Towns and Villages
For visitors wishing to truly experience Saint Lucia’s culture there is no better way than to mingle with the people as they go about their daily lives. This is perhaps even more valid in the smaller villages and communities that are not directly involved in tourism as there is no need to adhere to the expectlations and standards set forth within the industry… you can expect to experience the real Saint Lucia. Below you will find a few suggestions for sightseeing in this manner. It should be noted that additional historical information on the island’s communities can be found in our ‘All Things Lucian’ section on the left.
Gros Islet Village sits in the middle of the concentration of tourism activity that is referred to as Rodney Bay and is more and more becoming an integral part of it. The village contains numerous guest houses and local restaurants and is a favourite destination for many regional visitors and others who want to experience the local culture. Gros Islet has an international reputation for its Friday Night Jump Up street party but many visitors find liming in the village other nights of the week without the throngs of partiers to be a fun time as well. Many of the rum shops offer local food or BBQ and a great time can be had bar hopping.
During the day many enjoy visiting the Gros Islet Beach for its vantage point in the middle of Rodney Bay. Walk out onto the jetty or climb the steps to the modest observation platform for a better view. Pigeon Island, Sandals Grande and The Landings are seen to the right; to the left is Reduit Beach. If you are staying at any of the beachfront resorts you can get a nice photo documenting your holiday location. There will be plenty of sailboats and other watercraft in the bay as well. If you go in the morning on a sunny day you will find the water in Rodney Bay to be the turquoise blue colour that Caribbean holiday dreams are made of.
The village beach is never very busy and can make for a nice place to relax and cool off as well. Guests staying in the Rodney Bay area can get to the village easily using the local transports. Go to bus stop on the main highway in front of the Rodney Bay Mall and within moments a 14-seater labelled Route 1A on the front will stop. Climb in for the short ride (EC$1.25) that ends in Gros Islet Village three very short blocks from the beach. Just reverse the process to return, no problem.
Saman tree at Castries’ Derek Walcott Square
Walking around Castries to peek into the shops and observe the bustle of activity is a popular option with many island visitors. If you go, there are a few sites that shouldn’t be missed. The first is the Derek Walcott Square. Named after one of Saint Lucia’s Nobel Laureates, the square is a peaceful and relaxing haven in the middle of town. It is perhaps best known for its beautiful foliage, particularly a stately, and massive, 400 year old samaan tree. Directly across the street is the 19th century Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the island’s main Catholic Church, which welcomes guests daily.
For many visitors, the most interesting and entertaining site in town is the Castries Central Market where fruits, vegetables and fresh seafood are sold in much the same way they were a century ago. The market is easy to find as it’s located at the rear of the red-roofed Craft Market directly across the street from the east end of the harbour. The Central Market is at its best on Saturday morning but it is open every day but Sunday; do make sure you visit in the morning to catch the place in full frenzy. You are sure to see some exotic fruits and vegetables amid the local banter and commerce. There are also several food booths which serve tasty local breakfasts and lunches.
Marigot Bay is a small community famous for its beautiful harbour which is considered to be one of the most scenic in all the Caribbean. A must for all visitors exploring the island on the roads is to stop at the overlook at the top of the hill in Marigot which affords a great view of the harbour below. Time permitting, Marigot is a fun place to have lunch or a drink at one of the many waterside establishments. Everything on the north side of the harbour is accessed only by ferry boats which run regularly and can enhance your sightseeing. Marigot is also quite magical at night with the lights shimmering on the water.
Anse La Raye
The west coast fishing village of Anse La Raye has worked hard over the past several years at becoming an attraction for visitors both as a scenic stop for passing taxis and buses and for their Seafood Friday Night street party. Villagers diligently keep the streets and beach clean and are known to be among the friendliest on the island. When in Anse La Raye, take a little time to stroll the area within a few blocks of the waterfront to enjoy some of the simple yet interesting Caribbean architecture and small village shops that have changed little for decades.
One of the more popular village attractions is the mural painted on the block-long wall that borders the Catholic Church grounds. Painted by one of Saint Lucia’s best known artists, Dunstan St. Omer, the mural depicts scenes from the island’s cultural past. Many passing locals will be happy to explain what’s being shown, just ask with a smile. Admittedly, the mural is a bit faded having been subjected to the tropical sun for over 15 years but the quality of the work is still readily discernable. Also, if you visit the mural after dark during the Seafood night make sure you take a few photos to truly appreciate its beauty. The streetlights moot the colours but the camera’s flash will unveil the interesting hues and character of the scenes.
