Castries, Saint Lucia

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So you think you've "done" the Caribbean? St. Lucia kindly asks you to think again. With mountain peaks, plunging valleys, lush rain forests, historic sites, tropical flora and fauna and the world's only drive-in volcano, this island of 165,000 residents is more than just pretty palm-fringed beaches along a turquoise sea—though there happen to be plenty of those, too. No wonder France and England battled for nearly 200 years to control this sun-kissed island. Wayfarers arriving these days have less nefarious plans and want only to preside over St. Lucia's legendary natural wonders and eco-adventures. Choose a heart-thumping hike up the Pitons—named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004—or a treetop tram ride over the flower- and bird-filled rain forest. Humdrum may be hard to find, but there are plenty of warm welcomes from friendly locals. The island's eclectic culture and history are shared daily through the Creole patois spoken in markets and on street corners, in the French names of colorful fishing villages and in savory recipes infused with African, French and Carib heritage. And have we mentioned the sublime sunsets? Some Caribbean islands really do have it all. 

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