Where to Stay in Saint Lucia

SD › Best Places to Stay in St Lucia
Updated: February 14, 2023
By Santorini Dave

Our Favorite Saint Lucia Hotels

• 5-Star Hotel: Jade Mountain
• Boutique Hotel: Pink Plantation House
• Cheap Hotel: Tropical Breeze
• Family Hotel: Cap Maison
• Adults-Only: Tet Rouge
• All-Inclusive: Serenity at Coconut Bay
• Best Pool: Harbor Club
• Near Airport: Serenity at Coconut Bay

Beach in St. Lucia.

The Best Area to Stay in Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia is the most romantic of all Caribbean islands, a quintessential tropical paradise that possesses gorgeous beaches, a mountainous, rainforest-covered hinterland and a laid-back culture that blends indigenous, African, French, and British influences. Towering over it all, and making St Lucia truly unique, are the majestic peaks of the Pitons – two cone-shaped spires, well over 2,000 ft high, that seem to rise right out of the sea.

Saint Lucia was originally inhabited by the Caribs, but the French began to colonize the island in 1660 – Britain and France fought over it for years thereafter, Britain finally coming out top in 1814. And although St Lucia has been fully independent since 1979, King Charles III remains the nominal head of state. The island is relatively small – 27 miles (43km) long by 14 miles (23km) wide – and your primary choices in terms of where to stay are relatively simple: the north or the southwest.

The north – which really means the area around the northwest boomtowns of Gros Islet/Rodney Bay – is where you’ll find the more stereotypical beach resorts and hotels, a long strip of sand and lots of nightlife and restaurants.

In the southwest, the beaches tend to be isolated coves, nestled in the shadow of the Pitons. Hotels and resorts are more intimate here, and often located in spectacular locations, taking advantage of the steep slopes and sensational scenery. Staying in the southwest is a more tranquil affair – and you’ll be primarily eating and drinking at your hotel (or one nearby).

Saint Lucia’s capital and largest city is Castries. Although it’s the political, commercial, and cultural heart of the island, there are few places to stay here, and most visitors only visit it on day-trips. The second biggest city is pretty Soufrière, the atmospheric old French colonial capital – like in Castries, there are few place stay stay here, but it’s an easy trip from the southern resorts.

The island’s southern tip is home to the international airport and the town of Vieux Fort – some budget options can be found here, well off the tourist trail. Finally, there’s St Lucia’s wild hinterland, extremely mountainous and densely forested. It’s worth taking a day or two off the beach to explore its trails and peaks, even if spending the night here is not really an option.

Saint Lucia Travel Tips

  • Frustratingly, Saint Lucia’s primary airport is not near the capital or the northern resorts but is located instead at the southern tip of the island. Hewanorra International Airport is a pain to travel to and from the north coast resorts, though not so bad if you’re staying in the south (arrange a taxi in both cases). The capital town of Castries has George F. L. Charles Airport, but this only serves small planes, puddle jumping to nearby islands.
  • Saint Lucia uses the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$), pegged to the US dollar at US$1=EC$2.70. As a result, US dollars are widely accepted by businesses on the island, though you’ll get change in EC$, and the exchange rate used can differ wildly (it will always be rounded up). If you do bring US dollars cash, make sure you only have US$20 notes or smaller denominations, and that they are in good condition/new – locals will not accept worn, damaged, or crinkled notes. The best strategy is to withdraw a small amount of local currency from an ATM on arrival and use your credit card as much as possible (accepted in all but the smallest local businesses). You are unlikely to be able to use other international currencies on Saint Lucia.
  • Taxis are very expensive in St Lucia – getting from the south to the north side of the island can take well over an hour and cost over US$100; just zipping between Rodney Bay and Castries will be US$20 minimum. That said, if you intend to primarily stay in one place, there’s no need to rent a car. And on the plus side, St Lucia taxi drivers increasingly offer free in-vehicle wi-fi.
  • If you want to explore the island, even for a day, renting a car makes sense; most major companies have offices at the international airport or in Rodney Bay, and all hotels can arrange this for you. It takes about 1–1.5 hours to get from north to south in Saint Lucia by car. The main roads are in reasonable condition, but are very winding. Note that St Lucia drives on the left, like the UK and Australia.
  • It is possible to travel the main routes in Saint Lucia by local minibus – single rides range from EC$2.5 to $8 depending on how far you go. For short trips it can be great fun (you’ll definitely get to meet the locals), but to explore the island, it’s not a convenient option.
  • English is the official language of St Lucia, but most locals speak a creole patois known as “kwéyòl”. Everyone you meet will understand and speak English.

