Saint Lucia isn’t called the Helen of the West for nothing – the island literally switched political allegiances seven times between French and the British rules. Only in 1814 did the British take definitive control, something that would leave a lasting mark on the island.
Comparable to Helen of Troy in beauty, the tagline fits this small island which has, since times of war, become independent, and self-sustainable. The Saint Lucia that is marketed today is one that has grown leaps and bounds, and still manages to hold onto elements both distinctively English, and unmistakably French.
Picture: Sandals Grande St. Lucian, the largest of three Sandals resorts in Saint Lucia.
Insider tip: Stay at one of the Sandals all-inclusive resorts in Saint Lucia, and get access to all three resorts and two golf courses (green fees included)! This includes free transfers between the resorts and a total of 27 spectacular restaurants on-property.
There is much to appreciate about Saint Lucia and the things the island is known for, including its majestic Piton Mountains, drive-in volcano, refreshing waterfalls, spectacular hiking trails, beautiful beaches, local street parties and exclusive restaurants.
There are many other things Saint Lucia is known for, and we’ve taken the liberty to detail the most popular!
In this article on this Sandals blog:
No matter how many times you see them, the Pitons remain as awe-inspiring as the first time. First time viewers, however, are likely to be especially blown away at how majestic these twin peaks are in real life, particularly when taking them in close up in either of the two towns where they are located.
Yup, indeed, Gros Piton and Petit Piton as they are known, can be found in two different areas on the island, Soufriere and Choiseul to be exact. They are in such precise positions, that from various angles they seem to be spouting up side by side, which makes a sighting of them even more remarkable. The Pitons are a World Heritage Site, with Gros Piton standing at 2,619ft, being the taller of the two.
While in Saint Lucia, say yes to an opportunity to climb the Pitons, as this is an experience you won’t soon forget. Guided tours are available to the top of Gros Piton, while Petit Piton rising 2,425ft is a steeper and more challenging climb, with much less hiking traffic to the top.
If you’re not up for climbing the Pitons, consider taking a catamaran cruise around these majestic landmarks which will allow you get close enough to take great photos.
The Sulphur Springs in Soufriere are often described as the only drive-in volcano in the Caribbean, and possibly the world. This is an active geothermal area, so much so that there are bubbling mud baths, and steaming vents.
The most popular thing to do at the Sulphur Springs is to dip into a mud bath, which is both therapeutic and fun. The Sulphur Springs is the ideal place to learn about the creation of the volcanic Caribbean islands, and the benefits of soaking in the springs, which are high in minerals. Try the Saint Lucian mud bath experience for a natural and economical spa treatment that’s also a good time. Visitors planning on going into the mud bath are encouraged to wear bathing suits that they don’t mind getting stained!
Though Saint Lucia is a volcanic island, this nation boasts some of the most beautiful white/golden sand beaches in the Caribbean. In fact, the beaches at Anse Chastanet, Marigot Bay Beach and Rodney Bay are among the most stunning in the world. Bring more than one swimsuit/boardshorts to ensure you’re always beach ready!
Insider tip: Want to stay near the beach? Sandals Grande Saint Lucian Beach Resort & Spa is located on one of the most beautiful stretches of white sand beach in Saint Lucia. Guests of this luxurious all-inclusive resort can enjoy unlimited free cocktails, gourmet food, watersports, golf and more. With 12 gourmet restaurants on-property to choose from, you can eat something different every day!
Chocolate is the magic word that often mends hearts, and in Saint Lucia you can try authentic, locally grown chocolate at the history packed Morne Coubaril or Fond Doux Plantation. At either of these spots you can get into the chocolate making action and take a cocoa tour during which you can learn about the cocoa making process while nibbling on fresh cocoa pods along the way. The most hands-on part of this activity is definitely crushing cocoa beans as you attempt to make your own chocolate bar, but it will all be worth it in the end!
