Saint Lucia

Consider visiting the Eastern Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. That is the easy decision. The hard part is determining how many places you can experience, especially if you only have one day. This travel guide suggests two itineraries: a northern or southern driving tour along the west coast. Afterwards, spend time in the capital city of Castries.

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Saint Lucia is the Second Largest Windward Island - Encircle Photos

1 Saint Lucia is the Second Largest Windward Island

Saint Lucia is in the Eastern Caribbean located south of Martinique and north of Saint Vincent. Measuring 27 by 14 miles, it is the second largest of the Windward Islands. It became an independent state in 1979 but still reflects the influence of the French and British. They exchange control of the island fourteen times, earning it the nickname, “Helen of the West Indies.” Most Saint Lucians speak Creole and their currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar. But you will find the English language and the U.S. dollar are always welcome. And so are you!

Castries Harbor, St. Lucia
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Approaching Capital City of Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

2 Approaching Capital City of Castries, Saint Lucia

You are approaching Castries, the capital city of Saint Lucia. Over one million people a year visit this West Indies island. They contribute 65% to this sovereign country’s GDP. Tourists primarily come from December through May (the dry season) in order to savor the tropical climate (averages 70°F to 90°F), volcanic mountain scenery, lush rainforest (19,000 acres) and 100 miles of coastline along the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

Castries Harbor, Castries, St. Lucia
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Pointe Seraphine Cruise Terminal in Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

3 Pointe Seraphine Cruise Terminal in Castries, Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia accommodates cruise ships at two terminals. The primary one is the Pointe Seraphine Cruise Port Terminal shown here along the northern shore of Castries Harbor. It is very near the airport and about a 20 minute walk to the city center. The alternative is La Place Carenage Cruise Port Terminal situated within steps of downtown. At either facility, taxi drivers and tour guides will greet you as you disembark. This travel guide provides two ways to explore the island. The first is the beach circuit along the northwest coast (photos 4 thru 20). An alternative is a drive along the southwest coast down to Soufrière (photos 21 thru 46). Either option should allow enough time for a self-guided tour of downtown Castries (photos 47 thru 53) before returning to your ship. Have a wonderful day visiting Saint Lucia.

Pointe Seraphine Cruise Terminal, Point Seraphine, Castries, St. Lucia
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Beach Circuit North of Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

4 Beach Circuit North of Castries, Saint Lucia

Beaches are the primary tourist attraction on Saint Lucia. There are three sections. The east coast faces the rough Atlantic surf. The windward side is great for sunning but not for swimming. Most beaches along the southwest tend to be isolated except by boat with black sand from neighboring dormant volcanoes. The prime stretches of golden shore are in the northwest along the calm waters of the Caribbean Sea. So, grab a pen and paper. You are going on a tour of Saint Lucia’s best beaches starting at Castries and heading to the island’s northern tip. Your first stop is Vigie Beach.

Peninsular Rd, Castries, St. Lucia
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Shoreline of Vigie Beach near Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

5 Shoreline of Vigie Beach near Castries, Saint Lucia

As you fly into Saint Lucia for the start of your winter vacation, you may see Vigie Beach out your plane window. It is adjacent to George F. L. Charles Airport about two miles north of the capital city of Castries. This is a great stretch of Caribbean shoreline to spend your day. Vigie Beach attracts more locals than tourists. It offers a tree-lined shoreline with gorgeous sand. There is also a snack shack on the beach and a few restaurants within walking distance. The only demerit comes from the lack of a public restroom.

Peninsular Rd, Castries, St. Lucia
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Calm Surf at Choc Beach near Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

6 Calm Surf at Choc Beach near Castries, Saint Lucia

The next beach to consider along the northwest coastline is Choc Beach. Again, it is a short distance from Castries and easily accessible along the Gros Islet Highway. This is a favorite among families because the water is clear, calm and shallow. Choc Beach is an ideal place for children to swim and cool off on a hot day.

Sandals Halycon, Castries-Gros Islet Hwy, Castries, St. Lucia
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Secluded Feeling of Choc Beach near Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

7 Secluded Feeling of Choc Beach near Castries, Saint Lucia

You would expect a picturesque beach so close to the city – it is just off Castries-Gros Islet Highway – would be jammed with people. Delightfully, this is not the case at Choc Breach. It is often deserted, especially during the week. If you want some action in your paradise, you can rent a windsurfing board or sailboat to float in the Caribbean Sea.

