St. Lucia is famous for romance, beautiful beaches, and the Pitons. There are miles and miles of unspoiled beaches, rainforests and beautiful landscapes. Whether you’re going for romance, relaxation or adventure, there are endless activities to do.
People usually associate St. Lucia with expensive. I don’t like expensive and I know not many people do, especially when traveling with a family. St. Lucia can be done on a budget without sacrificing any of the fun. Here are a few helpful tricks that I found when I was planning our first trip there.
Shopping for flights is one of the biggest costs associated with travel to St. Lucia. It’an important to start shopping early and do thorough research. I have found that certain days are cheaper than others. The main airport is Hewanorra International Airport in Vieux Fort. It is located in the southeastern part of the island. If you plan on staying on the north end of the island, expect about an hour drive.
In the U.S., direct flights to Saint Lucia are available on American Airlines from Miami, Charlotte, and Philadelphia; on JetBlue from New York and Boston; on Delta from Atlanta and on United Airlines from New Jersey and Chicago. Air Canada offers direct flights from Toronto and Virgin Atlantic and British Airways offer almost daily flights from the UK.
Where to Stay
There are tons of lodging options in St. Lucia. From 5 star all-inclusives to small boutique hotels to private houses, no matter what your preference, you can find it. Options range from $50-$1000 per night.
All-inclusives offer plenty of amenities with everything included. These can get pricey, but if you don’t plan on leaving the resort, or don’t want the hassle of worrying about money on your trip, it’s worth the price.
Smaller hotels/boutiques offer great service, beautiful views, and personal service. Food is not included but some do have a meal plan to add on. These are great options when on a budget as food on the island is very affordable.
Homes/Villas/Apartments are also a great option for families and budget vacationers. Sites such as VRBO and Home Away offer multiple search options
There are three main areas to choose when planning your trip. Most of the resorts and hotels are on the western coast of the island. Different areas offer different activities. For instance, if you want to be in the bustle of the city, you stay more toward the north. If you want isolated romantic relaxation or want to explore the rainforests and climb the pitons, you stay toward the south.
Gros Islet/Cap Estate/Rodney Bay
At the very north end of the island is the town of Gros Islet and Cap Estate. Gros Islet is a young, fun town that features the Friday Night Jump Up (more about that later). Some of the resorts here are The Windjammer, Royalton Saint Lucia, Calabash Cove Resort and Spa, Coco Palm, Royalton St. Lucia and Blu St. Lucia. This area also offers many smaller hotel choices and homes to rent. We personally stayed in this area for many reasons. There is a lot to do. The dive shop we wanted to use was nearby and there just seemed like there was more to see there.
Castries is located in the north-central part of the island and is the capital. It is a bustling city with lots of shops, stores, and restaurants. The cruise ships also dock here. so this may sway you either way. Some of the resorts offered here are 3 different Sandals options with free transportation between them, Capella Marigot Bay and St. James Club. There are also several homes, villas, and apartments for rent.
Soufriere is located on the southwest corner of the island. It is an old beautiful city that you can’t help but fall in love with. If you want seclusion or if you’d rather explore the rainforests, check out several waterfalls or try climbing the Pitons, this is the place to stay. Some of the most beautiful, exotic and romantic resorts are located here. Places to stay are Sugar Beach-A Viceroy Resort, Anse Chastanet, Jade Mountain, Hotel Chocolat and Fond Doux Plantation and Resort. These resorts offer the very best views of the Pitons from every angle.
Sugar Beach Resort
Things to do
Ok, you’ve booked your flight and hotel now what do you do when you get there? There are endless options for every type of vacationer.
St. Lucia is the honeymoon capital of the world. There is nothing better than laying on the beach next to swaying palm trees and beautiful blue water enjoying each other’s company.
Scuba Diving in St. Lucia is great. The reef system is beautiful and is different from a lot of the Caribbean because of the now dormant volcanos. We dove with Dive Saint Lucia located in Rodney Bay and were extremely pleased with them. Again, this is something you want to research well. Make sure you choose a reputable PADI shop. Most of the dive shops on the island will go to any dive site and also offer snorkeling.
We felt very safe renting gear here. We took a few of our own things, but I recommend saving on baggage fees and rent the big stuff. There is a nice mix of shallow and deep dives, as well as shipwrecks. Lots to see and do and the bonus is the beautiful views of the island from the water. You are required to use biodegradable sunscreen here to protect the reefs. Check out my favorite on Amazon here.
Don’t want to dive? Snorkeling is the next best thing. There are many places to snorkel on the island. I highly recommend going to Sugar Beach to snorkel. We spent a few hours there and the reef is amazing. The best part is looking up and seeing a Piton on either side of you.
Explore the rainforest and waterfalls
The island is covered in untouched rainforests. There are hiking trails and lots of spots for bird watching. Located in the lush rainforests are several breathtaking waterfalls. Diamond, Toraille and the Piton waterfalls are located in Soufriere. Latille waterfall is located in the northern part of the island and Sault falls are located in Dennery. All are beautiful and have drops of at least 50 feet. Sault waterfall in Dennery is off the beaten path for tourists so often you’ll have it all to yourself.
Horseback riding through the ocean
There are several stables in the island that offer rides on the beach and in the ocean. Most of the tours are a half day, you get a ride through the town before arriving at the beach. This can be a romantic excursion or a romantic date for 2.
Drive through volcano and Sulfur Springs
A trip to St. Lucia isn’t complete unless you visit the islands drive through volcano. Locals call it Sulfur Springs and its 2 activities in one. First, visit the volcano, you really do drive over the center of it. The volcano emits a slow stream of steam and sulfur. Be prepared for the smell! They offer tours of the volcano which I highly recommend.
After you see the volcano, you head over to the sulfur hot springs. Here, a sulfur mud streams down from the volcano pooling at the bottom. Tourists and locals cover themselves in mud them rinse off in the hot springs. Locals swear it has great benefits for your skin and after doing it, I agree!
Friday night Jump Up
Every Friday in Gros Islet the town shuts down for an after dark street party. The locals set up food booths, huge fresh fish fry’s, stands with amazing rum punch and souvenirs. Plan on arriving after 8 and staying until the party downs around 2 am. It’s a safe, family friendly night.
Visit Marigot Bay
Marigot Bay is a few minutes south of Castries. It is a beautiful harbor that houses several celebrity vacation homes as well as Doolittle’s Restaurant. It was established after the movie filmed there. It has a beautiful landscape and the most breathtaking sunsets.
Visit the Pitons
The most photographed landscape in the world is right here in St. Lucia. You can visit the Pitons up close, photograph them from the rainforests. watch the sun set over them or even climb them. The are gorgeous now dormant volcanos.
Getting around the Island
The island’s roads are steep and twist around the mountainous terrain. Locals here drive fast and on the left; there are minimal safety laws including speed limits. If you are not comfortable driving on the left and in these conditions, I highly recommend hiring a driver or taking a cab.
What to eat
The island is filled with the most delicious 5-star restaurants, small local restaurants, food stands, and snacks. They offer true Caribbean food here and you have the option of eating lamb, goat, Oxtail, suckling pig, and every fish imaginable. Get out and try the food. The locals that own the small restaurants cook delicious food and will make you anything you want. Often, the best option is to order their favorite meal, you won’t be disappointed.
No matter what you choose to do, St. Lucia will not disappoint.