An itinerary for a day in St Lucia for the spontaneous traveller

Posted on 2 May 2023 By Jordyn Johnson

We arrived for a day in St Lucia on a whim, without an itinerary or an idea where to start. With Google as our travel guide, we drove along a road embellished with warning signs for hippos and elephants. I finally understood why foreigners believe South African streets are overrun with wildlife.

International tourists frequent northern KwaZulu-Natal more than domestic travellers do. The coffee shops buzzed with Welsh and Italian accents, and our barista even asked what country we were visiting from.

It’s such a beautiful area of South Africa, with way too many activities to choose from. I highly suggest that you make the trip there one day.

Stop 1: Coffee

St Lucia itinerary

Our first stop was a no-brainer. Following our noses and Google Maps, we found a little coffee shop aptly named Coffee Shop. We sipped on the good stuff while consulting Google again on our next port of call.

Other coffee shops to try in St Lucia:

  • Thyme Square
  • Washbay & Café
  • Hippo Café

Stop 2: The Estuary Boardwalk

St Lucia itinerary

A beach stop should make an appearance on your St Lucia itinerary. Before hitting the boardwalk, we felt compelled to look at all the beautiful ornaments and products the locals make and sell at the market by the entrance. The St Lucia Estuary Boardwalk welcomes you with the most prominent crocodile warning sign you will ever see. Not a confidence boost, but convincing myself that many had gone before me and lived, I walked on.

Beneath trees that cover the boardwalk in dappled shade, you can greet the monkeys that watch you pass by and do a bit of birding. You could see other types of wildlife, such as hippos or crocodiles. The boardwalk is on a platform to keep walkers safe from creatures that may appear below.

Other walks or hikes to try:

Stop 3: Estuary Beach

St Lucia itinerary

The boardwalk leads to dunes you need to cross to reach the beach. Many people say it’s perfect for a long beach walk. The ocean is a little murky, and the nearby Umfolozi River mouth makes it unsuitable for swimmers. We did see some bathers further up the beach, but they were splashing in the shore break rather than swimming.
Taking a bottle of water and even some snacks is highly advisable, especially if you plan to stay on the beach for a while.

Beaches to Visit:

  • Main Beach
  • Ingwe Beach
  • Jabula Beach

Stop 4: iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Eastern Shores via Bhangazi Gate

Top of our St Lucia itinerary was visiting the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. However, understanding where to access iSimangaliso is quite confusing if you’re unfamiliar with the park. There are ten jewels of the wetland, and we were unsure which one to visit.

The Bhangazi Gate was the first road sign we saw, so we visited the Eastern Shores and Cape Vidal.

If you haven’t planned ahead or had time to pre-book a game drive or estuary boat ride, I suggest a simple self-drive through the park.

St Lucia itinerary

Better than the wildlife, which includes four of the Big 5, is the scenery. Long green vistas of grassland and, of course, the glorious estuary. The small ponds that frame the roadside sport purple lilies that reflect beautifully in the water below.

We stopped at every hide and viewpoint possible and, again, I advise you to take water and snacks. Enjoy your food at the Catalina viewpoint, which looks over the entire estuary.

Eventually, you will reach Cape Vidal, another long stretch of beach where you can fish, swim or even snorkel. The ocean is full of colourful and vibrant ocean life.

St Lucia itinerary

Stop 5: Dinner

We had to shoot back to our accommodation in Hluhluwe, but if we’d been able to stop at one of the roadside restaurants for a hearty meal and a drink, that would’ve been the perfect ending to our day.

Restaurants to try:

  • Reef and Dune
  • Braza
  • Alfredo’s
  • Ski Boat Club
  • Fisherman’s Restaurant

Typing ‘Things to do in St Lucia’ into Google can be overwhelming if you only have a day to explore, and many activities involve pre-planning and -booking. If, like me, you’re more of a devil-may-care traveller who doesn’t plan much before arriving at your destination, then this itinerary is perfect for you.

Pictures: Jordyn Johnson

DEAL: A 2-night self-catering stay in St Lucia for up to 6 people

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