Sandals Halycon, Castries-Gros Islet Hwy, Castries, St. Lucia
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Rat Island Offshore of Choc Beach near Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

8 Rat Island Offshore of Choc Beach near Castries, Saint Lucia

There is a mysterious island offshore of Choc Beach. When tourists are warned by local hotels to stay away from Rat Island, they become more curious. This government-owned island was a quarantine center for small pox victims. Rat Island was later abandoned until 1994 when a foundation was formed to convert the land into an artist retreat. This was done to honor Derek Walcott, a Saint Lucian who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992. He was a professor at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom. When he died in 2017, he was buried in Saint Lucia.

Sandals Halycon, Castries-Gros Islet Hwy, Castries, St. Lucia
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Sandals Resort at Choc Beach near Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

9 Sandals Resort at Choc Beach near Castries, Saint Lucia

This couple strolling on Choch Beach was probably enjoying their vacation at the couples-only Sandals Halcyon Beach Saint Lucia seen in the background. It is one of three Sandals resorts on the island. Their guests are welcome to use the amenities at all of their properties. Eight other hotels on Saint Lucia have earned a five-star rating so you have plenty of options for booking luxury accommodations.

Sandals Halycon, Castries-Gros Islet Hwy, Castries, St. Lucia
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Reduit Beach at Rodney Bay Village, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

10 Reduit Beach at Rodney Bay Village, Saint Lucia

One look at this gorgeous scenery and it is easy to see why Reduit Beach is considered to be the best stretch of golden sand on Saint Lucia. It is the majestic crown of the northwest coastline. But with beauty comes throngs of vacationers. There are numerous places to stay nearby in Rodney Bay Village and Gros Islet. The accommodations range from large, all-inclusive resorts to small boutique hotels. Plus, there are plenty of restaurants, taverns, shops and entertainment including the Treasure Bay Casino with over 250 slot machines.

Reduit Beach Ave & Flamboyant Dr, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
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Rodney Bay Shaped by Pigeon Island at Rodney Bay Village, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

11 Rodney Bay Shaped by Pigeon Island at Rodney Bay Village, Saint Lucia

This crescent-shaped Rodney Bay is defined in the north by Pigeon Island seen in the background. In between these points are the calm, aquamarine waters of the Caribbean Sea. This location is THE spot for an ideal vacation on Saint Lucia. It is also the source of glorious dreams before you arrive and wonderful memories when you return home.

Reduit Beach Ave & Flamboyant Dr, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
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Rodney Bay at Rodney Bay Village, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

12 Rodney Bay at Rodney Bay Village, Saint Lucia

The namesake for Rodney Bay is George Brydges Rodney. He was an 18th century British admiral who repeatedly engaged the French in naval battles during the American War of Independence. He used this bay and the fort at Pigeon Island to monitor the French ship movements at the nearby island of Martinique.

Reduit Beach Ave & Flamboyant Dr, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
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Rodney Bay Marina at Rodney Bay Village, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

13 Rodney Bay Marina at Rodney Bay Village, Saint Lucia

The Rodney Bay Mariana was a swamp before being dredged out to create a protected harbor. The 4.5 acre boatyard has over 250 berths. They primarily serve sailboats and other small watercraft but can accommodate superyachts up to 285 feet. You will also see additional boats anchored outside of the lagoon in Rodney Bay.

IGY Rodney Bay Marina, Castries - Gros Islet Highway, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
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Fishing at Rodney Bay Village, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

14 Fishing at Rodney Bay Village, Saint Lucia

Rodney Bay Marina harbors boats big and small, from luxury cruise ships to these humble and weathered fishing boats. If these wooden dinghies are not your style for fishing, consider chartering an amazing trip. Frequent catches during deep sea adventures include tuna, dorado, marlin, king fish and snapper.

