Photo: Sailboat in front of green mountains

A sailboat returns to St. Lucia's Soufrière harbor, with the Pitons looming in the background.

Photograph by Katja Heinemann, Aurora

By Kim Brown Seely

With hotel rates dropping at the island's top resorts in summer and more direct flights from the states each week, off-season St. Lucia is becoming the hottest alternative to summer camp. Leave kids under ten at home, but great adventure digs for families with teens are found at the 12 beachfront bungalows of Anse Chastanet Resort, a 600-acre (240-hectare) jungle property perched on the island's rugged southwest coast. Rooms are distraction-free (no telephones, radios, Wi-Fi, or TVs), and most have views of the Pitons, St. Lucia's stunning twin peaks.

If your crew isn't dive-certified, this is the time to do it: You can all do your coursework at home, then make open-water dives the first day at the resort's PADI dive center, one of the best in the Caribbean. Anse Chastanet's dive boats depart daily for sites such as Superman's Flight, Fairyland, and Pinnacles, in St. Lucia's protected marine reserve.

Where to Play

Sign up for a half-day tour of St. Lucia’s walk-in volcano and sulfur springs or a guided bird-watching excursion to catch a glimpse of St. Lucia’s five brightly colored endemic species. Rent one of the resort’s Cannondale F800s to bike its 12 miles (19 kilometers) of mountain trails. Olympic biker Tinker Juarez helped design the singletrack loops, which pass through jungle, beneath waterfalls, and along swimming holes and 18th-century colonial ruins.

At Day's End

With such full days, guests usually hit the sack early. But before you rest up, treat the family to a four-course candlelit feast beneath the branches of the resort's Treehouse Restaurant, then dance to local island calypso music.

Details

Doubles cost $300; all levels of scuba certification are available ($105 for basic certification); www.ansechastanet.com

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