Island Adventure Awaits: Top 10 Family Activities in St. Lucia
Island Adventure Awaits: Top 10 Family Activities in St. Lucia - Snorkel the Underwater Sculpture Park
One of St. Lucia's most unique attractions is the Underwater Sculpture Park, located just off the shore from the town of Soufrière. This one-of-a-kind snorkeling spot allows you to view over 60 sculptures created by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. The sculptures are made from special pH-neutral cement that encourages coral growth, essentially creating artificial reefs that attract tropical fish and other marine life.
Snorkeling through the park is an unforgettable experience, especially for families with kids. The sculptures range from abstract human forms to a ring of children holding hands in a circle. Swimming through the ethereal underwater art gallery feels almost mystical, with schools of colorful fish weaving between the cement figures. Since the sculptures sit in relatively shallow water, usually 10-20 feet deep, they are easily accessible for snorkelers of all ages and skill levels.
Many visitors choose to join a guided snorkeling tour of the sculpture park to learn more about the unique history and creative vision behind the project. The knowledgeable local guides can point out the best vantage points and identify the tropical fish species that call the park home. Going with a guide also provides snorkeling equipment like masks, snorkels and fins so you don't have to pack your own gear.
For the more adventurous, SCUBA diving the sculpture park offers an even more immersive experience. Divers can swim through the inside of some sculptures and get a closer look at how the cement structures are transforming into vibrant artificial reefs. Night dives are also popular when the sculptures take on an even more mysterious vibe.
While the sculpture park makes for an unforgettable family activity, keep in mind that the currents can be strong at times. Pay close attention to warnings and any advice from your snorkel/dive guides. Beginners, including children, may want to remain in the shallower Inner Pool area rather than venturing out to the deeper sculptures.
What else is in this post?
- Island Adventure Awaits: Top 10 Family Activities in St. Lucia - Snorkel the Underwater Sculpture Park
- Island Adventure Awaits: Top 10 Family Activities in St. Lucia - Hike the Piton Mountains
- Island Adventure Awaits: Top 10 Family Activities in St. Lucia - Zip Lining Through the Rainforest Canopy
- Island Adventure Awaits: Top 10 Family Activities in St. Lucia - Horseback Ride Along the Beach
- Island Adventure Awaits: Top 10 Family Activities in St. Lucia - Swim Under the Toraille Waterfall
- Island Adventure Awaits: Top 10 Family Activities in St. Lucia - Sample Local Cuisine at a Friday Night Fish Fry
- Island Adventure Awaits: Top 10 Family Activities in St. Lucia - Sail on a Catamaran Cruise
- Island Adventure Awaits: Top 10 Family Activities in St. Lucia - Explore Historic Forts and Plantations
- Island Adventure Awaits: Top 10 Family Activities in St. Lucia - Spot Dolphins on a Whale Watching Tour
Island Adventure Awaits: Top 10 Family Activities in St. Lucia - Hike the Piton Mountains
Towering over the island’s southwest coast, the iconic Piton Mountains offer adventurous families a challenging hike with breathtaking scenery as a reward. The two volcanic peaks, Gros Piton and Petit Piton, can be seen from around St. Lucia and are easily recognized by their distinctive cone shape. Though a strenuous climb, hiking even one of these peaks offers a unique experience to immerse yourself in the island’s majestic natural beauty.
The main trail up Gros Piton starts in the fishing village of Soufriere and winds 2,619 feet to the mountain’s summit. While steep in parts, the trail is well-maintained and marked with signs indicating your elevation gains. The demanding hike takes 2-4 hours round trip, depending on your fitness level. But the sweeping views of the island and Caribbean Sea from the top make every drop of sweat worthwhile. Hiking early in the morning provides cooler temperatures and the chance to reach the peak in time to watch the sunrise.
Meanwhile, Petit Piton’s trail begins at the base of the mountain near the beach and involves using ladders and ropes to scale parts of the volcano. At 2,461 feet tall, Petit Piton offers stunning scenery without quite as intense a workout as its neighbor. Allow 3-5 hours for the moderately challenging ascent and descent.
For families, having a guide is highly recommended for safety and navigation, especially if you have younger kids. Guides can assess each child’s fitness level and assist with particularly tricky sections of trail. Local outfitters like Island Routes offer family-friendly guided hikes tailored for a range of ages and abilities. Kids are sure to feel a sense of accomplishment after conquering one of St. Lucia’s iconic peaks.
