Not only one of the most beautiful islands on earth, St. Lucia is famous for the twin Piton mountains on its southwest shore, and yes, you can climb them (hint: the shorter one is actually harder to scale because it’s steeper). Beyond those famous peaks, though, the elephant ear-size philodendron and Jack-in-the-beanstalk vines on this lush isle are astonishing.
The north and the south ends of the island have slightly different vibes. There are more hotels and resorts in the north, including all-inclusives like Almond Morgan Bay, East Winds Inn, the Royal St. Lucia, Smugglers Cove, and three(!) Sandals resorts, as well as a la carte resorts like the new blu St Lucia and luxurious Cap Maison. This part of the island is where you find the best golf, tennis, watersports, and, for those who want it, partying. An all-inclusive of a different stripe, TheBodyHoliday LeSport, is a fitness-sports-and-spa resort with surprisingly good food (yes, and wine) and terrific instruction in everything from archery to yoga. Unlike many other resorts, TheBodyHoliday also has rooms designed for singles.
Moving south of the northern hub brings you to Ti Kaye Village Resort, a hillside favorite with young couples (steps lead down to the beach); the new Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, formerly Jalousie Plantation Inn, and three ultra-luxe only-in-Saint Lucia hideaways: Anse Chastanet, Jade Mountain, and Ladera Resort. The artful decor, superb service, and views of the sea and the Pitons put this trio in the top ranks of romantic hotels—anywhere—but there’s one other little detail that lands them in a class of their own: rooms that are missing the fourth wall. Situated up above the shore, where breezes cool the rooms and discourage mosquitos, you sip morning coffee on an exceedingly private terrace surrounded by beauty: exquisite furnishings, a stunning view of the sea and the Pitons, and a pair of high-flying hummingbirds.
BEST TIME TO GO: November through May
FUN FACT: Saint Lucia, especially its southern half, looks like those fantastical jungle paintings by Henri Rousseau
GETTING THERE: Delta flies from Atlanta to Saint Lucia (Vieux Fort)
ENTRY DOCUMENTS: Valid passport
CURRENCY: Eastern Caribbean dollar
MUST-TRY LOCAL FOOD: Fried fish platter at the Friday “jump-up” at Gros Islet
BEST BUYS: For authentic hand-made crafts visit Choiseul Arts & Crafts Centre, on the southwest coast