14 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in St Lucia
Crowned by the towering twin volcanic peaks of the Pitons, St Lucia is the beauty queen of the Caribbean. Crescent shaped beaches, small fishing villages, rainforests, reefs, waterfalls, geothermal attractions, and lush mountains are just some of St. Lucia's many attractions. Castries, the island's capital and cruise ship port, offers a colorful slice of St. Lucian life at its lively market, as well as some fascinating historic landmarks. At Morne Fortune and Pigeon Island National Park, visitors can learn about the history of the island's many battles between the French and English, who fought savagely for its possession.
Adventure seekers will find plenty to do on St. Lucia. Ziplining on a working plantation, climbing the Pitons, hiking the many marked nature trails, horseback riding, sightseeing cruises, and exploring the island's active volcano are popular island activities. Diving is excellent on the west side of St Lucia with a rich diversity of corals, sponges and reef fish. After all the action, visitors can relax under rustling palms on St. Lucia's golden sands or soak in the island's healing hot springs.
1 The Pitons
The Pitons, St. Lucia's twin towering peaks and prime topographic feature, soar out of the sea to great heights. The Gros Piton (large piton) to the south is 798 meters high and the Petit Piton (small piton) is 750 meters. Formed by volcanic activity about 200,000 to 300,000 years ago, both the Pitons are considered difficult climbs. Some divers enjoy exploring them as underwater cliffs. However, most visitors simply view them for their scenic beauty. The colorful fishing village of Soufriere affords one of the best vistas of the twin peaks.
2 Marigot Bay
Marigot Bay, arguably the most beautiful bay on St Lucia, is best viewed from a vista point on the road between the main Caribbean coastal route and the bay itself. Lush hillsides plunge to the pretty palm-fringed beach, and yachts bob on the bay's blue waters. The harbor is so deep and sheltered that the British fleet supposedly hid here from the French by covering their masts with palm fronds. Marigot Bay was also the setting for the 1967 film Doctor Doolittle, a claim to fame that has left a permanent mark on the names of some of the local establishments. Water shuttles ferry people across the bay to hotels on the opposite side.
3 Anse Chastanet Marine National Park
Anse Chastanet coral reef harbors a treasure trove of sea life across varying depths. On a plateau of two to eight meters, divers can see colored sponges, soft corals, boulder coral, and brain corals. Frogfish inhabit a large nearby cavern, and divers may spot many varieties of fish in the coral gardens, including parrotfish, goatfish, wrasse, chromis, and barracudas. The edge of the plateau is a wall that drops 46 meters to a lace coral ecosystem inhabited by lobsters, crabs, and eels. Plate coral starts below 30 meters. Above the surface, is a sheltered beach with beautiful views of the Pitons.
The colorful fishing village of Soufrière is wrapped around a beautiful bay and is best seen from an overlook on the main road to Vieux Fort. The town was founded in about 1745 with its most prominent features being the town square, home to the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the many buildings with filigreed balconies and tin roofs. The town square was the site of the guillotine erected during the French Revolution in 1780. Many plantation owners and their families were executed here. The wharf, a block away from the town square, is the stopping point of several sightseeing cruises. The 1989 courthouse next to the wharf has been converted into a restaurant with a batik shop on the second floor. Soufriere's main claim to fame is that Josephine, the wife of Emperor Napoleon Boneparte, was born here in 1763.
5 Morne Coubaril Estate
Overlooking Soufriere Bay, Morne Coubaril Estate is a popular stop on the tourist circuit. The estate is an elegant working plantation growing cocoa, coconuts, and manioc. Ziplining in view of the Pitons is the most adventurous activity on offer, but guests can also enjoy guided tours of the plantation, its tropical gardens, and a replica of a traditional village. Guides demonstrate the processing of coconut for food products and show how sugar cane syrup, cocoa, coffee, and manioc are produced. After the tour, guests can enjoy Creole food at the plantation's restaurant.
6 Sulphur Springs Park, Mount Soufriere
Named for the sulfur once mined at this site, Mount Soufriere (also known as Sulphur Springs Park) is the most active geothermal area in the Lesser Antilles. A road traverses the edge of the 274 meter crater making this one of the world's rare "drive-through" volcanoes. Though the last major volcanic eruption in St Lucia occurred about 40,000 years ago, this volcanic pit continues to vent sulfur into the air and heat pools of water above boiling. Visitors can view the bubbling pools and hissing fumaroles from observation platforms, and soak in some nearby therapeutic springs.
