This mountainous country of volcanic origin is also ringed with sandy beaches…
A piece of history
Saint Lucia is a mountainous country of volcanic origin ringed with sandy beaches. It is one in the chain of islands situated between North and South America, which make up the Caribbean. It is a subgroup of the Windward Islands surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Her closest neighbours are the French island of Martinique 21 miles to the north, St. Vincent and the Grenadines 24 miles to the south, and Barbados 100 miles on its north-eastern side.
Saint Lucia was first inhabited by the Amerindians (Kalinago) for about 800 years, but the French were the island’s first European settlers after purchasing the Island in 1651. They signed a treaty with the native Island Caribs in 1660. The Island later switched so often between British and French control that Saint Lucia is now known as the “Helen of the West Indies” after the myth of Helen of Troy. In fact, Saint Lucia changed hands fourteen times; seven times British and seven times French and was surrendered to Britain by the French in 1814.
The present name is derived from “Sainte Alousie” said to have been first given by French seamen shipwrecked on the island in 1502, and “Sancta Lucia” given by the Spanish explorers later in 1511. In 1659, the English arrived and tried to take over the island with claims that they were entitled to it because of their earlier attempt at colonization. They were eventually defeated. However, this was the beginning of a fight between the French and the British over Saint Lucia which lasted for 150 years.
Saint Lucia joined the Commonwealth in 1979. The main religion is Roman Catholicism, and Seventh-day Adventists and other Protestants are important minorities. The rate of population growth for Saint Lucia is slightly higher than the Caribbean average.
The main population centres are Castries and Vieux Fort, however, the northern part of the island is the most populated and very popular. Most of the things to do and enjoy in Saint Lucia are island-wide so we planned our visit to experience it all. For us, Saint Lucia is not just about its geographical status, it became a place to visit for fun, luxury living, adventure, sun, sea and everything nice.
How to get there
Virgin Atlantic and British Airways fly direct from London Gatwick arriving into Hewanorra International Airport (UVF), the larger and main of the island’s two airports, in the southern St. Lucia town of Vieux Fort, which is situated about 40 miles to the south of Castries. If you are island hopping, then you could travel via Liat from most Caribbean countries into George F. L. Charles Airport (formerly Vigie Airport) (IATA: SLU, ICAO: TLPC). This is the smaller of the two airports in Saint Lucia located 2 km (1.2 mi) north of Castries, the capital city. George F. L. Charles Airport is managed by the Saint Lucia Air and Seaports Authority (SLASPA). Its runway runs parallel to a pristine beach, Vigie Beach, which is a popular tourist attraction.
Great Places to stay in Saint Lucia
Visitors to Saint Lucia will be spoilt for choice. The Island has many accommodation choices from budget to luxury and some Airbnb or private villa options. Our choice accommodation is Marigot Bay Resort & Marina, the independent luxury getaway situated in Saint Lucia’s coveted Marigot Bay. The property was previously associated with Capella Hotels & Resorts but is now an independent resort and has recently joined the LVX Collection of Preferred Hotels & Resorts a portfolio of independent properties that feature the finest accommodations coupled with attentive and exclusive personal service, and memorable experiences through exceptional dining, entertainment and spas.
The resort has recently been invited to join American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts and has been acclaimed as one of “The Top 25 Resort Hotels in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Bahamas” by Travel + Leisure’s 2018 World’s Best Awards. This charming resort is made up of luxurious rooms, villas and Penthouses. Even before you arrive at the Resort, a Personal Assistant will reach out to you to start planning your holiday with you. [read more]
Every property you choose to stay in, has activities lined up for its guests so unless you are staying in a private accommodation please check with your hotel about what leisure activities are available to guests. There are so many to choose from including lying at the beach or poolside. Let us share our experience with you.
Most of the hotels and resorts offer this but you can book this directly too via many activity organizers such as Carnival Sailing with prices starting from US$95 upwards you have a lot of activities to choose from. For us, the tour started from Castries and usually, your hotel or resort will arrange transfer. The adventure starts with hors d’oeuvres as you sail along the west coast to Soufriere past the villages of Anse La Raye and Canaries, enjoying the approach to the majestic Pitons. In Soufriere, you take a shuttle to Diamond Botanical Gardens for a tour, then lunch at a plantation house, a visit to the sulphur springs to enjoy the mud baths or a tour of the volcano. The sail back up to the coast, you can enjoy a swim or snorkel at a secluded bay and visit Marigot Bay before sailing back Vigie Cove. The adventure happens every day except Mondays from 9am to 4pm.
The Catamaran cruise comes with alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments, friendly staff and a caring captain, freshly made finger foods, male and female W/Cs, room for relaxing and dancing, a local creole lunch at a plantation house, all transfers, collections and drop-offs and tour guides. Well worth the effort and value for money.
Friday nights are no frills fun nights in Saint Lucia. You will need to include a Friday night in your stay in St Lucia in order not to miss the Anse La Raye Seafood Friday and the Gros Islet Street Party which compliments each other very well.
