Take a hike: A climb to the top of Gros Piton can be a challenge at 2,619 feet. (Elaine Paoloni)
Often referred to as the Hawaii of the Caribbean lush, mountainous St. Lucia caters to canoodling honeymooners and lovebirds (it was even featured on ABC’s “The Bachelor” this year). But even without a significant other, there’s plenty to fall in love with on the island. Here are our top-10 picks:
1. Fish fry/street party: Soak up local culture and cuisine at Anse la Raye’s Friday night fish fry. Also on Friday is the Gros Islet Jump Up, where you can eat cheap and dance in the street. For a less touristy time, try the Saturday night fish fry on the beach in Dennery.
2. Rainforest zip lining: Strap yourself in and push off for a swing above the palms. Treetop Adventure Park, located in Dennery, has eight zip lines and more on the way that are 100 feet high and 800 feet long. 758-458-0908
3. Gros Piton hike: Get your exercise climbing Gros Piton at 2,619 feet. Start early at the interpretive center in Fond Gens Libre, where $30 buys you access and a guide — the strenuous hike can take up to six hours. 758-459-9748
4. Drive-in volcano: You’ll know you’ve arrived by the sulfur smell in the air. While you don’t actually drive into the active volcano, you can park near the gurgling, steamy springs and take a half-hour walking tour. 758-459-5500
5. Diamond Botanical Gardens: Near Soufriere, these calming gardens display vibrant flowers including torch ginger, bougainvillea and parrot’s beak. There’s also a waterfall, mineral baths, a nature trail and an old mill to explore. diamondstlucia.com
6. Jungle Biking Adventure: Ride a Cannondale suspension bike through tropical vegetation and 18th-century plantation ruins. The 12 miles of trails on the sprawling grounds of Anse Chastanet resort in the southwest cater to all levels. bikestlucia.com
7. Horseback riding on the beach: Take a two-hour guided tour from the Gros Islet stables down to the Atlantic Ocean. There you can frolic in the water with or without your horse. $60 per person. trimsnationalridingacademy.com
8. Pigeon Island National Landmark: If you’re looking for a bit of local history, a picturesque hike or just a quiet beach on the north coast, this 44-acre island reserve has it all. $5 per person. slunatrust.org
9. Carnival in July: St. Lucia saves its Mardi Gras for summer. Although the official kickoff is May 30, most of the action is in July, with a parade of bands finale on July 20. luciancarnival.com
10. Take some St. Lucia home with you. Located in a small fishing village on the southwest coast, the Choiseul Arts and Crafts Centre is a great place to buy local arts and crafts such as pottery, weavings, carvings, framed photos and dolls.
Know before you go:
• It’s shoulder season in the Caribbean, which means hotel and airfare prices are dropping. In fact, Orbitz.com recently released its top 10 spots for spring travel savings and St. Lucia is No. 1.
• JetBlue and American Airlines offer direct flights from JFK to St. Lucia (the flight is about five hours). JetBlue currently has fares as low as $99 each way.
• Don’t rent a car — leave the winding, bumpy, hilly roads to taxi drivers adept at driving on the left side of the street.
• U.S. dollars are widely accepted.
• The island’s rainy season is June to November.