Northern St Lucia: Marigot Bay and Pigeon Island

The ribbon of road that rings around St Lucia affords jaw-dropping views of coastal villages and rainforest-shrouded valleys.

Had it not been for the terrifying nature of our ride from Soufrière to Castries, I would have likely traveled with my eyes glued to the window. Yet, the minivan filled with passengers zoomed around each hairpin turn with such seemingly reckless haste, that I couldn’t help but clutch my seat and stare straight at the road ahead.

Even with my eyes glued firmly to the road, however, it was immediately apparent that St Lucia’s natural beauty extends far beyond the dramatic and oft-photographed Pitons near Soufrière. For the northern part of the country, too, is blessed with a wealth of pristine beaches, verdant mountains and hidden coves.

Beach near Gros Islet

Beach in Northern St Lucia

While the Pitons are St Lucia’s iconic symbol, most tourists choose to stay on the northern part of the island due to the plethora of upscale hotels and resorts in and around Rodney Bay and Castries. The abundance of luxury accommodation and Western food options in the area, ensures that the conveniences of home are never more than a few steps away.

Since none of us were particularly keen on staying in one of the cookie-cutter beachfront hotels, however, we decided to base ourselves down the road in Gros Islet–a local fishing village near Rodney Bay that has still somehow managed to retain its local charm and character.

House in Gros Islet

Wooden House in Gros Islet

Every Friday night, locals and tourists alike flock to Gros Islet for a street party that lasts until the wee hours of the morning. Vendors set up portable minibars and food stalls–selling fresh fish, grilled meats and rum punch.

We arrived in town just in time for the street party and spent a few hours enjoying the buzz of activity, before retiring to bed in preparation for our day trip to Marigot Bay the following morning.

Northern St Lucia

Gros Islet Night Party

Marigot Bay, on the western coast of St Lucia, is an easily accessible day trip from Rodney Bay, Gros Islet or Castries. Visitors can reach the turnoff to town by taking local minivans that leave Castries when full. The bus route does not stop at the bay, but walking the remaining stretch of road to the beach is both scenic and easily manageable.

Deemed by American novelist James A Michener as “the most beautiful bay in the Caribbean,” Marigot Bay is a refuge for wealthy yacht owners. It is also known as a filming location for Dr Doolittle, and as an important battleground during France and Britain’s struggle for control of St Lucia throughout the 17th and 18th Centuries.

Wedged between forested emerald hills and surrounded by translucent blue-green waters, the palm-fringed, white-sand beach of Marigot Bay lies hidden from view and is not immediately visible from the main road. It is only after walking over the hill that descends into town, that its sapphire waters and sprinkling of palm trees come into focus.

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We spent the afternoon relaxing on the little strip of glistening white sand and watching the swaying palms overhead. A few other tourists occupied the lounge chairs on the sand but, for the most part, we were able to enjoy this little slice of paradise to ourselves.

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The next morning, we set out to visit Pigeon Island–one of St Lucia’s premier natural and historic landmarks and undoubtedly a must-see attraction during any visit to the tiny, tear-shaped island.

The construction of an artificial causeway joined St Lucia to the mainland in the 1970s, making the historical site easily accessible by car or on foot. Pigeon Island requires a $7 entrance fee and offers visitors access to ruins, beaches and breathtaking island views.

In 1778, British Admiral George Rodney arrived on Pigeon Island, expelling the native Arawak population and building a fort on the hill, called Fort Rodney. From the fort, the British were able to monitor the French fleet in Martinique, which resulted in the defeat of the French in the 1782 Battle of the Saintes.

Today, many ruins–including Fort Rodney–remain scattered around Pigeon Island. Footpaths wind around the remains of barracks, cannons and garrisons. We spent our day enjoying the island’s two beaches, hiking to its lookout points and exploring the remaining relics of the island’s past.

             Ruins on Pigeon Island    View from Fort Rodney

View from Pigeon Island

We’d spent a lot of time debating whether to skip northern St Lucia altogether in favor of visiting Martinique–an island so close that we could practically see its outline from St Lucia’s shores. Yet I’m glad that, in the end, we chose to stay. For leaving St Lucia prematurely would have meant skipping out on some of the country’s major highlights.

As it was, staying in St Lucia allowed us to savor the unique beauty of the island and gave us the excuse to one day come back to the Caribbean and pick up where we left off.

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Note: Many travelers to St Lucia visit as part of a cruise. If you only have one day on the island, I recommend you read Luke’s article on things to see during your day ashore.

