AARP MEMBER DISCOUNTS SEE MORE

Biking

Although the terrain is pretty rugged, two tour operators have put together fascinating bicycle and combination bicycle-hiking tours that appeal to novice riders as well as those who enjoy a good workout. Prices range from $40 to $100 per person, including hotel transfers.

Bike St. Lucia. Small groups of bikers are accompanied on jungle biking tours along 8 miles (13 km) of trails that meander through the remnants of the 18th-century Anse Mamin Plantation, part of the 600-acre Anse Chastanet Estate in Soufrière. Stops are made to explore the French colonial ruins, study the beautiful tropical plants and fruit trees, have a picnic lunch, and take a dip in a river swimming hole or at the beach. There's a training area for learning or brushing up on off-road riding skills. If you're staying in the north, you can arrange a tour that includes transportation to the Soufrière area. Anse Mamin Plantation, adjacent to Anse Chastanet, Soufrière. 758/457–1400. www.bikestlucia.com.

Palm Services Bike Tours. Tour participants first take a jeep or bus across the central mountains to Dennery, on the east coast. After cycling 3 miles (5 km) through the countryside, bikes are exchanged for shoe leather. A short hike into the rain forest ends with a cool drink and refreshing swim by a sparkling waterfall—then the return to Dennery. All gear is included, and the four-hour tours are suitable for all fitness levels. Rodney Bay Marina, Rodney Bay, Gros Islet. 758/458–0908. www.adventuretoursstlucia.com.

Boating and Sailing

Rodney Bay and Marigot Bay are both centers for bareboat and crewed yacht charters. Their marinas offer safe anchorage, shower facilities, restaurants, groceries, and maintenance for yachts sailing the waters of the eastern Caribbean. Charter prices range from $1,700 to $8,000 per week, depending on the season and the type and size of vessel, plus $130 extra per day if you want a skipper and $100 per day for a cook. Some boat charter companies do not operate in August and September due to possible weather issues.

Bateau Mygo. Choose a monohull or catamaran for your half- or full-day cruise along the west coast, or charter by the week and explore neighboring islands. Chateau Mygo Villas, Marigot Bay. 758/721–7007. www.sailsaintlucia.com.

Destination St. Lucia Ltd.. For its bareboat yacht charters, DSL's vessels include two 42-foot catamarans and several monohulls ranging in length from 32 to 50 feet. Rodney Bay Marina, Rodney Bay, Gros Islet. 758/452–8531. www.dsl-yachting.com.

Moorings Yacht Charters. Bareboat and crewed catamarans and monohulls ranging from Beneteau 39s to Morgan 60s are available for charter. You can also plan a one-way sail through the Grenadines, either picking up or dropping off at the company's facility in Grenada. Rodney Bay Marina, Rodney Bay, Gros Islet. 758/451–4357; 888/952–8420 in U.S. www.moorings.com.

Diving and Snorkeling

On-site dive shops at resorts include the Body Holiday, Sandals Grande, Royal St. Lucia by Rex, and Rendezvous in the north; Ti Kaye farther south; and Anse Chastanet and Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort, in Soufrière. Nearly all dive operators, regardless of their location, provide transportation from Rodney Bay, Castries, Marigot Bay, or Soufrière. Depending on the season and the particular trip, prices range from about $35 for a one-tank shore dive or $65 for a one-tank boat dive to $175–$250 for a six-dive package over three days and $350–$400 for a 10-dive package over five days—plus a National Marine Reserve permit fee of $6 per day. Dive shops provide instruction for all levels. For beginners, a resort course (pool training followed by an open-water dive) runs about $100–$130, depending on the number of days and dives included. Snorkelers can rent equipment for $5–$10 and are generally welcome on dive trips for $50–$70. All prices generally include taxi/boat transfers, lunch, and equipment.

Anse Chastanet, near the Pitons on the southwestern coast, is the best beach-entry dive site. The underwater reef drops from 20 feet to nearly 140 feet in a stunning coral wall.

A 165-foot freighter, Lesleen M, was deliberately sunk in 60 feet of water near Anse Cochon to create an artificial reef; divers can explore the ship in its entirety and view huge gorgonians, black coral trees, gigantic barrel sponges, lace corals, schooling fish, angelfish, sea horses, spotted eels, stingrays, nurse sharks, and sea turtles.

Anse la Raye, midway up the west coast, is one of St. Lucia's finest wall and drift dives and a great place for snorkeling.