IGY Rodney Bay Marina, Castries - Gros Islet Highway, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
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Pirate Ship in Rodney Bay Marina at Rodney Bay Village, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

15 Pirate Ship in Rodney Bay Marina at Rodney Bay Village, Saint Lucia

Rodney Bay was frequented by swashbuckling buccaneers during the Golden Age of Piracy (1650s to 1730s). In modern times, The Brig Unicorn was the most famous pirate ship at Saint Lucia. It was featured as The Henrietta and The Terrashaw in different “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. Unfortunately, that 1948 ship sank off the coast of Saint Vincent in May of 2014. The Pearl is now a popular schooner for sunset cruises while listening to calypso bands.

IGY Rodney Bay Marina, Castries - Gros Islet Highway, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
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Wild Horse Grazing at Gros Islet, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

16 Wild Horse Grazing at Gros Islet, Saint Lucia

You might be lucky to see a herd of wild horses gazing along the roadside at Gros Islet. Although they act tame, you are cautioned not to pet, feed or try to ride them. But if the sighting rekindles your dream of galloping along a tropical beach at sunset, there are local companies who offer a guided horseback riding adventure.

Pigeon Island National Park, Gros Islet, St. Lucia
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Causeway to Pigeon Island from Gros Islet, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

17 Causeway to Pigeon Island from Gros Islet, Saint Lucia

Gros Islet, which means Large Island, is a 39 square mile district adjacent to Rodney Bay Village. Together these communities comprise one of the most popular tourist destinations on Saint Lucia. At the southern portion of Gros Island you will find a road leading from the mainland to Pigeon Island. This causeway was built in 1972. As you drive towards Signal Hill in the background, the Atlantic Ocean waves pound the breakwater causing roaring splashes.

Pigeon Island National Park, Gros Islet, St. Lucia
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Pigeon Island Beach at Gros Islet, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

18 Pigeon Island Beach at Gros Islet, Saint Lucia

A large share of Pigeon Island Beach is dedicated to the Sandals Grande Resort. However, a perfect sliver of white sand between the five-star hotel and the Pigeon Island National Park is reserved for your private paradise. If your idea of perfection is solitude in the tropics, then skip the busy Reduit Beach and enjoy your view of Rodney Bay beneath these colorful umbrellas.

Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort Pigeon Island, Gros Islet, St. Lucia
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Pigeon Island National Park at Gros Islet, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

19 Pigeon Island National Park at Gros Islet, Saint Lucia

If you want some historic adventure after swimming, sunning and sleeping at Pigeon Island Beach, then go explore the 44 acre national park on the horizon. This island was the home for the Arawaks and then the Caribs before becoming a lookout point for François le Clerc. Jambe de Bois was a 16th century French pirate. He was the first buccaneer known to have a wooden leg. This earned him the nickname Pie de Palo (Peg Leg). On the top left are the ruins of Fort Rodney. Learn the history of this 18th century fortress at the Interpretation Centre housed in an 1803 British officers’ mess.

Pigeon Island National Park, Gros Islet, St. Lucia
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Fort Rodney on Pigeon Island at Gros Islet, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

20 Fort Rodney on Pigeon Island at Gros Islet, Saint Lucia

From 1650 until the late 18th century, the French controlled Pigeon Island. They were expelled by the British during the Battle of Cul-de-Sac in 1778. Then, Admiral Sir George Rodney built a fortification on the smaller of the two island’s peaks. From here he launched his fleet of ships in several attacks against the French. The most famous and decisive was the Battle of the Saintes in 1782. It is worth visiting the ruins of Fort Rodeny to see the old cannons, stone walls and panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

Pigeon Island National Park, Gros Islet, St. Lucia
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Southwest Tour Starts at Harbor Overlook in Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

21 Southwest Tour Starts at Harbor Overlook in Castries, Saint Lucia

Your exploration of the southwest coast of Saint Lucia begins with a stunning view of Castries and the harbor. This camera-worthy overlook is called Morne Fortune Layby. Your driving tour travels as far as the town of Soufrière and the majestic Pitons dormant volcanoes. The one-way distance from the cruise terminal is only 25 miles or about 40 minutes. But plan for at least half a day or longer. You will want to savor the incredible scenery, historic locations and numerous places of interest recommended in this travel guide.

Morne Fortune Layby, Government House Rd, Charlotte, St. Lucia
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Government House in Charlotte, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

22 Government House in Charlotte, Saint Lucia

Before leaving the overlook at Morne Fortune Layby, walk about a half a block to see the impressive Government House. After construction was completed in 1895, the Victorian building served as different government offices during the island’s political evolution. In 1979, Saint Lucia became independent as a British Commonwealth. The U.K. monarch is the head of state who, in turn, is represented by the governor-general. Since then, the Government House has been the official residence of the governor-general.