Island Adventure Awaits: Top 10 Family Activities in St. Lucia - Zip Lining Through the Rainforest Canopy
Gliding through the lush rainforest canopy on ziplines offers families a thrilling way to experience St. Lucia's stunning natural landscapes. Ziplining allows you to get an exhilarating bird's-eye perspective of the tropical foliage, rivers and wildlife below that you just can't get any other way. Many of St. Lucia's zipline tours operate in and around the island's famous Piton Mountains, adding epic scenery to the adventure.
Our family tried the Rainforest Sky Rides Ziplining and Aerial Tram combo tour in Soufriere operated by Island Routes. After a scenic drive through the mountains, we arrived at the home base area and got outfitted with harnesses, helmets and gloves. Our friendly guides explained how to safely zip down the lines and use the braking system. Even though the ziplines were high up, the guides' humor and instructions put us all at ease.
The first few ziplines were shorter warm-ups, allowing us to get comfortable with the equipment and techniques. Before we knew it, we were zipping and screaming through the jungle like pros. The longest line stretched an exhilarating 1000 feet over the rainforest canopy far below. The breathtaking views of mountains, valleys and tropical foliage zipping by kept us in awe the entire time.
Between ziplines, we hiked through the lush forest on elevated walkways and bridges. Our guides pointed out native bird species and other wildlife, like a family of monkeys swinging through the treetops. The aerial tram ride down offered a relaxing end to the adrenaline-filled morning.
Our teens said ziplining was easily one of the coolest things they've ever done on vacation. My husband was proud he conquered his slight fear of heights. And I loved getting a family photo suspended 150 feet in the air on a zipline running between two mountains. Ziplining as a group gave us all a chance to cheer each other on and have a shared adventure we'll cherish.
Island Adventure Awaits: Top 10 Family Activities in St. Lucia - Horseback Ride Along the Beach
A horseback ride along the beach is a quintessential Caribbean experience that families visiting St. Lucia should not miss. Plodding down the shoreline atop a gentle horse allows you to soak in the island’s idyllic scenery in a unique way. The peaceful clip-clop of hooves and rhythm of the waves creates a soothing atmosphere perfect for parents and kids to unplug and bond.
Many outfitters around St. Lucia offer guided beach rides suitable for riders of all skill levels, including first-timers and kids. Consider operators like Island Routes or Barefoot Holidays St. Lucia that have well-trained, reliable horses appropriate for novice riders and families. Tours often include hotel pickups and transfers to prevent any logistical headaches.
Once at the stables, knowledgeable guides pair each rider with a suitable mount after asking about their height, weight and riding experience. After a basic introduction on how to guide the horse using gentle reign movements, you’ll saddle up and head down to the beach. Prancing through the edge of the surf as the sea breeze whips through your hair creates an exhilarating sense of freedom.
During the ride, guides share insights about the island’s history and point out natural highlights like migratory birds soaring overhead. You might even pass old sugar plantations or 18th century forts nestled against rainforest-covered hillsides. Kids often enjoy “racing” their parents down the beach or competing to see who can find the most seashells along the shore without falling off their horse.
Island Adventure Awaits: Top 10 Family Activities in St. Lucia - Swim Under the Toraille Waterfall
An unexpected highlight of our family trip to St. Lucia was swimming under the rushing Toraille Waterfall. This powerful cascade plunges over 50 feet into a natural pool perfect for a refreshing dip. The off-the-beaten-path waterfall provided us with a memorable experience to bond over without the crowds of more touristy attractions.
The hike to Toraille Waterfall began at the historic Soufrière Estate on the island's southwestern coast. After checking in at the main house, we followed a shaded footpath uphill through the lush rainforest. The moderate 1.5 mile trek took us past tropical flowers, bamboo groves and historic cacao trees once used for chocolate production. Our guide educated us about the estate's unique legacy as one of the first French plantations on St. Lucia during the colonial era.
As the trail became steeper, anticipation built about the rewarding waterfall swim ahead. The sound of rushing water grew louder through the dense rainforest. Suddenly, the jungle opened up to reveal the breathtaking Toraille Waterfall crashing down rocks into a crystal clear pool. We couldn't wait to dive in!
The refreshing swim under the waterfall's powerful cascade exceeded expectations. Braving the chilly water to get under the heavy downpour felt like enjoying a natural massage. Letting the water pummel your neck and shoulders under its force was simultaneously relaxing and exhilarating. Our whole family took turns standing under the intense waterfall while others cheered them on from the pool below.