Saint Lucia has thousands of acres of rainforest waiting to be explored. This makes it a great choice for travelers who want to go on hiking expeditions, or at least visit a rainforest to get more in tune with nature. Over 70% of the island consists of rainforest, which is remarkable considering some areas on the island are far more developed than many of the smaller islands of the region.
Speaking of hiking, there are quite a few options when it comes to exploring the Saint Lucian rainforest by foot; you can go to places like the Edmund Forest Reserve which can be accessed by way of Fond St. Jacques in Soufriere and takes about three to four hours to navigate, or trek along the Barre de l’Isle Forest Reserve which is a relatively easy walk, with great views along the way. You can also try the famous Tet Paul Nature Trail, which isn’t very strenuous, and takes about 45 minutes. Guides are necessary in most instances when it comes to hiking in Saint Lucia, and in some cases, you may have to get permission from the Forestry Department.
Get away from it all at the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens in Soufriere, where you can take in tropical flowers, and a whole lot of greenery. The Botanical Gardens is a mellow tour stop on the island, which is often explored simultaneously with the Diamond Falls, a picturesque waterfall located in the south of the island.
See Saint Lucia from an aerial perspective with a helicopter tour. Some visitors work the helicopter tour into their airport transfers, making the transfer to their resort into an attraction itself. You can do a helicopter tour from the north to the south, and on most tours, you’ll have a knowledgeable pitot who can answer all your questions about the island. As you soar through the skies, take note of all the interesting things you see along the way, and take lots of spectacular photos!
The Arawaks are said to have been the first settlers to Saint Lucia, though from historical accounts, there may have been natives residing on the island even before the Arawaks arrived. It is believed that the Arawaks called the island Iouanalao, which translates to ‘Land of the Iguanas’, because of the multitude of iguanas roaming about. There aren’t as many iguanas on the island anymore, but the story and details of the history of the Arawaks and the Caribs who arrived later, still live on today. The Caribs referred to Saint Lucia as Hewanarau, and Hewanorra, the latter which serves as the name of the island’s international airport in Vieux Fort.
Many Caribbean islands have a surprising history of piracy, and Saint Lucia is one of those. The name of French pirate François le Clerc (known as Jambe de Bois) comes up a lot in Saint Lucia, as does the story about him setting up camp on Pigeon Island, from which vantage he was able to attack Spanish ships sailing in the area.
There are also reports of Blackbeard using the waters of Saint Lucia to plunder ships, and of the notorious pirate stashing his bounty in Vieux Fort. The bounty stashing claims have never been proven, nor has any hidden treasure been found, but many islands suffered for a while in the pirate era, which fortunately is something that has been left in the far distant past of Saint Lucia.
Pigeon Island was once just that, an island, which was linked after careful thought to the mainland via a causeway. Pigeon Island is packed with history, particularly the Pigeon Island National Park, home to Fort Rodney. Apart from pirates like Jambe de Bois making the area famous for all the wrong reasons, Fort Rodney within the National Park was once a British garrison. While in the park you’ll be able to explore trails, ruins, and beaches, and perhaps even picnic in the wide expanse of space in the park. Pigeon Island National Park is a 5-minute walk from Sandals Grande St. Lucian.
Morne Fortune means ‘Hill of Good Luck’, and the area just outside Castries has many impressive viewing points. Back in 1803-1844, during the time when the British had designated capital Castries as a major naval port, fortifications were built on Morne Fortune, which overlooks the city. These fortifications were significant in the battles between the French and the British, and most of them still stand today. A trip to Morne Fortune is worthwhile to see some of what has been left behind from that era, and to check out places like Government House on the northern side of the Morne, which is the official residence of Saint Lucia’s Governor General.
There are many things Saint Lucia is known for, and the postcard worthy Marigot Bay is one of those. The Bay is one of the most breathtaking in Saint Lucia, made even more special by its peaceful ambiance and striking landscape. One of the best ways to view Marigot Bay is by boat, and you’ll be swooning as you sail into the Marigot Bay Marina. Marigot Bay was prominently featured in the 1967 Doctor Doolittle movie, and today it remains just as beautiful or even more so than it was then.
