Give yourself plenty of time to explore St Lucia‘s best outdoor attractions. Don’t spend all day on the beach. Get out and discover the island’s stunning sights and surprising natural features.
Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens
Covering six acres and winning multiple awards as a favorite tourist site, Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens is a peaceful retreat after a day on the beach. Walk through the amazing beauty of lush foliage and tropical flowers to Diamond Falls, a 56 ft/17m-tall cascade of mineral-laced water that creates an ever-changing multicolored stream as it tumbles down from the Diamond River.
Other attractions in the gardens include mineral baths that were built in 1784 by the French troops of King Louis XVI. Today the restored baths plus three additional pools are praised by residents and visitors for their therapeutic effects. Changing rooms and a restaurant are on site.
Dive into a bit of island history at this park which was originally a key military fortification. In 1778, the British attacked and took St. Lucia from the French in retaliation for their support of colonists during the American Revolution. At the time, this area was a true island and the ideal naval base where the English could keep an eye on their nearby French foes.
Pigeon Island now is connected to mainland St. Lucia by a causeway and the 40-acre national park is an ideal location for a leisurely stroll. A marked trail leads up to Fort Rodney, where you can explore the stone ruins of the military installation. More energetic visitors will want to climb to the island’s highest point, 330 ft/100.5 m Signal Peak, for a panoramic view of the inland mountains and sandy coastline. Look for the French island of Martinique to the north and you’ll understand why Admiral Rodney secured this spot back in the 1700s. You’ll tackle some steep rocks going from the fort ruins to Signal Peak, but the trek is short and views from the top are worth the effort.
Officially called Sulphur Springs, this smelly spot is a top tourist attraction. In fact, you may want to avoid it on days when cruise ships are in port and hundreds of passengers are looking for a unique excursion.
The crater is actually a hissing field of vents spewing chemistry-lab odors and steam. It’s considered dormant and last erupted in the 1700s, so there is little danger of an unpredicted explosion. Visitors are allowed to drive close to the scalding pits and then continue on foot along a railed path to safely view the bubbling hot springs and fizzling vapors.
The interior of St. Lucia is covered by dense forest and protected by the government’s Forestry Department. You’ll need a permit and an official guide to hike the trails. The easy interpretive trails in the Union Nature Reserve offer a good orientation to the island’s plants, trees, and wildlife.
Viewing St. Lucia’s rainforest from the air is especially thrilling. Two outfitters offer a zip line or aerial tram experience: Rain Forest Sky Rides and Treetop Adventure Park. Both companies also offer a variety of hiking, biking, and jeep tours in the forest.
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These volcanic peaks are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are extraordinary for the way they soar steeply up from the Caribbean Sea. They’re visible from many places on the island, and it’s possible to hike Gros Piton with a guide. If a challenging hike isn’t in your vacation plans, at least stop at the community of Fond Gens Libre at the base of the mountain to visit the Interpretation Center. After you see the exhibits of plants and birds that live on the mountain, you may be motivated to take a stroll along the first part of the gently sloping trail.
Tet Paul Nature Trail
This easy hiking trail is called “The Stairway to Heaven” because it leads to an observation point with a blissful view of the Twin Pitons. Since it cuts through private land, you must pay an entrance fee ($) and follow a friendly guide from the local Château Belair community. Along the way, your guide will point out fruit trees and herbs that can be used as medicine.
It’s worth your time to search for this scenic spot on the east coast between the villages of Praslin and Mon Repos. Paths meander through the 12-acre grounds to historical ruins at the top of a hill. Around 300 trees and plants are identified on the property. You can take a guided tour of Mamiku or pick up a map and stroll through the gardens on your own.