This small town on South Africa’s Elephant Coast is famous for its wildlife and outdoor adventures near the spectacular iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
St. Lucia is a nature lover’s delight and the gateway to the magnificent iSimangaliso Wetland Park (formerly Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park), a UNESCO World Heritage site. Take a jeep or horse safari to spot South Africa’s big animals, hike trails to scenic lookouts, discover superb fishing and join whale-watching excursions. St. Lucia sits on the glorious and rugged Elephant Coast, along the Indian Ocean shores.
The town itself is a lively, tourist-friendly hub at the southern edge of iSimangaliso Wetland Park, with a variety of accommodations, seafood restaurants, bars and cafés. Browse St. Lucia Market for handicrafts, curios and fresh produce. Enjoy a walk along the golden sand dunes of St. Lucia Beach.
Many visitors come to St. Lucia for the scenery and wildlife of the wetland park, a nature reserve of beaches, coastal forests, lakes, wetland and woodland. Join jeep and kayak safaris or ride on horseback along the soft white sands of Iphiva Beach. Explore hiking trails, such as the Igwala Gwala Forest Trail and 39-mile-long (63-kilometer) Emoyeni Trail.
Inside the park, look for crocodiles, leopards, rhinos and more than 500 bird species. Spot South Africa’s biggest hippo population as you cruise along St. Lucia Lake. Visit from November to February to see nesting leatherback sea turtles or from June to November for sightings of humpback whales.
For more wildlife, go to the Mapelana Nature Reserve, a short drive south of St. Lucia. Try deep-sea fishing, hunt for shellfish in tidal pools and take scenic hikes, such as the Umphafa Trail. Explore the unspoiled beaches of Cape Vidal, a popular location for sport fishing.
St. Lucia is about a 90-minute drive from Richards Bay and a 3-hour drive from Durban. Getting around town is easy on foot. Rent a car if you wish to visit the wetland park. The town’s travel agencies offer a wide range of organized tours.
St. Lucia presents the perfect combination of adventure, nature and wildlife, with a consistently mild climate.