Impossibly picturesque, her jagged, jungle-clad peaks rising from the sea like dragon’s teeth, stunning Saint Lucia is rightly feted as the Caribbean’s most romantic island. Accommodation ranges from rustic rainforest retreats and boutique beach hotels to some of the most staggeringly luxurious resorts in the entire region, and it’s no surprise that Saint Lucia is a favourite for honeymooners. A host of high-octane pursuits and wild watersports also make it a great destination for the more adventurous traveller, as well as for active families looking for more than just a beach holiday.
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Culturally Saint Lucia is an intoxicating melange of English, French and African influences, tangible in everything from the exotic markets in the capital, Castries, to the lilting rhythms of Kweyol, the French creole spoken by the locals. Reminders of Saint Lucia’s colonial past can be found in the fortifications at Pigeon Island, while the ‘drive-in’ volcano at Soufrière in the south offers up clues to a more ancient history, when Saint Lucia’s otherworldly landscape, dominated by the towering Piton mountains, was hewn from molten rock. The volcanic nature of the island also means most of the beaches on Saint Lucia are darker in colour than the classic Caribbean picture postcard, so make sure you let us know if you want to stay somewhere with guaranteed white sand.
Eating and drinking here is a real treat, whether you’re sampling haute cuisine at the hotel restaurants, tucking into tasty street food or knocking back a rum and coke at a local bar. Saint Lucians love to party too – for a slightly sanitised experience, try the Jazz & Arts Festival in May, or for the real deal, head down to Gros Islet on a Friday night and wind with the locals and the yachties to the thundering sound systems set up on the street corner. A word of warning, go easy on the rum punches - they’re strong!
A few of our favourite things...
If you’re not up for climbing the Pitons, try an easy hike to the top of historic Fort Rodney on Pigeon Island. The views of Rodney Bay and neighbouring Martinique are simply stunning, and you’ll get to learn a bit about the colonial history of Saint Lucia too, a period during which the island changed hands between the English and the French no less than 14 times. Pigeon Island is also the setting for the headline shows at the Jazz & Arts Festival held every May, with previous big name acts including Diana Ross, Amy Winehouse and R Kelly.
This rum is one of our favourites, and arguably one of the best in the entire Caribbean. First blended in 1999, it’s a relative newcomer on the scene, but has already picked up a number of awards and is pretty ubiquitous across the island, as well as becoming increasingly popular with discerning drinkers abroad. We particularly recommend the spiced variety, deliciously drinkable neat or with a dash of coke.
Scenic Helicopter Tour
Take a helicopter transfer to your hotel for an unforgettable arrival experience, or enjoy a 30 minute scenic tour of the island. You’ll take in all the sights, from the majestic Pitons and the dense vegetation of the rainforest, to the picturesque bays and beaches along the Caribbean coastline and the sleepy fishing villages of the more rugged Atlantic coast.
It sounds like it can’t possibly work, but give this quirky condiment a chance and it might just surprise you. The combination of bananas, a Saint Lucian staple, with garlic and spices creates a sweet, subtle and very yellow sauce, a great accompaniment to barbecued chicken. Even if you’re not a fan of the taste, it’s a great souvenir to take back home for friends and family.
Where to propose...
On an island so renowned for romance it’s hard to pick out a single location to pop the question, but it’s hard to beat the summit of Gros Piton, where our own Joanna Whinney said ‘I do’ when her other half whipped the ring out. Alternatively, if you’re not feeling quite that athletic, then consider a stay at Cap Maison; the hotel provides a ‘proposal concierge’ who will help you to create a truly unforgettable moment , with the ring arriving by zipline at the end of your romantic private dinner at the base of the cliffs.
Grab your flippers and head for the coral reefs around Soufrière, in the south of the island. We recommend Anse Cochon, next to Ti Kaye Resort & Spa, a quiet little bay flanked on either side by reefs teeming with colourful fish. Similarly impressive and with a truly spectacular setting is Jalousie beach, which sits smack bang in the middle of the Pitons and also happens to be home to the ultra luxurious Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort.
Rodney Bay Village, in the north west of the island, is the place to go if you want to party, with a strip of lively bars where the rum flows into the early hours. Spinnakers on Reduit Beach is a great vantage point from which to enjoy the sunset over the bay, while the Fire Grill & Lounge Bar lays on live jazz and blues most Friday nights. Delirius, just up the road, is rather more civilised than the name suggests, and they mix great cocktails.
Trip reports from our team...
Saint Lucia - Jazz, Volcanoes and Toblerone
Tom from our team recently returned from Saint Lucia. Read his tales of Jazz, Volcanoes and Toblerone here...
Flying time from the UK is approximately 8 hrs 45 minutes. British Airways Daily departures from Gatwick until March; departures 6 times a week from April. Virgin Atlantic Departures from Gatwick 3 times a week.
English, but a French Creole is widely spoken.
4 hours behind GMT and 5 hours behind BST.
Eastern Caribbean dollar. American Express, Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in the hotels.
A full British passport is required and it should be valid for 6 months after the return date of your holiday. Visas are not required for British citizens. No special health documentation is necessary for residents of the UK who have not recently visited parts of the world where cholera or yellow fever is a problem.
It is illegal to wear any camouflage clothing anywhere on the island. Any camouflage clothing found by customs will be confiscated and returned on departure.