When I booked my flight to Saint Lucia, the only thing I knew about the island was its location: The Caribbean. In the weeks leading up to our trip I heard more and more about Saint Lucia: The Bachelorette was shot there, it’s a dream honeymoon destination, it is part of the Commonwealth. But nobody I knew had ever been and thus arriving at tiny Hewanorra Airport I still had no real game plan.

One cannot explore even half of what Saint Lucia has to offer in the six days we spent there, however I’d like to give an idea of what the gorgeous island has to offer. So here are the ten things we experienced and think you shouldn’t miss on your next trip to Saint Lucia.

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1) Eat fruit from a tree

It was mango season when we were on Saint Lucia and the delicious fruit hanging from trees everywhere quickly became the main component of our food intake. At Balenbouche Estate (see below) new freshly fallen ripe mangos greeted us each morning in front of our house. And when a slight feeling of hunger hit us on the road a mango tree was never hard to find. However be warned: once your taste buds have nipped on this sun roasted, sweet flavour of straight from a tree you will most certainly be disappointed by what you can buy back home.

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2) Watch the hummingbirds

When I saw the first little Hummingbird approaching a close-by banana flower my heart stopped. To me these small shiny birds with the long beak are straight from paradise and signal that I’m far away from home. I watched them like a little child for hours, standing quietly near a banana flower and waiting for them to come by. It calmed me down, was almost like meditation and is one of the fondest memories I will carry in my heart from Saint Lucia.

Beginners Guide to Saint Lucia - Lia Pack - Travelettes - humming bird

3) Take a local bus

The public busses on Saint Lucia are nothing like those in big cities. Saint Lucian buses are rather small vans that fit around 10 people. They depart from central hubs in each larger village, whenever all seats are taken. They stop wherever you shout “stopping” and pick up you up from the side of the road if they have available seats. It’s bumpy but fun in there. You meet locals and get a sense of how basically everyone knows each other on the island. And although locals may look at you funny when you ask for the stop or get on, they actually appreciate tourists adopting their way of life.

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4) Get out onto the water

The Caribbean is famous for the sailboats and yachts that cruise from island to island. If you don’t want – or cannot afford – to take a whole day trip, you should at least hop in a water taxi one day. Seeing the island with it’s majestic Pitons from the sea is stunning and since the roads are very windy and bumpy it’s a nicer way to travel anyway.

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5) Visit Castries Market

Castries is Saint Lucias capital and has around 60,000 inhabitants. Most of them it feels, like shop for food on the central market on Saturdays. Papayas, Mangos, Coconuts, fresh fish, meat and all other natural produce Saint Lucia has to offer is on sale here. It’s an experience for the eyes and ears before the mouth and a great opportunity to chat with the locals.

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6) Enjoy a sundowner at The Naked Fisherman

The Naked Fisherman is located at a small and very quiet cove with a prime view of the sunset. You can of course watch the sun dip into the ocean on most Caribbean beaches of the island, but the drinks here are amazing and if you’re lucky (like us) you’ll be the only guests. Of course the Fisherman also does as his name suggests and serves delicious fresh fish from the grill!

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7) Visit Balenbouche Estate

Before Balenbouche became the wonderland it is today, it was a 200 acre plantation with cocoa, bananas, mangos and sugar fields. After closing the plantation, now 70-year old Uta decided to build a few cottages and rent rooms to visitors. The place feels like the backdrop to a whole number of fairytales. Ripe mangos lie on the ground for you to just grab and eat, a swing hangs from the massive tree in the middle of the garden, the remainders of a sugar factory are being taken over by natures force and gorgeous water lillies grow in a handmade pond. Uta’s cooking is amazing and so are her stories. Even if you are staying somewhere else make sure you at least come for a tour of the property!

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8) Zip Line through the rainforest

A walk in the rainforest is impressive, but zipping through the air with a view of the natural green spectacle usually reserved for birds is pretty astonishing. After a test drive near the entrance you can pick your tour. There’s an adrenaline line with a steep decline from platform to platform or the zipping like birds we took. It also includes a little walk through the rainforest and leaves you breathless in admiration of the wonders of this earth.

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9) Snorkel at Anse Chastanet

Anse Chastanet is a gorgeous hotel at a quiet beach with the most comfortable lounge chairs I’ve ever rested on. Anse Chastanet Diving is located on one end of the beach. Here you can book diving tours or rent snorkelling gear and just swim out to a small reef that attracts all sorts of colourful fish. Wear a shirt while snorkelling, as the sun here is extremely powerful!

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10) Climb the Gros Piton

The two iconic Pitons were formed by Saint Lucia’s – still active – volcano erupting thousands (or millions) of years ago. They stand tall on the south of the Island, are the trademark of the country and named the tasty, local Piton beer. Both the Gros and the Petite Piton can be climbed, however the small one is much steeper, which is why most people only attempt to climb Gros Piton. It’s a moderate to strenuous walk, that’s fast paced and exhausting, but the view is definitely worth the sweat. Tours should be booked in advance and it’s recommended to start early in the day, as the midday sun won’t make the climb any easier.

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What had been dream destination, but blank spot on my arrival was an island of small wonders after these experiences. I hope you enjoy the island and it’s offerings just as much!

THANK YOU to the Saint Lucia Tourist Board for their invaluable support!

This is a guest post by Lia Melina Pack.