Last updated: 12:58 PM ET, Sun December 27 2015

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  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | December 27, 2015 12:58 PM ET

    Top 5 St. Lucia Experiences

    Top 5 St. Lucia Experiences

    Photos by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

    Totally living up to the nickname “Helen of the West Indies,” St. Lucia is an island filled with heart-stopping beauty. From the twin peaks that soar above the iconic coastline to the lush vistas of rainforests and turquoise waves, there is no place you can turn on the island and not be surrounded by natural wonders. Lounging on a beach and gazing out at all the loveliness is a favorite St. Lucia pastime for many visitors, but this is an island that demands exploring.

    Here are the top five essential activities to try on St. Lucia:

    1. “Hike” The Pitons

    Okay, the twin mountain peaks of the Pitons top 2,530 feet so maybe “hike” is too strong a word. I have tried, and failed, to scale Petit Piton, which rises 2,438 feet so I know that it's not an easy, leisurely hike. But these majestic mountains symbolize St. Lucia and are listed as a World Heritage Site. You have to visit a country's World Heritage Sites, right?

    I think the key word here is “visit.” There are many vantage points in the town of Soufriere, located at the Southern part of the island, that supply great, up close views. You can even hike through Tet Paul Nature Trail and climb a lookout to “Touch The Pitons,” where you can position your selfie to look like you're grasping the top of the peak. That’s much easier than actually climbing it.

    2. Visit Soufriere Volcano and Sulfur Springs

    Described as “the world's only drive-in volcano,” this dormant but lively beast is a must see. Be prepared for the strong stench of rotten eggs as you actually drive through the volcano's crater. Hop out for a guided walking tour where you'll see steam, bubbling mud and sulfur just steps away from your feet. Although the last eruption occurred in the 18th century, watching the steam and mud swirl gives the distinct impression that Soufriere could blow at any time.

    After getting close to the volcano's heat, sinking into the sulfur springs mud baths just below the volcano is a welcome treat. Locals and tourists sit in the small pools and soak up the hot mud, which is reportedly full of therapeutic properties. You'll see people leave with their faces and arms slathered in the gray mud, trying to prolong the skin softening effects.

    3. Party at Gros Islet Jump Up

    In my opinion, this is the ultimate activity on St. Lucia and a must for any visitor. This Friday night street fest is a weekly event that draws hundreds from all over the island. The village of Gros Islet, located on the northern tip of the island, was once a quiet fishing town, but now it hosts St. Lucia's longest running street party.

    The jump up offers a chance to mingle with locals, hear popular Lucian music and sample traditional dishes, all in one place. The festivities officially start at 8 p.m., when you'll hear the pulsating rhythms of reggae, zouk, soca and R&B pour from towering speakers along the street. DJs spin classic and new hits to inspire lots of dancing and “wine ups” or hip-gyrating. The party doesn't really get hot until after midnight, so there's lots of vendors selling crafts and street eats like fried fish, roti and rum drinks to occupy you until then.

    4. Taste St. Lucian Heritage on a Chocolate Tour

    St. Lucia has grown cacao for 450 years and you can taste the evidence all over the island. Every hotel will supply a traditional morning cup of cocoa tea and you can buy raw cocoa sticks and bars of Lucian chocolate in most shops.

    But to really dive in, take a chocolate tour. Fond Doux Holiday Plantation provides a tour that showcases the chocolate production process from the cacao pods to the “cocoa-rina” dance where worker stomp on the beans to polish them before roasting.

    Hotel Chocolat’s Tree to Bar Experience, lets you explore cocoa groves, select pods for your own bar and see all the grinding and mixing in between. At Jade Mountain, chocolate lovers can tour the resort's small chocolate lab, learn chocolate making techniques including how to create fudge and bars. Afterwards, opt for a chocolate-infused spa treatment. Check out the chocolate and wine pairing at Ti Kaye Village Resort's extensive wine cellar and then soak it all up with chocolate scrubs and treatments at the spa.

    5. Browse Castries Market

    Nothing captures the spirit of island life better than the local market. Stroll through the capital city of Castries’ market on Saturdays and pick up signature St. Lucia products like banana ketchup, cocoa sticks, wooden carvings and clothing made from vibrant madras cloth.

More St. Lucia


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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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