Saint Lucia Travel Guide: All You Need to Know

    May 19, 2020Lauren Tobin

    Saint Lucia is a Caribbean island perfect for all types of getaways. From romantic couples’ retreats, to fun with all the family, Saint Lucia has a place to suite your needs.

    It’s a destination that celebrates wildness in partnership with chic luxury, has the friendliest of people, and of course is home to views that are recognisable worldwide.

    So, let’s get you ready to visit Saint Lucia

    Saint Lucia At a Glance

    • Best time of year to visit: May and June
    • Capital: Castries
    • Size: 617km2
    • Currency: Eastern Caribbean Dollar
    • Main Language: English
    • Flight Time: Approx. 8 and a half hours
    • Time Difference: GMT -5

    What are some interesting things about Saint Lucia?

    An island sitting between in the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, Saint Lucia is the true definition of Caribbean paradise. With 98 miles of luscious coastline, emerald seas, plush tropical rain forest and dramatic mountain skyline, it’s become know and one of the most visually stunning islands in the Caribbean.

    With its beauty, comes a colourful history. The islands unique culture has been formed through French and British colonial history, mixed in with that of the indigenous people. This blend of which is celebrated in every aspect: from creole cuisine to calypso, hummingbirds to hibiscus, secluded coves to coral reefs, and much more.

    Celebrations

    A true cultural celebration will hit you with a sea of colour, hip-wiggling calypso, and delectable local cuisine is Saint Lucia Carnival. The seasonal June and July event is recognised as one of the best Carnivals in the Caribbean, celebrating Caribbean history, culture, and creativity.  Expect a variety of competitions including the Power and Groovy Monarch, Senior and Junior Panoramas (Steel Pan Competitions), the Inter-Commercial House Calypso competition, dozens of community events, and of course a continuous calendar of parties and fetes.

    The season culminates in an exciting, fun-filled two-day street parade on the 20th and 21st July. With live bands, DJ music, stunning Carnival costumes, and the joyous and energetic revelry you’ve come to expect from Caribbean carnivals. It’s a truly memorable experience, and one to add to your bucket list.

    Landmarks

    We cannot talk about Saint Lucia without mentioning the iconic twin Pitons. Rising dramatically from the azure Caribbean Sea, the forested slops of Gros Piton and Petit Piton reach a height of 2,500 feet, dominating the small islands landscape. There are many ways you can explore the pitons.

    If you want to do it in style, do it by helicopter. What better way than appreciating all it’s glory than from above, and it’s obviously much quicker than hiking! You can also explore by boat, cruise out to sea from Sugar Beach, and you’ll head to an unbeatable view.

    This will also provide an opportunity to experience one of the best snorkelling spots on the island, which you’ll find directly at the base of the Pitons. If you fancy a bit of an adventure, try you hand at hiking the rugged trail as it winds all the way up to the summit of Gros Piton. It’s a steep climb (so comfy shoes and a leg massage afterwards in the resort may be needed), but the views from the top make every single step worth it.

    While you’re near the pitons, we’d encourage you to visit Sulphur Springs. Here you’ll find the Caribbean’s only drive-in volcano and mud bath. You’re excursion will take you on a guided tour through the parks many attractions, you’ll learn lots of history and geology of the area, and then you’ll head straight for a first hand view of the volcano!

    After all of that, you’ll get to experience the hot volcano Sulphur Springs mud bath (and believe us – it is hot!!), followed by a visit to the 50 feet cascading waterfalls.

    Cuisine

    Finally, we need to talk about the food. Saint Lucian cuisine is all about combing sweet and savoury. A local speciality is pouille dudon – chicken with treacle and coconut. The national dish is green fig and saltfish; green figs are starchy, unripe green bananas – perfect for a hearty breakfast.

    Seafood is also big on the menu, with many dishes offering the freshest of products hauled daily from the sea. We’d suggest trying lambi – a large shellfish, whose tasty flesh is made into fritters served alongside some spicy sauces. Or try Accra – flaked, salt cod fishcakes, which are a little more subtle on the taste buds. There’s also many tempting fruits and vegetables that thrive throughout the island’s lush interior.  

    FUN FACT: Saint Lucia’s locally brewed beer is, unsurprisingly, called Piton!

    So, where in Saint Lucia should you be heading off too?

    Where should I stay in Saint Lucia?

    The two sides of Saint Lucia boast very different personalities. In the north is where you’ll find the tourism epicentre, with a lively atmosphere reflecting the none-stop action that embodies this side of the island. To the south, life slows down. You’ll find remote resorts, and plenty of rainforest which engulfs it’s visitors in nature and tranquillity.

     It’s these two parallels that ensure that any type of holidaymaker can get exactly what they are looking for in St. Lucia.

