From Reefs to Rainforests, there's much to discover
St. Lucia is one of the most scenic islands in the Caribbean. Iconic mountain peaks rise dramatically from palm-shrouded Caribbean coves, and surf-washed beaches face the blue Atlantic Ocean. Narrow forested valleys hide waterfalls and clear flowing streams. Resorts nestle into waterfront greenery or perch on hillsides to deliver expansive views of sea and sky. And then there are the reefs.
Close and Colorful
Along St. Lucia's sheltered western coast, sloping coral reefs run close to shore and are nurtured by a steady flow of clear Caribbean water. This provides an ideal environment for divers seeking easy immersions on colorful, fish-filled sites and formations covered in a kaleidoscopic blanket of soft corals and sponges. Island waters also accommodate those who want to ride the currents, explore a wreck or venture into greater depths. If you don't already know St. Lucia, it might be time to dive into its underwater riches.
The region north of the town of Castries and near the Pigeon Island National Monument offers some of the most relaxed diving environments. This area includes a number of shallow reefs that can be accessed from shore, with slopes that begin at depths of 15 to 20 feet and drop gradually to 40 to 60 feet, with numerous trenches and shelves to explore. Also in the area are several exposed rock islands that rise from an intermediate sand bottom, with profiles that attract eagle rays, barracuda, kingfish and schooling snapper and jacks. Near Pigeon Island, fields of large boulders provide hiding places for moray eels and a variety of crustaceans.
The Central Scene
The underwater landscape transitions to steeper slopes as you move south and many of St. Lucia's most popular and dramatic dive sites are situated on the west-central coast of Anse Cochon and the Anse Chastanet region. This area includes two wrecks and a range of walls, pinnacles and reef slopes with vertical drops of more than 100 feet. Mild currents are encountered at some sites, making for enjoyable drift diving. Notable sites include Anse La Raye Wall, where eagle rays often follow divers on a drift along a sloping wall that drops to a depth of 110 feet. Anse Cochon delivers walls, pinnacles, coral heads, boulder fields and sandy shallows on a single dive, and semi-circular Turtle Reef is covered in the large barrel sponges that are a signature of many St. Lucia dive sites. Nearby, the 165-foot cargo vessel Lesleen M sits upright at a depth of 65 feet. The open hold and shallow pilothouse of this wreck are ideal for first-time wreck divers and a good place to search for small marine life. A mile to the west, a huge abandoned dredge, the Daini Koyomaru sits on its side at a depth of 100 feet, with its machinery intact and awaiting exploration.
Lucia's most famous dive sites are found near the twin volcanic spires known as the Pitons. Most famous is the House Reef at Anse Chastanet, which is done both as a shore dive from the resort of the same name, or by boat. Dropping from depths of 25 feet to beyond 140, this reef supports more than 150 species of fish. Two of the island's more adventurous sites are also nearby. Superman's flight is a drift dive at the base of Petit Piton that carries divers along a wall that plunges to more than 1,000 feet. With typically excellent visibility, this profile creates the sensation of weightless flight. The Keyhole Pinnacles are a group of four tall spires that perch close together on the edge of a steep slope, reaching almost to the surface. Divers can swim into the narrow gaps between these monolithic formations to discover a wealth of fish and invertebrates.
Beyond the Reefs
Ecotourism is at least as popular as diving on this green island. More than three-quarters of St. Lucia remains covered in forests, with substantial portions of the land protected within national parks and nature preserves. Miles of hiking trails give access to sites ranging from remote beaches to mountain ridges and volcanic valleys. The most famous hike is the path up Soufriere Volcano, where trekkers journey into an alien landscape of bubbling mud pools and odoriferous sulfur hot springs. A steep climb to the summit of Gros Piton will challenge the fit, and reward with amazing views. Less demanding are the shaded pathways of the Millet Bird Sanctuary and the Diamond Botanical Garden, which is home to one of the most colorful waterfalls in the Caribbean.
