From the soaring twin Pitons in the volcanic south to the sweeping sandy arc of St Lucia’s main Reduit Beach in the north, its tropical mix of lush rainforest, sparkling waterfalls and secluded bays has given this isle bundles of exotic appeal.
The capital Castries is where most cruise ships dock and is also the island’s shopping hub with two duty-free shopping areas filled with stores and restaurants.
But St Lucia’s main attractions lie beyond the city limits. Not far away is the resort of Rodney Bay – a lively hub of beach bars, boutiques and hotels sitting by a golden sand beach which curves in an arc to local beauty spot, Pigeon Island.
This isn’t actually an island, but is joined to the mainland by a man-made causeway and as a former pirate hideout and military base, boasts more history than any other part of St Lucia.
In the south, around the town of Soufriere – also a cruise stop for smaller ships – St Lucia takes on a more rugged persona, dominated by the distinctive Pitons which tower majestically into the sky.
Here, visitors can find the world’s only drive-in volcano along with sulphur springs and the mineral rich waters of the Diamond Falls waterfall, known for therapeutic qualities.
Adventurers can explore the mountainous terrain on hiking and walking trails or, for a faster pace, take horseback, cycling or quad-biking excursions. Alternatively, fly through the trees on a zip-wire or ride through the rainforest in the Aerial Tram.
Visits to old plantation houses help to bring alive St Lucia’s colonial past, reflecting a tumultuous period when it changed hands between the British and the French a staggering 14 times. The strong Gallic flavour is evident today in the island’s strong Creole culture.