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St. Lucia’s iconic Pitons – a pair of volcanic spires that vault upward from the Caribbean Sea – define one of the region’s most romantic destinations. Though the trademark vistas that surround the Pitons are perhaps the most memorable, St. Lucia delivers robust, varied scenery from head to toe. Simply put, the island looks the way the Caribbean is supposed to look.
Castries, the island’s capital, is a busy hub of island commerce and culture. An active cruise-ship port, visitors can invest a few hours at one of two duty-free shopping pavilions along the waterfront. Artists showcase paintings and sculptures in several galleries. Just a few steps fromthe harbour is the market, where vendors have gathered for more than 100 years to sell a bounty of fresh produce alongside fishermen hawking king mackerel, mahi-mahi and wahoo.
Most of St. Lucia’s resorts are found north of the capital along the west coast where there are several white sand beaches, notably Rodney Bay. With accommodations ranging from massive all-inclusive to luxury resorts to family-run inns, there’s something for almost any taste or budget. Nearby Rodney Bay Marina serves as home base for many of the charter yachts heading south to the Grenadines. While the whitesand beaches are found in the north, few come to St. Lucia without touring the south, where the island’s natural attractions are concentrated. The drive down the west coast to the town of Soufrière at the base of Petit Piton, the shorter and steeper of the twin pinnacles, is one of the most scenic in all the Caribbean.
St. Lucia’s spectacle continues below sea level, where the underwater landscape often mirrors the mountain slopes above. Much of the coastline is under the protection of the Soufrière Marine Management Area, which prohibits fishing. The result is a submerged fantasy of colorful fish and some of the most pristine coral reefs in the Caribbean.