Having a car on Saint Lucia is useful for visiting downtown Soufriere and its colorful market. // © Mark Rogers
Travelers looking to add extra adventure to a vacation in Saint Lucia might consider renting a car to explore the island. While it’s probably not the best option for first-time visitors or clients who prefer a stress-free Caribbean vacation, traveling around Saint Lucia by car makes for a memorable trip and provides more freedom while touring the island.
I began my vacation with a two-hour drive from Hewanorra International Airport to my resort, the Sandals Grande Saint Lucian Spa & Beach Resort. There were some challenges along the way, particularly a series of acute hairpin turns coming into the capital of Castries and navigating my first roundabout. The downgrades on the road are so steep that a sign plastered on my dashboard commanded me to shift into second gear when going downhill. All this and I had to drive on the left-hand side of the road.
During my vacation, however, the rental car was great for getting away from the resort for a couple of hours, taking day trips and exploring the back roads of the island. (This exploration wasn’t always intentional — sometimes I just got lost — but I always encountered friendly Saint Lucians who were happy to set me straight.) The following are five top sites to visit by car in Saint Lucia.
La Soufriere Drive-In Volcano
As billed, you can actually drive right up to this smoldering volcano and roam past bubbling craters, which give off a pungent sulphur smell. A mud bath and hot springs dip at the nearby Sulphur Springs are popular activities when visiting this site.
Pigeon Island National Park
After an easy drive along a causeway from the mainland, Pigeon Island National Park has hiking trails offering amazing sea views from the top of a hill. The park’s Interpretation Centre provides insight into Saint Lucia’s history.
Anse Le Raye Fish Fry
Held every Friday night, the village fish fry offers an array of open air stalls serving up grilled seafood; everything from lobster and octopus to the day’s catch. Live music provides a lively background. Popular with locals, the fish fry is a great way for visitors to feel like a Saint Lucian for an evening.
Soufriere and the Pitons
Park in the seaside town of Soufriere and soak up the local color. You will also be treated to amazing views of Saint Lucia’s signature sight, the volcanic cones of the twin Pitons: Petit Ption (2,283 feet) and Gros Piton (2,421 feet).
One of the island’s most beautiful views can be enjoyed from the main road high above picturesque Marigot Bay. Take in the vista and then drive down into town to browse a handful of shops and grab a quick bite in one of the casual restaurants.
Clients interested in renting a car should plan to arrive in the daylight hours. The last thing they will want to do is navigate Saint Lucia’s roads in the dark, at least not on their first night. My flight touched down at 3:00 in the afternoon, which gave me plenty of time to deal with the red tape at the car rental desk and acquire my temporary driver’s permit, which can be done in minutes right in the airport at the immigration office for a cost of approximately $20.
While having a rental car provides more freedom to explore, travelers may also want to book a sightseeing tour with a local operator. I booked a combination sea and land excursion that allowed me to see much the island’s main sights while leaving the driving to someone else.