St Lucia, one of the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, is a small lush country that is often regarded as the Caribbean's most beautiful island. Its dramatic coastal twin peaks, the Pitons, soar from the sea (770 metres and 743 metres high) sheltering magnificent rain forests where giant ferns, wild orchids, and birds of paradise flourish. There are also plenty of enchanting beaches on the island dotted with palm trees; the Atlantic Ocean kisses its eastern shore, while the beaches of the west coast owe their beauty to the calm Caribbean Sea. Three of the finest are Anse Chastanet's 150 metres of silvery sand, Anse Couchon's dramatic black sand, and the astonishing Anse des Pitons with its fine white sand. The luxury resorts in St Lucia are located in the northwest of the island on one of the many small coves, or on the beaches and hillsides around the dramatic Pitons in the southwest. Needless to say that with such mountainous and verdant terrain hiking is popular, while water-lovers can participate in the excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities. Local food is a real highlight where there is a unique fusion of Amerindian, French, Spanish, Indian and Chinese elements, while restaurants in resorts such as Ladera, Hotel Chocolat and Cap Maison keep pushing the boundaries with contemporary takes on local and international cuisine.