Every beach on the island of St. Lucia
, including those that are part of the top resorts, is open to the public. The beaches on the western side of the island front the tranquil turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea and are favored for swimming and water sports, while the wild but beautiful eastern side churns with the more turbulent waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Although scenic to explore by horseback or jeep, the western beaches are not preferred for swimming.
1. Reduit Beach
Robert Harding/Photodisc/Getty Images
For the most part, St. Lucian beaches are relatively short, but with five miles of white sand on Rodney Bay, Reduit is the place for a long stroll by the shore and a swim in calm waters. One of the most popular beaches on the island, it is fronted by the Rex St. Lucian, Papillon and the Royal St. Lucian hotels
. There are restaurants and vendors renting water-sports equipment and lounge chairs.
2. Jalousie Beach
© Jalousie Plantation
The white sand, clarity of the water, and stunning setting between the twin Gros and Petit Piton volcanic peaks make this beach south of Soufrière a favorite spot for sunning. Snorkelers and scuba divers come for the adventures to be had at the 1,800-foot dropoff at the base of the Pitons. The Sugar Beach
resort, formerly Jalousie Plantation, is located here.
3. Anse Chastanet
© St. Lucia Tourism Board
With a sharp dropoff, coral reef and sea walls, this beach affords snorkelers and divers many opportunities for viewing the vivid ocean life without ferrying out to deeper waters by boat. The natural black sand reflects the volcanic origins of the island. High-end guests flock here daily from the resort named for the beach, Anse Chastanet.
4. Pigeon Island National Park
© madmack66 via Flickr
Quiet and uncrowded, this beach on the north end of the island is the place to combine sunning and swimming with a visit to a mini-museum and a climb to a vantage point to see the historic Fort Rodney ruins and views of distant Martinique
. Two eateries stand ready to fill visitors' needs, and there's a rum bar (of course) in the underground warren beneath the fort. Pigeon Island also serves as the venue for the world-famous St. Lucia Jazz Festival
5. Grande Anse
© Jimmy Weee via Flickr
Soon to become part of a new national park, this mile long stretch of beach north of Dennery is set against a backdrop of cliffs in an area that was once a plantation. Now, visitors come for Turtle Watch
, where they can see the natural wonder of endangered leatherbacks
(think Crush from “Finding Nemo
”), the largest of sea turtles, heaving themselves out of the water and onto the beach to lay their eggs.