Erika Bisbocci

Erika Bisbocci

Erika is an avid traveler and explorer of over seventy countries on five different continents. Since 2011, she has spent time studying Arabic in the Middle East, teaching English in Namibia and working as a flight attendant for a major US airline. When not traveling overseas, she loves exploring her own backyard in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Erika Bisbocci

About Erika Bisbocci

Erika is an avid traveler and explorer of over seventy countries on five different continents. Since 2011, she has spent time studying Arabic in the Middle East, teaching English in Namibia and working as a flight attendant for a major US airline. When not traveling overseas, she loves exploring her own backyard in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

28 Comments

  1. Great photos! Im glad you were happy with your decision as to where to stay. Is there much going on in the island of Martinique?
    anna recently posted…Crown Lanta Resort & Spa Review: A Relaxing Haven in Koh LantaMy Profile

  2. Love your photos! Those beaches of Marigot Bay look just wonderful! Really enjoyed reading this and glad that you enjoyed your decision to stay on St Lucia in the end.
    Kim-Ling recently posted…Street Art in PenangMy Profile

  3. Thanks for sharing this! I lived in St Maarten for a while and always said I’d visit St. Lucia but never did 🙁
    I’ll hopefully be back in the Caribbean this winter and will then definitely try to visit St Lucia as well!

  4. Glad to hear that you enjoyed your time in St Lucia and ended up deciding to stay. I would love to get there on one of my upcoming trips – haven’t really explored any of these islands yet!
    Meg Jerrard recently posted…Dear Travelers to Australia: Make Sure You’re Aware of These 6 Strange LawsMy Profile

  5. Beautiful shores and I’d love to make it to that street party. Thanks for sharing a little more about the island. Hope to make it someday.

  6. What a beautiful island. I can see why you’d want to stay outside the tourist zone. You’d have a more authentic experience. And the street party sounds fun.

  7. I always love just wandering around the islands. You can find some amazing street food and explore the local culture. Plus I love the nature.
    Jennifer recently posted…10 Revolutionary War Memorials to Visit on 4th of JulyMy Profile

  8. Your photos are gorgeous! I love the beautiful blue Caribbean waters. I’ve only visited on cruises, I would love to go back and really explore when I have some time.

  9. The Caribbean is so beautiful! And there are so many islands to explore. I’m glad you decided to stay and get to know more of St. Lucia; we often rush through places and don’t get the real feel of it.
    Vicky and Buddy recently posted…A Visit To The Museum Of Florida HistoryMy Profile

  10. The spirit of the Caribbean comes across colourfuly in this lovely place. The street party must have been a fun experience. Marigot Bay looks really magical.
    Voyager recently posted…Why are the Monuments of the World Crying?My Profile

  11. I love your photos. Such a gorgeous location. I really like the photo of the woman cooking. Such a great photo of the locals 🙂

  12. This is very picturesque, amazing photography and very well described.

  13. So pretty! It reminds me a lot of Bocas del Toro in Panama. The beaches are so pretty and I bet the night life would be super fun. Did you try any of the local dishes or street food?

    • Bocas del Toro is also a fantastic place! This was much more upscale than Bocas and catered a lot more to the yacht crowd (though it can still be enjoyed independently), but both places do have clear water and nice beaches!

  14. Great blog and post! St. Lucia is such an incredible island. I’m dying to go back…or maybe even move there 🙂

    • Beautiful islands, nice post, gorgeous pictures. I would be happy to visit some day. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Gorgeous!! I have never been to St. Lucia, but this post is making me want to go! There are so many Caribbean islands, but they all have distinct cultures!

  16. This looks like the ultimate holiday spot! I wish I can go there one day too and experience it myself. Looks lovely
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  17. I want to GO so badly!! Looks incredible 🙂

  18. Beautiful island. Visiting St. Lucia has been on my list for a long time now. Good to read about the place. Thanks for sharing this great post.

  19. I think I could say this is PARADISE! Loved reading this and all the photos!!

  20. Looks like such an incredible place! Can’t wait to visit!

  21. I need to admit, your pictures are stunning and took me to other world.
    I also love the way you write. Congrats.
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  22. I will definitely go there because of the beach! Gosh, I miss the sound of the waves and I like watching the sunset by the beach.

  23. Ooh wow! These beaches! They are so nice 🙂 Ok, I need to go there!!

  24. This is just stunning! I’ve always wanted to go here. I’ve never seen water so blue before.

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