St Lucia's beaches, be they light or dark sand, all have the same things in common – they're unspoilt, uncrowded and backed by tropical scenery. Many hotels offering All Inclusive holidays to St Lucia boast their own private cove, or you could choose to relax on a secluded strip backed by coastal mangroves with tropical birds for friends.
Reduit Beach is cited as one of St Lucia's best beaches and is also one of the more lively, where you'll find quite a few bars. Its two-kilometre length is backed by low rise hotels and dotted with beach bars like Spinnaker's at the northern end where you can get a cold drink and some delicious grilled fish or a jerk chicken sandwich.
On the other side of the island, to the east, Grande Anse beach is a similar size but with a completely different feel. It's peaceful and secluded, which makes it the perfect nesting ground for huge leatherback turtles and iguanas.
In the water
When the lure of St Lucia's uber-clear water tempts you, there are spectacular diving and snorkelling opportunities as well as sports to try like windsurfing and kayaking. Windsurfing conditions are particularly good on the east coast, with Sandy Beach on the southeast getting some of the very best winds. As well as natural coral reefs and sponge beds to dive around, there are a number of artificial reefs that have formed around shipwrecks.
A stunning black-sand beach on the west coast, Anse Chastanet Beach has a marine reserve off its shores, which is known for excellent scuba diving and snorkelling conditions. Another top snorkelling spot is Jalouise, also known as Sugar Beach, where one minute you can be looking down at unusual sargassum trigger fish in the warm water and the next up at the towering Gros Piton mountain.
There are numerous options for getting among nature and exploring the green interior of St Lucia. A popular rainforest trail is the one leading to the 15-metre-high Toraille waterfall that pours over a cliff into a botanical garden.
If you've brought your walking boots, the Pitons on the southwest coast are prime territory for hiking. Gros Piton is less steep and rewards your climb with scenic vantage points across the water and much of the island.
Or in the northwest, Pigeon Island National Park is a tranquil area with a remote beach and a museum where you can learn of St Lucia's history. As well as hilltop views, visiting the underground rum bar beneath the ruins of a fort is a must.
For an unusual day out, head to the mud baths and sulphur springs at the inactive Soufriere Volcano. It's the only volcano in the world you can drive into. On the way to the summit you can take a dip in the hot mud baths, said to have therapeutic qualities for your skin due to the mineral content.
Mixing music and food
The area around Gros Islet and Rodney Bay is the liveliest spot in St Lucia to spend an evening. Near Reduit Beach are bars serving rum and the local Piton beer, plus you can visit Treasure Bay Casino for cocktails and roulette from 11am. Or GLO Nightlife in Gros Islet, a small but busy club to dance alongside the locals and try out salsa dancing.
Around the island you'll find steakhouses, seafood restaurants and lots of places serving spicy Caribbean classics plus mac and cheese – something of a traditional dish in St Lucia. As the island's geared up to honeymooners, there are plenty of top class places to eat offering romantic settings, such as The Cliff at Cap with sensational clifftop sea views. You'll also come across Indian, Asian and Italian flavours among much more.
If you like some jazz with your food, visit in May and you can sample some of the free and paid for events that take place during the St Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival. There are 15 venues including a large outdoor stage in Rodney Bay, plus street parties and celebrations of food from gourmet chefs.