Even the birds realize that Saint Lucia is paradise, and this is clear in the multitude of bird species that can be found on the island, including six endemic species. Some of the endemic birds that can be found on the island are the Saint Lucia Parrot, known as the Amazona Versicolor, the Saint Lucia Oriole, and the Saint Lucia Pewee. All in all, there are 180 types of birds on the island, and the best places to bird watch or find out more about the different species are the Millet Bird Sanctuary, the Vieux Fort Wetlands, and the Des Cartiers Rainforest Trail.
Scuba diving and snorkeling are great reasons to vacation in the Caribbean, and Saint Lucia is one of the best islands to do both because of the vibrant reefs that can be found in waters around the island. Some of the most popular places to dive are the Piton Wall, Anse Cochon, Coral Gardens, and Anse Chastanet, to name a few. If you’re planning on snorkeling or scuba diving in Saint Lucia, don’t worry too much about bringing your own gear, as you can rent some on the island. Sightings when snorkeling in Saint Lucia include turtles, rays, wrecks, and more.
Insider tip: Stay at any of the three all-inclusive Sandals Resorts in Saint Lucia, where PADI® certified guests scuba dive for free (max. two tanks per guest a day). This includes professional equipment and staff! Not yet PADI® certified? You can get your certification at the resort at additional cost.
There’s nothing like a cascading waterfall set against a spectacular tropical backdrop to set your mind at ease. In Saint Lucia, you can witness several of those, including the Toraille Waterfall which flows 50 feet down into a pool that you can dip into, the Diamond Falls, or the Piton Falls. There are many other waterfalls on the island, some which are harder to get to than others, and require a guide. The best way to explore Saint Lucia’s waterfalls is via a tour, which will also give you an opportunity to navigate nature trails with your tour group or guide.
Saint Lucians love to party, and Gros Islet and Anse La Raye are two communities on the island where you can experience the popular Saint Lucia street party. In Gros Islet, every Friday night grills are fired up and speakers are mounted up in the streets in anticipation of a night of partying and fun. This event has gone on for years and is known as the Gros Islet Street Party.
Occasionally you’ll find live performances, but every night there’s a DJ spinning the most popular Caribbean and international tracks. Anse La Raye on the west coast has a similar street party on Friday nights, but this event is known as a “Fish Fry”, and here seafood lovers can enjoy a variety of grilled food including crayfish, stewed fish, lobster and tasty local sides. You can also get items like roasted corn and hot bakes.
The Anse La Raye Fish Fry is more about the food than Gros Islet Friday Night, though both events are great for food and fun. These events are both usually well attended by locals and visitors and are the perfect opportunity to try the local beer, which in Saint Lucia’s case, is Piton beer! Dennery on the east coast also has a similar event, where you can dance to Reggae and Dancehall music all night and get a chance to hear Saint Lucia’s popular ‘Dennery Segment’, which is taking the music world by storm.
Horse riding on the beach is something you can enjoy on your own, with friends, or with kids. Usually tours of this nature start off at the stables, where riders get a chance to get comfortable with their horses. After that, it’s onto the trail which leads to the beach. If you see your horse heading toward the water when you get to the beach, don’t panic; it’s all part of the tour. The horses are well trained, and simply love cooling off on a local beach just as much as the average human. Most horse-riding tours are about two hours long, so plan accordingly. Try Atlantic Shores Stables in Vieux Fort, Hoofprint Ranch in Roseau Valley, or any of the local stables in Cas En Bar.
Castries may not be the most modern city, but it certainly is bustling. From Monday to Saturday you’ll find lots of activity in the city center, particularly at the Castries Market, or the Arcade. The Market is the place to go for fresh fruits, vegetables, and local spices, while you can find nearly any souvenir you can think of at the Arcade. A trip to the Market is a true way to meet and experience the authentic Saint Lucian way of life, and it is a good opportunity to find spices, cocoa tea, homemade craft items, and random Knick knacks to take home.
