With the most enviable natural beauty of the Caribbean, Saint Lucia is simply stunning. From the imposing twin Piton peaks in the south, to the lush interior tropical rainforests extending down to golden sandy beaches, secluded coves and picturesque harbours, these surroundings will inspire every visitor.

Saint Lucia is the second largest of the Windward Islands of the West Indies’ Lesser Antilles, lying between St Vincent and Martinique and to the northwest of Barbados. It is halfway down the chain of the eastern Caribbean archipelago. With an area of 238 square miles (approx 27 miles long by 14 miles wide) exploring is a must but leisurely is the speed, as the hilly terrain means road travel is best enjoyed at a gentle pace.

The Atlantic Ocean rims Saint Lucia’s eastern shore, while the Caribbean Sea lines the west coast and offers the calmest surf and the finest beaches.

Saint Lucia’s capital city, Castries, is in the north-west of the island; the famed fishing village of Soufriere is to the southwest; and Vieux Fort the island’s second largest port, is perched on the southern tip. The island is blessed with fertile volcanic soil and grows a vast supply of fruits and vegetables.

Saint Lucia was first inhabited by the peaceful Arawak Indians; but they were conquered by their old enemies the fierce Caribs. Like much of the Caribbean, Saint Lucia was then settled by Europeans, who brought slaves from Africa and set up a plantation economy. In the 18th century Saint Lucia was at the centre of the colonial struggles between the French and the British. The island changed hands 14 times before becoming a British Crown Colony in 1814 under the Treaty of Paris. Since gaining its independence in 1979. Saint Lucia has developed into a stable and prosperous Commonwealth country. A strong French influence remains, most noticeably in the local Patois dialect and also in the cuisine.

A warm tropical climate pervades the year with slightly higher rainfall in the June to November period but showers remain blissfully brief. The Caribbean is typically a winter destination from the UK; however, with an average temperature of 23C or 70F and almost constant northeast trade winds, it’s the perfect destination at anytime.

Whether it’s romance, rejuvenation or adventure, Saint Lucia makes for the perfect getaway. Its unique landscape of palm-fringed beaches mixed with acres of unspoiled rainforest, one of the world’s few drive-in volcanoes and the majestic Piton Mountains – UNESCO World Heritage site – means there’s something for everyone to explore. Couples can bask under the sun on secluded beaches or enjoy a rejuvenating massage at a sumptuous spa. Adventurers can choose to kite surf, zip-wire or go on a jeep safari and families can sail, horse-ride or enjoy the fantastic onsite water sports facilities.

Natural attractions include The Pitons and Mount Gimie, the national rain forest stretches from one side of the island to the other, over 19,000 acres of mountains and valleys covered with lush foliage. Diamond Fall and Mineral Baths in the South-West region of Saint Lucia, near Soufriere, the Diamond Falls come down in six stages through sulphur springs that change the colour of the water to brilliant shades of yellow, green and purple. Next to the Falls, amongst the ruins of an original 18th century structure commissioned by Louis XIV, are mineral baths which visitors can bathe in.

The Drive-in Volcano, the world’s only “drive-in” volcano is also in Saint Lucia’s south-west. Visitors can see the remnants of the volcanic crater, where pools of muddy water bubble and shoot forth steam clouds 50 feet high.

Marigot Bay – a lovely natural harbour that once provided a hideout for pirate ships, Marigot Bay also served as the setting for the 1960s film Dr.Doolittle.

Coral Reefs – the reefs of Anse Cochon and Anse Chastanet on Saint Lucia’s west coast are among the world’s most popular dive havens and include a shipwreck for adventurous divers to explore.

Maris Islands Nature Reserve – these tiny islands off southern Saint Lucia situated to the east of Vieux Fort are home to rare wildlife and birds, including several species that do not exist anywhere else in the world.

Frigate Island, -another nature reserve off the east coast of Saint Lucia. Frigate Island is the nesting spot of the majestic Frigate bird.

Historic and Cultural Attractions – Castries , Saint Lucia’s capital and the island’s largest city is in the North West. It is home to the historic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The majority of the island’s hotels and resorts are nearby.

Soufriere, this is the old French capital in Saint Lucia’s south west. It is a picturesque fishing village near countless attractions, including the Pitons and the diamond Falls. The French influence can be seen in the architecture of the town’s buildings, with second-storey verandas and gingerbread trim.

Vieux Fort is Saint Lucia’s southern most town and its second largest port. It is home to the island’s Hewanorra International Airport.

Choiseul, this quaint village is on Saint Lucia’s southern end and is home to the Arts and Crafts Development Centre

Pigeon Island National Park is a 40 acre islet restored by the Saint Lucia National Trust and designated a national landmark. It includes two beaches, remnants of the 18th century British naval garrison and Fort Rodney, a fortified hilltop.

Valid passports must be carried by all visitors. Immunisation is not required, however, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid are recommended. The currency in Saint Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar. US Dollars are widely accepted on the island.