There’s no shortage of impressive beaches and stunning scenery in the Caribbean, famous for its warm waters and laid-back way of life.
But for spectacular views and awe-inducing landscapes St Lucia has the upper hand.
Covered by a thick blanket of rainforest, with jagged mountains rising from the ocean, it’s a unique proposition for even the most seasoned Caribbean traveller.
Mountains abound and you can visit sulphur springs in a volcano at Soufriere. Then there are the beaches –loads of them, easily accessible and with good swimming conditions.
What’s more, the majority of hotels and restaurants on the island have been carefully positioned to capitalise on the wealth of great views.
During a 90-minute journey from the international airport to our first hotel in the north west of St Lucia, we travelled through the busy capital Castries, a bustling town where a number of huge cruise ships dock.
With tight, narrow streets, Castries is very much a working town, with most tourists heading off to other points on the island.
We were heading for St James Club at Morgan Bay, just north of the capital. With rooms perched over a lovely bay, the hotel has recently been taken over by the Elite Island Resorts hotel group and given a spruce up.
We had a suite with flower-strewn hedges outside and west-facing views of the beach and sea.
The next day, we drove a few miles up the coast to Rodney Bay. This area was named after British Admiral Rodney, who beat the French in a naval battle off the coast of St Lucia in the 1780s.
We had lunch at Spinnakers on Reduit Beach. Watching boats bobbing on the water, we dined on shrimps and fish so fresh they were probably plucked from the ocean hours before.
Afterwards, we travelled up to Pigeon Island, a rock promontory that is actually joined to the mainland by a causeway. It is a lovely spot with clear, turquoise water and swaying palm trees.
On the way there we passed Rodney Bay Marina – a clear reminder that the world is divided into the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-yachts’.
Those looking for a little local colour can visit the nearby fishing village of Gros Islet. On Friday evenings, holidaymakers turn up to join in the ‘jump-up’, where roads are closed and stalls sell seafood. Music plays and everyone parties.
Half way through the trip we had a holiday within a holiday. We had been invited by British-born Michael Thom and his Italian wife Maria to sample C’est La Vie – a retreat the couple have created in secluded grounds .
Given our own butler, we lapped up the luxury of a stay which included the Thoms hosting us for dinner.
As well as the attentive butlers to wait on them, guests get a pool in the grounds and plenty of peace and quiet.
But possibly one of the most scenic restaurants in the world is Dasheene, part of the Ladera resort, high up near the town of Soufriere.
The food was good but the view was something else, overlooking two towering volcanic peaks – the Pitons.
With so many trails and viewpoints to explore, St Lucia never disappoints. Holiday brochures and paintings can hint at the island’s beauty, but to really understand its magic you have to visit.
Peter Woodman flew to St Lucia courtesy of Virgin Holidays who offer seven nights at St James Club Morgan Bay from £1,131 pp (based on two sharing) on an all-inclusive basis. Prices are based on departures on June 28, 2013. Visit virginholidays.co.uk or call 0834 557 3870.
A seven-night stay at C’est la Vie starts from £1,209 (based on two sharing) including breakfast and flights with British Airways). Book through Undiscovered Holidays (undiscovered-holidays.com/0207 193 7674).