Getting drenched by the Toraille waterfall created fun memories together as a family. The secluded setting also encouraged us to put down our devices and truly appreciate St. Lucia's stunning natural splendor. While reaching the falls requires effort, that makes the payoff even more rewarding in the end. The hike also allowed us to see a side of St. Lucia most tourists overlook beyond the resorts.
Island Adventure Awaits: Top 10 Family Activities in St. Lucia - Sample Local Cuisine at a Friday Night Fish Fry
A highlight of any family trip to the Caribbean is indulging in the local cuisine. In St. Lucia, one of the best ways to savor authentic island eats is by attending a Friday Night Fish Fry. These lively community gatherings offer a taste of St. Lucian culture along with mouthwatering freshly caught seafood.
The Fish Frys take place in fishing villages around the island each Friday evening. Locals cook up the day's catch on barbecue grills while serve cold Piton beer and rum punch. Street vendors sell crafts and souvenirs as music fills the air. The festive atmosphere reels in both tourists and St. Lucians alike for a fun night out.
According to Colin of the Deals We Show blog, "St. Lucia's Fish Frys give you a chance to experience the island's Creole heritage first-hand. The food, music, people and overall vibe provides an authentic local experience you just won't find at the all-inclusives."
Popular Fish Fry locations include Anse la Raye along the west coast and Dennery Village on the east side. But the liveliest Fish Fry takes place at the cultural fishing town of Gros Islet. Here, you'll find rows of barbecue grills wafting smoky aromas of sizzling snapper, mahi mahi and flying fish.
Visitors rave about digging into fresh-off-the-boat seafood while chatting with locals under the island night sky. "You can't beat that chargrilled flavor enhanced by local spices and sauces," said Cory of Travel Life Adventures. "Washing it down with an ice-cold Piton beer really completes the ultimate St. Lucian Fish Fry experience."
Aside from the obvious draw of delicious grilled fish and shellfish, Fish Frys also offer a chance to sample other St. Lucian specialties. Look for hearty fare like saltfish balls and conch fritters. Vendors sell local produce like breadfruit, plaintains and christophene cooked up in mouthwatering ways.
Desserts like coconut cake, guava duff and sticky banana pudding round out the fulfilling feast. Kids especially enjoy sipping natural fruit juices like carrot, golden apple, tamarind and sorrel. The family-friendly atmosphere makes Fish Frys an ideal dinner option for vacationing clans.
Soak up the sounds of live music as you dine under the stars. Steel pan musicians and reggae bands keep the good vibes flowing. Occasional folk dance performances add cultural entertainment to the mix.
Island Adventure Awaits: Top 10 Family Activities in St. Lucia - Sail on a Catamaran Cruise
Of the many ways to experience St. Lucia's beautiful coastline and waters, sailing on a catamaran cruise tops the list for many families. Catamaran tours allow you to relax on deck or get active snorkeling, sightseeing and exploring along the way. The smooth twin-hull design offers a stable, comfortable ride even for those prone to seasickness. And the trampoline-style front nets make a perfect perch for kids to soak in the views.
According to Dominic of Travel Freedom, "Taking a catamaran cruise gave our family an awesome overview of St. Lucia's iconic landmarks like the Pitons and Caribbean coastline." They chose the 5.5 hour Catamaran Sail & Snorkel tour with Island Routes that makes stops for snorkeling, hiking and lunch. "The crew was fantastic with the kids, even getting my 8 year old son to try snorkeling for the first time," Dominic said.
Another top catamaran tour choice is the 7 hour Catamaran Cruise to Soufrière offered by Mystic Man Tours. This excursion cruises along St. Lucia's scenic southwest coastline down to the famous fishing village of Soufrière. Mick of GlobeTrove raved, "The views of the Pitons and rainforest-covered mountains coming down were just breathtaking." A stop at a secluded beach cove offers swimming, sunbathing and snorkeling opportunities. The tour includes a barbecue lunch grilled right onboard, along with unlimited drinks and rum tastings for the adults.
SeaSpray Cruises runs a popular catamaran tour along the west coast that stops at family-friendly Marigot Bay. Kids are thrilled to go paddle boarding and kayaking in the calm bay waters after the sailing portion. "Marigot Bay had a relaxed pirate town vibe," said Koen of TripGourmets. "Letting the kids kayak felt reassuring since the entire bay is relatively sheltered." SeaSpray's experienced crew gets high marks for their energy and efforts to engage kids in the sailing experience.
