Surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean in the West Indies, Saint Lucia is, in my little view, the most beautiful Caribbean Island, especially with its Iconic Gros Piton and Petit Piton UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Saint Lucia is the only country in the world named after a woman (by the French), in reference to Saint Lucy of Syracuse martyr. Its nickname is as well a woman: “the Helen of the West Indies’” in reference to Helen of Troy as St. Lucia was for two centuries in the midst of a war between the French and British (like the Trojan Horse where armies kept mobilizing to conquer and kept falling). Due to that history, while English is the official language, most people speak French Creole and most locations have French names.
While St Lucia is a small island (only 43 km -27 miles- long and 22 km -14 miles- wide), driving through the Island takes time because the roads are small, and it is very mountainous.
There is a lot to see and do in Saint Lucia. For that reason, a fair exploration of the main wonders will easily take a full week, including many beaches, hikes, villages, cascades, and some stunning snorkeling/diving spots.
This post aims to flag three dozen of the most interesting (and photogenic) places, in no specific order. To make it easy, the spots are going around counterclockwise, starting from the North part of the island.
Pigeon Island and Fort Rodney
Pigeon Island is actually not an island anymore, as a manmade causeway now links the two islands together to form Pigeon Island National Park 😊.
That place has a long history, from 1000 A.D artifacts, through being in the 16th century the base of the French pirate Francois le Clerc (famous for his wooden leg), up to the 18 century Admiral Rodney that finally won over the French. The fort flipped back and forth 14 times 😢. Today, more peacefully, the fort offers gorgeous views.
Beyond the hike up to the fort and its views (the end afternoon is the best time for photography), there are as well many military ruins that are interesting to explore.
Vigie and Choc beaches
Getting south toward Castries, just below Rodney Bay, Vigie and Choc in Choc Bay are beautiful beaches.
While the beach is at the back of Castries airport, this is a nice spot and worth a visit.
Castries is the small capital (11 000 people) of St Lucia. While this is honestly more a “pass-through place” it is however worth spending a couple of hours there.
The minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, built in 1897, is the largest church in the Caribbean and was given the honorific minor basilica title during the centenary celebrations
The interior is stunningly decorated with a mural by a Saint Lucian artist (called Dustan St Omer) -that as well designed the St Lucia Flag 😊-
Opposite the cathedral, you’ll find the Derek Walcott Public Square, named after a literature Nobel laureate. It is a nice and peaceful park with a beautiful fountain (and colorful houses around)
Castries central market is a lively and colorful market bursting with tropical fruit and vegetables.
As this is close to the cruise boats’ harbor, there is however quite a large proportion of tourist “stuff” there 😢
Castries city viewpoint
The most famous (and gorgeous) view over Castries is on the southwest hills, nearby to the government house.
Marigot Bay village, 10 km south of Castries is probably one of the most famous (and gorgeous) places on St Luci Island
Marigot bay Viewpoints
There are a couple of stunning viewpoints on the road uphill that goes down to the harbor. The most beautiful one is near the small supermarket
il you’re a travel photographer lower, this is clearly a spot not to miss for sunset.
You then obviously should get down to the small harbor
There is there a water taxi that allows crossing toward the “Hands of the Bay” beach.
That beach is (obviously) busy but a nice laid-down place, with a bar, and all facilities.
Of course, reaching Marigot Bay through a boat tour is a highly recommended option (Ideally from soufrière to sail the most beautiful part of the coastline -covered later in the post).
It seems that there are as well many boat tours where Rum & beer helps create a party spirit 😂
Keeping our counterclockwise trip toward the south, you’ll cross below Marigot the Roseau valley, with endless banana fields.
Anse La Raye is a sleepy small fishing village on the West Coast of the island approximately 30 minutes south of the Capital City of Castries.
With its colorful boats bobbing in the little port, old wooden houses sitting beneath palm trees, and banana plantations blanketing the hills, the village is one of the “real Saint Lucia” villages (with Canaries and Laborie) and is really worth a visit
French and English colonial-era architecture can be seen on the streets, as well as many colorful old wooden houses…
… some nice paintings depicting the popular carnival….
…. Some locals are willing to engage, some less …
The beachfront with its colorful boat is, as well, very picturesque.
Just south of Anse la Raye, I wanted to mention Anse Cochon which is a nice beach and snorkeling spot (north of the beach)
With Anse la Raye (and Laborie below), Canaries is in my view one of the three most beautiful and picturesque villages of St Lucia
Beyond the viewpoint (south road) It is worth exploring the colorful streets …
… the « main » square …
.. and while the beachfront is clearly far from being the cleanest on the island, still worth having a look…
If you engage with locals, you may get a few portraits 😊.
Anse Mamin is a real hidden gem and in my view one of the most beautiful St Lucia Beaches (a high benchmark)
The beach can be reached by boat obviously or by walking (10 min) north of Anse Chastenet described below.
It is a good idea to get there around sunrise as well …
Anyway, a beautiful beach to visit and shoot.
Snorkeling Anse Mamin & Chastanet
Anse Mamin Is most known for being a fantastic snorkeling spot.
One beautiful area is the shoreline between Anse Mamin and Anse Chastanet beaches
I clearly have no underwater photography capabilities or material (iPhone in a waterproof box 😢) but that spot is really stunning, and the best I found around the island.
Just south of Anse Mamin Beach, Anse Chastanet is a very popular beach at the foot of the famous Jade Mountain Resort described below. It is a nice beach with many facilities.
Unfortunately, the increasing issue of sargassum brown seaweed (linked to man-made global warming and over-nutrified water issues) makes the beaches look less paradisiac across many countries 😢
Jade mountain resort
The Jade Mountain luxury resort is since its opening in 2006 iconic for its views over both Pitons and its very unique architecture (from Nick Troubetzkey)
The property design was focused on sustainability and aims “to do good” for the local community. It remains however also a very exclusive resort with infinity pools private suites etc. The views from the restaurant/bar pool are clearly stunning.
While the restaurant is reserved for hotel guests, it is however possible to come for a drink package at sunset.
Clearly not cheap, but worth it, especially if you want to take pictures of that amazing facility & views, with nice champagne 😎
Mirador Piton Santa Lucia
“Mirador Piton Santa Lucia” is another stunning view over both Pitons at sunset – and this one (vs Jade Resort) is completely free 😂-
That spot (one of the best on the island in my view) is on the main road between Canaries and Soufriere, with a stunning view of the soufriére town that adds to the magic when the night comes.
It is quite easy to find (a big wooden platform on the way down to Soufriere) and worth being there around sunset.
Continuing south on the (main) road, at the north entrance of Soufriere town is Hummingbird Beach, one of my top 5 favorites on the island.
That beach is really gorgeous early morning at twilight.
It is worth going uphill a couple of hundred meters away (on the dirt road that gets to Anse Chastanet and the Jade Mountain resort) for an aerial view of Soufriere town lighted under the small Piton
As the light keeps changing, the beach and the pier are a paradise for travel photography and nature lovers.
There are as well many birds around …
The main reason is Soufriere fishermen at work with birds trying to get their fair share of the fish,
Those create endless photography opportunities with the colorful city or Piton in the background 🤩 (so worth getting up early for this 😢)
Soufriere is the original capital of the island and was developed by French and then British colonialists. The town sits on the Qualibu depression, the caldera of a sleeping volcano, hence its name, and the nearby hot springs and geothermal fields. It is one of the colorful villages and fishing harbor of St Lucia that you can appreciate from the south viewpoint above the city.
Beyond some of the landmarks described above and below, the city center is worth exploring for its colorful old houses.
Have a look as well at the Catholic Church of the Assumption, in the heart of the town
The interior for the French / Caribbean blend, with its wood ceiling (vaulted to resemble the ribs of a boat), it’s baby blue pillars and colored stained-glass windows.
0f course, going around town is a way to engage and do a bit of portrait photography if this is part of your interest.
Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens
Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens and mineral baths are a nice garden where you can enjoy many flowers…
… and wildlife
The main highlight at the end of the trail is obviously the waterfall running down the rock face.
You can’t swim in the fall but there are nearby mineral baths built atop hot springs date from 1784, for the troops of France’s King Louis XVI could take advantage of their therapeutic effects. You can today use those 😊.
Five minutes drive from the Botanical Garden, if you have time, you can have a look at the small Toraille waterfall, a popular swimming destination east of Soufriere.
That gorgeous waterfall in Malgretoute near Soufriere was featured in the Superman II movie (this is where Superman went there to pick flowers for Lois).
Getting to that (private) fall is a nice and easy guided hike in the forest (you need to book through the owner on the fall website)
Beyond being rewarded by a bath in the falls, there is as well a possibility for some mud fun
Sulphur Springs Park is a 114-acre (46-hectare) lunar landscape area located inside St. Lucia’s Piton World Heritage Site.
There is a small trail to explore the area (on your own or with a guide)
You can as well enjoy “black water” mud baths that are reputed to detoxify the body and heal sunburns, eczema, arthritis, etc. Most people will do those for Instagram memories 😊.
That beach, at the north foot of Petit Piton, is a rugged gray-sand and pebble beach.
It is not the most beautiful beach on the island, but it is a good snorkeling spot and an interesting sunset spot.