The Best Places to Stay in St Lucia

Best Places in St Lucia for…

  • Best Place for Beaches: North Saint Lucia or Soufrière (West St Lucia)
    Most visitors to St Lucia choose between the hotels at the livelier northern end of the island, and the quieter resorts of the mountainous southwest. In either area you’ll find excellent beaches. In the north the main attraction is Reduit Beach at Rodney Bay, the island’s primary commercial strip of sand – it’s backed by hotels, and offers plenty of amenities, water sports, and nightlife. Despite that, the beach is big enough to absorb most visitors and you’ll always find an empty stretch. Nearby are the two idyllic soft-sand beaches on Pigeon Island, while over on the Atlantic coast Cas-en-Bas is a wilder strip popular with kite- and windsurfers. It’s also home of popular local restaurant Marjorie’s, right on the beach.

    In West Saint Lucia things are a little different: the beaches are smaller and a bit harder to reach, but a lot more scenic. Soufrière doesn’t have any good beaches, but just to the south, Jalousie Plantation Beach (aka Sugar Beach) is one of the most picturesque in the Caribbean, framed by the mighty Pitons. Though half the beach is owned by Sugar Beach Resort, there’s a section at the northern end open to the public. Further north, the black-sand beaches of Anse Chastanet and Anse Mamin (linked by coastal walkway) are technically part of Anse Chastanet Resort, but both are open to the public (you can park in the resort’s free parking lot). The snorkeling off Anse Chastanet is especially good, with the shallow reef attracting turtles and loads of tropical fish.

  • Most Romantic Destination: Soufrière (West St Lucia)
    The luxury resorts tucked away on the slopes below the Pitons, the spectacular twin peaks that dominate the western part of the island, have been prime honeymoon territory for years. Staying here feels a lot more intimate than in the busier resorts in North St Lucia, with tranquil chalets and cabins overlooking the Caribbean or the mountains. On the coast there’s Anse Chastanet Resort and Sugar Beach, while Ladera Resort offers sensational views from high above the bay. Soufrière itself is one of the island’s most romantic towns, full of gingerbread wooden homes and far more laid back than Castries or Rodney Bay in the north.
  • Best Place for Nightlife: Gros Islet/Rodney Bay (North Saint Lucia)
    Rodney Bay Village is St Lucia’s de facto nightlife hub, with the best restaurants and a trove of late night bars and clubs attracting plenty of locals as well as tourists. Spinnakers Beach Bar is right on the sand and perfect for sunset drinks, while Cafe 758 is inside the JQ Rodney Bay Mall. The simple Boardwalk Bar overlooks the marina while the Ultra Lounge is a relaxed spot for food and drinks on Reduit Beach Avenue Road.

    Over in Gros Islet there’s the weekly Friday night street party, Saint Lucia’s most famous “jump-up”, featuring street stalls and bars serving local food, rum punch, and beer. Excellent local bars in Gros Islet include Castro’s Pub and the Irie Bar and Duke’s Place on Bay Street.

    • Be sure to try Chairman’s Reserve, St Lucia’s popular locally-produced rum, and Piton, the local pilsner.

  • Best Place for Shopping: Castries
    Thanks partly to its status as a major cruise port destination, Castries is the best place to shop in St Lucia. If you’re staying at the north end of the island, there are plenty of shops in Gros Islet/Rodney Bay (Baywalk Shopping Mall and JQ Rodney Bay Mall are major shopping centers), but make the short trip to the capital and you’ll find a lot more.

    Most trips to Castries begin with a visit to the Central Market, where locals come to shop for fresh fruit and produce, but which also features handicraft and souvenir stalls. On the other side of the street lies the “Vendor’s Arcade”, an extension to the market that is crammed with all sorts of local stalls, cafes, and massage parlors. Popular items include colorful, hand-carved wooden masks (pioneered by Soufrière-based artists Zaka, aka Simon Gajadhar), handmade pottery, locally produced cocoa sticks (made from ground, fermented cocoa nibs), yellow hot sauces made from fiery Scotch Bonnet peppers, rum, local honey, batik textiles, wood carvings, coconut oil, and locally designed jewelry. The usual range of duty-free items and luxury goods can be found nearby in air-conditioned La Place Carenage, including Colombian emeralds. Across the bay at the cruise dock, Pointe Seraphine Shopping Centre features several duty-free jewelry stores and electronics shops, a dedicated Rum Shop, fashion boutiques, and souvenir shops. It’s also worth strolling the streets of Downtown Castries where you’ll find independent stores run by locals selling local fashions at bargain prices.

