Famous for its most iconic attractions–the Pitons–St. Lucia should be a top contender for your next island destination.
With its rich history and culture, travelers to St. Lucia can experience complete immersion into local traditions while also enjoying the luxury, comfort and top notch service offered by the many resorts, eco-lodges, B&Bs, home sharing options and hotels on the island.
St. Lucia is sandwiched between Martinique to the north and St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the south. The island has a population of about 182,000 people and the majority of St. Lucians speak English, the island’s official language, or Saint Lucian Creole French (Kwéyòl), known locally as “Patois.”
As is evidenced from the unofficial language of St. Lucians, the French heavily influenced the island’s culture. However, contemporary St. Lucia is even more alluring as its culture is an amalgamation of African, French, British, and East Indian influences.
Its African influences can be found in its people, cuisine, music, cultural practices and many of its festivals including the Jounen Kwéyòl Festival celebrated primarily by St. Lucians.
Many people became familiar with this stunning island nation by attending the annual St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival now known formally as the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival Produced in Collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center. Previous performers include the super talented vocalist Ledisi, jazz heavyweights Gregory Porter and Christian McBride, the legendary songstress Dianne Reeves and more. You can also enjoy a dynamic mix of reggae, R&B, Afropunk and hip hop at its annual St. Lucia Roots and Soul Festival.
Let’s not forget you can also satisfy your taste buds and your curiosity at the annual St. Lucia Food and Rum Festival. With this beautiful island as the backdrop, you can enjoy rum-infused menus from the island’s award-winning culinary teams and internationally-acclaimed chefs.
Other events include St. Lucia Carnival held in July each year. This is a two-day fete complete with live bands and DJs, hours of street dancing, colorful plumed costumes, and local food stops to get your fill. Mercury Fest is held each August at Pigeon Island National Park and is considered the ultimate beach party. The St. Lucia Dive Festival in September gives scuba divers and snorkelers the chance to explore well-preserved diving sites, a wide array of marine life, improve their diving skills through PADI courses and other special activities.
Keep reading to learn more places to explore when you visit scenic St. Lucia.
Castires was settled by the French in 1650 and it remains the largest and most populous city on the island with approximately 20,000 inhabitants. Castries is home to one of the main cruise ports, the Pointe Seraphine Cruise Port Terminal on the north side and La Place Carenage near downtown Castries.
Castries Market is open everyday but Sunday and is home to the city’s most authentic local cuisine and flea market experience. It was built in 1891 and, to this day, it serves as the gathering spot for over 300 regular vendors. You can experience up-close and personal interactions with local vendors and buy fresh, locally picked and prepared food, spices, and more.
Castries is also home of Derek Walcott Square, a public park in the capital city. Derek Walcott is the world renowned St. Lucian poet and playwright who won the 1992 Nobel Prize for Literature and other literary awards.
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Soufriere is a town on the western coast of the island. This is where you will find Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens and Sulphur Springs Park, the home of Soufriere Drive-in Volcano, the world’s only drive-in volcano and site of warm sulphuric pools where travelers can relax after the strenuous climb.
If you’re looking for a hiking challenge, the Pitons, specifically Gros Piton, may be the challenge you’re looking for. Located on the southwest coast, St. Lucia’s two iconic peaks (volcanic plugs formed by the island’s tectonic activity) are named Gros Piton and Petit Piton and they stand 2,619 feet and 2,438 feet high, respectively.
The Gros Piton hike lasts between 4-5 hours, begins from a 600 foot elevation and is typically led by an experienced guide. If you’re up to the hike, Real St. Lucia Tours can guide you along the way. On your way up, the local guide will point out local plants and animals, ancient caves, and leftovers of plantations and sugar mills. Once you’re halfway you can take a break to take in the views of Petit Piton. Once you reach its peak you get a panoramic view of the island and even other nearby islands such as Martinique and Dominica.To book this tour, visit their website.
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3. Gros Islet
Established by French settlers as a Roman Catholic parish in 1749, Gros Islet is a small community near the northern tip of St. Lucia. Gros Islet is also the name of one of the 11 St. Lucian quarters. It is St. Lucia’s second most-populous community in the country with 21,660 inhabitants. Gros Islet is now home to various cultural landmarks and events, Reduit Beach, where tourists can try an array of watersports, and Pigeon Island.
Pigeon Island, a 44-acre islet, is one the main destinations in Gros Islet as it is where you will find one of the most popular attractions in all of St. Lucia–Pigeon Island National Park. Home to numerous historic landmarks and military ruins such as Fort Rodney constructed in 1778, Pigeon Island National Park is a testimony to the rich history of St. Lucia. Hikers also love the challenge of reaching nearby Signal Peak.
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4. Dennery Village
Dennery is a town on the eastern side of the island that is known as a fishing town. Dennery is the home of the weekly popular Dennery Seafood Festival and nearby attractions include Sault Falls, Treetop Adventure Park, Fond D’Or Heritage Park, Nature World St. Lucia and Frigate Islands Nature Reserve.
5. Rodney Bay
Named after Admiral George Brydges Rodney, a British naval officer who built his fort on Pigeon Island to spy on the French navy, Rodney Bay is the center of the island’s tourism industry. The town is replete with upmarket hotels, shops, nightclubs, and restaurants. This is undoubtedly the nightlife hub of the island. It is also where you will find some of the best beaches on the island.
Popular things to do in Rodney Bay include visiting Pigeon Island National Park, club hopping along the Rodney Bay strip, or lazing on the famous Reduit Beach.