St. Lucia’s landscape is a magnificent mix of valleys, rainforests, beaches, cliffs and mountains. If that isn’t enough to get you off the ship to explore, then perhaps you’ll be enticed by the variety of local fare, intrigued by the cultural history or seduced by St. Lucia being known as the top romantic destination for couples. Whatever your motivation, there is something in St. Lucia for every liking.
The two towering volcanic spires located near the town of Soufriere are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can climb them, snorkel below them, drive by them, helicopter over them and eat lunch between them. You can make lunch reservations for one of two stunning resorts that sit nestled between the Pitons, both offering views of the majestic mountains and incredible menus. Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, is directly on the beach, while Ladera sits up above it, tucked into the mountainside. Custom-designed excursions, such as those offered by Real St. Lucia Tours, allow you lunch where you want, in addition to helping you choose your own way of experiencing the awe of the Pitons. You’ll also have multiple excursion options offered by the cruise lines.
Get harnessed in for a thrill-seeker’s dream ride through the jungle. Safety comes first, and then it’s all fun and games while you zoom through the banyan trees. Treetop Adventure Park is located near the village of Dennery on the island’s east coast. In addition to a beautiful garden area with paved pathways, it features 12 different zip lines that will have your adrenaline pumping as you zigzag through the trees. With Treetop’s Day of Adventure package, you’ll also journey deeper into the rainforest along a nature path to one of the island’s largest natural waterfalls — a perfect cool off on a hot island day! You can book this directly through Treetop and they will pick you up at the cruise terminal.
St. Lucia has the only drive-in volcano in the Caribbean, and it’s surrounded by bubbling sulphur springs that trickle into hot mud baths. Come for a dip that local legend says will make you look and feel younger. Outdoor showers are available, but for an extra-special rinse, book a shore excursion that takes you to the nearby warm Piton Falls or the Jerusalem Mineral Baths. We don’t recommend doing this on your own because it’s an hour drive from the cruise terminal, but you do have options for booking. Check out the excursions your ship offers, as well as excursions by local tour operators like Real Saint Lucia Tours, Cosol St. Lucia Tours or Joe Knows St. Lucia. All of these tour operators will pick you up from the cruise terminal.
In a colorful, private kitchen nestled in the hills of Cap Estate is Spices Cooking Studio, where “liming” is part of the program. Liming is a Caribbean term that means gathering to share food, drinks and laughs. Visitors choose from various seasonal menus of Lucian fare and cook together in a fun and relaxed group setting. Spices does all the real prep work for you, like chopping vegetables and dicing herbs, so a little mixing and stirring while you follow a recipe is all you’ll have to do. Sessions finish with a “grande mange” to share the meal prepared, with views of the valley below. (30-to-40-minute cab ride that will cost around $30 each way)
Naked Fisherman Beach Bar and Grill
Lounge on Smugglers Cove dark-sand beach while sipping one of the best-made rum punches on the island. The Naked Fisherman Beach Bar and Grill is a quaint, open-aired restaurant located at the bottom of a long stone staircase, leading you not only to great food but to a secluded beach beneath Cap Maison, the hotel made even more noteworthy when it appeared on TV’s hit reality series “The Bachelor” in 2010. (30-to-40-minute cab ride)
Anse Chastanet Beach
All of Saint Lucia's beaches are open to the public, but the beach at Anse Chastanet sure feels private. Located just down from the noted luxury resorts of Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet itself, the beach is intimate and fully serviced by the hotel staff. Snorkeling and scuba diving are extremely optimal here; arrange for the latter in advance with Anse Chastanet's resort staff or Jungle Reef Adventures. It's here that former Playboy model and reality show star Kendra Wilkinson spent her honeymoon. Now you know.
Pigeon Island is both national park and national landmark, and home to the island’s popular annual Jazz Festival each May. It’s a 44-acre reserve rich in culture, with 18th-century military relics and informational signs telling the story of St. Lucia’s colorful island history. Visitors can hike to lookout points for panoramic views, eat Lucian cuisine at Jambe de Bois, swim at one of two beaches, or try out the unique water sports offered by Jetovator Flight St. Lucia, such as the Flyboard. Haven’t you always wanted to fly like Ironman? (30-to-40-minute cab ride)
Some of the island’s best snorkeling can be found in the marine reserve just off the shores of Anse Chastenet Beach, which lies directly under the famed luxury resort Jade Mountain (30-minute water taxi ride). In addition to this protected reef area, pristine dive and snorkel sites line the island’s eastern coast and are easily accessed both by organized dive and snorkel groups that will pick you up at the cruise terminal, such as Eastern Caribbean Diving, as well as licensed water taxis, whom often provide snorkel equipment.
Historic plantations and estates abound in St. Lucia, with crops of cocoa, coffee, bananas and more. In Soufriere on the Rabot Estate, every Wednesday and Friday at 1:00 p.m., Hotel Chocolat offers a “Tree to Bar” tour through their cocoa groves, during which visitors select ripe cacao pods from the tree and then go through the stages to make chocolate with the beans they roast themselves.
Nearby Fond Doux Plantation and Resort offers a tour and lunch package that takes you around their working plantation and preserved colonial buildings, along with serving you a true “plantation to plate” meal. Soufriere is a 90-minute car ride away from port, but many taxi drivers are also trained as licensed tour guides and will happily help you create your own custom-made tour. The average island tour by taxi is $200, but that’s negotiable depending on the number of people and how many stops you want to make. Taxis are distinguished by a “TX” on the license plate. All plantation tours require pre-booking.
Located in the heart of St. Lucia’s capital city of Castries and a five minute walk from the cruise ship terminal, this bustling block of vendors sells handcrafted souvenirs, fruits and vegetables, fresh fish, island-grown spices, local eats and has characters aplenty. It’s biggest and busiest on Saturdays and closed on Sundays. Outside the market the streets are lined with various peddlers, mom-and-pop restaurants and taxi drivers touting their tour-guide skills. (5-to-10-minute walk from cruise ship terminal)
Sheltered inlets, along with constant trade winds off the Atlantic Ocean, make St. Lucia a haven for kite surfers (also known as kite boarders). The Aquaholics is the most popular kite-surfing school on St. Lucia’s north end. Cas-en-Bas beach, where Aquaholics is located, regularly draws a local kiting crowd if the wind is right.
They offer Jet Ski-assisted lessons if you’re not a seasoned kiter, plus all the equipment you’ll need to learn this high-flying extreme sport. Aquaholics has hammocks strung for maximum relaxation in between sessions, and Marjorie’s Restaurant and Beach Bar serves up cold Piton Beer, so even if you just want to watch, it will still count as a good beach day. (35-to-45-minute cab ride to Aquaholics)