  • Best Place for Diving: Soufrière (West Saint Lucia)
    Saint Lucia officially offers 22 major dive sites, all of them on the calmer Caribbean (western) side of the island. Though there are plenty of good dive sites towards the north (around Gros Islet/Rodney Bay), the section of coast around Soufrière offers the richest targets for seasoned divers. Aptly named Turtle Reef is one of the most popular; thanks to the turtle grass beds here, it’s common to spot hawksbill and green turtles. There’s also a reef with pillar corals and barrel sponges. The “Fairyland” site is the most colorful spot for corals and sponges – the currents here keep them very clean – but you’ll also see turtles and a variety of marine life. The Keyhole Pinnacles are four volcanic vents that rise up to within a few feet of the surface, attracting a huge range of fish, including grouper, jack, and moray eels. “Superman’s Flight” is a popular drift dive, where the current pushes divers slowly across the reef, with all sorts of fish, fluorescent sponges, and large gorgonians gliding by. Piton Wall can be found at the base of Petit Piton, a thrilling drop-off that plunges down hundreds of feet. Just to the north in Anse Cochon Bay, the Lesleen M Wreck is a 167ft/51m freighter that sunk in 1986, while the Daini Koyomaru is a Japanese dredger sunk in 1996, now an artificial reef.

    • Even if you opt to stay in North St Lucia, local dive shops and tour operators will usually offer trips to these southern dive sites – you’ll just have to factor a longer journey time to get there.

  • Safety in Saint Lucia
    St Lucia is generally very safe for tourists, though the usual precautions should be taken at night. Petty theft and street crime does occur; never leave anything of value in your car or on the beach unattended.

The 5 Best Places in Saint Lucia for Tourists

1. Castries

Castries is the capital of Saint Lucia, a (relatively) busy city and port set around a picturesque harbor on the northwest side of the island. Almost a third of St Lucians live here; though very few visitors remain in Castries for their entire trip, it’s the best place to soak up its complex history and cultural mix, and it’s also the top shopping destination on the island. If you’re staying in North St Lucia the city is a relatively easy minibus or taxi ride away; from the south it’s better to get there via rental car or guided tour.

Downtown Castries is a small, compact area that’s easy to explore on foot. Derek Walcott Square lies at the heart of the city, a pleasant swathe of green named after Saint Lucia’s favorite son, Sir Derek Walcott, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992 (there’s a bronze bust of the poet here). Fans might want to check out Walcott Place on Chaussee Road, Walcott’s childhood home (it will eventually serve as a museum). Back on Walcott Square is the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, St Lucia’s Catholic cathedral that’s said to be the largest church in the Caribbean. The chief artistic attractions inside the stunning interior are the murals by St Lucian artist Dunstan St. Omer. On the other side of the square stands the distinctive red and white Central Library, completed in 1924 with funds from the Andrew Carnegie Trust. On the harbor itself, Castries Central Market makes for a fun visit, full of stalls selling local handicrafts, fruits, and vegetables. (It’s busiest on Fridays and Saturdays.) Opposite is Vendor’s Arcade, with more local stalls and services. Castries is good for shopping generally: La Place Carenage is a small duty-free mall a bit further along the waterfront, and you’ll find all sorts of indie shops scattered around Downtown. Pointe Seraphine is the major cruise ship shopping mall, found on the other side of the harbor. For views of the city, consider heading over to the Vigie Lighthouse on the other side of Castries airport, or up to Fort Charlotte on Morne Fortune, 3 miles (5km) south of the city center. Nearby, the Howelton Estate 1896 is another popular pit-stop, an historic plantation house now home to local gift shops, lush gardens, artisanal studios, and a pleasant café.

• Castries isn’t really a beach town; the closest good stretch of sand is La Toc Beach, 2 miles/3km from Downtown (and home to Sandals Regency La Toc).

• Dining options are limited in Downtown Castries; recommended restaurants include Indulge (Chisel St, at High St), Aunties Place (on Darling Rd), and the Sabay Sabaw Filipino restaurant (Monigiraud St, at Micoud St), which is very authentic (many cruise ships have Filipino crews). Le Restaurant De Romantique at 9 Mary Ann Street is a great local spot.