7 Diamond Botanical Gardens, Waterfall & Mineral Baths, Soufrière Estate
The Diamond Falls section of the Soufrière Estate offers three popular attractions: well-conceived gardens, a beautiful waterfall colored by mineral deposits, and healing mineral hot spring baths originally built for the troops of King Louis the XVI of France. The gardens were planted among coconut, cocoa, mahogany, and red cedar trees with tropical flowers and shrubs from around the world. Within the gardens visitors will find educational displays of local fruits & vegetables such as christophine, soursop, and dasheen. For a small fee, visitors can also use the soothing outside pools or private bathhouses. Another attraction of this historic estate is the old mill and waterwheel where visiting groups are served a Caribbean buffet.
8 Pigeon Island National Park
Across from Rodney Bay, Pigeon Island National Park, is one of St. Lucia's most important historic attractions. Strategic lookouts on the island allowed the British to monitor the movements of French troops in Martinique during their struggle for control of St. Lucia. Today a causeway connects the island to the mainland and visitors can hike up to the lookout point and enjoy panoramic views of St. Lucia's northwest coast. Also on the island are the ruins of the military buildings used during battles between the French and English, an interpretation center describing the island's fascinating history, a small restaurant, and two white-sand beaches.
9 Rodney Bay
On the Gros Islet northern end of St Lucia, Rodney Bay is St. Lucia's tourist magnet with its picturesque crescent-shaped beach and many hotels, restaurants, and shops. Enclosed to the north by Pigeon Island National Park and to the south by Labrellotte Point, this sheltered bay is a popular spot for mooring. The Rodney Bay Marina is one of the best equipped in the eastern Caribbean with many watersports on offer. Impressive homes dot the hills surrounding the bay, and St Lucia's biggest shopping mall is in the area. Nearby Reduit Beach is one of St. Lucia's most popular stretches of glittering white sand.
10 Tet Paul Nature Trail
Winding through tropical forest in St. Lucia's World-Heritage-listed Piton Management Area, the Tet Paul Nature Trail offers some of the most spectacular views in southern St. Lucia. On a clear day, hikers can see all the way to Martinique and St. Vincent. The hike takes about 45 minutes and is rated easy to moderate. Along the gentle trail, hikers can learn about medicinal plants and trees, sample exotic tropical fruits, and discover the traditional Amerindian art of cassava production. The highlight is the "stairway to heaven", steps leading guests up to a 360-degree panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.
11 Edmund Rain Forest Reserve - Enbas Saut Waterfall Trail
Accessed at Edmund, above Soufriere, the Enbos Saut waterfall trail lies on the lush slopes of Mount Gimie, St. Lucia's highest mountain. The well maintained trail circles through dense rainforest to a waterfall, which has eroded its way into volcanic rock. The trail takes about two hours 30 minutes, and requires suitable hiking shoes. Along the way, hikers may spot birds such as the St Lucia parrot, St Lucia oriole, Sempers warbler, and St Lucia wren, and the park also harbors exotic plants, such as the Blue Mahoe and Honduras Mahogany. Most visitors access the trail in four-wheel-drive safari vehicles along a rough and rocky road, which also affords one of the best vistas of the Pitons.
12 Morne Fortune
From 1803 to 1844 the British made St. Lucia's capital, Castries, a major naval port and built fortifications on Morne Fortune, the mountain overlooking the harbor. It was here that some of the most brutal battles between the French and English took place. Today Morne Fortune, meaning "Hill of Good Luck" still offers stunning views of Castries and the harbor from its scenic overlook. On a clear day, visitors can see all the way to Martinique. The original fortifications still stand and visitors can visit a monument as well as old military buildings and cannons. The northern side of Morne Fortune is home to Government House, the official residence of St. Lucia's Governor General, set amid beautifully landscaped private gardens.
13 Castries Market
The colorful Castries market, at the eastern-most point of Castries harbor, is a great place to experience a slice of local life on St. Lucia. Merchandise ranges from handicrafts to locally grown fruits and vegetables. Shoppers can buy batiks, woodcarvings, gift baskets of spices, banana ketchups and oils, hand-made brooms, hot-pepper sauces, and the usual souvenirs. While the market is open every day, the most active day is Saturday.
14 Derek Walcott Square
Named after St. Lucia's Nobel Laureate, Derek Walcott Square is a great starting point for a walking tour of the capital, Castries. Its most famous landmark is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The cathedral exemplifies a Victorian variation on a Romanesque design and features an Italianate-style clock tower centered on the square. Opposite the cathedral, sits the restored public library and a series of brightly painted gingerbread colonial buildings with verandahs overhanging the sidewalk.