Best Views in the Caribbean
The island of St. Lucia has long been known as a hideaway for privacy seekers and nature lovers. In addition to the stunning white sand beaches and aquamarine-colored waters for which the region is known, St. Lucia offers visitors a dramatic landscape and relaxed, upscale eco-experience unlike any other.
If the beaches and striking views of the island’s twin peaks, known as the Pitons, don’t lure you to the island, head there for the boundless outdoor activities that are perfect for honeymooners and families alike.
If it’s an adventure that you seek, opt to climb the Pitons, which were officially designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004. The taller of the two Pitons, the Gros Piton, stands 2,530 feet tall and is linked to the Petit Piton, which is just 100 feet shorter. The park requires that you have a guide with you to climb the Gros Piton—either a park employee or a privately hired guide. The Gros Piton is ideal for a sweat-inducing activity that is suitable for many ages and levels of experience, while the Petit Piton is actually a very steep slope and should be attempted by only experienced climbers. Regardless, the view from the peak of the Gros Piton, which looks out over the crystal-clear Caribbean Sea and the lush ecosystem on the island below, is often called “the best view in all of the Caribbean.”
The Pitons, which are volcanic plugs, wouldn’t be on the island without the volcanoes themselves. The Soufriere Volcano hasn’t erupted in over 300 years and now provides an eco-escape unlike any other—with its unique hot springs, waterfalls, and the infamous mud baths. Everyone from island locals to Oprah Winfrey to contestants on The Bachelor has experienced the detoxifying and rejuvenating effects of this natural wonder. Visitors recommend going toward the end of the day for lighter crowds or booking a reservation ahead of time.
Swimming Beneath Waterfalls
If you have always dreamed about swimming beneath an exotic waterfall, St. Lucia offers you plenty of options to do so. Its stunning mountainous landscape combined with the rainforest weather patterns provide visitors with lush waterfall and swimming sites that look like they came straight from a postcard. While some falls, like the best-known Diamond Waterfall in the Diamond Botanical Gardens, don’t allow you to bathe directly under them, there are plenty that do. Diamond Falls is easily accessible, but the best rainforest waterfall experiences on the island require more effort to get to.
Saltibus Falls, which has two cascading falls, requires visitors take around a 90-minute walk through a rainforest trail to reach it. Even more secluded is the dramatic Sault Falls, which cascades over 50 feet and is on the less crowded eastern side of the island. The hike required to reach the falls is well worth the seclusion you’ll find when you get there.
After experiencing the lush rainforests of St. Lucia, head to one of the eco-friendly resorts that offer luxury, open-air accommodations so you can relax after a day’s hike while still enjoying the lush surroundings. Boucan by Hotel Chocolat is an eco-boutique hotel set on a chocolate plantation surrounded by the jungle. The hotel consists of only 14 lodge-style private accommodations. Each lodge has open-sky showers, and some offer private verandas overlooking the Pitons. In addition to a spa, the hotel offers an experience unique to its heritage as a cacao producer, where guests can learn how chocolate is produced and make their own chocolate bar.
Another favorite resort on the island is the Viceroy Sugar Beach. Situated on the white sand beaches between the Pitons, this resort occupies some of the most enviable real estate on the island. The resort offers private villa-style accommodations, all of which have a private plunge pool and outdoor space. Activities and amenities include tennis, snorkeling, windsurfing, children’s activities, babysitting services, and a luxurious rainforest spa.
Restaurants and Bars
The Bayside Restaurant and Bayside Bar at Sugar Beach attract resort guests who want to experience open-air dining and drinks while their feet are in the sand and while they look up at the majestic Pitons just feet from the ocean’s edge.
In keeping with the island’s heritage and as a nod to the property’s past as a sugar plantation, the Cane Bar at Sugar Beach is the perfect place to experience the region’s rum in style. The in-house “rummelier” can guide guests through the varied selection of rums offered in the bar, which can be accompanied by a selection of fresh sushi and sashimi.
If it’s traditional St. Lucian fare that you crave, head to Dasheene, the cliff-side restaurant and bar perched on the side of a mountain, where you will find cuisine like the Creole Conch. If you prefer something less formal, head to Jambe De Bois on Pigeon Island. The open-air, casual eatery offers an authentic local experience with live jazz and traditional Caribbean fare in a natural setting.
Sugar Beach Traditional Rum Punch
- 3 ounces fresh pineapple juice
- 3 ounces fresh orange juice
- 1 ounce strong white rum (St. Lucia Distillers Crystal White)
- 1 ounce St. Lucia Distillers Bounty Rum for flavor (aged amber rum)
- 1 ounce grenadine syrup for color
Shake all ingredients over ice, and then pour the mixture into an ice-filled glass. Sprinkle with freshly ground nutmeg, and dress with fresh pineapple.
Though they require a passport from the U.S., the islands of the Caribbean are well worth the flight and the typically quick trip through customs. No special visas are required for U.S. citizens for a short-term trip or vacation, but some Caribbean commonwealths require that your U.S. issued passport is valid for up to at least another year in order to enter the island.
St. Lucia remains a convenient destination when coming from the U.S. Direct flights from major cities, including Boston, New York, Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami, Philadelphia, and Chicago, fly into Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) in Vieux Fort, which is located 40 miles south of the island’s capital city, Castries. Direct carriers include Delta, JetBlue, American Airlines and United Airlines. George F.L. Charles Airport, located just outside Castries, can be used for inter-island travel as well.
For more of Ebbie’s guide to the Caribbean, check out St. Barts!