• Note that when cruise ships are in port, Castries (especially the market and malls) can get mobbed with visitors.

2. North Saint Lucia (Gros Islet/Rodney Bay)

North Saint Lucia is the primary hub of the island’s tourist industry, with the twin towns of Gros Islet and Rodney Bay set around the bay and a man-made marina. Rodney Bay lies on the south side of the marina, and this is where most of the hotels and resorts are located. The principal attraction is Reduit Beach, one of St Lucia’s best stretches of sand, featuring all the associated water sports. Splash Island Water Park sits at the northern end of the beach, an inflatable water park in the bay that’s wildly popular with kids. Rodney Bay Village is the area’s nightlife center and home to the Treasure Bay Casino in Baywalk Shopping Mall, and the JQ Charles Rodney Bay Mall, in addition to a full line up of services, restaurants and tour providers. Island Mix is one of our favorite spots here, an art gallery with a laid-back café.

On the north side of the marina, Gros Islet is a more workaday settlement with its own small beach, a smattering of low-key guesthouses and lots of restaurants and no-frills bars. This is where the famous Friday Night Street Party takes place every week, featuring food stalls and live entertainment. At the far northern end of the bay lies Pigeon Island National Park, joined to the mainland by causeway in 1972. The park is one of St Lucia’s highlights, offering a half-day or full day out, with two beaches, the 18th-century ruins of British and French forts, a restaurant, pub, and sensational views from Signal Peak. The park Interpretation Centre tells the story of the British naval victory over the French at the Battle of the Saints in 1782. Beyond here, the Cap Estate neighborhood encompasses the northernmost point of St Lucia, with a handful of more intimate resorts and tranquil holiday rentals, as well as the Greg Norman-designed Sandals St. Lucia Golf and Country Club (https://www.sandals.com/golf/st-lucia). Finally, over on the wilder Atlantic side of the island, Cas-en-Bas Beach and the surrounding bluffs and capes is well off the tourist trail, more popular with surfers, kitesurfers and windsurfers.

• You’ll find some of the best restaurants on the island up here. Good choices include Spinnakers, right on the beachfront, Buzz Restaurant, Jacques Waterfront Dining, Big Chef Steak House, Lucian Cuisine for local food (near Baywalk Shopping Mall), and many others.

• The excellent beach plus the convenience of this area accounts for its popularity – it can be a long and expensive taxi ride from the main airport, but once here, there’s no reason to leave.

• North St Lucia boasts several excellent dive sites; Berger Rock, La Roche (The Rock), and Saline Point among them. Contact Eastern Caribbean Diving or Scuba Steve’s to arrange an excursion.

• The Saint Lucia Jazz Festival is usually held every May in and around Gros Islet. In recent years has been canceled due to COVID, but is back on in 2023. St Lucia’s annual Carnival takes place in July and was revived in 2022, while other festivals that primarily take place in North St Lucia include the Saint Lucia Roots & Soul Festival (August) and the Saint Lucia Food & Rum Festival (September).

3. Soufrière and the Pitons (West St Lucia)

The area of West St Lucia around Soufrière is the other major tourist hub on the island (along with North St Lucia), though the atmosphere here is totally different. Dominated by the spectacular twin peaks of the Pitons, the mountains of the interior tumble into the coast here, with small, isolated coves and beaches backed by steep cliffs and slopes. The resorts and hotels are spread out along the shore and high in the hills, offering a far more tranquil experience. Your dining and drinking options will be limited to the resorts however, and you’ll need a rental car if you want to explore further afield.

The hub of the region is Soufrière, a small, beautiful little bay town below the Pitons, which served as the original French capital of the island. Unless there’s a cruise ship docked, it’s a sleepy place that’s well worth a wander for its handful of local shops, bakeries, and colonial and gingerbread architecture. Most organized tours whip round a series of attractions surrounding the town, but you’ll get more out of these with your own transport: Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens & Mineral Baths, set on the old Soufrière Estate granted to the Devaux family by King Louis XIV of France in 1713; the bubbling Sulphur Springs, aka the “Soufrière Drive In Volcano”; the chocolate-making tours at the Fond Doux Resort and Rabot Estate; the zipline and adventure park at the Morne Coubaril Estate; and numerous waterfalls.

