to visit Castries’ fruit and veg market. Row upon row of vendors displays their heaps of tropical fruits, vegetables, spices, and more—urging you to buy bags of spices and bottles of hot sauce to take home. Look for the bright orange roofs in downtown Castries, right across from the harbor.
INSIDER TIPNext door, at the huge craft market, you’ll find straw items and souvenirs. And across the street, even more, vendors sell their wares.
Eat Saltfish and Green Fig
Dried, salted codfish—soaked overnight, then boiled, crumbled, and sautéed with onions, peppers, tomatoes, and spices before adding boiled unripe bananas, known as “green figs” in St. Lucia—is the island’s national dish. Considered a Sunday dish for home cooks, local restaurants often feature it on their menus—even for breakfast.
Tee off at Cap Estate
St. Lucia has only one 18-hole championship golf course, the St. Lucia Golf & Country Club on the far north of the island at Cap Estate. Golfers enjoy magnificent views of both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea when playing the 6,744-yard, par 71 course.
INSIDER TIPSeveral nearby resorts offer preferred tee times and complimentary transportation to their guests.
Watch the Sunset Between The Pitons
Perched on the ridge between The Pitons, Ladera Resort offers the most striking landside view of the two peaks—Gros Piton and Petit Piton—and the valley between. While a glorious view during the day, watching the sunset between the peaks is downright enchanting. Come for cocktails on the resort’s deck and stay for dinner at its restaurant, Dasheene.
Charter a Boat
Is a sun-soaked journey sailing the Caribbean seas on your bucket list? You can charter a sailboat—catamaran or monohull—or even a powerboat by the afternoon, day, week, or longer, with or without a crew. Cruise along St. Lucia’s magnificent coast and into its inviting bays and coves—or sail through the nearby Grenadines and on to Grenada, one-way or round-trip.
Rodney Bay and Marigot Bay are the island’s yachting centers. There, you’ll find charter companies like Jus’ Sail and Moorings Inc.
INSIDER TIPMoorings Inc. has facilities on both St. Lucia and Grenada, so you can charter a boat at one island and drop it off at the other.
Enjoy 360-Degree Hilltop Views
Immerse yourself in St. Lucia’s history by venturing out to Pigeon Island National Park. Connected to the mainland by a causeway, this 44-acre park has military ruins, beaches, and a hilltop lookout, Fort Rodney. There are superb 360-degree views to be had from the fort and a small museum stores actual relics from military battles. When France and Britain wrestled for control of St Lucia—which they did for centuries—the park was used as a military base and lookout point. It also played a role during World War II when Fort Rodney became a U.S. Signal Station. Today it’s a landmark where travelers can picnic, swim at pristine beaches and learn about the islet via informational signs dotted all around.
Find Beach Bliss on Golden Sands
Beach hopping is, naturally, one of the top things to do in St. Lucia. The island is blessed with strands that could inspire a thousand Instagram stories—many of which are golden. Better still, St. Lucia beaches are public, including the ones located in resorts.
Plop a towel on the sand at Reduit Beach (the most popular on the whole island), Anse de Pitons (an incredibly located beach with white sand imported from Guyana), Anse Cochon (a snorkeling goldmine), Anse de Sables (popular with kite surfers and windsurfers), or Labas Beach, a picture-perfect sliver of sand that juts into Marigot Bay.