7 Tips for St. Lucia: A Green Oasis on the East Coast of South Africa

St. Lucia is a delightful small village on the east coast of South Africa. It is a green oasis with the river on one side and the ocean on the other. Officially located in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, St. Lucia is known for the possibility of hippos walking through the village in the evening. Therefore, even for short distances, it’s better to take a car after sunset. We stayed there for 4 days and discovered what you shouldn’t miss when visiting St. Lucia.

Spotting Hippos with the Hippo & Croc Tour

Nowhere else in the world can you get as close to hippos as in St. Lucia, making this tour truly unique. With the two-hour Hippo & Croc tour, the boat can be just a few feet away from the hippos without them attacking. If you encounter a hippo in the village, make sure to keep a safe distance as these animals are extremely dangerous. During this tour, you’ll sail along different groups of hippos, and with a bit of luck, you might also see crocodiles on land. You’ll be amazed at how large a hippo is when it’s just a few feet away from you! There are various organizations that offer this tour, but this tour is, in our opinion, the best because they use a small boat. The boat accommodates a maximum of 15 people, providing a less crowded experience.

Tip: Book the last tour so you can be on the boat during sunset. Not only is the lighting beautiful, but the hippos are often more active when the sun goes down.

Beach Days in St. Lucia

If you feel like lounging on the beach, this is the perfect place to do so. The expansive beach in St. Lucia is pristine and ideal for getting a nice tan. The sea, like in the rest of South Africa, is often quite cold and can have strong currents, so don’t get your hopes up too much for swimming. Nevertheless, spending a few hours on the beach or taking a beautiful beach walk in the late afternoon can be enjoyable. You can park your car at the Ski Boat Club, and it’s a 5-minute walk from there to the beach. Along the way, you’ll pass the mouth of the river, where you might be lucky enough to spot flamingos. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars.

Delicious Breakfast or Lunch at Kauai

Kauai is our favorite breakfast and lunch spot in South Africa. There are dozens of Kauai locations spread throughout the country, and fortunately, there is one in St. Lucia as well. The menu is filled with healthy dishes like wraps, bowls, and smoothies. For dinner, we recommend trying Braza.

Self-Drive through the iSimangaliso Wetland Park to Cape Vidal

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park might not be the best park in South Africa for wildlife sightings, but it is home to one of the most beautiful beaches. Cape Vidal offers miles of white sandy coastline, and the itinerary to get there is beautiful. Start your self-drive at the Bhangazi Gate and don’t just stick to the main road; take advantage of the loops you’ll encounter along the way. You’ll also find several viewpoints where you can step out of the car. There are no restaurants in the park, so bring your own snacks and drinks.

Tip: Don’t forget to bring your passport, as you’ll need to show it at the park entrance.

Safari in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park

This park is unique because it’s home to the largest population of rhinoceroses in the world. With a bit of luck, you can also tick off the entire Big Five here. It’s a beautiful green park that you can explore through a self-drive or safari. You can book a good safari here, where they pick you up from your hotel in St. Lucia. The ranger can provide you with a lot of interesting information about the animals, making the safari very enjoyable. The tour starts early, at 5 o’clock in the morning, and you’ll return to St. Lucia around 2 o’clock.

Enjoying Fresh Pineapple and Bargaining at the Market

If you love pineapples, make sure to visit the market. Besides selling fresh pineapples, they also offer many typical African souvenirs. Be prepared to negotiate as they sometimes ask for outrageous prices.

Whale Watching from St. Lucia

You won’t be short of wildlife experiences in St. Lucia because, in addition to safaris, you can also take a boat and go whale watching. From June to November, you have nearly a 100% chance of seeing the massive humpback whales here.

How Many Days Do You Need in St. Lucia?

With plenty of things to do in St. Lucia, we recommend staying for three full days. If you started your journey in Johannesburg, this is a great place to take a break. The first part of your trip probably involved a lot of driving and short stays in different destinations. St. Lucia is the perfect spot to relax and unwind.

Our Favorite Places to Stay in St. Lucia

Since St. Lucia is a small town, the accommodation options are not extensive, and there are few budget hotels. This is a good reason to treat yourself and indulge in something special. Fortunately, St. Lucia has no shortage of beautiful hotels!

Three hotels stand out and are exceptionally good. The first one is the Luxury Tented Village. Here, you can sleep in a luxurious tent with a veranda and a spacious bathroom. There is a large swimming pool with lounge chairs, and its location in the heart of St. Lucia means that all the restaurants are within walking distance. This is a unique accommodation where they truly understand the concept of glamping. If you’re not a fan of glamping, the Leopard Corner Lodge is a particularly delightful hotel. You’ll stay in a beautiful room, and the staff will make you feel very welcome. If you have a generous budget, the Lodge Afrique is absolutely fantastic. Tucked away in a beautiful green garden, you’ll find a few typical African cottages. Here, you can also enjoy a swimming pool, and the breakfast is superb.

Tip: If you want to stay at one of these hotels between October and May, it’s advisable to book as early as possible.