The densely wooded peaks of Petit Piton (2,350ft/743m) and Gros Piton (2,540ft/798m) provide a magnificent backdrop to it all; reasonably fit hikers can walk to the summit of the latter via the Gros Piton Nature Trail. (Petit Piton requires rock climbing.) Soufrière itself doesn’t really have a beach. The best spots nearby are the tiny Jalousie Plantation Beach (aka Sugar Beach, to the south) and Anse Chastanet Beach (to the northwest), especially known for snorkeling right off the shore (where there is a shallow reef). A short walk north along a coastal walkway gets you to Anse Mamin, a rare black sand beach which sees very few visitors – you’ll often have it to yourself, though there is a restaurant and the beach is technically part of Anse Chastanet Resort (non-guests can access the beach for free but not the hotel amenities).

4. South St Lucia

Few visitors end up in South Saint Lucia, despite being easily accessible from the international airport, and offering a secluded experience similar to the western resorts. There’s not much to see in Vieux Fort, the main settlement in the region, though the stunning view from the Cap Moule à Chique Lighthouse (730ft/223m) at the southern tip of the island is worth the short drive. Nearby is Anse Des Sables Beach and Sandy Beach, a lot wilder and longer than most beaches on the island – this is the Atlantic side of St Lucia, so it tends to be windier and more popular with windsurfers and kitesurfers. Just off shore lies the Maria Islands Nature Reserve, home to the rare kouwés snake and numerous migratory birds (tours by appointment only, see website). Further up the west coast, Laborie Beach is one of the island’s most attractive and less visited coves of sand, while the Balenbouche Estate is an historic plantation offering accommodation but also tours to non-guests of its 18th-century sugar mill, plantation house, grounds, and beaches.

5. Central Saint Lucia

The central part of the island is dominated by forest-covered mountains, most of it untamed wilderness. Only one road traverses St Lucia and most of the interior is only accessible by hiking trail. The main attractions here are the forest reserves that protect all sorts of flora and fauna (including the St Lucia parrot), laced with waterfalls, jagged peaks, and challenging paths. Edmund Forest Reserve is one of the most popular, though it’s tough to reach, involving a 4-hour hike each way (plus an hour’s drive by 4WD to reach the trailhead). From the reserve there’s a trail to the island’s highest point, Mount Gimie (3,117ft/950m), but this is a tough hike that is only recommended with a government-sanctioned guide. You can also arrange for park rangers to continue to the Quilesse Forest Reserve and the Des Cartiers Rainforest Trail (an easy2.5 mile/4kmloop).

If you’re not into hiking you can still experience the interior at a few other more accessible sites. The Treetop Adventure Park operated by Adventure Tours St Lucia offers zip-lines and canopy tours in the rainforest, while Rainforest Adventures St. Lucia offers a similar line-up in Chassin (Babonneau). It’s also possible to drive up to the Millet Bird Sanctuary and Nature Trail from the Roseau Valley (though you’ll need to arrange a guide to tour the sanctuary). If you have a car you can also check out the wilder east coast, where Mamiku Botanical Gardens straddles the old French de Micoud plantation that still produces bananas, cocoa, tropical flowers, and fruits.

• It’s difficult to find hotels or even vacation rentals in central Saint Lucia – it’s much easier to plan day trips from your accommodation on the coast, either via organized tour or independently with a rental car (preferably 4WD).

Other Saint Lucia Neighborhoods

We’ve covered our favorite neighborhoods to visit and stay in more detail above, but with more time (or on your second visit), it’s worth considering Marigot Bay. It’s a little more off the main tourist trail, some 7 miles (11km) south of Castries, but thanks to its marina, serves as a big hub for yachts and is home to some excellent restaurants such as Roots Beach Bar. The pretty harbor, with steep slopes on either side is the main focus here, though St Lucia Distillers is only a short drive away, producing high quality rums and the Marigot Bay range of liqueurs. The harbor is flanked by some fairly luxurious hotels; our favorites are the all-inclusive Zoetry, the cheaper Marigot Beach Club & Dive Resort, and the Oasis Marigot villa rentals.

About Santorini Dave

Santorini Dave Santorini Dave was started in 2011 by a guy who loves Greece and Europe, travel and great hotels. We're now a small team of writers and researchers dedicated to providing the best travel content on the internet. We focus on Santorini, Mykonos, Athens, and Greece, offering recommendations for top hotels, neighborhoods, and family-friendly hotels worldwide. Dave can be contacted at dave@santorinidave.com.