The destination I was most excited to explore during my week-long cruise of the eastern Caribbean was St. Lucia. From what I knew of the island, I imagined lush vegetation punctuated by mountainous terrain and pristine beaches – and I can assure you, St. Lucia did not disappoint.
About St. Lucia
St. Lucia is an island nation that lies between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The terrain consists of rolling hills and mountains, as well as stunning beaches that are all open to the public. The population is 182,000 and the currency is the East Caribbean dollar, although the U.S. dollar is widely accepted and used. English is the official language, with French patois being spoken among locals.
Since we were in St. Lucia for a limited amount of time on our cruise, we reserved a full day tour so we could see as much as possible. Here were some of the highlights.
We started our time in St. Lucia by driving away from the capital and port city of Castries and heading upwards to Morne Fortune, a hill that overlooks the harbor and city. We could see the cruise ships that were docked that day, including ours – the Carnival Fascination, the biggest of the ships in port.
We then head to a banana farm, where we were able to walk among the banana trees. Bananas in St. Lucia are slightly smaller and sweeter than South American bananas, and by all accounts were delicious. They’re also covered with plastic bags to protect them from insects. Bananas are a main ingredient in St. Lucian cuisine, and are also shipped abroad – mostly to Britain as St. Lucia is a British commonwealth country.
We continued on to this overlook and rest stop where our tour guides brought out the fun stuff – rum punch and Piton beer. St. Lucia, like many Caribbean islands, produces their own rum on the island.
Next it was time for a late breakfast. As part of our tour, we knew a St. Lucian breakfast would be included – but we had no idea how massive the breakfast spread would be! The picture above shows one table of the SEVEN that were full of food, and our guides were handing out other cooked goods as well. All of it was delicious – this was the largest meal I ate all week – and we were grateful to experience such wonderful traditional St Lucian food.
After filling our tummies up, we continued on through the town of Anse la Raye and up to a viewpoint overlooking it. Anse la Raye is known on the island for their “Fish Fridays” – on Friday nights local fisherman bring in their catches of the day and they get cooked up by vendors lining the street for all to enjoy.
As we continued on we came upon one of the scenic natural highlights that St. Lucia is best known for – the Pitons. The Pitons are twin cone-shaped peaks near the town of the Soufriere, with the larger peak being named Gros Piton and the smaller, Petit Piton.
Of course, we just had to snap a family selfie with these lovely peaks.
After, we took a water taxi to Jalouise Beach which is nestled between Gros Piton and Petit Piton in the aptly named Pitons Bay. Here we had the option to snorkel or just swim with the mountainous backdrop.
St. Lucia is a volcanic island, and has the only “drive in” volcano in the world as the road runs right up and through the crater of the volcano. Known as Sulphur Springs locally – it smells like rotten eggs, the volcano emits steam and has boiling mud and water. The volcano is considered to be dormant as the last eruption was in the 18th century.
Our last stop of the day was Toraille Falls, where you can go for a dip in the water. The falls were rather busy when we visited, so we just took it in from a distance.
Realities of Life in St. Lucia
While St. Lucia was entirely the tropical oasis I imagined, one thing that stuck with me from the day was our tour guide, Adrian, making a very honest comment. He told me “St. Lucia has 25% unemployment, no minimum wage, and health care is all paid out of pocket: welcome to Paradise”. Tourism is essential to St. Lucia’s economy, especially as the banana market – one of their other main industries – has gotten more and more competitive. With this, I urge visitors to try to support local businesses as much as possible (the tour I did is run and owned by St. Lucians).
We did a full day tour with COSOL tours. The tour is $75 per adult and $65 for children. All the activities, entries to sites, and food in this post were included in the tour price, as well as pick up and drop off at the cruise port.