Government House Rd & La Toc Rd, Charlotte, St. Lucia
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Navigation Beacon at Tapion Shoal in Charlotte, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

23 Navigation Beacon at Tapion Shoal in Charlotte, Saint Lucia

If you travel along Tapion Road, you can visit the remains of the La Toc Battery. The defense was built by the British in 1888 and abandoned in 1905. Further down Tapion Road leads to a narrow finger of land and this islet at Tapion Shoal. The navigation beacon on La Toc Point marks the southwest entrance to the Port of Castries. This isolated perspective of the Caribbean Sea is ideal for leisurely watching ship activity around the harbor.

Tapion Shoal, Tapion Rd, Charlotte, St. Lucia
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La Toc Beach near Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

24 La Toc Beach near Castries, Saint Lucia

La Toc Beach is the closest stretch of beautiful sand south of the capital city. The crescent-shaped seashore extends for about a half mile. If you created a check list of the ideal Caribbean getaway, this fits all of your qualifications plus will surprise you with extras. La Toc Beach is fronted by the 220 acre Sandals Regency La Toc. It is one of three all-inclusive Sandals Resorts on the island. Yet all beaches in Saint Lucia are public, so you are welcome to visit La Toc Beach. You can also purchase a day pass from the Sandals Regency to enjoy their amenities.

La Toc Beach, Castries, St. Lucia
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Stone Arch Movie Location in Ciceron, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

25 Stone Arch Movie Location in Ciceron, Saint Lucia

This stone arch at Anse Feré Bay was a location for the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.” In the film, Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) sees skeletons of captured pirates hanging here. This scenic spot of movie trivia has several names. The most common are Lady’s Slipper Arch and Lover’s Rock. Most sightseeing cruises of the west coastline come close enough for photos. You can also get a roadside view by driving the Mellennium Highway and turning west at the SOL gas station onto an access road.

Mellennium Hyw, Ciceron, St. Lucia
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French and British Fortress atop Morne Fortune, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

26 French and British Fortress atop Morne Fortune, Saint Lucia

Morne Fortune is an 853 foot hill overlooking Castries Harbor. In 1768, the French selected this elevated vantage point to begin constructing their primary fort on Saint Lucia. Citadelle du Morne Fortuné was finished in 1784. When the British controlled the “Hill of Good Luck,” they called their stronghold Fort Charlotte. The namesake was the wife of George III, the King of the United Kingdom. Little remains of these military installations on the 72 acre Morne Fortune Historic Area. Since 1985, a large share of the property has been home to the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College. Enclosed within the small picket fence is the grave of Sir Derek Walcott (1930 – 2017). The Saint Lucian native received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992.

Sir Arthur Lewis College, Good Lands, St. Lucia
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Inniskilling Monument on Morne Fortune, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

27 Inniskilling Monument on Morne Fortune, Saint Lucia

The 27th Inniskillings soldiers were part of the Royal Irish Regiment. Twice they helped capture the French fort on Morne Fortune. The first time was in 1778. Their victory was overturned five years later at the end of the Anglo-French War. The treaty returned control of Saint Lucia to the French. The second, more significant skirmish involving the Inniskillings occurred on May 24, 1796. The Irish infantry defeated the French against all odds. In their honor, the Inniskilling Monument was erected on Morne Fortune in 1932.

Sir Arthur Lewis College, Good Lands, St. Lucia
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Guard Cells and Stables on Morne Fortune, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

28 Guard Cells and Stables on Morne Fortune, Saint Lucia

You can admire a few military ruins of Citadelle du Morne Fortuné. On the left are three guard cells used as a jail for soldiers. On the right is the remains of horse stables. Both structures were built by the French from 1763 through 1765.

Sir Arthur Lewis College, Good Lands, St. Lucia
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Armory on Morne Fortune, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

29 Armory on Morne Fortune, Saint Lucia

Another one of the oldest buildings in Saint Lucia is the armory. The heavily-fortified structure was used by the French to store gunpowder and ammunition. Nearby is the Prevost’s Redoubt. After the British created this lookout point in 1792, they later named it in honor of Sir George Prévost. He was the lieutenant-governor of Saint Lucia from 1798 to 1802.

