The Virgin Atlantic guide to St Lucia
With its spectacular landscape, lush rainforest, beautiful beaches and the stunning Caribbean Sea, St Lucia is undoubtedly one of the Caribbean's most distinctive and beautiful islands. It's the perfect winter sun destination, which is why we can't wait to get back, and why we've just announced flights three times a week starting on the 18th December.
No matter how hard you've studied those travel websites or spent scrolling Instagram photos of the island, nothing prepares you for that moment when you first catch sight of St Lucia out of the aircraft window. A true Caribbean paradise crowned with the spectacular peaks of the Pitons – two volcanic peaks on the south end of the island. St Lucia captivates everyone who sets eyes on her. That's before you step out of the aircraft into warm air cooled by the trade wind breeze and experience the world-class resorts and hospitality. It's simply perfect. Here are a few of the highlights St Lucia offers.
Have a once in a lifetime experience
There are plenty of opportunities on St Lucia to do something truly extraordinary. These are once in a lifetime activities that create the best memories (and spectacular photos). How about horse riding in the surf, visit one of the weekly street jump-ups and fish fries or join in one of the cultural celebrations and vibrant music festivals. You can go swimming under a waterfall, learn to cook like a local or take a helicopter tour of the island.
One of the best things you can do on St Lucia is to hire a jeep and head off on an island safari. Visit Soufrière, the town that gets its name from the sulphur smell of the nearby drive-in volcano and its sulphur spring where you can get close to the bubbling mud pools. Then drive across the top of the island, through the forest to the wilder Atlantic shore on the eastern side. Along the way, chat to locals, discover street food vendors and enjoy the path less travelled. Another tremendous but challenging adventure is the Grand Piton Trail, a 4.7km hike to the top of the Gros Piton. You'll need to hire a guide, but the views at the top will make it all worthwhile.
It's a great destination for families
St Lucia is an excellent destination for curious and adventurous travellers of all ages. There are plenty of hiking and cycling trails and a whole rainforest to explore, which you can do on foot, by zip wire or on a trip on the extraordinary Arial Tram. There's no shortage of water-based activities given the abundance of beaches and that warm Caribbean sea. For something different, you can try SNUBA which is halfway between snorkelling and scuba. Experienced guides will help you explore St Lucia's colourful underwater world at various depths, breathing through an easy-to-use regulator while your air supply sits on a raft on the surface. No previous experience is required, and the activity is suitable for everyone, even children as young as four years old. Most of the big hotels have kids clubs which will give parents a break from their exhausted explorers.
Discover the food, drink and culture of the island.
St Lucia is a great place to acquaint yourself with Caribbean cuisine: a fine dining meal to celebrate a special occasion or a tasty street food snack. You'll find French and British influences, and as you'd expect, seafood is the star of the show, with spiny lobster a particular favourite. Don't forget to try saltfish and banana, the national dish, at least once. As for drinks? This is the Caribbean, so most bars will have colourful and exotic house cocktails. Piton Beer is the locally brewed ale of choice for locals and visitors alike. At breakfast, try the island's speciality cocoa tea, made with locally grown cocoa and spices. The market in Castries is the place to go for street food or to pick up a bottle of local rum or spice sauce and take the taste of the island home with you.
For the nature lover, there is plenty to see and do on the island. From Soufrière, you can visit the Saint Lucia Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens and walk among the diverse range of tropical plants. The Tet Paul scenic trail is a guided 45-minute walk that takes you to some of the most epic views on the island. You'll learn about many of the plants and animals that make Saint Lucia their home and 180 different types of birds, including 6 that occur nowhere else in the world. And, of course, dip your head underwater to discover coral reefs, colourful fish and countless interesting critters that live around the island.
Learn about the history of St Lucia
Getting out and about around the island will allow you to learn more about the history of St Lucia. Like all Caribbean islands, St Lucia is shaped by those who once colonised it. A great place to start is Pigeon Island, a national park in the north of the island. Linked by a causeway to the main island, Pigeon Point will give you panoramic views of the ocean and Rodney Bay, as well as an understanding of the island's history. It was here that pirates used to operate, most notably the famous French pirate Francouis le Clerc, the original 'peg leg'. Over the years, the French and English have fought over the island, controlling it seven times each. You'll find the remains of Fort Rodney, built by the British to defend the island. Saint Lucia was one of the last European colonies to declare independence in 1979.
The island certainly has a lot to offer with so many activities and places to explore. But then again, you might not want to do any of that because if there's one thing that everyone can do on St Lucia, it's kick back, relax and chill out. With so many beautiful hotels, spas, and beaches to choose from and a perfect winter sun climate, St Lucia is one of the best places for that well-earned break. A paradise island where you can unwind, pamper yourself, and come home, tanned, refreshed and ready to take on the world.
Our flights will operate three times a week starting from 18th December 2021
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