St Lucia on a Budget: Around Soufriere

With its volcanic mountain peaks and lush, forested interior, St Lucia looks like an island uprooted from the South Pacific and plopped down in the Caribbean.

Like the islands of French Polynesia, St Lucia is more renowned for its rugged, volcanic interior than for its ring of sandy beaches. The island’s dramatic twin peaks, the Pitons, tower more than 700 meters above the sea, sheltering dense, flower-speckled rainforest, bubbling thermal pools, tan-colored beaches and quaint, laid back fishing villages.

Exploring St Lucia on a budget is challenging. Thanks in large part to the the island’s dependence on cruise and luxury tourism, inexpensive meal and accommodation options are few and far between.

St Lucia’s steep prices–despite the general lack of development on the island–are not surprising. Like much of the Caribbean, luxury tourism has fostered an environment that caters to wealthy travelers, while the local population suffers from poverty and high unemployment.

In 2011, Dan and I had our eyes set on the Caribbean for a Spring Break getaway, but were disheartened when we realized the cost of traveling in the region. In the end, we chose to split our ten days between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, since the two islands seemed to be the only ones with readily available information about independent and budget travel.

I’d wanted to return to the Caribbean since our Spring Break trip but, due to  the relatively high cost of visiting, reluctantly put my return on a back burner.

Until this past March, when the rainy Seattle weather left me craving a bit of sun and I was able to string together enough days to justify a short vacation.

piton-mountains-st-lucia We spent our first few days on St Lucia around the charming colonial town of Soufrière–a coastal fishing village where jungle meets sea, that lies at the base of the majestic UNESCO-recognized Piton Mountains.

Soufrière is at the heart of a mountainous region of old plantations homes and beautiful beaches that, though often part of large resorts, are all accessible to the public.

When we arrived in St Lucia, we were exhausted from the journey, so we spent the morning relaxing at our apartment and adjusting to the sticky Caribbean heat. In the afternoon, we began walking up the hill away from town, toward Anse Chastanet—an ash-colored sandy beach that is known to have some of the island’s best snorkeling.

anse-chastanet-st-lucia

Unfortunately, we got such a late start to our day, that we had just enough time to snap a few pictures and turn back toward town before nightfall. Luckily, views of the mountains, beaches and colorful Soufrière, made the walk a worthwhile activity in itself.

soufriere-beach-from-above

The next day, we decided to spend the morning lounging around the striking stretch of sand at Sugar Beach. Cradled between the two Pitons, Sugar Beach boasts an unparalleled setting. It is easy to see why the Viceroy Resort chose Sugar Beach as the location for its luxurious hotel. The views are simply breathtaking.

sugar-beach-st-lucia-caribbean

We spent the morning swimming, sitting in the shade and marveling at our surroundings. Then, we made our way up the steep mountain road to Martha’s Tables for a tasty, home-style lunch of creole fish and rice. As with our walk the previous day, the path afforded us stunning views of the mountains at every bend and unrivaled, birds-eye panoramas of Soufrière from above.

soufriere-from-above

At sunset, we walked along the waterfront to a stretch of beach in front of the Hummingbird Resort and plopped down on the sand–watching the lights of town reflect on the lapping waves and admiring the twinkle of anchored sailboats in the distance.

soufriere-at-night

We may not have stayed at a luxurious all-inclusive resort, but we were able to enjoy the magic of this charming Caribbean island all the same. By eating at family owned restaurants, staying at an apartment outside of town and getting around either by public bus or on our own two feet, we were able to stay on the island for a week, at the same price that most people spend each night.

And by doing so, we proved that traveling St Lucia on a budget, while challenging, is certainly possible.

***

Notes:

  • For those interested in hiking the Pitons, I suggest you take a look at Emily’s post on hiking Gros Piton.
  • This article contains an affiliate link.

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.

26 Comments

  1. Sometimes it’s shocking just how expensive it can be to travel to the Caribbean. I went to Turks and Caicos earlier this year and also had sticker shock. Glad you were able to make it work and enjoy your trip. By the way, your pics look lovely. I didn’t realize St. Lucia was so mountainous.
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  2. Volcanic mountains, lovely beaches and stunning landscapes plus a charming town. All this make for a tantalizing combination, which urges me to get out there fast!
    Voyager recently posted…The Mystery of the Whispering Gallery of Gol GumbazMy Profile

  3. We wanted to go to St Lucia for our honeymoon, but ended up in Cancun. Wouldn’t mind spending our anniversary here though, especially if it’s on a budget! Your pictures are beautiful!