At the Pinnacles, four coral-encrusted stone piers rise to within 10 feet of the surface.

Superman’s Flight is a dramatic drift dive along the steep walls beneath the Pitons. At the base of Petit Piton, a spectacular wall drops to 200 feet, where you can view an impressive collection of huge barrel sponges and black coral trees; strong currents ensure good visibility.

Dive Operators

Dive Fair Helen. In operation since 1992 and owned by a St. Lucian environmentalist, this PADI center offers half- and full-day excursions on two custom-built dive boats to wreck, wall, and marine reserve areas, as well as night dives and instruction. Marina Village, Marigot Bay. 758/451–7716. www.divefairhelen.com.

Island Divers. At the edge of the National Marine Park at Soufrière, with two reefs and an offshore wreck accessible from shore, this dive shop at Ti Kaye Resort & Spa offers shore dives, boat dives, PADI certification, equipment rental, and an extensive list of specialty courses. Ti Kaye Resort & Spa, off West Coast Rd., between Anse la Raye and Canaries, Anse Cochon. 758/456–8110. www.tikaye.com.

Scuba St. Lucia. Daily beach and boat dives and resort and certification courses are available from this PADI Five Star facility on Anse Chastanet Beach, and so is underwater photography and snorkeling equipment. Day trips from the north of the island include round-trip speedboat transportation. Anse Chastanet Resort, Anse Chastanet Rd., Soufrière. 758/459–7755; 800/223–1108 in U.S. www.scubastlucia.com.

Fishing

Among the deep-sea creatures you can find in St. Lucia's waters are dolphin (the fish, also called dorado or mahimahi), barracuda, mackerel, wahoo, kingfish, sailfish, and white and blue marlin. Sportfishing is generally done on a catch-and-release basis, but the captain may permit you to take a fish back to your hotel to be prepared for your dinner. Neither spearfishing nor collecting live fish in coastal waters is permitted. Half- and full-day deep-sea fishing excursions can be arranged at Vigie Marina. A half day of fishing on a scheduled trip runs about $85–$90 per person; a private charter costs $500–$1,200 for up to six or eight people, depending on the size of the boat and the length of time. Beginners are welcome.

Captain Mike's. Named for Captain Mike Hackshaw and run by his family, Bruce and Andrew, this operation has a fleet of Bertram powerboats (31 to 46 feet) that accommodate up to eight passengers for half-day or full-day sport-fishing charters; tackle and cold drinks are supplied. Customized sightseeing or whale/dolphin-watching trips ($50 per person) can also be arranged for four to six people. Vigie Marina, Vigie, Castries. 758/452–7044. www.captmikes.com.

Hackshaw's Boat Charters. In business since 1953, this company runs charters on Blue Boy, a 31-foot Bertram; Lady Hack, a 50-foot custom-built Newton; and Party Hack, a 64-foot double-deck power catamaran also used for snorkeling, whale-watching, and party cruises. Vigie Marina, Seraphine Rd., Vigie, Castries. 758/453–0553. www.hackshaws.com.

Golf

St. Lucia has only one 18-hole championship course: St. Lucia Golf Resort & Country Club, which is in Cap Estate. Sandals Regency La Toc Golf Resort & Spa has a 9-hole course for its guests.

St. Lucia Golf Resort & Country Club. St. Lucia's only public course is at the island's northern tip and features broad views of both the Atlantic and the Caribbean as well as many spots adorned with orchids and bromeliads. Wind and the demanding layout present challenges. The Cap Grill serves breakfast and lunch until 7 pm; the Sports Bar is a convivial meeting place all day long. You can arrange lessons at the pro shop and perfect your swing at the 350-yard driving range. Fees include carts, which are required; club and shoe rentals are available. Reservations are essential. Complimentary transportation from your hotel (north of Castries) is available for parties of three or more. Cap Estate. 758/450–8523. www.stluciagolf.com. $100 for 18 holes, $75 for 9 holes. 18 holes, 6685 yards, par 71.

Guided Tours

Taxi drivers are well informed and can give you a full tour and often an excellent one, thanks to government-sponsored training programs. Full-day island tours cost about $140 for up to four people, depending on the route and whether entrance fees and lunch are included; half-day tours, $100. If you plan your own day, expect to pay the driver $40 per hour plus tip.