Sir Arthur Lewis College, Good Lands, St. Lucia
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Howelton Estate on Morne Fortune, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

30 Howelton Estate on Morne Fortune, Saint Lucia

An appealing tourist attraction perched on a 787 foot ridge of Morne Fortune is Howelton Estate. The eight acre property was established in 1896. Inside of this Victorian mansion are two fun experiences. Caribelle Batik creates vibrant fabrics and clothes using an Indonesian technique of wax-resist dyeing. You can watch artisans working in the studio then purchase your favorite designs in the duty-free gift shop. The second draw is Cocoa Carib. They let you mix your own dark chocolate plus sample chocolate bars made by onsite chocolatiers. Before you leave, take a few minutes to sit on the balcony and enjoy the bird’s-eye view of Castries.

Old Victoria Road, Morne Fortune, St. Lucia
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Scenic Overlook of Marigot Bay in Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

31 Scenic Overlook of Marigot Bay in Saint Lucia

Ask Saint Lucians or tourists to name the most picturesque cove on the island and the majority will say Marigot Bay. It is tucked within a coastal valley between two ridges. This idyllic scene is hidden from view until it suddenly appears below a forest of palm trees. You will be delighted. You will grab your camera for a photo. Then, drive your car down Waterfront Road. Don’t hurry. The descent is steep and you will arrive shortly.

JJ’s Restaurant, Waterfront Rd, Marigot Bay, St. Lucia
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Marina in Marigot Bay, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

32 Marina in Marigot Bay, Saint Lucia

Waterfront Road is well named because it dead ends at the southern shore of Marigot Bay. Park the car and begin discovering this compact area filled with charm. There are several restaurants and bars to serve you along the boardwalk. Marvel at the activity in the marina. The boats range from wooden dinghies to colorful sailboats to enormous yachts. For your future trips to Saint Lucia, do reconnaissance of the boutique accommodations plus the five-star Marigot Bay Resort.

Waterfront Rd, Marigot Bay, St. Lucia
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Marigot Public Beach in Marigot Bay, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

33 Marigot Public Beach in Marigot Bay, Saint Lucia

A shuttle service is available to quickly transport you across the water to Marigot Public Beach. Take the time to take the ride. The tree-lined beach is small yet magnificent. If sitting and sunning is not your style, consider renting a kayak for a lovely paddle encircling the bay. Snorkeling is another popular activity. You can also arrange a sightseeing tour aboard a catamaran.

Marigot Public Beach, Marigot Bay, St. Lucia
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Banana Plantation in Roseau Valley, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

34 Banana Plantation in Roseau Valley, Saint Lucia

Similar to many islands in the Lesser Antilles, sugarcane was a major crop in Saint Lucia during the colonial period. Over time, many of the plantations switched to bananas. By the first half of the 20th century, green gold was the island’s primary export. Since then, numerous factors have significantly reduced the crop’s importance. Today, the greatest acreage is in Roseau Valley. Some of the plantations offer tours. Notice the prominent spike in the center of the photo. The purple section is a male flower bud. Directly above are two rows of female flowers. You will also see most growing banana bunches covered by blue polythene bags. This practice minimizes disease.

Marigot Hwy & Farm Track, Roseau, St. Lucia
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Casks at St. Lucia Distillers in Roseau, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

35 Casks at St. Lucia Distillers in Roseau, Saint Lucia

A byproduct of converting sugarcane into sugar is molasses. The sticky substance was once considered waste until someone tried fermenting it. Molasses-based rum in the Caribbean originated in 1637 on Barbados, an island about 100 miles east of Saint Lucia. The potent liquor earned the nickname kill devil. Soon afterwards, sugarcane plantations proliferated across the Caribbean. Many of them included their own rum distillery. Saint Lucia followed the trend but to a far lesser degree. Today, only one rum distiller is left on the island. You can tour the St. Lucia Distillers in Roseau Valley. Afterwards, sample some of their 25 rum products.

