Scenic peaks and lush vegetation are just a few things that make this southern Caribbean island so idyllic. St. Lucia’s symbols are the jagged Piton peaks, rugged mountains that climb from the sea to lofty heights. Located on the island’s southwest coast, the verdant slopes of Gros Piton and Petit Piton are among the Caribbean’s most recognizable landmarks.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Entry requirements: Passport valid for six months beyond your departure
Currency: Eastern Caribbean (EC) dollar and US dollars
Flight time: 5 hours from New York City; 11 hours from LA; 8 hours from Chicago; 8 hours from Dallas
Getting around: Bus, rental car (drive on the left!), ferry and taxi
When to Go: St. Lucia at its best
Best weather: St. Lucia’s climate is mild, with almost constant northeast trade winds. The mean temperature is 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Rainy season runs from July to November.
Best prices: May to June; exact dates vary by hotel. Hurricane season swirls from June to November (September is the trickiest).
Festival highlights: The four-day St. Lucia Jazz Festival is held in May; Carnival is celebrated in extravagant style in July.
What to Do
Stroll through a rainforest: You’ll need a guide to enter the restricted rainforest region, so sign up for a tour to walk through the dense foliage and swim in a tropical waterfall. If you’re lucky, you may see the rare St. Lucian parrot.
Tour a volcano: Walk to the edge of the Sulphur Springs volcano, which last erupted two centuries ago. Lounge in the nearby mineral baths, built among ruins of the first baths commissioned by French King Louis XIV for use by his troops.
Go snorkeling: Don your fins and enjoy the underwater scenery via lazy drift dives, coral walls (some plunging 200 feet deep!) and a 165-foot freighter sunk near Anse Cochon. Keep your eyes peeled: Barrel sponges, angel fish, sea horses, spotted eels, stingrays, nurse sharks and sea turtles all call the area home. Beach entry is best at Anse Chastanet, a hotel on the southwest coast.
Go shopping: Castries, on the island’s north side, is St. Lucia’s capital and offers a lively Saturday market, where vendors sell everything from fruits and local spices to crafts. Choiseul, on the south side, is home to the Arts and Crafts Development Centre, perfect for finding locally made straw, wood and clay handcrafts.
Go dancing: Gros Islet, at the northern point of St. Lucia, is known throughout the Caribbean for its Friday night “jump-up.” Street-side music blares as residents and locals jam to the sounds of reggae, soca and calypso.
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