Anse La Raye Seafood Friday
This is a family friendly “fish fry” event at Anse La Raye, south of Marigot Bay. The locals cook fish, lobster, crab cakes and many kinds of seafood at booths along the waterfront street. People dine at communal tables with loud music and drinking with the focus on the food. It usually starts at about 6.30pm finishes at about 10pm.
Gros Islet Street Party
After the Anse La Raye Seafood Friday event you should attend the Friday night Street Party in Gros Islet. You probably would have made some friends on the Catamaran cruise during the Soufriere adventure and chances are that they are all going to the Friday night street party in Gros Islet because it is simply the thing to do on a Friday night in St Lucia.
From about 8pm, the fishing village of Gros Islet, north of Rodney Village, hosts an affordable party on the street and the locals set up stalls to sell local food such as barbecued fish and chicken and many other creole delicacies including drinks. People eat off plastic plates at communal table. DJs play very loud Caribbean music through giant loudspeakers. There are usually a lot of tourists at this event all having fun with the locals late into the night. This is a very large public gathering, so you will need to keep your personal belongings close to you.
Great Places to Rum and Dine in Saint Lucia
Rum Tasting at the Rum Cave in Marigot Bay Resort & Marina
Experienced Barman Alvin Isaac will take you through you an exquisite wine tasting at the Rum Cave at the Marigot Bay Resort & Marina. Rum experts will tell you about the history of the drink, its production and share some rare secrets about all the rum available on the Island [read more]
How to eat well in St Lucia
Great Places to Wine and Dine in St Lucia – Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort, Soufriere
After the Friday night events and an exquisite rum tasting session, it is now time for some good food. This is when I will have to ask if you “parlez” good and drink”? Our first-choice dining place is top posh-nosh. Let me set the scene for you. So, it is the day after a Friday night event and you are still in Saint Lucia and really need to have an exquisite dinner with excellent service. Why not visit Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort in Soufriere to enjoy the delights of Chef Jacques Chrétien and his team. This is one great experience you should not miss anytime you are in St Lucia.
Life’s really a beach at Sugar Beach. Sugar Beach has three dining areas, The Great Room Restaurant for the fine dining experience, the Terrace Restaurant where breakfast happens and the Bayside restaurant for a relaxed beach side dining. It also has the Bayside Bar, Cane Bar with its extensive menu of delicious Asian-inspired dishes. This is the place to enjoy a freshly-caught sashimi or sushi platter, stuffed tempura shrimp, tasty chicken teriyaki salad, gyozas and rice bowls. Top it off with deep fried coconut ice cream with strawberry coulis and creamy tapioca. The Palm Court Lounge is available for afternoon tea, savories and exquisite cocktails. Sugar Beach’s dining experience is designed for those who really like to enjoy a good meal produced by a well-trained staff and managed by an efficient team. [read more]
Things you must do when you visit Saint Lucia
While in Soufriere
- Climb the magical twin Pitons. Saint Lucia’s iconic landmarks which sit majestically on the South West coast of the island The UNESCO-flagged Pitons are the symbols of Saint Lucia. The tallest of the two reaches 798 metres making it the second highest in Volcanic Saint Lucia.
- Visit the Sulphur Springs and perhaps have a mud bath in the springs
- Tour the botanical gardens of the Morne Coubaril Estate and Gardens
- Visit the Toraille waterfalls
- Visit the Diamond Waterfalls and Botanical Gardens
- Explore the Rainforest hiking trails
- Join the Tet Paul Nature Trail – a 45-minute hike offering visitors a number of stunning views en-route of Martinique and St Vincent, Sugar Beach etc
While in Marigot Bay/Anse La Raye
- Explore the Treetop Canopy Adventure and experience the joys of world-class ziplines at the Tree Top Adventure Park https://adventuretoursstlucia.com/
- Appreciate Marigot Bay, the Marina and all it has to offer.
- Do not miss the Friday Fish-Fry
While in Castries and Gros Islet
- Catch a glimpse of Castries from the hill known as Morne Layby while taking a peek at the British High Commissioner’s residence in the process. You never know who will be visiting.
- Stroll along Vigie Beach
- Go Whale and Dolphin Watching
- Shop in Castries Market
- Visit Rodney Bay
- Visit Pigeon Island
- Do not miss the Friday Street Party
- Camp overnight and marvel at the wonders of nature as you see the rituals of leatherback turtles
- Rainforest adventures in Babonneau. Take a canopy tram ride for a relaxing discovery
- Visit Fond Latisab Creole Park to learn about Saint Lucia’s Creole heritage through cultural demonstrations.
While in Vieux Fort
- Experience the rainforest with thrill via the longest zip line at the Ultimate Treetop Adventure Park.
- Chill at the Latille Waterfalls and Gardens in Micoud
- Visit Laborie beach and village.
- ATV Paradise Tours: Ride through the fond Estate in Micoud and admire the variety of Exotic fruits and tropical plants
While in Praslin/Micoud,
25. Visit the 12-acre Mamiku Gardens