St. Lucia Distillers, Roseau, St. Lucia
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Valley View of Roseau Bay in Roseau, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

36 Valley View of Roseau Bay in Roseau, Saint Lucia

If you are a bit mellow after sampling rum at St. Lucia Distillers, ask your designated driver to head the short distance to Roseau Bay. This beach is a secret paradise. You will not encounter the crowds like in neighboring Marigot Bay. You will experience scenic solitude as you stroll along the extensive sand and wade across the mouth of the Roseau River, the longest on the island (13 miles). The gentle waves of the Caribbean Sea will also lure you into the warm water for a swim.

Roseau Bay, Roseau, St. Lucia
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Beach in Anse La Raye, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

37 Beach in Anse La Raye, Saint Lucia

The next coastal village you will encounter is Anse La Raye (population 1,250). The name means Bay of Rays. Two rivers flow through town, cross each end of the beach and into the sea. They are the Grande Rivière de l’Anse la Raye and the Petite Rivière de l’Anse la Raye. One of the many charming aspects of Anse La Raye is the French and English colonial architecture. A top social event is the Fryday Night Fish Fiesta. Toe tap to Caribbean music while watching people dance in the street. Relish every morsel of fresh seafood caught and cooked by locals. Nearby is the Anse La Raye Falls. This multi-tier, 50 foot cascade is sure to please any fan of waterfalls.

Anse la Raye, St. Lucia
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Seaside Beauty of Canaries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

38 Seaside Beauty of Canaries, Saint Lucia

Canaries is a colorful small town of 1,900 people facing a marvelous seascape. The name is Kanawe in the Antillean Creole language (mix of French, Carib and African spoken in the Lesser Antilles). The English translation is cooking pots. This is a reference to processing sugarcane. The area was settled in 1763. Quickly, the surrounding land was dominated by sugarcane plantations. After their demise, the village shrunk and many of the remaining residents turned to fishing. Canaries has little tourist appeal unless who want to observe the true culture of Saint Lucians.

Jambette Point, Canaries, St. Lucia
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Magnificent Pitons Overshadowing Soufrière, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

39 Magnificent Pitons Overshadowing Soufrière, Saint Lucia

After your car climbs a ridge and reveals this incredible landscape, you will utter several words of astonishment. The Pitons (French for peaks) are Saint Lucia’s most famous landmarks. They are also featured on the country’s flag. The dormant volcanic plugs are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the right is Petit Piton (2,438 feet). Bridged by the Piton Mitan Range is the twin pinnacle called Gros Piton (2,526 feet). Either one is a scenic yet sometimes challenging hike for experienced climbers. Nestled in the valley below is Soufrière.

The Beacon Restaurant, West Coast Rd, Colombette, St. Lucia
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Soufrière Beach Park in Soufrière, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

40 Soufrière Beach Park in Soufrière, Saint Lucia

After descending a hill but before entering Soufrière, make a stop at Hummingbird Beach. This seashore has long been a favorite among locals. But after an extensive renovation in 2019, it has become equally popular among tourists. The new name is Soufrière Beach Park. Among the amenities are a restaurant, bar, showers, a spa, gift shop and thatched umbrellas for shielding the sunshine. You can also rent water bikes for a paddle around Soufrière Bay.

Soufrière Beach Park, Soufrière, St. Lucia
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Picturesque Above and Below the Water in Soufrière, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

41 Picturesque Above and Below the Water in Soufrière, Saint Lucia

Make time to walk the entire concave waterfront from the Soufrière Beach Park to the other end of Soufrière. The seascape is delightful. The vista is punctuated by Petit Piton towering over Soufrière Bay. If you are a scuba diver, talk to someone in town about going to Anse Chastanet Reef. This is part of the Pitons Marine Management Area stretching nearly seven miles off shore. There are over 150 species of marine life waiting to be discovered. This underwater adventure is often ranked among the top ten in the Caribbean.

Baron Drive, Soufrière, St. Lucia
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Soufrière Town Square in Soufrière, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

42 Soufrière Town Square in Soufrière, Saint Lucia

Most tourist attractions are nearby but not in Soufrière, the former capital of Saint Lucia. Yet this town of nearly 8,000 people are working hard to make their home more appealing. A recent example is the extensive renovation of Soufrière Town Square in 2019. The plaza is now the perfect accent for the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption. In the center is the Freedom Monument. The sculpture by Ricky George honors slaves who helped defeat the British in 1796.

