Totally tropical (even when it rains)

Why go now?

Why go now?

St Lucia is currently enjoying temperatures of around 26C (79F) and has a year-round tropical climate. February is the perfect time to visit the sun-soaked island as the hot temperatures are cooled by the light north-easterly trade winds. The island's rainy season falls between June and November but showers tend to be heavy and brief, and won't spoil your chance of getting a tan.

Any other reason?

Experience the party atmosphere as 2004 sees St Lucia celebrate 25 years of independence on 22 February, when festivities and ceremonies to commemorate the event will be staged throughout the island. Friday night is party night, so head for the town of Gros Islet where locals and visitors alike gather. Vendors line the streets with delectable Caribbean delights and music can be heard until the early hours of the morning in this unmissable street party.

Where should I stay?

The Body Holiday at Le Sport (001 758 450 8551; www.thebodyholiday.com) has 154 rooms and suites set in a secluded bay on the north-west tip of the island. The island's natural resources are harnessed in the unprecedented number of activities on offer. Choose from four fabulous restaurants, including the award-winning Tao, which offers a fusion of east and west cuisine. Double rooms from £332 per night, includes full-board accommodation for two persons, plus an hour of body treatments every day, golf, scuba diving, all water and land sports, all fitness activities, yoga, t'ai chi and relaxation classes.

Anse Chastanet (001 758 459 7000; www.anse chastanet.com) is one of the most breathtaking hotels in the world. The entire resort is built sympathetically around the surrounding environment, so don't be surprised if you find a tree growing in your shower. All 49 rooms are individually designed, some with just three walls so that visitors are treated to spectacular views. Other attractions include a luxury beachside spa, a five-star dive centre and jungle biking through the lush green rainforest. Double rooms from £260 per night on a dinner, b&b basis for two persons.

Ladera Resort (001 758 459 7323; www.ladera-stlucia.com) is a beautiful and intimate hotel positioned 1,100ft above sea level. All six villas and 19 suites are constructed from tropical hardwood, stone and tile and all have an open wall to expose the view of St Lucia's signature peaks, the Pitons, while the orientation of the building maintains complete privacy. The resort features a scenic pool and deck area, and is home to the island's award-winning restaurant, Dasheene. One-bedroom suites with plunge pool from £230 per night for two people.

What shouldn't I miss?

For an unbeatable view of the island, take a hike up one half of St Lucia's famous landmarks, Gros Piton, or find out why St Lucia is one of the most luscious of the Caribbean islands by going on a rainforest hike. The national rainforest stretches from one side of the island to the other, rolling over some 19,000 acres of mountains and valleys.

Who should I call?

ITC Classics (01244 355400; www.itcclassics.co.uk) offers a seven-night, room-only break at the Ladera Resort in a one-bedroom suite from £1,590 per person, including return flights with Virgin Atlantic from Gatwick and transfers.

What if I can't afford that?

Tropical Places (0870 160 5015; www.tropicalplaces.co.uk) offers a seven-night room-only break at the Rex St Lucia from £729 per person, including return flights with Virgin Atlantic from Gatwick and transfers.

Where can I find out more?

Contact the St Lucia Tourist Board (0870 900 7697; www.stlucia.com) or the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (020-7222 4335; www.caribbean.co.uk).

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