Beach bliss with a twist of Caribbean spirit
St Lucia boasts some of the most dramatic scenery in the Caribbean – rainforest-cloaked volcanoes, thundering waterfalls, hot springs and bubbling mud pools. Its most famous mountains are the Pitons: verdant twin peaks that have starred in hundreds of travel brochures and guidebooks and now have UNESCO World Heritage protection.
Honey-coloured sandy bays skirt the island. You'll find the best beaches in the north and south-west – hop on a boat to discover the more secluded spots. The reef just off Anse Chastanet beach is home to brightly coloured parrotfish and seahorses and is great for snorkelling. Divers can explore the reef even further, discovering coral gardens and dramatic drop-offs. If you're at Grand Anse Beach between April and June, keep your eyes peeled for leatherback sea turtles – they come here to lay their eggs in the sand.
Back on dry land, you can search for the rare St Lucia parrot in the rainforest, visit the world's only drive-in volcano at Soufrière, or explore the botanical gardens and hot springs at Diamond Falls.
A trip to the island's historical capital, Castries, is a must. Spend the morning bargaining for souvenirs in the market, before popping in to a clapboard rum shop for a local tipple. Castries' exquisitely decorated cathedral is also worth a look.
If you're eating out, there are plenty of fantastic local dishes to try. Sample callaloo soup (a green vegetable soup), spicy pepperpot stew, or saltfish with green figs (the island's national dish).
Flight time from the UK to St Lucia is around 8 hours 30 minutes.
St Lucia is hot all year round, although the summer months coincide with hurricane season, and the heaviest rainfall is between June and November. Good news if you fancy some winter sun – the driest months are between December and March, when the average temperature is a balmy 28°C.
Currently visas are not required for UK citizens travelling to St Lucia.
A 10% gratuity charge will typically be added to your hotel and restaurant bills in St Lucia, so check carefully. Any additional tipping is at your discretion, although 10% is a good guide. A dollar or two would be appreciated by maids, porters and drivers.
The official language of St Lucia is English.
When travelling to St Lucia, the following immunisations are recommended: hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. All routine immunisations should be up to date. For full details, please contact your GP.