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. It was very interesting to visit the plantation and learn about their agriculture. 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.
- 1 Unique to St. Lucia:
- 2 Sights and Adventures in St. Lucia:
- 3 Diamond Botanical Gardens
- 4 Piton Mountains
- 5 Sugar Beach
- 6 Sulfur Springs, Volcano Hot Springs & Mud Bath
- 7 My To-Do List the Next time I visit St. Lucia:
- 8 Shore Excursions in St. Lucia:
- 8.1 Cosol Tours Full Day Tour
- 8.1.1 1. Photo Stop overlooking the cruise port and the city of Castries, St. Lucia
- 8.1.2 2. Sample Local Fruit at a Banana Plantation
- 8.1.3 3. Photo Stop at an overlook of a cute little fishing village
- 8.1.4 4. Breakfast Time!
- 8.1.5 5. Photo Stop overlooking the Piton Mountains.
- 8.1.6 6. Snorkeling at Sugar Beach, between the Pitons.
- 8.1.7 7. Visit the Volcanic Steam Vents & Take a Mud Bath at Sulfur Springs
- 8.1.8 8. Take a Dip Under the Toraille Waterfall
- 8.1.9 9. “Lunch”
- 8.1.10 10. Return to Cruise Ship
- 8.1 Cosol Tours Full Day Tour
- 9 Transportation in St. Lucia:
- 10 Lodging in St. Lucia:
- 11 Restaurants/ Meals & Drinks in St. Lucia:
- 12 Tips/ Things to Know about St. Lucia:
- 13 My Time Spent on the Island of St. Lucia:
Unique to St. Lucia:
- Scenic Piton Mountains
- Sulfur Springs, Volcano Hot Springs & Mud Bath
- Plantations for Bananas and Cocoa Beans
- Diamond Botanical Gardens
Sights and Adventures in St. Lucia:
Diamond Botanical Gardens
The Diamond Botanical Gardens are full of tropical plants, a waterfall, and mineral hot springs.
The two Piton Mountains are huge, pretty much hard to miss. You can view them from many scenic overlooks, snorkel beneath them, or even hike up them.
Sugar Beach is a small beach between the two Piton mountains. It is very rocky but features some pretty decent snorkeling.
Sulfur Springs, Volcano Hot Springs & Mud Bath
Advertised as the “world’s only drive-in volcano”, the Sulfur Springs Volcanic Hot Springs and Mud Bath features a pool of warm muddy water which tourists can take a dip in.
My To-Do List the 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.
Shore Excursions in St. Lucia:
Cosol Tours Full Day Tour
Note, I do not receive any compensation for writing this post. I just truly believe it’s the best shore excursion in St. Lucia because they cover so much ground in just 1 day at port. Give it a try, you won’t be sorry!
When we were planning our cruise ship excursion in St. Lucia, I made a list of the things that I wanted to see: the Pitons, the sulfur springs, and the waterfall were all on my list. So after doing a bit of research on the internet, I quickly discovered that Cosol Tours is the best shore excursion in St. Lucia. They make 7 different stops (3 photo opportunities and 4 activities, plus you get served breakfast and “lunch”). 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.
At last count (August 2018) they have over 2,000 reviews on TripAdvisor and have the highest 5-star rating. This company has been in business for over 20 years and really has their routine figured out and there’s a reason why they are the best shore excursion in St. Lucia. (You can also take a tour with Cosol Tours if you are staying on the island of St. Lucia, just contact them to make arrangements.)
Before you Cruise – Book your Shore Excursion: You make your reservations directly with Cosol Tours before you ever leave for your cruise. You do not have to worry about getting back to the boat on time, they have the system figured out and handle hundreds of cruise ship passengers every day (how else would they maintain a 5-star rating?!). They also handle feeding you and provide free drinks (alcoholic punch, coke, and bottled water) on the trip so there are no added expenses other than souvenirs.
Meeting your Tour Guide in St. Lucia: Cosol Tours gives you very clear instructions for where to meet and they pick you up right at the cruise terminal (There are 2 docks on opposite sides, but they staff and pick up from both). After loading us into a very nice, comfortable van that seated 10 we headed out on our adventure. Note: There were several vans and they may visit the stops in a slightly different order to keep the sites from being overcrowded.
1. Photo Stop overlooking the cruise port and the city of Castries, St. Lucia
Just a nice little scenic overlook, but you get to take pictures with a background like this:
2. Sample Local Fruit at a Banana Plantation
For our second stop, we went to a banana plantation where we learned about farming bananas and were able to sample a fresh banana, banana ketchup, and banana barbecue sauce. It was very interesting to see the bananas covered in plastic bags. I also learned that bananas grow in much larger bunches than I expected!
3. Photo Stop at an overlook of a cute little fishing village
4. Breakfast Time!
At this point, we were getting hungry. Luckily, our tour 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.
5. Photo Stop overlooking the Piton Mountains.
Our third photo stop of the day was my favorite because it was a scenic overlook of Piton Mountains. From this same lookout spot, we also got to see the Volcano Steam Vent which was very interesting (see picture with smoke in mountain side). The locals also made crafts out of palm leaves. I pressed the fish they gave me and still have it in my photo album as a souvenir.
6. Snorkeling at Sugar Beach, between the Pitons.
In order to get to Sugar Beach, our tour guide takes us to catch a Water Taxi from the Village of Soufriere. This taxi ride was a short 10-15 minute ride that takes you right around the smaller Piton and lets you out right in the middle of 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. The guide just gave us a time to meet back on the dock for the taxi back to Soufriere.
7. Visit the Volcanic Steam Vents & Take a Mud Bath at Sulfur Springs
The Sulfur Springs mud bath is the only part of the tour that we pretty much 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.
8. Take a Dip Under 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. It’s not really a place where you can “swim”. The water is cold, but it also felt very refreshing. I recommend it. The cold only lasts for a second.
Okay, so the lunch was a bit disappointing. It wasn’t really a “lunch” exactly. They served us a piece of a warm bread (in the shape of a drumstick) and a piece of cheese. Just to manage your expectations, if you’re expecting a big spread. In my opinion, it was kind of fun and it kept us from being hungry on the drive back. You can always stuff yourself when you get back on the cruise ship!
10. Return to Cruise Ship
Finally, after eating our lunch, our driver drove us straight back to the cruise ship. We arrived in port with about an hour to spare to wander the port stores. It was a full adventure filled day, without any worry about getting back to the ship on time.
Transportation in St. Lucia:
Take a tour and let someone else drive. It’s a very mountainous area that drives on the left (the British way). If you get carsickness, then pack some Dramamine!
Lodging in St. Lucia:
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 in St. Lucia:
We didn’t try any restaurants. Our tour provided all the food and refreshments that we needed.
Tips/ Things to Know about St. Lucia:
- 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 of St. Lucia:
- 1 day cruise port in January 2017, on the Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas.
Hope you find our travel guide helpful!