Cycling in St Lucia: Two-wheeling the Tinker Trail

By: Sarah Woods

June 24, 2013

Make the most of gentle sweeping routes before the steep inclines of the Tinker Trail © St Lucia Tourist Board


It’s a seductive proposition; the chance to fly to St Lucia and explore the island’s dense, vine-tangled terrain and lesser-known root-riddled inner reaches. With its dormant volcano, thickets of bloom-filled vegetation, bubbling sulphur springs, rare birds and rugged sea caves, cycling in Saint Lucia is a incredible way to experience Mother Nature’s triumph.

Eight miles of leafy bike trails have been lovingly carved out of the jungle. The crowd-free Tinker Trail is blessed by magical birdsong and solitude. No roar of traffic. No vehicles to force the unsuspecting cyclist into the gutter. No spewing diesel fumes.

Pitons | St Lucia

Incredible views over the Pitons, St Lucia © St Lucia Tourist Board

The journey begins near Soufriére at dawn. It’s hot and the island’s southwest shoreline is usually shrouded in a steamy haze in the early hours. With panniers secured and sprockets, valves and spokes all checked, the Tinker Trail awaits.

The Tinker Trail | St Lucia

On the free-wheel descent, vibrant jungle scenery whizzes by in a colourful blur © St Lucia Tourist Board

Named after legendary American Olympic cyclist David “˜Tinker’ Juarez, the trail is dubbed “the sweetest in the Caribbean” but after navigating a tight series of skinny switchbacks along steep hills, you may wonder if you’ve misread “sweet” for “sweat”.

Pink jungle flower | St Lucia

Pack your camera to capture some truly spectacular jungle scenery © St Lucia Tourist Board

The trail rises 1,000ft from the expansive gardens of the Anse Chastanet beach resort in roughly a mile – no mean feat on a mountain bike. It’s hard going and at times you’ll end up carrying your bike over sheer climbs before settling back into the saddle – making tired riders all the more grateful for the visual stimulation of the scenery.

The Tinker Trail | St Lucia

So far, only Juan “Tinker “Juarez has managed to ride the full length of the trail © St Lucia Tourist Board

At the sign of the Tinker Trail’s last steep jungle stretch you may need to dig deep for an epic final push before juddering to a halt. Having survived one of the most challenging rides in the Caribbean, the reward is to ring Tinker’s Bell victoriously, gasping at the jaw-dropping views over mango and breadfruit trees to the glittering Caribbean Sea beyond. But remember, there’s still the gut-wrenching, white-knuckle rollercoaster-style downhill ride home. Time for the adrenalin to start seriously pumping….

Header photo © St Lucia Tourist Board. Book through Bike St. Lucia from $65 (£46) per person.

Virgin Atlantic operates flights to St Lucia from London Gatwick, or book tailor-made St Lucia holidays with Virgin Holidays, including Virgin Atlantic flights.

Have you ridden the Tinker Trail or any other Caribbean cycling trails? We’d love to hear your thoughts below.


Sarah Woods

Award-winning travel writer, author & broadcaster Sarah Woods has lived, worked and travelled in The Caribbean since 1995. She has visited resort towns, villages and lesser-known islands where she has learned to cook run-down, sampled bush rum, traded coconuts, studied traditional medicine, climbed volcanoes and ridden horses in the sea. Sarah is currently working on a travel documentary about the history of Caribbean cruises.

Categories: Our Places