When thinking about the Caribbean, the first things that usually come to mind are beaches, palm trees, cocktails and – possibly – pirates. Pirates don’t inhabit or visit the island of St Lucia anymore, but if you’re looking for the other three, you have found your place. St Lucia sets itself apart from the surrounding Caribbean islands in many aspects. Various landscapes provide treats to the eyes, while a fascinating mix of cultures and food keep the history buff occupied and the gastronomical traveller satisfied.

St Lucia is a mountainous island offering plenty of options to action-seekers, from hiking and jungle biking to snorkeling and diving. What draws most tourists to this small country – no more than 238 square miles – though, are the tropical beach resorts. There are numerous ways to relax after an action-packed day in the rainforest or in the ocean.

In Labrelotte Bay calm, shallow waves quietly touch the wide sandy beach. Set against steep hillsides, the scenery is beautiful and the quietness of the area makes it an ideal getaway for families. On both ends of the bay’s sheltered beach lie two resorts, the East Winds Inn and the Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort. Another potential base for a relaxing holiday is Anse Chastanet, which gives its name to both a resort and the beach in front of it. It is located at yet another sheltered bay with cliffs in the background and palm trees offering shade. For even more water fun, head to Smugglers Cove, a brown-coloured beach protected on three sides by towering cliffs. There is a beach bar and a water-sports center.

If you have had enough of tanning and swimming, you can stretch your legs at the central market in Castries, the island’s capital city. The best day and time to visit is Saturday morning, which is when local farmers sell fresh produce and residents hang around, allowing visitors to experience the goings-on of the life of the locals. A leisurely stroll through the city brings you past several historical sights and sites. Culinary delights can be found at one of many roadside stands and in world-class restaurants, where African, French, British, Caribbean and Spanish influences create a palate that is truly unique.

Renting a car or going on a guided tour is a wonderful way to experience St Lucia. Not-to-be-missed is a visit to one of the historic plantations, the very industry that made the country prosperous. Crops grown here are various fruits, cocoa, coffee and copra. The Caribbean – and its pirates – is associated with rum, which is why a tour of the St Lucia Rum Distillery is another essential experience. You can taste and buy rum there as well.

A holiday in St Lucia is also an option for honeymooners. Honeymooning couples can relax in five-star resorts, offering all-inclusive vacations, go scuba diving, horseback riding or sailing, and go out and enjoy the music and atmosphere of several music and cultural festivals. The island offers the quintessential Caribbean experience and even more.

photo credit: Trent Foley via photopin cc