Many visitors to St Lucia limit their exploration to a trip to see the Pitons sticking out of the sea at Soufriere. But for those with a more adventurous spirit it’s an all-action island, whether that action involves travelling through volcanoes and rainforests, discovering where chocolate comes from or dirty dancing with the locals.
Take on the volcano
The Sulphur Springs Park is in the crater of the Soufriere volcano, part of which is a fenced-off section of hot rocks, steam and boiling pools of murky water. Every full moon, the pools turn into geysers – apparently something to do with the tides – but for the rest of the time they just look like they belong in an evil wizard’s lair. The time to worry, apparently, is when the steam stops coming out as it means that the pressure is building up too much and an explosion is imminent.
Rampage through the rainforest
St Lucia’s interior is green and mountainous, meaning there are plenty of hiking trails. Given the dense coverage, and the presence of four species of poisonous snake as well as boa constrictors, it’s advisable to go with a guide. The Treetop Adventure Park in Dennery offers a range of jungle walks, as well hugely popular zip lines. These involve whizzing through the canopy on wires, soaring above streams and hoping the harness is strong enough. It’s tremendous fun, surprisingly sweaty work and, with lines of just under 500m, liable to get even the burliest of men screaming like five-year-olds.
Hit the water
St Lucia’s a bit of a water sports paradise, and many resorts have banana boat rides, paddle boats, kayaks, windsurfing, snorkelling gear, water-skiing lessons and the like available. Windjammer Landing can also organise more extensive water-borne jaunts, including diving trips in the marine park, dolphin and whale-watching, catamaran sailing and deep sea fishing.
Driving around St Lucia’s forever winding roads, it becomes fairly obvious what the island’s major earner was before tourism took over. Banana plantations line the roadsides, with the fruit protected from the birds in blue bags. Stop off at the Fond Doux plantation, where they grow one of the island’s other main crops – cocoa. The gardens are lovely, and if you’re interested then guides show off the pods in the trees, the racks of beans drying in the sun and the fermenting sheds. They also offer tastings, but be warned, the beans don’t taste all that much like your favourite choccy bar.
Get the Friday feeling
Friday night is unquestionably the big night out in St Lucia, and the Friday night ‘jump up’ in the northern village of Gros Islet has attained legendary status. It’s a genuinely local event, but tourists are more than welcome to join in, shake their booty, bump and grind. DJs set sound systems up outside the restaurants and try to outdo each other on volume, rhythm and beats. The street party goes on until the early hours, and while shaking your stuff is firmly encouraged, nobody is really going to complain if you sit back sipping a rum and coke.
Virgin Atlantic operates regular flights to St. Lucia from London Gatwick.