It’s most commonly visited by tourists via a cruise, but the small island of St Lucia offers so much more than a few snapshots along the shore. Like most of its neighbouring Caribbean islands, St Lucia is popular for year-round tropical weather and stunning beaches, but venture inwards and you’ll find countless rainforests and striking mountains that set it apart from any other isle. And it’s not just great to look at. Those who are game for a slice of adventure can swing right across the jungle Tarzan-style – via zipline – at Rainforest Adventures in Chassin, Babonneau. The series of platforms increase in height as you hike up the trail to keep things interesting, but if the height doesn’t scare you, the illusion of hitting the tall, tropical trees as you approach might.
On top of the world
The volcanic rock formation of the island makes tours at altitude a St Lucia speciality. Serious hikers (or daredevils) can hike up 950m Mount Gimie, the island’s tallest peak, or the smaller but steeper of the twin peaks, Petit Piton. Not quite as daring as some, we chose to climb 786m up Gros Piton, which can be covered within four hours on average (up and down). The hike is suitable for beginners but not without some sweat and struggle – especially towards the second half of the climb! But once you’ve clambered up to the top, there’s nothing that beats the view that greets you, or the exhilaration you feel to see paradise stretched out before you.
For those who want to experience St Lucia’s natural beauty but aren’t a fan of working up a sweat, the Sulphur Springs is a must-visit. The 45-hectare park is the most active geothermal area in the Lesser Antilles and can be accessed by car, hence being dubbed the only ‘drive-in volcano’ in the Caribbean. Prepare to see bubbling hot springs and plumes of steam burst from the crater, with temperatures of up to 100 degrees Celsius. After hearing that a dip in the sulphuric water can be healing for the skin, we got stuck right into the hot bath and copied those around us who were exfoliating away with the sulphur mud deposits and granules. You may not be able to wash off all the sulphur in one sitting, but the relaxing experience is totally worth it.
Your ultimate holiday hide-out
And if relaxation is indeed on the top of your agenda, then there’s no better than Jade Mountain Resort to attend to your needs. The high-end, boutique resort is cleverly tucked away inside the 600-acre Anse Chastanet resort and is best-known as the Caribbean’s award-winning holiday hide-out. You’ll find it impossible
to not be in awe of the architecture and philosophy behind the open plan apartments, which each come with an individual bridge, private infinity pool and clear view of The Pitons mountains. The tech-free resort (you really won’t find a telly in sight) was designed to bring guests closer to nature and appreciate the beauty of St Lucia. As if that wasn’t enough to reel you in, the resort is also self-sustaining with a plantation that produces spices, nuts, fruit, vegetables and, last but definitely not least, cacao for its own estate chocolate. Who knew chocolate worked so well with ingredients like chilli and lemongrass?
The culinary treats don’t stop there. You’ll learn from the first day that any and all seafood dishes are made fresh (caught hours before your meal, if not that morning). Whether it was calamari, lobster or St Lucia’s local fish, the mahi-mahi – the meat always tasted excep-tionally tender. Don’t miss out on the Caribbean classic, jerk chicken, and the country’s version of a potato, bread fruit – the chips were strangely addictive. And of course, pair every meal with a rum ice tea. But be warned: it’ll never taste quite as delicious when you get back home.
A unique destination that fuses nature and adventure with luxury, St Lucia is the Caribbean’s hidden gem.
The best of the bunch
Here’s our pick of the top places to stay in St Lucia:
A popular choice for weddings and celebs – you might chance upon a high profile event…
Capella Marigot Bay
The bay has long been considered a safe haven from the tide so often receives visits from luxury yachts.
Your room is on the beach and comes with a personal butler – need we say more?
Fancy a challenge? The Saint Lucia triathlon is back again this year for the fourth time running, inviting participants to run, cycle and swim on the picturesque island. The triathlon takes place on November 19th 2016, offering three different distances. For more information visit www.tristlucia.com.