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Things to see and do
Explore Castries, a city located in one of the most beautiful spots in the Caribbean. Surrounded by hills, its large harbour at the head of a wide bay is a constant hive of activity. Head for the spacious Derek Walcott Square which features a 19th-century Catholic cathedral, standing in the shade of a 400-year-old samaan tree. There is also a colourful, bustling market.
Walk up Morne Fortune, where visitors have the chance to see the fortification which defends Castries. It also provides a magnificent panorama of the city and the surrounding area.
Check out the weekly Friday street party at Gros Islet, on the northwest coast of the island, stages a street party every Friday. Nearby Pigeon Island National Landmark has a small museum telling the history of the island. It was from here that Admiral Rodney set sail in 1782 and destroyed the French fleet in the Battle of the Saintes, one of the most decisive engagements in European history.
Head to the top of Marigot Bay, a secluded, palm-fringed paradise. From here you can visit the Cul de Sac – an area famous for its three large banana plantations where the original Dr Dolittle was filmed.
Take a trip to Soufrière, the second-largest settlement on the island. This deep-water port stands at the foot of two extinct volcanoes known as the Pitons. Rising to 798m (2,619ft) above sea level, these are probably St Lucia’s most famous landmarks. The town itself is typically West Indian, a cluster of brightly painted arcaded buildings set against the jungle vista.
Marvel at the Diamond Waterfalls in the Diamond Botanical Gardens and Sulphur Springs – St Lucia’s ‘drive-in volcano’.
Visit the picturesque little villages of Choiseul and Laborie, which are surrounded by splendid vegetation. The Morne Coubaril Estate (www.stluciaziplining.com) is also worth a visit with cocoa, manioc and sugar cane plantations to visit, plus there are ziplining activities for the more adventurous.
Travel back in time on a plantation tour. Fond d’Or Nature Historic Park covers the Amerindian settlements and historic buildings of the sugar age and the tropical forest surrounding it.
Anse de Sable
Get active at the sandy beach of Anse de Sable which offers ideal windsurfing conditions for both novices and experts. The waves at Cas en Bas and Vieux Fort are a challenge even for the most experienced. Island guests can enjoy waterskiing and parasailing above Rodney Bay.
Go snorkelling and scuba-diving on St Lucia’s natural and artificial coral. It is not uncommon to see turtles, nurse sharks and seahorse whilst swimming in the clear blue waters. Popular diving sites include Anse Chastanet, Anse Le Raye, Coral Gardens at the base of the Gros Piton, Fairy Land at the base of Anse Chastanet and Lesleen M Shipwreck.
Turtle and whale watching
Head out to sea on a turtle and whale watching trip – a great experience for all animal lovers. St Lucia is said to be one of the best places in the world to see whales – 20 species can be seen off the coast, including sperm whales, pilot whales and humpbacks.
Hotels offer hobbycats, dinghies and small speedboats by the hour or half-day. From Marigot Bay and Rodney Bay, the more experienced sailor can hire a variety of craft. Tour operators can also arrange for stays to be coupled with a ‘free floating’ holiday on board a chartered yacht visiting the neighbouring islands.
Soar above the rainforest on a canopy tour. Adrenaline lovers can fly along a series of ziplines from 30 to 150m (100 to 500ft) in length connecting nine platforms 9 to 15m (30 to 50ft) above the ground.
Rainforests and mountains
Explore the island’s rainforest, mountain and plantation walks. Local guides are available to help climbers tackle the Pitons. The main areas designated for birdwatching are the Bois d’Orange Swamp, Boriel’s Pond and the Piton Flore Reserve.