Island Routes. This Sandals partner offers a variety of adventure tours, including guided, drive-it-yourself dune buggy safaris of Soufrière's natural sites and attractions (six hours, $199; 10 hours, $230). The longer adventure includes a cruise down the west coast from Rodney Bay. Drivers must be at least 23, have a valid driver's license, and be able to drive a manual transmission. Other tours include ATV adventures (two hours, $140) and a guided historical tour beginning in Marigot Bay (eight hours, $125). Gros Islet. 877/768–8370 in U.S.; 758/452–3081. www.islandroutes.com.

Jungle Tours. This company specializes in rain-forest hiking tours for all ability levels. You're required only to bring hiking shoes or sneakers and have a willingness to get wet and have fun. The cost is $95 per person and includes lunch, fees, and transportation via an open Land Rover truck. Cas en Bas, Gros Islet. 758/715–3438. www.jungletoursstlucia.com.

St. Lucia Helicopters. How about a bird's-eye view of the island? A 10-minute North Island tour ($98 per person) leaves from the hangar in Castries, continues up the west coast to Pigeon Island, then flies along the rugged Atlantic coastline before returning inland over Castries. The 20-minute South Island tour ($160 per person) starts at Pointe Seraphine and follows the western coastline, circling beautiful Marigot Bay, Soufrière, and the majestic Pitons before returning inland over the volcanic hot springs and tropical rain forest. A complete island tour combines the two and lasts 30 minutes ($200 per person). All tours require a minimum of four passengers. George F. L. Charles Airport, Island Flyers Hangar, Vigie, Castries. 758/453–6950. www.stluciahelicopters.com.

St. Lucia Heritage Tours. The Heritage Tourism Association of St. Lucia (HERITAS), a volunteer group that represents local sites and institutions, puts together "authentic St. Lucia experiences" that focus on local culture and traditions. Groups are kept small, and the tours can be tailored to your interests. Some of the sites visited include a 19th-century plantation house surrounded by nature trails, a 20-foot waterfall hidden away on private property, and a living museum presenting Creole practices and traditions. Other options include bird-watching, turtle-watching, horseback riding, garden walks, culinary experiences, and rain-forest treks. John Compton Hwy., Castries. 758/458–1454. www.heritagetoursstlucia.org.

St. Lucia National Trust. Among the trust's fascinating educational programs and tours are a hike through a mangrove forest, a boat trip and trek to Maria Islands Nature Reserve, a native fishing tour on a traditional pirogue, handicraft production, horseback riding, and sea moss harvesting. Castries. 758/452–5005. www.slunatrust.org.

Sunlink Tours. This huge tour operator offers dozens of land, sea, and combination sightseeing tours, as well as shopping tours, plantation and rain-forest adventures via jeep safari, deep-sea fishing excursions, and day trips to other islands. Prices range from $30 for a half-day shopping tour in Castries to $135 for a full-day land-and-sea jeep safari to Soufrière. Reduit Beach Ave., Rodney Bay Village, Gros Islet. 758/456–9100. www.sunlinktours.com.

Hiking

The island is laced with trails, but you shouldn't attempt the more challenging ones—especially those that are deep in the rain forest—on your own.

St. Lucia Forestry Department. Trails under this department's jurisdiction include the Barre de L'Isle Trail (just off the highway, halfway between Castries and Dennery), the Forestiere Trail (20 minutes east of Castries), the Des Cartiers Rain Forest Trail (west of Micoud), the Edmund Rain Forest Trail and Enbas Saut Waterfalls (east of Soufrière), the Millet Bird Sanctuary Trail (east of Marigot Bay), and the Union Nature Trail (north of Castries). Most are two-hour hikes on 2-mile (3-km) loop trails; the bird-watching tour lasts four hours. The Forestry Department provides guides ($2–$30, depending on the hike), who explain the plants and trees that you'll encounter and keep you on the right track. Seasoned hikers climb the Pitons, the two volcanic cones rising 2,461 feet and 2,619 feet from the ocean floor just south of Soufrière. Hiking is recommended only on Gros Piton, which offers a steep but safe trail to the top. The first half of the hike is moderately difficult; reaching the summit is challenging and should be attempted only by those who are physically fit. The view from the top is spectacular. Tourists are also permitted to hike Petit Piton, but the second half of the hike requires a good deal of rock climbing, and you'll need to provide your own safety equipment. Hiking either Piton requires permission and a knowledgeable guide ($45), both arranged through the St. Lucia Forestry Department. Stanislaus James Bldg., Waterfront, Castries. 758/468–4104; 758/450–2231 for Piton permission. www.malff.com.

