St. Lucia: So lush, so lively
The blue sea and white beaches unify the islands of the Caribbean, but whether it’s the colorful architecture of Curacao, the French cuisine of St. Maarten or the nightlife of San Juan, every island boasts a unique distinction. For St. Lucia, it’s the topography. Admittedly, saying an island has unique terrain isn’t the most sexy way to get you to hop on a plane — but St. Lucia is a lush, mountainous island with fertile valleys, acres of banana plants and coconut palms, picturesque fishing villages and even a volcano. It would be a destination in its own right; but add the fact that the island boasts both the Atlantic and Caribbean sea coasts, and you have a picturesque, idyllic escape.
Take a hike or hit the ‘drive-in’
The Pitons, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004, are two volcanic spires (Gros Piton and Petit Piton) that rise magnificently from the sea on the western side of the island. Hiking is allowed on Gros Piton and local guides will help you navigate to the top, where a natural hardwood forest and several species of rare birds await. Not feeling adventurous? Locals love the fact that their volcano, located in Sulphur Springs Park, is a “drive-in.” True to word, there’s little walking involved to check out the boiling black water and hydrogen sulfide burping out of the dormant volcano. There’s even a small tourism industry devoted to letting you take a little dip in one of the sulphur pools.
What to eat & drink
St. Lucians take much pride in their rum punch, and it’s available at almost every hotel, restaurant and bar on the island. Due to the eclectic heritage of the locals, the cuisine is a delicious mix of Caribbean staples like curry, jerk, rice and stewed dishes, with a dash of creole, loads of barbecue options, fish fries and the main food export, bananas.
Where to stay
Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa, a beachfront hotel on the Atlantic Ocean, is a lovely option. The 250 sea-view rooms are split into two wings: the adult-only Harmony, and Splash, for those with kids. Considering that Splash has a huge water park with pools, slides and a lazy river, it’s understandable if you stray from Harmony for the day. The hotel is all-inclusive, although with the myriad of restaurant options and friendly service, it feels like a much more exclusive all-inclusive.