Caribbean Travel Info & Hiking Recommendations for St. Lucia
An excellent place to hike / backpack… St. Lucia is a 238-square-mile (616 sq km) Caribbean island in the West Indies Lesser Antilles, also known as the Windward islands. As one of the most southernly Caribbean islands, St. Lucia is just south of Martinique with Barbados to its east. The island has about half a dozen mountains above 1,500 feet (500m), the tallest being Mount Gimie at just over 3,000 feet (950m). The Pitons, the icon of St. Lucia, are just over 2,500 feet (780m) tall.
Wildlife on the island includes dozens of bird species, including hummingbirds and the famous Saint Lucia Parrot, as well as many reptiles like lizards, geckos, toads and snakes. Interesting reptiles include the St. Lucia Worm Snake which grows no longer that 4 1/4 inches (108mm), and the green iguana which can grow as long as 5 feet (1.5m). A rodent called the Red-rumped Agouti is a mammal indigenous to Saint Lucia and Manicous (a skinny opossum with a long tail) along with Mongooses were introduced to St. Lucia over a hundred years ago. The Jamaican Fruit-Eating Bat can also be found on the island. Of course, St. Lucia is home to a wide variety of tropical tree and plant life, including hibiscus, poinciana, frangipani, orchids, jasmine, and bougainvillea flowers, as well as a number of fruit trees.
Please note that there are poisonous snakes (the fer-de-lance) and spiders (the tarantula) on the island, however they are rarely seen or are a problem for hikers. Boa constrictor snakes also live on the island, however like the tarantulas, they are typically not harmful to humans. The mosquitoes and no-see-ums (biting midges / sandflies) can be a problem if you’re stationary for long periods of time, particularly at dusk in a rainforest or on a beach. From our personal experience on the first week of January 2016, we had no problems on our hikes, however the no-see-ums enjoyed my ankles a couple of wind-less nights in the rainforest, which caused some itchy discomfort for a few days.
In the waters, just off the shores of the island, leatherback turtles, whales, dolphins and West Indian Manatees can be seen. There’s also about a dozen dive sites teeming colorful coral reefs and a variety of fish / sea life, such as barracuda, lobsters, turtles, conch and sponges, as well as crabs, eels, wrasse, grouper, jack and snapper.
The people of St. Lucia speak English, with the natives also speaking ‘St. Lucian Creole’, a kind of French Patois, amongst themselves. The main currency is the Eastern Caribbean (EC) dollar, although the US dollar is also widely accepted. Please note that the St. Lucia electrical power system uses 220-240volt AC with European style outlets/plugs, so adapters and surge suppressors (to handle the occasional dirty power) are required by North Americans.
The best time to hike in St. Lucia is February, March or April, with April being the best in terms of weather. These months typically have the lowest chance of rain and the daily average temperatures range comfortably from a low of 73˚ (23˚c) to a high of 86˚ (30˚c) degrees. It’s much hotter and more humid, with a higher chance of rain later in the year.
Up-hill hiking in St. Lucia… There are a number of day-hiking trails on the island. A St. Lucia Forestry Department day-pass, along with a local guide, is supposed to be required to hike on the island, however the $10usd fee seems to be inconsistently applied, being dependent on where you’re hiking and who you get as a guide. Expect to pay $25usd or more for most hikes. Featured trails for up-hill hiking in St. Lucia:
Other recommended trails for up-hill hiking in St. Lucia include:
- Barre Isle Ridge / Mount La Combe (Centre of the island)
- Des Cartiers Rainforest (South/East part of island)
- Edmund Forest Reserve (South/Central part of island)
Other potential 1/2 day hikes of interest include:
- Jacquot Trail (North/Centre of the island)
- Millet Trail / Bird Sanctuary (North/Centre of the island)
- Forestierre Trail (North/East part of the island)
There are no multi-day backpacking type hikes on St. Lucia. ‘Anse la Liberte’ is the only Campsite on the island, and is located near Canaries, on the west coast north of Soufriere. There are also a few hostels for backpackers to stay at.
For more information about hiking in St. Lucia, visit the Forestry Department website at http://forestryeeunit.blogspot.ca/ (click on the trail names), or call (758) 468-5636. Another site for hiking information can be found at http://www.geographia.com/st-lucia/ (Go to the Natural Attractions section).
Other things to do (besides hiking) in St. Lucia:
- In the North-West part of the island, you can wander around Fort Rodney and Signal Peak in Pigeon Island National Park, near Gros Islet, then have lunch at a restaurant on Reduit Beach at nearby Rodney bay. Golfing is available at a public course in Cap Estate, as well as at the Sandals resort.
- In the South-East part of the island, the Tet Paul Nature trail is a “must see”. Guided tours cost $10 usd and take less than an hour – There are amazing views of the Pitons, as well as the to the East/South of the island. Your guide will also provide educational / interesting information on the local vegetation on display. If you like chocolate (and who doesn’t), the Boucan – Hotel Chocolat and the Fond Doux Heritage Plantation offer tours as well as chocolate based meals. You can also visit the Sulphur Springs, and the Diamond Falls / Botanical Gardens located near Soufriere.
- There are a few waterfalls that can be reached without a long hike, they include Anse Le-Ray waterfalls on the North-West side of the island, along with the Toraille and Latille waterfalls, in the South-West part of the island.
- The Saint Lucia Jazz festival is held every May on Pigeon Island.
- Of course, there’s always beaches… They’re mostly located on the Western side of the island.
The Mountain Hiker Tip: Best days to do “typical tourist” activities are when the big cruiseships are not visiting. You can find the Cruiseship schedule at http://www.slaspa.com/contentPages/view/cruise-schedules
Other useful Links to St. Lucia Websites include:
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