Bike Rides and Canopy Glides
Swap hiking shoes for bike shorts and more back-country adventures await. Offroad riding in St. Lucia centers around the Anse Mamin Plantation, which is part of the 600-acre estate belonging to the Anse Chastanet Resort. Here, miles of off-road bike trails run through jungle foliage and the abandoned stone structures of a French sugar plantation. All trails are mulched to reduce mud and prevent erosion. Roots and other sharp projections are removed, and there are routes suitable for novices to experts. Different thrills await at La Sourciere Mountain. Here, an elevated tramway ferries passengers up the green-clad slopes of a forest reserve, where a network of ziplines runs through the forest canopy, providing exhilarating flights that showcase aspects of the highland rainforest that can't be seen from the ground.
Paddling excursions take place all along St. Lucia's western coast, which is sheltered from trade winds and easterly Atlantic swells. A number of resorts provide kayaks and stand up paddleboards for local exploration, and there is also a wide range of organized tours to enjoy, including longer routes that venture into the mouths of coastal rivers and over coral reefs. Itineraries may also include stops at remote beaches, seaside villages and snorkel sites. Favorite itineraries include trips to the nature park and an 18th-century British fort at Pigeon Island, entries into the banyan-tree shaded channel of the Roseau River and sunset paddles around the pitons.
Equally interesting for many visitors is simply spending some time getting to know the island and its people. A long political tug-of-war for sovereignty between France and England saw the island change hands some 14 times over a 200 year period, creating a unique cultural blend of Anglo and Franco traditions that intermingle with the traditions of West Africa. While the official language of the island is English, a great deal of the St. Lucians speak French "Patois" which adds further to the island's tropical mystique. St. Lucia's heritage and culture can be discovered not only on formal tours of historic sites and landmarks, but also by simply visiting a local market, or joining the weekly village street parties known as Fish Fry. Bigger events include annual celebrations such as Carnival, Dive Fest, Chocolate Heritage Month and the Jazz & Arts Festival
St. Lucia's lush surroundings set the stage for unique and upscale resorts that blend luxury, indulgence and rejuvenation. Premier spas focus on therapies adapted to fit the needs of each individual patron. In addition to traditional massage and cleansing programs, guests can experience specialties such as Chavutti Deep Barefoot massage, Anpagal four-hands massage, and touch therapies from a Master Bhutanese Practitioner, who delivers Kora Healing through a combination of deep tissue massage, Indian stretches and Reiki energy work. Many signature treatments feature natural and organic ingredients from the island's virgin rainforest, lush mountain valleys and mineral-rich volcanic waters. Guests can also opt for in-room treatments and sessions set on private terraces overlooking the Caribbean.
Healthy and Happy
Equally popular as this pampering are the integrated wellness, fitness and nutrition programs that can turn a vacation into a physical and mental reboot. Days can begin with beachside yoga and include guided walks that encourage mindful awareness of nature or Pranayama meditative breathing sessions to calm and strengthen the mind. On a less mystical note, activities such as afternoon sails, dolphin-watching cruises and waterfall swims also work to create an overall sense of well-being and satisfaction.
A Matter of Good Taste
The island's rich volcanic soil yields a cornucopia of tropical fruits and vegetables. This bounty is reflected in the savory dishes of traditional Creole cooking, and it has inspired a new wave of organic and fusion cuisines that have earned island chef's top honors in international culinary competitions. In addition to enlivening resort kitchens, St. Lucia's farms and orchards support a thriving agricultural export sector that includes bananas and chocolate. One of the island's sweetest day trips involves a tour of historic cacao plantations, followed by a chance to create your own chocolate confections.
If a trip to St. Lucia sounds sweet, Caradonna Adventures can make it a reality. We can arrange flights and transfers, recommend the best hotels for your lifestyle and budget, and set you up with dive operators and tour companies to create the perfect island escape. Just give us a call at 1-800-330-6611 or drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. Discover Saint Lucia for yourself.