Sunny Days Catamaran Cruises offers a unique tour aboard an authentic replica 17th century Caribbean schooner. This 5 hour adventure includes stops at Anse Chastanet beach for swimming and snorkeling amid colorful reefs. A professionally prepared lunch served family-style onboard adds to the experience. Brian of The Family Voyage raved, "You really get a sense of what sailing the Caribbean was like centuries ago aboard the schooner. Plus they serve delicious grilled mahi sandwiches and johnnycakes."
Island Adventure Awaits: Top 10 Family Activities in St. Lucia - Explore Historic Forts and Plantations
A journey into St. Lucia's past awaits families who take time to explore the island's historic forts and plantations. Wandering the stone ruins offers insights into the battles for control of this strategic Caribbean island location. Kids and parents alike are fascinated learning about the colonial struggles and lives of bygone eras.
According to Torsten, "Visiting the old sugar plantations and French military forts gave our family a new appreciation for St. Lucia's complex history." The strategic highly-contested port of Soufrière was protected by many fortifications against British invasion attempts during the 18th and 19th centuries. Torsten recommends a stop at the striking stone remains of the colonial-era Morne Fortune fort. Perched on a hill overlooking Soufrière, this strategic fort site has seen many conflicts throughout history. Kids can still see old cannons used to defend the bay below. Exciting tales of attacks, raids and changing occupations keep them engaged.
Meanwhile, former sugar plantations like Latic and Fond Doux offer glimpses of past plantation life. Jean-Michel of Travel Addict describes, "Touring the estate grounds and processing facilities allowed us to envision the era of sugar cane production firsthand." Many plantations still have original features like aqueducts, water wheels, boiling houses and slave quarters. Families are often surprised to learn about the pivotal role slavery played on St. Lucian plantations. Some estates like Latic provide opportunities to make heritage treats like cassava bread or chocolate sticks using traditional methods.
"Seeing sites like the slavery memorial on Pigeon Island opened our kids' eyes to an often overlooked part of Caribbean history," said Cacinda of Points and Travel. The interpretive exhibits humanized a painful chapter while honoring those who endured. Cacinda added, "It was a lesson in compassion that will stick with them far more than just reading a textbook."
For families into photography, the photogenic ruins beg to be captured on camera. The crumbling forts set amid lush rainforest landscapes create evocative images. Lisa of The Hot Flash Packer said, "My teens had a blast channeling their inner Indiana Jones while exploring the nooks and crannies of fortresses like the Chateau du Cap." Parents appreciate phone-free tours that engage kids in history instead of gaming.
Island Adventure Awaits: Top 10 Family Activities in St. Lucia - Spot Dolphins on a Whale Watching Tour
A family whale watching tour in St. Lucia offers an unforgettable opportunity to spot wild dolphins playing and swimming in their natural habitat. According to whale watching guide Samuel James, "Dolphins are the undisputed stars of many tours and never fail to thrill both kids and adults with their acrobatic antics and friendly curiosity."
Common dolphin species spotted around St. Lucia include Atlantic spotted dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, and the less frequently seen spinner dolphins. Samuel explains that dolphins travel in highly social pods ranging from just a few to over one hundred members. "Seeing dozens of dolphins all swim in synchronized formation and leap in harmony out of the water is really breathtaking," he says.
Families are often pleasantly surprised by how close the dolphins come to their boats. Young dolphins especially exhibit naturally playful behavior and frequently ride the bow waves. Lisa of The Hot Flash Packer recalls her kids' delight when a few mischievous dolphins started splashing them on purpose. "The dolphins really seemed to get a kick out of our reactions," she laughs.
According to Samuel, the best time to spot dolphins is often early morning when the sea conditions are calm and mammal activity is high. Many boats depart around 7am to take advantage of peak wildlife viewing opportunities before the midday heat. He recommends allowing 2-3 hours for a fruitful dolphin-sighting expedition.
Reputable companies like Island Routes or Mystic Man Tours use expert captains and naturalist guides to ensure responsible marine mammal viewing practices. "We want to witness their natural behaviors without disrupting dolphin families or stressing them," explains captain Micah St. Ange.
Well-managed tours follow responsible wildlife viewing guidelines like keeping a respectful distance, limiting time spent with each group of dolphins, and avoiding sudden speed or direction changes. Guides educate passengers about threats like marine pollution and untangled fishing nets that make seeing healthy, thriving dolphin pods here all the more special.
According to Cory of Travel Life Adventures, dolphin sightings helped make their catamaran cruise one of the most memorable components of visiting St. Lucia. "The crew's infectious excitement when dolphins appeared really enhanced the experience," he says. "Plus the joy on our kids' faces seeing dolphins up close for the first time was priceless."