There is no short supply of souvenirs to be found in Saint Lucia, and brightly colored and hard carved wooden masks are high up on the list of things not to leave the island without for many visitors. The masks make it possible to take a piece of Saint Lucia home with you, which you can use to exhibit within your home, or give as a gift.
Pottery is never a bad gift, especially if it’s hand-crafted. You can pick up practical pottery pieces or show pieces that will add a lift to your décor back home. The pottery available in Saint Lucia is unique, and ranges from stylish to traditional, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.
Cocoa tea in the Caribbean equates to hot chocolate in many other places, but the Caribbean version packs a lot more flavor. Cocoa sticks are essentially log sized ground and fermented cocoa beans. They are the essential ingredient in making Saint Lucian Cocoa Tea, and because they’re often so neatly packaged, you won’t have a hard time taking a few home with you.
Hot sauce goes with just about every meal on Caribbean terms, and by the time you’re ready to go back home, you’re likely to have a newfound appreciation for pepper. Try brands like Baron’s West Indian Hot Sauce if you’re looking for a tasty Caribbean hot sauce to take home. There are other local varieties available, but Barons is the most popular, and you’ll be able to use it on things like barbecued meats, burgers, fries, and more!
All honey is not created equal, and that is something that always comes as a surprise to people. Sweet and nutritionally dense, the reality is that honey can taste different depending on where it is made. This has to do with where the bees source the nectar and pollen, and the truth of the matter is, a well-made bottle of honey can indeed add some much-needed sweetness to life. Saint Lucian honey is pure and delicious, and you’ll want to try some during your time on the island.
Rum is something Saint Lucia knows a thing or two about, and this is much due to the island’s extensive rum distilling history. Saint Lucia has produced a few expertly crafted rums over the years, including the Saint Lucia Distillers produced and promoted Chairman’s Reserve Rum. You can get Chairman’s in the Original flavor, or in a Spiced Rum or White Rum variety, or you can get the ‘Forgotten Casks’ limited-edition bottles to give as gifts.
Piton Beer is one of those things you simply must try during your vacation in Saint Lucia, especially if you intend to snap some photos holding a Piton, on top of the Piton! This is the ultimate vacation photo ideal in Saint Lucia, but it wouldn’t be possible without the home-brewed Piton pilsner beer, which has earned international accolades, including several Monde Selection awards.
Bananas were once considered green gold in Saint Lucia (from 1964 onwards), and through the ‘gold rush’ has simmered down significantly over the years, Saint Lucia still has a healthy banana industry and farmers that are committed to ensuring their products get a space in regional and international markets in order to sustain their livelihoods.
You can see how big the banana industry is in Saint Lucia by just observing the extensive banana plantations on the roadside as you’re making your way to your resort; the bananas are usually wrapped in blue plastic bags to protect them from the elements, hungry birds and pesky insects. Be sure to have a banana or two while in Saint Lucia, as Saint Lucian bananas are known to be sweeter, and overall tastier.
Saint Lucia is full of allure and excitement, and it is hardly surprising that it would be the only country in the world named after a woman (Saint Lucia of Syracuse)!
It’s no walk in the park to win a Nobel Prize, but the small island nation of Saint Lucia has earned two by way of Sir Derek Walcott for Literature (1992), and Sir Arthur Lewis in Economics (1979). This achievement makes Saint Lucia the country with the most Nobel Laureates per capita in the world. Saint Lucia’s Nobel Laureates are celebrated annually in the month of January (their birthday month), with an entire committee being set up to organize activities in their honor.
Picture: The Sunset Oceanview Bluff Millionaire Butler Villa with Private Pool Sanctuary at all-inclusive resort Sandals Regency La Toc.
Knowing intricate details about a destination before getting there can enhance one’s experience by stretching their perspective and allowing them to be more receptive by way of being informed. There are so many things Saint Lucia is known for, that you’ll without a doubt be able to add to this list during your vacation on this simply beautiful island.
Also read: 40 Amazing Things To Do In Saint Lucia