  4. I’ve been to St. Lucia! Loved it so much!!!

  5. The scenery is gorgeous and you’re right it’s a lot like the South Pacific islands, many of them can be very expensive too if you want to get out to the smaller islands and away from the more popular tourist spots. Well done on working out a way to do it on a reasonable budget.
    Toni | 2 Aussie Travellers recently posted…Visiting Nijo Castle in KyotoMy Profile

  6. If you make alternative choices like you did, you can usually stay anywhere on a decent budget. It’s all about how much convenience and luxury you are expecting and/or how much you need for it to feel like the vacation you want it to be. It looks like you had a great time.

  7. Volcanic mountains, beaches and stunning landscapes too… You have just described exactly where I want to be right now. Especially loving that I can do it on a budget too. Wow!

  8. It’s nice to know that somewhere in the Caribbean can be visited on a budget. Living in Australia flights anywhere are not cheap but I always discount the Caribbean because of the $$ factor – but your post has made me reconsider – especially if I could tie it to a special occasion! Thanks for expanding my horizons!

  9. I would choose your way of stay over a luxurious hotel ten times fold. St Lucia looks beautiful and the Carribbean in general is gorgeous – I’m happy that it is possible to visit such places in the Carribean without breaking the bank!

  10. Looks like you guys made a great choice! I love learning that there are not so expensive Caribbean getaways out there.
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  11. I’ve been wanting to visit St. Lucia for so long–it’s great to hear you can visit on a budget! We will have to check it out sometime in the near future. Soufrière looks adorable and the beaches look wonderful! Looks like a great trip!

  12. Didn’t know St. Lucia could be explored on a budget, glad to know its possible! Love the roofs of the beach huts and the colours of Soufrière.

  13. Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren

    Your photos are STUNNING! I love when people write about “pricey” places on a budget. Thanks for sharing and happy travels 🙂
    Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren recently posted…A Downtown Tasting With Ventura Food Tours!My Profile

  14. Possibilities will always find you if you look for them) Loved the pictures – so beautiful mountains!

  15. St Lucia looks absolutely stunning – great photography here 🙂 I can see what you mean about it not looking classically Carribean, and kudos to you for being able to do it on a budget!

  16. That’s great to know you can travel in St. Lucia on a budget. I wouldn’t call myself a “bare bones” budget traveler, but I’m just a schoolteacher so I have to watch what I spend. Those views of Soufriere are amazing! I would love to go!
    Stella the Travelerette recently posted…The Best Restaurants in BerlinMy Profile

  17. I think this approach to an expensive destination is so important. You’re getting to experience a beautiful place within your means AND you’re helping the smaller businesses. What a beautiful place to get to visit!

  18. Anse Chastanet looks amazing! The Caribbean can be expensive. I’ve found good deals when traveling outside of peak season – just at the beginning of hurricane season. Had one bad day (out of 11) but the rest of the time it was beautiful!
    Edwina recently posted…Majestic Grande Hotel Bangkok: Foodie Friendly Hotel in SukhumvitMy Profile

  19. I love your shots from behind the bushes and the way u shot the picture with the beach chairs!
    Brian recently posted…7 Cultural Gems Along the 7 Train in QueensMy Profile

  20. I have shied away from visiting St. Lucia as there are cheaper Carribean options available. But it is stunning! I am glad you have shown me a way that it can be visited while still staying on budget. It is back on the list.
    Christina recently posted…Sunrise and Steam Baths at the El Tatio GeyserMy Profile

  21. I’m more of a budget traveler myself! I believe you don’t need an all-inclusive resort to have an amazing time. Great post! xx

  22. St lucia is one of those dreamdestinations, and boy, the way it looks it certainly didn’t disappoint. I would love to go there one time, and traveling the caribien on a budget sounds just right for me.

  23. Oh man, St. Lucia looks gorgeous! It’s good to know that it can be done without spending thousands!

  24. I can relate to the bit about getting a late start and not having time to do more than walk up and back down–sounds a lot like me when I travel! Luckily when you’ve got such beautiful surroundings, it’s still worth the “trouble.”

  25. Looks like an amazing place <3

  26. I love a challenge, so it’s good to hear that it can be done!
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