St Lucia is an island that needs little introduction, recently adding the Global Traveler’s title of ‘Best Island in the Caribbean’ to its many accolades. The vacation hotspot is famed for its friendly Caribbean culture which attracts and welcomes visitors to the island every year. St Lucia separates itself from other Caribbean destinations through its unique and unrivalled typography that creates outstanding sites of natural beauty.
At the top of our list, and for good reason, are the Pitons. These two volcanic spires gracefully protrude 800 metres above St Lucia’s southeast coast, forming a landmark visible throughout the island. The Gros and Petit Piton are a national treasure of St Lucia and feature on the country’s flag, local ‘Piton’ beer and just about every souvenir available on the island.
The Pitons are situated in region known as Val Des Pitons, which borders the quaint towns of Choiseul and Soufriere. Along with the luxury property found nestled between the Pitons, the two landmasses also provide a home for varied and endangered wildlife. The area has been recognised for its natural beauty and significance to various ecosystems and is protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
To get the best views and photographic opportunities of the Pitons you could visit Sugar Beach (formally Jalousie Beach), follow the Tet Paul Nature Trail or to truly appreciate their size and beauty, commandeer a ship and sail around them.
Pigeon Island National Park
Situated on a 40 acre peninsula in the northern region of Gros Islet, lays a National Park with an interesting history. Tales of the peninsula date back to the 1500s where a French settler used the island to ambush passing ships. One significant historic fact is that Pigeon Island is no longer an island, as in 1970 a sandy causeway was constructed joining Pigeon Island with Gros Islet.
In the present day the rolling hills of Pigeon Island form a national park protected by the Saint Lucia National Trust, offering great attractions. Military remnants of bunkers and canons from an 18th century battle between the French and English can be found scattered throughout the park. You can also adventure on a hike to a Fort at the national park’s highest point, rewarding you with panoramic views of the northwest coastline. If you are a history enthusiast then the information centre within the park will provide a vast insight into the pivotal role Pigeon Island has played in St Lucia’s colourful past. There are also two beautiful beaches if hiking and history aren’t for you. Due to the park’s entry fee they remain vastly unpopulated compared to other beaches of the north.
The Balenbouche Estate
On the south-western coast of St. Lucia rests a reclaimed sugar plantation, transformed into a 70 acre heritage site known as the Balenbouche Estate. The area combines a working organic farm with a rustic guesthouse and restaurant serving home-grown produce.
The estate is owned and run by the Lawaetzs’; a family who fought hard to protect it from privatisation and restore the grounds to its current beauty. The estate house is over 180 years old and remains untouched since it construction.
Visitors are free to explore the Balenbouche grounds, where they will happen upon remnants and artefacts from the sugar mill, some of which date back to 1834. Perhaps the most impressive remains are that of the old mill, where a huge water wheel clings to the crumbling remains of a once unyielding industrial structure, now engulfed by its tropical surround.
St Lucia’s Seabed
The awe inspiring terrain of St Lucia continues well below sea-level, deep beneath its picturesque shores, providing outstanding underwater corals, sponges and wildlife.
Snorkelling is great way to observe St Lucia’s underwater dwellers from the crystal clear surface of the Caribbean Sea. However, scuba diving will get you up close and personal. Common ocean inhabitants spotted on any scuba dive include Barracudas, Eaglerays and Moray Eels. Perhaps the most mesmerising of marine life to gaze upon when below the surface are the Hawksbill and Green Turtle.
A selection of the St Lucia best dive sites such as Superman’s Flight, Miguel’s Drift, Keyhole Pinaccles and the Piton Wall can all be found in and around the footing of Pitons.