Think Caribbean - think sapphire waters, palm-fringed powdery sands and island time. But with Sheree’s love of reggae and rum, Makita’s kid-in-a-sweet-shop attitude, and Amy’s enthusiasm to learn from the locals, it was obvious this was going to be anything but a flop-and-drop trip!
We sent our Caribbean Product Manager Sheree, and our travel experts Makita and Amy, to discover this sun-drenched section of the world and what it can offer those of you seeking more than just beach cabanas and piña colada.
Explore beyond your hotel…
It takes just over an hour to travel from the south, where the airport is, to the north of the island where you’ll find Rodney Bay and the capital of Castries, but this is one picturesque transfer! Spectacular winding roads intertwine with lush hillsides scattered with mango trees; the girls recall looking to one side and seeing the majestic Pitons, then to the other and seeing ‘sulphur in the sky’, the former capital Soufriere. Well, that was when Amy could take her eyes off the snaking road and curb the travel sickness!
‘If there’s one thing we recommend you pack, it’s a packet of Kwells!’
All three were lucky enough to go out on a whale-watching trip which begins in the morning and takes you out to the ‘shelf’ of the ocean for 3-hours of cruising and whale spotting.
‘We waited patiently with a glass of the Captain’s rum punch, and our patience was rewarded! Around 50 wild dolphins jumped from the water, playfully showing off their leaps and bounds, before they were met by a small group of Pilot whales, poking their fins from the hazy cobalt waters’.
Zip up and try something new…
We signed the girls up to zip lining and, not entirely sure what to expect, they were all a little nervous. But it was Makita who really conquered some demons! Hanging off the edge of the wooden platform, legs shaking and heart pounding, not even the lush canopy of trees below made this any less daunting!
‘This guy was certainly no tanned Tarzan, but gripping onto him for dear life, we whizzed through the air, him crippled as we tugged at his dreadlocks and Makita screeching as tears clouded her vision. Not proud of screaming like babies until our feet were firmly back on solid ground, but as we gazed at the silver lines above and treetops below, we were seriously chuffed with ourselves. Steel yourself; if three self-proclaimed height-phobic wimps can do this - you can do this!’
Next up was horse riding; the girls gathered with the trainers and guides at the International Pony Club, who offer 1-4 hour excursions for both beginners and experienced riders, as well as the option to add on a beach BBQ.
‘I think the guide must’ve been able to tell we were anxious beginners as he offered for us to lead the group at the front with him - probably because I incessantly asked if the horse was in a good mood!’
Starting by trudging down the rocky tracks passed multi-hued houses, you’re slowly eased into the experience, before gathering at the beach where Amy Winehouse used to stay (name drop) and grabbing a drink from the beach shack.
‘Refreshed, we not-so-gracefully clambered back on our horses before the guide led us into the sea in couples. Surprisingly, it was quite peaceful, but we didn’t expect the water come as high as our waists, so bring swimwear! We went down to the rocks before turning round and marvelling the beautiful view of the beach behind us, and the rest of the group waving as we returned. An incredible first experience for someone who has never tried horse riding before!’
The enthusiastic locals…
Like many other Caribbean nations, St Lucia is home to joyous, laid-back locals. From the attentive hotel staff to the party animals in the streets, everyone greets you with a smile and ‘sa ka fete?’, asking how you are in their Creole language and usually offering a drink.
‘Dining was especially sociable at Rendezvous; an impromptu Michael Jackson medley by the staff entertained us over lunch, while at dinner, Libby the wine sommelier poured us chilled Champagne quoting Coco Chanel - I only drink Champagne on two occasions, when I am in love and when I am not. We raised a glass to that!’
When the sun sets on a Friday, the locals gather on the streets of Gros Islet, beckoning both friends and visitors to join them dancing to infectious reggae beats and sexy salsa.
‘Be sure to sample delicious local grills and, of course, the rum - you’ll even find the odd local head to toe in the St Lucia Madras, the national dress reminiscent of tartan!’
Relax if you want to…
So you can Segway the streets, horse ride in the ocean, zip-line through the rainforest, and even drive through a volcano, but what about the R&R time many of us long for in a holiday? St. Lucia has that, too.
‘A spa treatment a day keeps the doctor away, and we took full advantage of this at The BodyHoliday, indulging in full body massages based on Swedish techniques using aromatherapy oils, which left us feeling and smelling divine.’
Eager to experience the hype of a hot stone massage, Sheree tried the Signature Massage at Windjammer Landing and was blown away!
‘The 80 minute treatment starts with a hand and foot scrub, before bamboo sticks are rolled across your skin, slightly odd but astonishingly relaxing. They then dip the stones in warm oils and work them up your body – even on your face! – so soft, you don’t even realise they are stones until you clasp them in your hands.’
Finally, the food…
‘Where do we even begin? Seafood is unsurprisingly a speciality here, particularly salted fish with green bananas, a strange combination, but we were pleasantly surprised when we tried it at the local food market!’
The cuisine in St Lucia is heavily influenced by French and West Indian, so after a quick TripAdvisor search of restaurants around Rodney Bay, the girls settled on Spice of India to satisfy their curry cravings.
‘The whole place was adorned with Indian paintings, and the banquet, filled with buttered chicken, tandoori wings, and fresh samosas and was better than anywhere we’d tried even travelling India!’
But, this is just one experience…
With acres of lush rainforest, miles of glittering coastline, metres of soaring hillside and, of course, the magnificent Pitons, St Lucia is a small island with so much to explore. We invite you to see it for yourself, and we’d be more than happy to help you plan your ideal itinerary or blissful beach getaway to Sheree, Makita and Amy’s favourite Caribbean island (so far!).