St. Lucia is a beautiful mountainous island that was easily my favorite cruise port in 2017. The pitons and the scenic fishing villages were truly beautiful. Also, St. Lucia seems to be one of the more successful Caribbean islands. While tourism is a huge industry, it’s not their entire industry. They have huge plantations that grow bananas and cocoa beans and ship them to Europe. Lastly, the snorkeling at Sugar Beach was pleasantly the best snorkeling that I’ve ever seen, even better than Turks and Caicos which is known for it’s coral reef.
Cosol Tours on St. Lucia has some of the best ratings on Trip Advisor and they have been in business for over 20 years. If visiting, I highly recommend their tour because I don’t believe you will find another that covers as much sights as they do for the value. It was far more comprehensive and generally cheaper than any tour offered by the cruise line.
Unique to St. Lucia:
- Scenic PIton Mountains
- Volcano Hot Springs & Mud Bath
- Swim/ Stand underneath the Toraille Waterfall
- Sample Local Produce by visiting a Banana Plantation
- Excellent Snorkeling at Sugar Beach between the 2 Pitons
- Diamond Botanical Gardens
Cosol Tours – I already mentioned above that Cosol Tours Island Tour is an amazing way to see St. Lucia. Their tour picks you up right at the cruise terminal (There are 2 docks, they man them both). They are punctual, ready to go and have a system figured out to see the island and get you back to the boat on time. They also handle feeding you and provide free drinks on the trip so there are no added expenses other than souvenirs. After loading us into a very nice, comfortable van that seated 10 we headed out on our adventure. There were several vans and they may visit the stops in different orders to keep the sites from being overcrowded. Below are the stops we went to:
- Photo Stop – Stopped to take pictures at a mountain top overlooking the cruise port and the city of Castries
- Sample Local Fruit at a Banana Plantation – We stopped at a banana plantation where we learned about farming bananas and were able to sample a fresh banana, banana ketchup, and banana barbecue sauce.
- Photo Stop – Stopped to take pictures at an overlook of a pretty fishing village
- Breakfast – We stopped at a house area where we ate breakfast. They had a large buffet of appetizer/finger food sized breakfast foods. They had probably 25 different types of food that we got to sample, many of which were local foods. I loved that they were served in tiny portions so that we could sample a lot of things. I left feeling like I had plenty to eat.
- Photo Stop – Scenic Overlook of Piton Mountains & Volcano Steam Vent (see picture with smoke in mountain side). The locals also made crafts out of palm leaves.
- Take a Water Taxi from the Village of Soufriere to Sugar Beach. This taxi ride was a short 10-15 minute ride that takes you right around the smaller Piton to Sugar Beach.
- Beach & Snorkeling at Sugar Beach – The snorkeling at Sugar Beach is fantastic. You swim right between the two Pitons and can see lots of fish. They also have some of the best coral that I’ve seen in the Caribbean (Brian said it’s second only to Honduras). And the snorkeling is very close to the shore so if you’re like me where the thought of swimming in the open ocean is a bit nerve-wracking, this didn’t bother me at all because i was never more than 20 yards from shore. TIp: Bring your water socks for snorkeling it’s too shallow for flippers but there are tons of rocks and the coral is pretty shallow. Our tour spent an hour at the beach which was perfect.
- Visit the Volcano & Take Mud Bath at Sulfur Springs – The mud bath is the only part of the tour that we skipped. I enjoyed seeing the volcano and the steam vents. However, the sulfur smell is very, very strong, but tolerable. The mud was being passed out in 5-gallon buckets so that didn’t feel very “authentic” to me and that’s really why I skipped that part, although some of the others seemed to be having fun with it. Brian and I just took a quick dip in the warm rinsing pool and that was it.
- Swim beneath the Toraille Waterfall – It’s a surprisingly small pool and felt pretty crowded so we took a quick dip, got our pictures taken beneath the waterfall and got out. The water is cold, but it also felt very refreshing. I recommend it. The cold only lasts for a second.
- Lunch – For lunch we ate a warm bread (in the shape of a drumstick) and cheese. It wasn’t as impressive of a spread as breakfast, but it was nice and kept us from being hungry on the drive back.
Next time I visit St. Lucia:
- Visit the Botanical Gardens – others on our cruise stopped at the botanical gardens, It’s the only stop that I feel like we missed out on.
Take a tour and let someone else drive. It’s a very mountainous area that drives on the left (the British way).
We visited by cruise ship. However, the cabins at Sugar Beach overlooking the Pitons looked awesome. I would check those out if I ever stayed on St. Lucia.
Restaurants/ Meals & Drinks:
We didn’t try any restaurants. Our tour provided all the food and refreshments that we needed.
Tips/ Things to Know:
- Bring water socks for snorkeling at Sugar Beach. Unless you plan to swim out away from the shore, leave the flippers at home to pack light. I found plenty of nice snorkeling where it was only about 20 yards from shore and felt like flippers would be unnecessary.
- There are a lot of hills and twisting roads. The longest car ride was about 30-45 minutes, but if you get car-sick easily I recommend asking for the front seat in the van or taking some Dramamine before the tour.
My Time Spent on the Island:
- 1 day cruise port in January 2017, on the Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas.