St Lucia is the second largest of the Windward Islands. Famed for its spectacular natural beauty, it has long attracted tourists but has battled not to become overdeveloped; bananas are still bigger business than tourism as a result and the West Indian way of life remains undisturbed.
Whilst it's possible to spend all your time sunning in a resort by the beach, this unspoilt island has a heavily forested interior that demands exploration, two spectacular Pitons that rise from ocean waves and a host of other dramatic rock formations created when hardening magma plugged the volcanoes on the island.
The capital Castries is set amidst a series of hills and has a beautiful natural harbour as well as a cathedral that sums up the country's mixed influences; the French-designed building is full of African-inspired colours, portraits of a black Madonna and child and services are delivered in English. Climb Morne Fortune, the ‘hill of good luck', for panoramic views of the city, which can get particularly busy when cruise ships dock.
The old capital whilst under French rule was Soufriere, at the foot of the volcanic Pitons; the twin peaks dominate the skyline and stand over the town like sentinels. Spend time admiring the scenery as well as the sulphur springs and mineral baths to the south.
Absorb local colour and flavour at the typical coastal town of Anse La Raye, stroll through the 19,000 acre St Lucia Forest Reserve to see achingly beautiful flora and fauna or hop to the pirate haunt Pigeon Island National Park for some excellent hiking, historical sites, beaches and annual jazz festival.