Hotel chocolate sunset
If you’re looking for a nice dinner with a view over Petit Piton, the Rabot restaurant in the Chocolate Hotel is a good place for spending one evening.
If you’re interested in photography, try to get to the infinity pool for the great spot in that place 😊.
Sugar Beach has really THE prime spot on the island, as this is the beach sitting in between the Gros and Petit Pitons.
The art creation “This is water” by Patrick Hurst is the only way to get both pitons in one picture frame 😊
The beach is mainly occupied by a large resort but like everywhere in St Lucia, access to the beach is public
At the foot of the Petit Piton on the north end of the beach is the Anse Piton Marine Reserve snorkeling spot. Still nice but as there are so many people around, corals are more and more damaged, so not anymore the best on the island in my view.
Don’t miss the bar boat where you can get the best (and strongest) cocktails on the island -after snorkeling, not before 😢-
Tet Paul Natural trail
The Tet Paul Natural Trail hike is a very moderate 45 minutes hike (guided, with a fee) with several viewpoints with stunning perspectives over both Petit and Gros Pitons
The tour with the (mandatory) knowledgeable local guides is the opportunity to learn about the forest and observe nature.
You’ll then arrive at the main viewpoints through the stairway to heaven 🤩
If you have paid your entrance and done it once with the guide, it should be possible (you need to ask) to go back there after closure to hike up on your own for the unbeatable sunset spot 🤩
We even treated ourselves by bringing sunset drinks up three and we have that place for ourselves 🤩
From the top platforms, you have as well a view of Mount Gimie, the highest mountain in Saint Lucia (and a much tougher hike)
Gros Piton hike
One of the most iconic hikes on the island is to climb the 2619 feet of Gros Piton, for a unique view of the Petit Piton and the sea
You’ll start that very difficult (+/- 5 hours hike) by going around the piton with some intermediate viewpoints.
You’ll then climb up (a very steep but well-secured trail) to get to the top rain forest.
Beyond the viewpoint above over petit piton, there is another one overlooking the south part of the island.
Honestly, it is more an “I’ve done it” spot rather than a photography must-do spot 😊
Sail around the Pitons
Some of the best views of the pitons are clearly from the water (with much less effort than the hikes 😂
Renting a boat for a day (or taking a boat tour) between Soufrière and Marigot Bay is clearly a great idea, for a mix of snorkeling, pictures, and drinks – in that sequence order 😎-
Continuing our virtual tour toward the south of the island, I wanted to mention for completeness, Anse l’Iivrogne where you can get nice sunset views over the Gros Piton
Rudy John Beach Park
Getting further south and just before Laborie’s village, you’ll find Rudy John Beach Park, one of the most beautiful beaches on the island
For photographers or nature lovers, this is a highly recommended sunrise spot
Laborie Village and beach
Laborie is another colorful village to discover.
The beach (on the opposite side of the bay versus Rudy John Park) is as well absolutely stunning.
The fish market and the village can as well be an opportunity for chatting with locals and/or portrait photography.
Anse des Sables Beach
At the extreme south of the island, besides the international airport, the very long beach Anse des Sables is a beautiful spot for sunrise.
The view over Maria Major Island makes that place stunning.
Not to leave it unsaid, the proliferation of sargassum brown seaweed (linked as mentioned to man-made both global warmings and over-nutrified water issues) makes the beach look less paradisiac than my pictures (that took angles to avoid the seaweed 😢)
La Tille Falls and Garden
Continuing our counterclockwise tour on the eastern coastline, you can have a short stop on the way up to the small La Tille Falls and Garden.
That small Fall located in Micoud is a private peaceful garden (with a small fee), and a popular family spot.
Sault Falls (also called Errard or Dennery), in the tropical forest near Dennery is beautiful and really worth a visit (even if less water in the dry season)
The Google map spot shows the fall in the wrong place. You need to pass Treetop Adventure Park (a fun Zipline activity yan you can do around there -you need 90 minutes-ish-) and stop a few hundred meters after at the small parking spot.
A short hike in the forest brings you to the river and then the fall (you need to cross the river)
Dennery is the sixth largest city on the island and is located mid-way up on the eastern coast. One of the highlights is the small islands in the bay, which are best seen from the viewpoints on the main Micoud highway.
The city is known for its Saint peter catholic church as well as for its fisherman harbor.
Honestly, I found the place very dirty and “messed up” so I just mention it for completeness but ….
Fond d’0r Bay
Just North of Dennery town, Fond d’Or Bay is a nice spot if you’re in that part of the island.
So, I hope this virtual tour around a non-exhaustive list of places in Saint Lucia will engage you to visit that Pearl of the Caribbean 🤩.