Some people seem to have a misconception that all Caribbean islands are the same: nice beaches and turquoise waters, but fairly void of interesting things beyond that. Well, this is absolutely not the case. There is as much diversity in the Caribbean as in any place. Some islands are largely flat while others are mountainous. Some are wealthy while others are poor. Some have long colonial histories and others don’t.

For me, one island shines above the others that I have seen: St. Lucia. St. Lucia is an independent country located in the Lesser Antilles to the southeast of Florida. I only spent a day on the island as part of a cruise, but it changed the way I thought about the Caribbean.

Castries

Castries port is where your ship will dock if you come to St. Lucia on a cruise.

St. Lucia gained independence from Great Britain in 1979, but are still a commonwealth, with Queen Elizabeth II as their monarch. This association with Britain makes English the official language of the island, allowing visitors from the US to easily communicate with the 150,000 or so St. Lucians who call the island home. In a region filled with islanders speaking all sorts of languages, this makes life significantly easier!

The first thing that you’ll notice upon arriving in St. Lucia is that the island is not a flat sand bar with palm trees. It is mountainous. The vegetation is thick and lush. Giant ferns are more common than palm trees.

St Lucia flowers

The vegetation on St. Lucia is not what many islands will have.

The water here is lovely, and the beaches are every bit as wonderful as any other island. But it is the lush interior that sets St. Lucia apart. There is one main road that circumnavigates the island, and it’s a pretty slow drive. From Castries, the capital and largest city, head south to the best-known landmark: the twin peaks of the Pitons. On your way, you’ll pass small fishing villages, waterfalls, and scenic bays around each curve.

St Lucia village

Villages like this dot the coastline!

St. Lucia is also home to volcanic features. As you wind your way around the island, stop at some of them. La Soufriere is a drive-in volcano (yes you heard that right), where you can hang out next to the steam vents.

La Soufriere

La Soufriere is a drive-in volcano where you can actually enter the crater!

When you finally reach the Pitons, hope for clear weather. I didn’t have such, but they are still stunning!

Pitons

The Pitons, the tips covered in clouds, are the most famous landmark in St. Lucia.

If you are looking for a Caribbean island with more than just a great beach, St. Lucia is one you are certain to love. You can hike, fish, climb a waterfall, and enjoy the incredible diversity of this incredible country.

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