Best Islands Runner-Up: St. Lucia

Outside chooses the top vacation spots of 2013

Petit Piton looms above the ocean at St. Lucia.     Photo: Lucia Pitter/Shutterstock

This 238-square-mile island, famous for its iconic Pitons—the twin set of volcanic domes that rise straight out of the Caribbean—is coming into its own as a Hawaii alternative. There’s jungle hiking, ocean diving, hot springs, windsurfing, and plantation-to-table dining options. Base at the luxe, sea-view Hotel Chocolat (from $650) on the 140-acre Rabot Estate, the oldest cacao plantation on the island. From there, head to mile-long Anse des Sable Beach, one of the best wind- and kitesurfing beaches in the Caribbean, with steady 11- to 16-knot winds. (Lessons available from the Reef Beach Café, 50 steps from the water’s edge.) For a workout, try a summit of 2,461-foot Petit Piton, a tough scramble. Or you could just do nothing on the beach.

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