    North

    The north is a combination of the capital city, Castries, and Rodney Bay, an enclave of beach resorts, shops, restaurants, and bars.

    While the Castries is quite an industrial city, the surrounding hills invite you into nature, and you’ll see sights of the beautiful harbour whilst you explore. Heading to the market here is not to be missed, where you’ll be met with a burrow of stalls selling fruit, spices, woodcarvings, clothing and more. If you can, grab a bottle of the infamous Banana ketchup!

    Further north is where you’ll find Rodney Bay, where hotels line the popular Reduit Beach. Sunbathers here can enjoy the hot Caribbean sun and surf or add some adventure with water skiing or windsurfing. You’ll never be too far from delicious food and drink, with several beach bars inviting you do sit, sip and sizzle in the sun.

    Just across from the beach, there are some great spots for casual hangouts in the Gros Islet area. Be sure to join in with the Gros Islet Jump Up street party of Friday nights, which brings the hole town to life. It’s a great way to hang out with the locals, enjoy traditional Caribbean food, reggae music, karaoke, and get your weekend started!  

    There are many things to do and see in your visit to the north. One not to be missed is a trip to Pigeon Island National Park just north of Reduit Beach. It’s a former military base and pirate hideout, but now it’s a national landmark. You can wander through the ruins of a naval garrison, visit the interpretive centre, and hike to the fort for some incredible views of Martinique.

     If you’re after sites of pure beauty, head to Marigot Bay. It’s a palm fringed bay, with stunning yachts dotting the blue waters. It’s famously the film location for the 1967, Doctor Doolittle. Be sure to make space on your camera, as you’ll be clicking away the whole day!

    If you’re after a longer day trip, then head to Grand Anse beach over on the east. You’ll have the opportunity here to camp out under the stars, and enjoy a Leatherback turtle watching experience. Between March and August, the turtles crawl out of the ocean onto the beach to lay their eggs (up to 500 at a time!). If you wanting to get snap happy, make sure your camera has an infra-red flash, as these are the only ones allowed.

    If adventure is what you’re after, then a day trip with Treetop Adventure Tours on the east of the island is a must-see. Coined as the best zip-line experience in the Caribbean, there are 12 different ziplines, with the longest and highest reaching 35 meters!!!

    There is also a mini zipline course for kids ages 3 and up. If you’re after something a bit closer to the north, without the need for a long drive, try out the Adrena-Line Canopy Tour which offers smaller ziplines near Castries.

    South  

    In the south is where you’ll find the Pitons and Sulpher Springs, and these two alone provide all you need to know about the south – it’s truly the place for nature and tranquillity. The atmosphere here is perfect for couples, weddings, honeymoons, well-heeled travellers and chilled friends’ holidays, with plenty of stuff to do, see and indulge in. It’s slightly more expensive than the north, owning to the more high-end luxury feel but if you can, it’s so worth it!

    On your travels you’ll be met with small coves and bays, hiding hidden beach gems, with the rainforests lush canopy beckoning with the opportunity for adventure.

    One of the best spots for soft adventure is the Diamond Falls Botanical Garden. It’s one of the most spectacular natural wonders on the island. Home to the most colourful waterfalls in the Caribbean, Diamond Waterfall, and several hot mineral springs which have great medicinal value for people with joint or muscle pain, you’ll need your cameras at the ready to keep this memory forever.

    Continuing the theme of adventure, why not try snorkelling at Anse Chastanet beach? It’s undoubtedly the best beach for snorkelling and diving in Saint Lucia, with crystal-clear waters and incredible sea life close to the shore. As you snorkel through the warm ocean coral reefs of the Marine Park, you’ll find a world of coloured sea sponges and brain corals. You’ll also enjoy spectacular views of the Pitons.

    For something a bit tamer, chocolate loves need to head to the Boucan by Hotel Chocolat and it’s cocoa plantations. The Tree to Bar experience will immerse you in the complete chocolate making process, with plenty of samples along the way. Pick your own ripe cacao pods from trees, experience self-guided nature trails, and roast the beans to make your own chocolate bar. It’s a great, informative day out – and did I mention, it’s all about CHOCOLATE!!

     Ready to Go? 

    If learning about Saint Lucia has you longing to get out there, check out our top offer for Bay Gardens Beach Resort.

    For a limited time only you’ll have access to a FREE Upgrade to Deluxe Beachfront Room, FREE Spa Treatment, FREE Unlimited Use of Splash Island Water Park, Dine Around Meal Plan and FREE Resort Transfers.

    Bay Gardens Beach Resort & Spa is an award-winning, modern beach resort nestled on Reduit Beach in Rodney Bay Village, the hub of St. Lucia’s nightlife and entertainment. Everyone who’s been to Bay Gardens Beach Resort & Spa tells of the striking design, convenient location, and exceptional service. 

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