Dominated by the twin volcanic spires, called Pitons, lush St. Lucia is that rare place where blissful romance, exotic beauty and heart thumping adventure meet. And, we're just talking above the water so far. Underwater, exploring the reefs will reveal one unexpected encounter after another. You'll frequently see numerous species of eels, both rare and common, on every dive. Sponges are prolific on the reefs, bathing them in bright colors and texture. As you might expect, the underwater seascape reflects the topside with four pinnacles covered with gorgonians and black coral, called the Keyhole Pinnacles, that rise from as deep as 500 meters/1,600 feet and are worth several dives on their own. The 50-meter/165-foot Lesleen M will give wreck divers plenty of explore, and at night, keep your eye out for the "Thing." Between dives, you can go all out hiking and mountain biking or on ATVs through the pristine tropical wilderness. The St. Lucia Jazzfest brings the big horns from around the globe.
When to go:
The weather is wetter from May through August, but St. Lucia is diver-friendly year-round.
When to Get the Best Deals:
August to October.
What to Pack:
A 3/2 mm wetsuit, sturdy shoes for hiking through the forest, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, thin, light tropical clothing, perhaps a light sweater or longsleeve for winter nights; DAN card .
Seasonal averages: 26°C/79°F in winter and 28°C/84°F in summer.
Seasonal averages: 25°C/78°F in winter (cooler at altitude) and 30°C/88°F in summer.
Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD). Credit cards are widely accepted.
Valid passport; check with local immigration office for visa requirements.
Usually part of the airfare.
What to Eat:
Locally grown vegetables and fruits along with fresh seafood prepared with lots of spices are primary to St. Lucia's food. You'll find hot pepper sauce on nearly every table, just in case the food is not already spicy enough for you. Try the national dish - green fig and saltfish - or take in one of the local fish fries.
What to Drink:
The locally brewed beer is Piton and you can also find bottles of Piton Shandy, which is beer mixed with lemonade or other juices. St Lucia Distillery makes a variety of rums and liqueurs for a taste of island. For breakfast, try St. Lucia's cocoa tea, a spiced breakfast drink, made by steeping bay leaves, cinnamon, nutmeg and grated cocoa sticks.
Hike the Edmund Forest Reserve; look for the St. Lucia parrot and other endemic birds along mountain trails; mountain biking; peruse the Castries market; dance the night away at a Friday night Jump Up.
Customs and Culture:
When the friendly locals say, "Hello," return the favor.
St. Lucia Jazz Festival, held in May, is one of the top festivals in the world; Carnival in January and February for music, dance and island culture; Jounes Kweyol, which celebrates the island's cultural heritage each October with food, dance and crafts; Food and Rum Festival in November.
Electricity and Internet:
The current voltage ranges from 220 to 230 volts and 50 Hz. Adapters might be required in some hotels. Internet is available in hotels and internet cafes.
Drink the water?
Generally safe, but drink bottled water if you have a sensitive system.
English is the official language; French-Creole is commonly used by the islanders.
Amazing Marine Life
Often seen in pairs, French angels particularly like hanging out over St. Lucia's wrecks.
Look for colorful longsnout seahorses on most dives.
Blue and brown chromis dance over the tops of both wrecks and reefs, livening up the scene.
Hawksbill and green turtles can be found swimming in leisurely fashion or napping under ledges on many reefs.
These predatory fish are often seen on the reefs.
Growing to sizes of up to a meter/yard, these barrel-shaped bottom-dwellers color the landscape with a multitude of bright colors.
Most often found in holes, caves, and wrecks, several species of eels proliferate on St. Lucia's reefs.
This highly decorative anglerfish can be found in a variety of vivid shades, from oranges to pinks, and boast frilly bait-like appendages with which to lure prey.
True to its name, the tube sponge spouts clusters of tubes in vivid colors.
These tear-drop-shaped fish are eye-catching with their yellow backs and black-stripes, but never more so when a whole school shimmies by at once.
Top Dive Spots
Located in a protected marine park, this reef slopes from 6 meters/20 feet to 42 meters/140 feet textured with caves, ridges, and coral alleys. Its diversity of unusual fish makes it a favorite with photographers.
Anse La Raye:
A spectacular drift dive along a wall, this reef promises a multitude of fish and coral species, as well as the rays from which it takes its name.
Strong currents in this area keep sediment off the numerous corals and sponges, rendering their colors untarnished for the underwater photographer. Watch for turtles.
Key Hole Pinnacles:
Four spires reach toward the surface at this site, smothered in sponges, encrusting corals, sea fans, brain corals, and giant barrel sponges. Flitting among the pinnacles you will see chromis, yellowhead wrasse, sergeant majors and other reef fish.
This 50-meter/165-foot freighter rests in 18 meters/60 feet of water, serving as a substrate for white telesto coral and more colorful varieties, sea fans, several species of black coral and brilliantly hued sponges. The accessible interior hosts blackbar soldierfish, queen angelfish, lobsters, moray eels, and other reef fish, as well as several resident hawksbill turtles.
Situated at the base of Gros Piton, five finger corals at this site hold an array of other marine life in their collective "hands."
Named both for the movie scene filmed here and for the unique experience of drift diving, this wall plummets to a depth of 500 meters/1600 feet, with excellent visibility in all directions. Fly past corals, sponges, stately sea fans, and juvenile reef fish.
This Japanese dredger rests in 32 meters/105 feet of water, making this site an ideal location for an enriched air nitrox dive. Look for French angelfish, jacks, barracuda, puffer fish and green moray eels.
The shallow trench here is actually series of volcanic rock spurs encrusted with sponges and corals, extend from shore. Look for big brain corals atop volcanic boulders, multihued sponges, finger coral, seahorses, frogfish and turtles.
Another noteworthy wall dive, this reef features sea plumes, large barrel sponges and brain corals.