Soufriere Town Square, Bridge St, Soufrière, St. Lucia
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Toraille Waterfalls near Soufrière, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

43 Toraille Waterfalls near Soufrière, Saint Lucia

At this point in your driving tour of southwest Saint Lucia, the afternoon temperature is hot and the car’s air conditioner is working overtime. Here is a great way to cool off: visit Toraille Waterfalls. The attraction is easy to reach. A pathway through a tropical garden leads to the falls. After admiring the 50 foot drop, jump into the plunge pool at the base. Then let the curtain of water cascade over your head. Instant relief! After a quick use of the changing rooms, you are ready to resume your road trip.

Toraille Waterfall, Cresslands & Ravine Claire, Soufrière, St. Lucia
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Diamond Botanical Gardens near Soufrière, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

44 Diamond Botanical Gardens near Soufrière, Saint Lucia

Diamond Botanical Gardens is steeped in history and beauty. In 1713, King Louis XIV of France granted 2,000 acres to three Devaux brothers. The extensive property became the Soufrière Estate. Within the lush, rolling landscape are sulfur springs. They were reputed to have similar therapeutic powers to the best spas in France. A dozen bath houses were erected on the property. One famous patron was Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie. She was born in Saint Lucia. Her father’s neighboring estate was Malmaison. In 1796, she became Joséphine, the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. The Diamond Botanical Gardens is a six acre parcel of the once famous Soufrière Estate. Features include a waterfall, mineral bath and spa, remnants of an old sugarcane plantation, a tropical garden and a nature trail through the rainforest.

Diamond Botanical Gardens, Diamond Rd, Soufrière, St. Lucia
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Drive-in Volcano near Soufrière, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

45 Drive-in Volcano near Soufrière, Saint Lucia

The name Drive-in Volcano sparks instant curiosity. It is the marketing moniker for the Qualibou caldera. The enormous lava domes were formed over 30,000 years ago. The last minor eruption occurred in 1766. Today, much of the barren land consists of volcanic vents, geothermal gurgles and puffs of steam rising from fumaroles. The 100 plus acre Soufrière Volcanic Park is a photo-worthy place to visit. But plug your nose against the prevalent smell of sulfur.

Sulphur Springs, Sulphur Springs Access Rd, Malgretoute, St. Lucia
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Mud Bath in Sulphur Springs near Soufrière, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

46 Mud Bath in Sulphur Springs near Soufrière, Saint Lucia

Okay, now it is time to get down and dirty … literally. Sulphur Springs provides thermal water supplied by the underground volcano. At the bottom of the pools is mud. Guests lather themselves with the thick black substance then let it dry. The mud baths are said to have medicinal value, the least of which is smoother skin. Afterwards, wash off beneath a waterfall.

Sulphur Springs, Sulphur Springs Access Rd, Malgretoute, St Lucia
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Explore Downtown Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

47 Explore Downtown Castries, Saint Lucia

After enjoying either your northern or southern coastal tour, reserve an hour or two to explore downtown Castries. Most of the points of interest are clustered together in this capital city of 20,000 people.

Monigiraud St & Micoud St, Castries, St. Lucia
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Central Library in Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

48 Central Library in Castries, Saint Lucia

The Andrew Carnegie Public Library was built along the western edge of the central square in downtown Castries in 1924 thanks to a grant by the Carnegie Foundation. During a fire in 1948, the libary was heavily damaged and most of the collection of 20,000 books was destroyed. The Central Library was refurbished to its original appearance yet the shelves seem sparse.

Bourbon St & Micoud St, Castries, St. Lucia
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Derek Walcott Square in Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

49 Derek Walcott Square in Castries, Saint Lucia

This public square at the heart of Castries was originally called Columbus Square. Now it is named in honor of Dereck Walcott, a native of Saint Lucia and the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992. Above the bandstand are a few branches of a giant albizia saman tree. Called the Massav Tree by the locals, some people claim the enormous canopy has been growing for over 400 years old. Others suggest it was planted in 1833.

Brazil St & Laborie St, Castries, St. Lucia
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Pastel Painted Buildings on Bourbon Street in Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

50 Pastel Painted Buildings on Bourbon Street in Castries, Saint Lucia

Castries suffered several major fires from 1796 through 1948. Fortunately, some of its pastel colored, wooden structures with delicate lattice balconies survived. These Victorian buildings, including the Ministry of Legal Affairs, are located along Bourbon Street in the city’s center.

