Every May St Lucia moves to the beat of the jazz festival
Official festival site

Each year in the capital, Castries, throngs of people jam the streets in colourful costumes
Official carnival site

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10 things to see and do

Seven days in the sun

St Lucia: 238 square miles of rainforest, vibrant nightspots, mouthwatering cuisine and endless beaches. Where do you start when confronted by paradise? Daniel Brigham picks 10 things you must see and do before you leave...

© St Lucia Tourist Board
1. Beaches
Letís face it, if the Caribbean is your chosen holiday destination, itís quite likely youíll be looking to spend a decent amount of time on the beach. And why not? St Luciaís beaches are all open to the public, many are secluded and others are hives of activity, and itís the perfect way to kick off your stay. From Marigot Bay to Pigeon Island and Cas-en-Bas to Rodney Bay, youíre never far from the chance to indulge in a spot of sunbathing, paddling or, for the more adventurous, snorkelling, diving or horse riding.

2. Cuisine
You wonít stay hungry in St Lucia. Thereís just no excuse. Countless quality restaurants serve everything from local Creole to pizzas, burgers, steaks, French and Italian, with much of the food made from local produce. Embrace the island: try staying away from the burgers and pizzas that you can find on every corner of any British town and gorge yourself on Creole. Based on recipes using corn, cayenne pepper, tomatoes, beans, okra, sweet potatoes and squashes, most restaurants offer this traditional cuisine. Although chicken and fish are the predominant meats on the island, the pork trade is rising, with pork barbecues popping up on the sides of roads.

3. Pigeon Island
Itís two in the afternoon, there are a couple of clouds dotted around but not enough to block the soothing sun, the surrounding beaches are begging to be walked along and yet I can see only two other people. Pigeon Island, just north of the town of Gros Islet, is St Luciaís best-kept secret. Featuring an enticing blend of history, relaxation, peace, empty beaches and snorkelling, it is difficult to understand why Pigeon Island isnít flooded with tourists. Thankfully, it remains relatively secluded Ė perfect for a snooze or getting through The Da Vinci Code. Barracks and forts used by the British in the 1700s to defend the island against the French are well preserved, and the beaches are free of deckchairs and throngs of sunbathers. If you and your partner are feeling spontaneous, sunset weddings at the fort are fantastically romantic. But, if the husband would rather act like a typical bloke, thereís a golf course just 10 minutes drive away ...

© St Lucia Tourist Board
4. St Lucia Golf Resort and Country Club
The Caribbean is almost as famous for its beautiful golf courses as its beaches, and St Lucia Golf Resort and Country Club fits perfectly into the stereotype: lush fairways, perfect weather, stunning views and the occasional sighting of rare wildlife. Situated on the coast just north of Rodney Bay, the 18-hole championship course is perfect for both serious golfers and those who spend a lot of time admiring the bunkers; a driving range and golf lessons will help remove any rustiness. The restaurant and bar (open to nonmembers) will help you forget about the triple bogeys. It often attracts big names, from Bill Clinton to Tony Greig and Kenny G. After hosting a successful Viv Richards Golf Day in 2005, they are already planning an open-day for the England cricketers just before the World Cup. It may be the only chance to see Michael Vaughan hit a straight one. So, after a day of relaxation, how about a spot of climbing tomorrow ...

© St Lucia Tourist Board
5. The Pitons
Halfway up a bloody big mountain, legs redder than Angus Fraser after seven overs on the trot, face submerged in sweat, itís a case of ďThank God the view is so damn incredible.Ē Maybe Iíll just stay here. After all, is there any real need to get right to the top? The compulsory guides get this kind of attitude a lot, and theyíre well aware that it really is worth it. In an island stocked-up with heart-stopping views, this one tops them all; the Brian Lara of panoramas. Gros Piton and Petit Piton (Iím climbing the big one) are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, which also includes the Sulphur Springs (see below), and the never-ending expanse of rainforest that surrounds the town of Soufriere in the south of the island.

The twin peaks are St Luciaís defining image Ė an epic gateway to the island. The trek to the top takes around two hours, the mosquitos are out in force, it does get steep and a certain degree of fitness is needed, but it is massively rewarding. It has to be done. Long-sleeved shirts or T-shirts are advisable, as well as a decent-sized bottle of water. Most importantly, though, pack a camera.

