Islands often get categorized as straightforward beach getaways, but Saint Lucia is more than just snorkel-worthy water and sandy white shores. Sure, if your dream vacation is basking on a beach, frozen cocktail in hand, this Caribbean island definitely delivers. But Saint Lucia has earned the World Travel Awards’ accolade of the "Caribbean’s Leading Adventure Destination 2023" for the second year in a row for a reason. With everything from thrilling treks to the signature Piton peaks and coastal trails along the Atlantic to zip lining through the rainforest, here are a few ways to experience the best Saint Lucia has to offer adventure-seekers.
- Plunge to Shipwrecks
Since the island sits between the Caribbean and Atlantic, Saint Lucia offers plenty of diving and snorkeling options for families, groups, and seasoned pros — plus you can swim with sea turtles in shallower stretches of water. More than 22 dive sites are scattered off the coast, including Coral Gardens at the base of Gros Piton (which doubles as a great snorkeling spot thanks to its variety of coral and reef fish) and Bone Yard, the site of a World War II vessel and airplane wing. And since the island is home to plenty of dive shops and centers, you can also take a scuba course and get certified while you’re here.
2. Reach the Peaks
The mango-shaped island is crowned by three peaks: Gros Piton (2,619 feet high), Mountain Gimie (3,117 feet high), and Petit Piton (2,438 feet high). One of the most popular places to go hiking is Gros Piton, considered a natural stair climber since the steep trail’s upper half is mostly steps. This is already a feat (and takes three to four hours), but if you’re up for the Three Peaks Challenge, you’ll climb to the top of all three peaks in a day — with the assistance of a guide, of course.
3. Trek The Coast
For something a little less extreme, head off on a hike at sea level along the Eastern Nature Trail that skirts the Atlantic. On the beginner-level hike, you’ll spot several species of birds — some of which are native — or you can explore Pigeon Island, a national park on the northern edge of Saint Lucia where trails lead to peaks that offer sweeping views (you may even spot Martinique if you’re lucky). One of the best lookouts? Fort Rodney, the remains of a former military fort from the early 1800s.
4. Paddle to the Pitons
Hop in a kayak and paddle your way across Soufrière Bay to Petit Piton, which towers nearly a half-mile high. Swim by the coast before heading back to town on the challenging kayak tour, or paddle at a more leisurely pace to explore fishing villages and deserted beaches where you can post up for a picnic prepared by chefs at a resort like renowned Anse Chastanet.
5. Ride Through the Rainforest
Saint Lucia was named the "Caribbean’s Leading Nature Destination 2023" by the World Travel Awards for the first time, and its lush tropical rainforest is one of the reasons why. Take your pick of sightseeing options, from guided hikes or cycling along nature trails to aerial tram tours with panoramic views of the northern part of the island and zip lining 800 feet across the rainforest canopy.