Bourbon St & Micoud St, Castries, St. Lucia
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Clock Tower of Cathedral Immaculate Conception in Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

51 Clock Tower of Cathedral Immaculate Conception in Castries, Saint Lucia

This is the clock tower of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Measuring 200 by 100 feet, it is the largest church in the Caribbean. The minor basilica was constructed in 1897. Over 60% of Saint Lucians are of the Roman Catholic faith.

Micoud St & Laborie St, Castries, St. Lucia
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Inside the Cathedral Immaculate Conception in Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

52 Inside the Cathedral Immaculate Conception in Castries, Saint Lucia

Behind the Cathedral Immaculate Conception’s main altar is an arched mural by local artist Dunstan St. Omer. Directly above it is the image of Saint Lucia, the patron saint of the island. Lucia of Syracuse was martyred for her Christian faith by Roman Emperor Diocletian in 304 AD. Saint Lucy’s feast day is recognized on December 13.

Micoud St & Laborie St, Castries, St. Lucia
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Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

53 Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Castries, Saint Lucia

Anglicanism is a Christian religion that began as part of the Church of England. The faith was introduced to Saint Lucia when the British took control during the 18th century. Religious freedom was granted to the island in 1783. The cornerstone for this beautiful Holy Trinity Anglican Church was laid in 1894. Less than 2% of Saint Lucians practice the Anglican faith.

Darling Rd & Baptiste St, Castries, St. Lucia
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Duty-free Shops at Cruise Terminal in Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

54 Duty-free Shops at Cruise Terminal in Castries, Saint Lucia

You have finally returned to the cruise terminal. If your ship is berthed at Pointe Seraphine, you will be delighted to find at least 40 duty-free shops there to tempt you. Represented are many of the big chains located at other major Caribbean ports. There are also plenty of local boutiques and specialty shops. Or you can grab a beer – maybe a rum cocktail – and relax while watching the activity in the harbor.

Pointe Seraphine Duty Free Shopping, Castries, St. Lucia
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Vigie Marina in Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

55 Vigie Marina in Castries, Saint Lucia

After returning to your ship, your first inclination is to shower, change clothes and then rest after an exciting yet exhausting day visiting Saint Lucia. Make sure you find a comfortable place on the deck for your relaxation. There is still plenty to see as you leave the port. This is Vigie Marina, a protective cove for yachts, sailboats and catamarans. Behind it is the George F.L. Charles Airport.

Vigie Marina, Point Seraphine, Castries, St. Lucia
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Meadow’s Battery in Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

56 Meadow’s Battery in Castries, Saint Lucia

Estimates suggest the French and British collectively built more than 50 defenses with the goal of protecting Castries Harbor. This one at the northern entrance is Meadow’s Battery. The military installment was created by the British in 1898. Among the ruins are the remains of a bathhouse, women’s quarters, bunkers, an armory for artillery shells and this two-tier battery platform overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

Meadow's Battery, Clarke Ave, Castries, St. Lucia
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Vigie Lighthouse near Castries, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

57 Vigie Lighthouse near Castries, Saint Lucia

Vigie Lighthouse was established in 1883. The current white, cylindrical tower with a red lantern was rebuilt in 1915. Although only 36 feet tall, its 320 foot elevation atop Vigie Peninsula makes the flashing lights easy to spot at sea. This lighthouse still serves a critical role in managing Castries Harbor. The keeper coordinates the arrival and departure of major ships and dispatches the assistance of tug boats.

Vigie Lighthouse Beacon Rd, St. Lucia
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Passing the Pitons near Soufrière, Saint Lucia - Encircle Photos

58 Passing the Pitons near Soufrière, Saint Lucia

Most cruise ship captains sail by the Pitons before leaving Saint Lucia. Regardless if you have seen these dormant volcano peaks before, this perspective is magnificent. Leaving Soufrière Bay is the five-masted Royal Clipper. The 439 foot sailing ship is listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest square-rigged ship in service. Owned by Star Clippers, the Royal Clipper provides cruises through the Mediterranean and Caribbean for up to 227 passengers.

Soufrière Bay, St. Lucia
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