Canaries is a quiet fishing village on the west coast that in many ways has changed less than any other community over the past many decades. This is particularly true in the village central, which is a unique place to visit. The streets are extremely narrow yet vehicles go both ways making for gridlock with only 3 or 4 cars on the road. You’ll be amazed how the larger vehicles can navigate the impossibly tight corners. The village square and adjacent old church, which is now a soap manufacturing facility, is worth viewing as are many of the small old homes and shops. Canaries people are very friendly and enjoy visitors to stroll in for a drink and a look around. Every other Saturday night Canaries holds its Creole Pot street party which is very local and lots of fun.
Soufriere church next to the historic town square
As Soufriere is one of the most historically important towns in Saint Lucia as well as today being the location of many of the island’s most popular attractions, much information about the town has is presented in other sections of this website. As home to the Sulphur Springs, Diamond Falls & Botanical Gardens, several working estate plantations, numerous waterfalls, the island’s marine park, and of course, the Caribbean’s most famous attraction, the Pitons, it behoves all visitors to visit Soufriere. But, of course, there’s more to the town than tourist sites.
Soufriere is also an enjoyable and interesting place to walk about and mingle in local daily life. The town offers quality local eateries, classic rum shops and a full variety of stores catering to the interests of locals and visitors alike. The southern part of town has been spared the ravages of major fires in the past and is full of old French architecture. Day charter boat and visiting yacht traffic also make the waterfront a hub of activity presenting a panorama of photo opportunities with majestic Petit Piton looming nearby.
Choiseul is the largest and most rural quarter in Saint Lucia. The small and rather quiet waterfront village and its adjacent coastal areas are dotted with quiet beaches and undeveloped landscapes. Heading inland, there is a noticeable progressive change from the relatively dry coast to the lush rain forested mountains dissected by some of the most scenic river valleys found on the island. It seems nearly everyone in Choiseul has a garden and a variety of fruit trees. The people of the community have a reputation as being the friendliest on island as most live a quiet life away from the influences of bustling tourist activity and are very receptive to visitors wishing to enjoy the beauty of their area.
Laborie Village waterfront
Laborie clearly boasts the most scenic waterfront of any community in Saint Lucia. The tree-lined beach extends nearly the entire length of the village and is great for a cooling dip, a stroll or just to lay back and take in the views. The narrow village streets with their generally well-kept homes and stores are charming and picturesque. The Laborie Catholic Church features a bit of a different architecture than most found in other communities and is perched agreeably for some good photographs.
Vieux Fort is Saint Lucia’s second largest town and serves as the commercial center for the communities in the south. The town is made up of two distinct sections, the old town center near the harbour and a new area consisting of a proliferation of small malls and commercial buildings strewn along the main road as it passes on the edge of town. The old town center features a beautiful church and few historic buildings while the new area is preferable for shopping. North of town – and the runway of the Hewannorra International Airport – is one of the larger relatively flat open areas on the island that seems destined for future commercial and light industrial development. Located there is the island’s modern brewery facility that produces, among other products, the local Piton beer which is a tourist favourite; this is mentioned should any visiting beer lover care to pass by to pay homage.
The rural east coast community of Micoud is an important agricultural area on island. The village itself is quite nondescript and stands in support for local farmers and the fishermen that venture out from the small harbour on the north side of town. The area was one of the main centers of Amerindian activity on the island in centuries past; with the flat coastal plain being bisected by several rivers flowing through from the central mountains, it’s easy to imagine why.
Located on the East Coast Road travelled by most visitors to and from the international airport in the south is the tiny fishing community of Praslin. The quiet small bay with its boats, nets and unhurried character has provided inspiration and subject matter for artists and photographers for decades.
The east coast town of Dennery
The town of Dennery is located in the midst of a ruggedly beautiful section of Saint Lucia’s east coast. The modestly sheltered bay with a sizeable crag of an island in its center is port to a very productive fishing industry. Overlooks south of town provide a great view of it all. Just to the north of town is Fond d’Or Bay, a stretch of white sand beach framed by very scenic cliffs that can be seen from an overlook at the Fire Station located on the main road.