Horseback Riding

Creole horses, a breed native to South America and popular on St. Lucia, are fairly small, fast, sturdy, and even-tempered animals suitable for beginners. Established stables can accommodate all skill levels. They offer countryside trail rides, beach rides with picnic lunches, plantation tours, carriage rides, and lengthy treks. Prices run about $40 for a one-hour guided ride, $60 for two hours, and $70–$90 for a three- or four-hour beach ride with swimming (with the horses) and lunch. Transportation is usually provided between the stables and nearby hotels. Local people sometimes appear on beaches with their steeds and offer 30-minute rides for $10 to $15; ride at your own risk.

Atlantic Shores Riding Stables. Two-hour trail rides roam along the beach and through the countryside. Beginners are welcome. Savannes Bay, Vieux Fort. 758/285–1090.

Trim's National Riding Stable. At the island's oldest riding stable there are four sessions per day, plus beach tours, trail rides, and carriage tours to Pigeon Island. Cas en Bas, Gros Islet. 758/450–8273. www.horserideslu.50megs.com.

Sea Excursions

A day sail or sea cruise from Rodney Bay or Vigie Cove to Soufrière and the Pitons is a wonderful way to see St. Lucia and get to its distinctive natural sites. Prices for a full-day sailing excursion to Soufrière run about $100 per person and include a land tour to the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens, lunch, a stop for swimming and snorkeling, and a visit to pretty Marigot Bay. You can even add zip-lining! Half-day cruises to the Pitons, three-hour whale-watching tours, and two-hour sunset cruises along the northwest coast cost $45–$60 per person.

Captain Mike's Whale/Dolphin Watching Tours. With 20 species of whales and dolphins living in Caribbean waters, your chances of sighting some are very good on these three-hour trips ($50 per person) aboard Free Willie, a 60-foot Defender. Vigie Marina, Ganthers Bay, Castries. 758/452–7044. www.captmikes.com.

Endless Summer Cruises. Endless Summer, a 56-foot party catamaran, runs day trips along the coast to Soufrière—hotel transfers, tour, entrance fees, lunch, and drinks included—for $110 per person. A half-day swimming and snorkeling trip is also available. For romantics, there's a sunset cruise for $60, including dinner and entertainment. Reduit Beach Ave., Rodney Bay Village, Gros Islet. 758/450–8651. www.stluciaboattours.com.

Mystic Man Tours. Glass-bottom boat, sailing, catamaran, deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, and/or whale- and dolphin-watching tours are all great family excursions; there's also a sunset cruise. Most trips depart from Soufrière. Maurice Mason St., Soufrière. 758/459–7783 or 800/401–9804. www.mysticmantours.com.

Sea Spray Cruises. Sail down the west coast from Rodney Bay to Soufrière on Mango Tango (a 52-foot catamaran), Tango Too (an 80-foot cat'), or Jus Tango (a 65-foot cat'). The all-day Tout Bagay (a little bit of everything) tour includes a visit to the sulfur springs, drive-in volcano, and Morne Coubaril Estate. The view of the Pitons from the water is majestic. You'll have lunch and drinks on board, plenty of music, and an opportunity to swim at a remote beach. Tout Bagay operates Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Sea Spray operates several other boat tours, including a sunset cruise, on other days. Rodney Bay Marina, Rodney Bay, Gros Islet. 758/458–0123; 321/220–9423 in U.S.

Windsurfing and Kiteboarding

Windsurfers and kiteboarders congregate at Anse de Sables Beach in Vieux Fort, at the southeastern tip of St. Lucia, to take advantage of the blue-water and high-wind conditions that the Atlantic Ocean provides.

Reef Kite and Surf Centre. This water-sports center offers equipment rental and lessons from certified instructors. Windsurfing equipment rental is $50 for a half day, $70 full day. Kitesurfing equipment rents for $60 half day, $80 full day. A three-hour beginning windsurfing course costs $100, including equipment; a two-hour "taster" session is $75. For kitesurfing, the three-hour starter costs $200, including equipment and safety gear, the two-hour taster, $90. Kitesurfing is particularly strenuous, so participants must be excellent swimmers and in good health. The Reef Beach Café, Anse de Sables, Vieux Fort. 758/454–3418.