The Caribbean island of St. Lucia’s crystal-clear turquoise water, beautiful beaches and lush rain forest awash with flora and fauna add up to family vacation perfection. Further, the Pitons, twin volcanic plugs that dramatically rise from the sea, will take your breath away.
If you’re looking to relax and re-charge, St. Lucia is the place to do it. But for families seeking a more active holiday, go beyond the beach with family-friendly adventures on and around the stunning island.
St. Lucia is a volcanic island and the village of Soufrière (French for sulfur) is home to a drive-in volcano. Take a guided tour and gaze at the steam puffing out of the crater. Hold your nose, as a potent smell of sulfur laces the air.
Don’t miss the opportunity to get dirty in the mud baths. You will dunk and roll in the tepid, mineral-rich mud, decoratively painting your face before showering off under the refreshing cascade of a waterfall.
For thrill-seekers who are at least 50 inches tall, an exhilarating zip-line adventure in St. Lucia’s verdant rain forest will get the adrenaline pumping. Adventure Tours St. Lucia’s canopy tour provides unforgettable views to a soundtrack of tropical birds and tree frogs. Daredevils must wear close-toed shoes, so leave the flip-flops behind.
St. Lucia is famous for its delectable chocolate. The volcanic soil, warm temperatures and shady rain forest are fertile ground to grow top-quality cacao beans. The beans are made into a chocolate that would make Willy Wonka’s mouth water.
No trip to the island is complete without sampling these tantalizing temptations, but confirmed chocoholic families may want to go deeper and try a hands-on chocolate workshop. Several venues, including Caribelle Batik, offer family-friendly chocolate laboratories run by professional chocolatiers. You’ll sample a variety of irresistible bonbons as you learn how this island’s sweetest treat is made.
Sailing the dazzling Caribbean waters that surround St. Lucia shouldn’t be missed. Take the experience up a notch with a pirate-themed cruise. Sea Spray Cruises Pirates’ Day Adventure was created especially with kids in mind. You’ll sail in a Spanish Galleon ship stopping at kid-approved sites along the way. Stunning views of the deep-green Pitons add to the scenery, and a casual onboard lunch will tempt even the fussiest appetites. Keeping with the theme, the crew stays in character and the kids may choose to dress up as pirates. There’s even time for a swim before the day is finished.
Get wet at this obstacle-style, in-water playground. At Splash Island Water Park, kids may jump on the inflatable trampoline, climb the monkey bars, swing like Tarzan and slide on the colorful play equipment. The water park is conveniently located in Rodney Bay Village, which is close to many resorts. You must be at least six years of age and 3 ½ feet tall to participate.
Diamond Falls and Botanical Gardens is wonderland of thriving flora. Birds and butterflies are attracted to the rich plant life, so expect a colorful show. It’s a lovely spot for a nature-filled stroll. After you smell the flowers, don’t miss the majestic Diamond Waterfall and the steaming mineral baths.
If you’ve got crafty kids, a stop at Caribelle Batik is a must. Housed in a Victorian-style mansion nestled among tropical gardens, this working batik studio is a feast for the eyes. Watch the craftspeople as they create colorful designs on fabric using a wax and dye technique. Several noted artisans and a chocolate maker also have studio space here, creating a profusion of artistic energy. The boutique is the place to purchase a colorful dress, pants or purse, all handmade on the premises.
For families with an interest in marine life, dozens of species of whales and dolphins frolic in St. Lucia’s clean waters. Captain Mike’s friendly crew will help you spot these sea creatures in their natural habitat when you board a whale or dolphin-watching cruise. Commonly seen whales include pilot, sperm and humpback. Don’t be surprised to see spinner, bottlenose and Fraser’s dolphins swimming in their pods.
Take a guided tour on an eco-friendly Segway. Lucian Style offers complimentary hotel pick-up, so it’s hassle-free. Families with children ages six and older can enjoy an introductory lesson on this motorized two-wheeled personal vehicle followed by a spin around the practice track. When everyone is ready, it’s time for a gentle glide on the groomed nature trail. You’ll enjoy panoramic views and refreshments along the way.
The bustling Saturday market in Castries, St. Lucia’s capital, is homegrown commerce at its finest. You’ll find a mish-mash of items for sale including a rainbow of farm-fresh fruits, exotic spices, hand-woven straw articles and dime-store trinkets.
By Allison Tibaldi