The legend goes that Helen of Troy’s beauty was so great, wars were fought over her. While British and French troops may not have fought for St Lucia’s beauty specifically – more for her resources, which perhaps amounts to the same thing when all’s said and done – the nickname ‘the Helen of the West Indies’ has endured.
If you’re going to visit St Lucia and want to experience as many facets of her natural beauty as possible, here are ten ways to do just that.
1. Visit Mamiku Botanical Gardens
The historic Mamiku Botanical Gardens at Micoud were designed by one of the Caribbean’s top landscape gardeners. Explore natural woodland trails and expertly landscaped gardens, around the ruins of an 18th century French aristocratic family’s estate. The place oozes history and of course the natural surroundings are breathtaking.
2. Go to the drive-in volcano
St Lucia’s dormant volcano is said to be the only drive-through volcano in the world. When you visit the volcano you’ll see clouds of steam escaping through vents in the crater, and smell the sulphur, which has a very distinctive eggy aroma; if you’re travelling with children it’s fun to invent stories about what makes the smell (a giant with a bellyache is one of our favourites!)
3. Bathe in the sulphur springs and mineral mud baths
The sulphur springs and mineral mud baths are a result of volcanic activity, and many people – tourists and locals alike – enjoy slathering themselves in the mud, waiting for it to dry, and then rinsing it off in the hot springs or nearby freshwater showers. The mud is said to be very good for the skin, keeping it youthful and soft.
4. See the Pitons
The Pitons – our gigantic, pointy mountains – are St Lucia’s most famous landmark, giving their name to (among many other brands) the island’s popular Piton beer, which is available at most restaurants and bars in St Lucia. Climbing the Pitons isn’t for the faint of heart (Gros Piton is 771m, and Petit Piton is 743m high); if you can’t face a full climb, it’s worth taking a day trip to see these majestic peaks, even if you’re going to look at them from the ground.
5. Take a whale and dolphin watching trip
More than 20 species of whale and dolphin live in and visit St Lucian waters, including pilot whales, sperm whales, humpbacks and false Orcas, and bottlenose and Fraser dolphins. Whale and dolphin watching boat trips in St Lucia are very reasonably priced; expect to pay about US$45 per person for a 3-hour tour.
6. Watch turtles nesting by moonlight
If you’re out on a whale and dolphin spotting trip, you may also see a turtle or two. But if it’s specifically turtles you want to see, visit St Lucia between March and August when the giant leatherback turtles will be nesting on the beach at Grand Anse. You’ll need to make an overnight visit as the nesting take place at night, and of course with the turtle’s protected status your trip will be well monitored; but it’s well worth any minor inconvenience for the experience of seeing these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.
7. Take a tour of the rainforest
Lush rainforest covers much of St Lucia, and there are many organisations providing guided tours. Rainforest activities available include ziplining, hiking and cycling, as well as birdwatching trips, which are really special; if you’re visiting St Lucia’s rainforest, keep an eye out for the elusive St Lucian parrot, known locally as the Jacquot.
8. Visit Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens
Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens is home to the Diamond Falls waterfall, one of the natural wonders of St Lucia. At this beautiful tropical attraction there’s a huge variety of tropical flora and fauna to see, hot mineral springs, nature trails, a restaurant – and, of course, the magnificent waterfall itself.
9. Dive in!
Once you’ve seen St Lucia’s above-ground natural wonders, take a look at what’s going on underwater. St Lucia’s best dive sites are too numerous to describe fully here, but Anse Chastanet, Superman’s Flight and Fairy Land are all worth a mention. If you prefer snorkelling to diving, Anse Chastanet is again a popular spot – and snorkelling here in Marigot Bay is also very enjoyable, with plenty to see in the clear, shallow waters.
10. Look around you!
Just sitting on the beach, or at a waterside restaurant, or even on your hotel veranda are all great ways to see the natural beauty of St Lucia on those days when you don’t feel like an excursion. From fish swimming around your ankles to bullfinches eating crumbs from your hand, in St Lucia you’re only ever a couple of inches away from Mother Nature’s miracles.
If you’d like to organise a trip to any of these attractions during your stay at Marigot Beach Club and Dive Resort, please speak to our front desk team who will be happy to help.