The biggest of the Caribbean’s Winward Islands, St Lucia is famed for its dramatic twin peaks, the Pitons, rugged volcanic landscapes – including the world’s only drive-in volcano – and beaches, where mineral-rich waters are said to have therapeutic qualities, in the South. And in the North, you’ll find flatter, less volcanic terrain and a collection of lively shops and restaurants around Rodney Bay, along with the bustling capital Castries
Although Pigeon Island, just inside the entrance to the national park, isn’t strictly an island (it’s connected to the mainland by a causeway) it boasts more history than most other sites on St Lucia. Originally dominated by the indigenous Amerindians, before going on to be a pirate hideout as well as a military base, Pigeon Island is covered by walkways and historical remains including an 18th century fort as well as the Pigeon Island Museum. Perfect for exploring, before cooling off with a dip at one of the two quiet, sheltered strips of sand close by.
You’d be foolish not to explore the miles of golden sand St Lucia has to offer. There are spots for swimming, snorkelling and, of course, relaxing. Reduit Beach may be the busiest beach on the island, but you’ll find that’s because it’s also the best. With more than a mile of golden sands and views across the bay to Pigeon Island, there’s excellent swimming and ample opportunity to try your hand at watersports too. The southern end of the beach transforms into a party destination when the weekend comes, so expect a lively atmosphere, music pumping from beach bars and families enjoying picnics on the beach.
Half way down the west coast and a 166-step descent, Anse Cochon is a 200-metre-long strip of dark sand, backed by jungle – perfect for those who have something a little more peaceful in mind. Bag a sunbed from the beach hotel Ti Kaye, which rents them out to non-residents, and if you’re feeling adventurous, snorkelling gear. With the reef beginning close to the water’s edge, it’s one of the best places on St Lucia to head out and explore.
This former 18th-century sugar mill turned luxury resort, set in a forested valley, is just a small descent from one of St Lucia’s sandy bays. Amongst 100 acres of pristine rainforest and in the embrace of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Pitons, here it’s all about the location.
Which room should I choose?
The idea behind each of the rooms, suites and villas here is privacy, so no matter what you choose it’s entirely your own. Set amid vibrant gardens and tall trees, the Luxury Beachfront Villas lead straight onto the sand. Enveloping you between nature and modern living, you can expect (so-close-you-can-almost-touch-them) views of the dramatic Piton mountains from your four-poster king sized bed, alongside modern amenities and full butler service. Enjoy breakfast on your terrace over looking the blue Caribbean Sea, or in the courtyard by your own private pool.
The best part?
The timber treatment rooms on stilts amongst the trees offering all-natural therapies including bamboo massages and mashed banana facials.
Less hotel, more luxury wellness retreat, the four-star Body Holiday is an all-inclusive spa resort, and if ‘all-inclusive’ puts you off, don’t let it. Dedicated to pampering, your treatments – one 50-minute session per day – are all included in the price of your stay (sound better?). Unwind in the award-winning wellness centre, seek out professional advice at the skin clinic or go all-natural in the Ayurvedic centre.
Which room should I choose?
While all rooms promise views over the Caribbean Sea or the resort’s pristine gardens, the Grand Luxury Ocean Front room is the go-to here. King-sized beds are a given, as are state-of-the-art bathrooms, but the extra touches like Bluetooth-connected Bose surround-sound speakers and a ‘Sleep Well’ lighting system for the perfect night’s rest are what set this room apart. Don’t rest your head before perusing their pillow menu either, it’s worth it.
The best part?
As well as dabbling in the height of relaxation, you’ll want to visit their restaurant TAO, which has maintained its AAA Diamond Award since 2007. A fusion of Eastern and Caribbean flavours are served up on an intimate balcony overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
Caribbean Chef of the Year for 2016, Craig Jones, has filled his French and West Indian-inspired menu with elegant dishes that use the finest local ingredients. Perched atop a cliff near St Lucia’s northern tip, The Cliff at Cap is an immersive fine-dining experience in sensational open-air surrounds, with spectacular views across to the neighbouring island of Martinique.
Inside the Ladera Hotel, a small but perfectly-formed hotel perched on a 1,000ft-high ridge, Dasheen’s executive chef, Nigel Mitchel, showcases the best fresh ingredients that are native to the island in his traditional St Lucian menu. Dishes such as Caribbean lamb, roast conch and plantain gratin in coconut rum sauce are served against a backdrop of St Lucia’s famous Pitons and the forested slopes of the island above the sea.