Saint Lucia is a great choice if you’re looking for a Caribbean family holiday that will let you get under the skin of West Indian life, as well as one your kids will love. Offering all the usual activities in, on and around the waves, it also has abseiling and rainforest zipwiring.
Though it lives up to the Caribbean stereotype with its golden beaches, crystal-clear waters and lush interior, this mountainous island hasn’t become overly developed or sanitised, and though often glossed over as a glam honeymoon spot, it has much more to offer than just posh digs.
It’s also cheaper and easier to get to these days, and once you’re here, you’ll find an island with lots of energy, soca music blasting from the windows and car horns beeping all day, at least in towns. Inland there’s a slower pace of life and lots to explore, especially the dramatic coastal peaks of the Pitons (remember Superman?) and rainforests teeming with plumed parrots, hummingbirds and wild orchids.
Things to do with kids in Saint Lucia
Wander around the hustling, bustling capital Castries with its busy port. Landmarks include the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Derek Walcott Square (named after the island's Nobel Prize-winning poet), City Library and Fort Charlotte. For shopping, there's both Castries Market and the Duty Free Shopping Malls.
Take a 15-minute cab ride from the port to Reduit Beach in Rodney Bay. Although pretty touristy and surrounded by resorts, the beach is great for families, with a gentle slope and safe waters. Facilities include a playground in yachty Rodney Bay Marina and Splash Island Water Park at Bay Gardens Beach Resort.
Venture to Anse Cochon for snorkelling in clear waters with ample sealife, combining the trip with a lunch-stop in chi-chi Marigot Bay.
Seek out a retreat in the beautiful Diamond Botanical Gardens on the west coast and have a dip in the natural springs.
Discover the Caribbean's only ‘drive-in’ volcano, Sulphur Springs, for a very different kind of dip – a mud bath finished by a wash in the sulphurous springs. Your kids won’t fail to be delighted with the whole stinky affair – prepare yourself for lots of eggy fart jokes.
Venture to the idyllic public beach between the twin triangular Piton peaks (access is through the Sugar Beach, a Viceroy resort). You’ll find lots of shade, a small playground, decent snorkelling (bring your own gear), a beachfront restaurant and one of the most jaw-dropping views on the whole island.
Delight in Soufrière, the oldest town on Saint Lucia, with a great marketplace decorated with colourful murals and gingerbread trim. Visit the Morne Coubaril Estate, an active plantation with demonstrations of cocoa, copra, and manioc processing, a walk on an original street formerly used by mule carriages and a visit to a workers’ village.
With wannabe pirates, go on a Jolly Roger cruise to Pigeon Island, a National Park where kids can let off steam as they climb to the top of the fort.
With adrenaline junkies, head to Treetop Adventure Park, with a kids’ course with mini-ziplines and rope challenges.
With over-twos, seek out the Rainforest Sky Rides Eco Park for a prime view of the forest and the island, after a gondola ride above the trees lasting about two-and-a-half hours. Ages 12 and up can whizz through the canopy on zip-frames.
Sign up for a whale- and dolphin-watching tour: Hackshaw’s Boat Charters come highly recommended (book before arriving in Saint Lucia). You spend a few hours on a speedboat tracking pilot, sperm and humpback whales and the occasional orca; there’s no guarantee, but they have a good track record, and chances are you’ll see schools of dolphin too.
Horse-riding is popular with families in Saint Lucia; try Atlantic Shores Riding Stables or ask your hotel for recommendations.
Diving in Saint Lucia.
Saint Lucia has an excellent range of restaurants, small cafés and roadside bars catering for most tastes. You can stick to western food in the hotels if that makes life easier, but try to branch out and sample excellent Caribbean 'fast food' including rotis, fried fish and chicken with fries, callaloo soup (with the spinach-like vegetable, crabmeat, salt beef and avocado), stews with salt/fresh fish, chicken or mutton, and the ubiquitous jerk chicken. Fresh fruit is always a treat, while wonderful juices include tamarind, coconut, passion fruit and soursop.
The Diamond Falls in the Botanical Gardens, Saint Lucia.
When to go to Saint Lucia
Temperatures ranges are 18–25°C between December and May, and 24–35 °C between June and November, with July and August the hottest months. June to November sees the heaviest rainfall and occasional tropical storms.
The peak season is December to February, so try to bring the kids in March, April or May, when there are fewer visitors but the weather is still gorgeous.
Kids playing in Pigeon Island National Park.
Saint Lucia isn't cheap: expect to pay from £1100pp/week for a three- or four-star B&B to around £3000pp for an all-inclusive five-star in peak season. For flights from the UK, budget from about £500pp.
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Flying time8.25hrs All flight times are based on flights from UK London airports, to the capital or nearest destination airport.
Carbon footprint7.61 CO2 Estimated tonnes of CO2 produced for return flights for a family of four.
CurrencyEast Caribbean Dollar
Horse-riding with Atlantic Shores.
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Creole girl in Saint Lucia.
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