© St Lucia Tourist Board
6. Sulphur Springs
The descent from the Pitons takes another two hours, and there is no better way to recuperate than heading for the nearby Sulphur Springs, situated in the heart of the Caribbeanís only drive-in volcano. The hot springs belch out steam Ė too hot for having a dip Ė but you can bathe in the mineral-enriched, warm river. Bones no longer ache, bites no longer itch. Then, if that wasnít enough, Toraille waterfall and the Diamond Botanical Gardens and Waterfall are within touching distance. Of course, for those action men and women who think that spending an afternoon bathing is for wimps, you can indulge in a spot of jungle biking just up the coast at Anse Chastanet. Itís a superb way to take in the local plantations, French colonial ruins, orchids and forests. Trying to to bike up the Pitons, however, is not advised.

7. Gros Islet Street Party and Fish Friday at Anse La Raye
Everywhere I turn, there is fish. The most delicious looking fish youíll ever see. My nose is in heaven, my stomach crying out to be fed. The streets of fishing village Anse La Raye, normally quiet and spacious during the day, have transformed into a montage of barbecues, grills, benches, bands, bars and DJs. Hundreds of people Ė locals and tourists Ė are dancing, eating and looking pretty damned satisfied.

Fish Friday is one of the highlights of any stay on the island; of all of the things I bored my friends in England about on my return, this one comes top of the list. Lobsters, shrimp, lambi, whelks and much more all simmer in the warm sea breeze, creating such an enticing, tangy smell that Iím surprised you donít see people drooling. Leaving these delights behind, I head to the Gros Islet Street Party Ė the epicentre of party-time on a Friday night. Only a small village 20 years ago, Gros Islet has grown enormously on the back of its carnival reputation, which goes on to the early hours of Saturday morning. Open-air music, barbecued fish and chicken and a whole lotta dancing is what Gros Islet does best. Like Anse La Raye, the aroma is thoroughly enticing and can stay with you for days, a perfect reminder of a perfect Friday night in St Lucia. Be prepared to test your stamina (and your appetite for alcohol), as it will be needed to last the distance, and a day on the beach is probably the best way to recuperate.

© St Lucia Tourist Board
8. Marigot Bay
If you like to sail, then Marigot Bay is the place to head for on the island. Or, if you just like beaches shaded by coconut palms, fabulous restaurants (see pages 18-19) and views that make you forget to carry on walking, then Marigot Bay is also the place for you. The harbour is teeming with yachts and, with a new hotel opening in the summer that promises to offer unparalled accommodation, there are few better places to set up anchor. The location inspired the filmmakers of the original Dr Doolittle (1947) to set much of the film there. The giant pink snail that Doolittle sails away on at the end of the film was left by the crew and was a permanent reminder of the film, until it went missing, never to be found again. No one knows just how a giant pink snail goes missing overnight, but the locals love telling the story.

9. Diving at Anse Cochon
Just south of Marigot bay is the islandís foremost dive site, Anse Cochon. St Lucia is a haven for divers, with recommended sites into double figures. What sets Anse Cochon apart is the chance to explore St Luciaís only sunken wreck Ė a 165-foot freighter, conveniently sunk by the Department of Fisheries in 1986 to create an artificial reef. The local, secluded Ti Kaye Village overlooks the site, and is a great place to stay if youíre after a week of diving (see page 18-19). There is also a dive shop and quiet beach with a restaurant and bar, which provides, as in my case, a great place to watch the dives from a nice, safe, dry distance. There is also the chance to see the islandís version of the Loch Ness Monster. Called The Thing. Apparently it is often sighted at night. You may spot it, but all youíll remember in the morning is the taste of rum and coke and Piton beer.

10. St Lucia Jazz
World-renowned artists, events throughout the island, top-quality rum, a tempting variety of food and dancing until your feet hurt, St Lucia Jazz is one of the worldís top festivals. It happens every May and draws in crowds from all over the world. If you love a good time, donít miss it.

Dan Brigham is editorial assistant of The Wisden Cricketer