Location: Saint Lucia
Date: October 2016
Give me 30 seconds:
- Renting a car is not advised. Roads are for seasoned drivers and there are few guardrails and massive drop offs. People drive on the left hand side of the street and there are barely any stop signs and traffic lights, if any.
- Most of the roads in Saint Lucia are windy and have sudden twists and turns. This is throughout the entire island and for those who get car sick, be aware.
- There are two airports on the island of Saint Lucia. You will fly into either George F.L. Charles or Hewanorra airport.
- High season is December- April.
- Remember to bring plenty of cash. We only found one or two banks and barely any ATMs. Depending on where you stay, you can get a cash advance on your credit card (for a fee) and outside of the resort, credit cards are rarely accepted.
- Depending on your resort, mosquito repellant is provided, but highly suggest bringing some. You will go through an entire bottle as there are bugs everywhere.
- The local currency is ECD, the East Caribbean Dollar but USD is widely accepted.
- Most people speak English since tourism is the country’s main source of income.
- Resort prices are exclusive of VAT (Value Added Tax) and the resort fee which are 10% each, so account for this upon checkout. 10% of the resort service charge (your daily room rate) is automatically added to each day of your stay and this fee is given directly to the hotel to split among all hotel staff. If you wish to directly tip for your service in the moment, best is with cash directly to the person providing the service.
- Cameras used on trip: Fujifilm Instax Mini 70, iphone 7 plus, Canon 5D Mark 3
- For a quick recap of unique things to do in St. Lucia, check out the piece here that I wrote for POPSUGAR.
- Typical tourist attractions: Tet Paul Nature Trail, Diamond Waterfalls and Botanical Garden, Sulphur Springs and Volcano, Gros Piton hike, Hotel Chocolate lap and tour.
- Our must see suggestions: The town of Soufriere, Balenbouche Estate, Jade Mountain, fish fry on Friday nights in Anse La Raye, Rainforest Spa and snorkeling at Sugar Beach, Jazz cruise departing Anse Chastenet beach on Thursdays.
- Our local restaurant suggestions: Martha’s Table, Orlandos, La Petite Peak, Debbie’s, Fish fry in Anse La Raye.
- Traveling by Land
- Scott's Taxi Service: Felix Joseph 1 (758) 287-6825
- Traveling by Sea
Saint Lucia is the 6th Caribbean island I have visited and to say the least, it is heaven on earth. With its crystal clear cobalt-colored seas, lush emerald vegetation, and breathtaking cotton candy-color sunsets, it's a travelers (and Instagrammers!) paradise. You will find true and absolute solitude here; whether you stay on property or go to explore the local creole culture and food (which I highly suggest!) , Saint Lucia offers something for everyone, no matter what type of traveler you are.
Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort
After siting through an hour taxi ride on windy roads from the airport in absolute humidity, arriving to Sugar Beach was a true sanctuary. Upon arrival, you don’t go to a reception desk, you head directly to your villa and are handed two mini “ibaby” phones, one blue and one pink. They allow you to call "your partner" and "your butler", yes, I said your butler. You can call him/her at any time with a request and they will do their best to fulfill it. The main way around the resort is walking or tuk tuks (which run 24/7), roaming the resort and picking up passengers if they don't wish to walk. You can always request pickup by calling your butler.
The villas are the perfect combination of chic white and ethereal ambiance, giving it the dreamiest and idyllic feel. The showers and sinks are his and her, makes the bathroom feel really spacious, because, well, it is. I am pretty sure the shower was larger than my entire bathroom back in Manhattan.
The special thing about Sugar Beach is that the villas are all separate and incredibly private. If you feel like being social you can head to the main house that houses the restaurants and lounge surrounded by lush greenery. Along the perfectly manicured pathway to the beach, you will find cabanas hidden away in the greenery, bocce ball, outdoor painting, and various other activities. Sugar Beach has a pristine white sand beach that sits between the Gros Piton and Petit Piton mountains on the Pacific Ocean side, setting you up for the most gorgeous backdrop for your vacation. We saw plenty of honeymooners and lots of families with young well-behaved children. If I didn’t actually see children, I wouldn’t ever know they were there (meaning I didn’t hear any tantrums and screaming). There is a dive shop on site as well as any water sport you wish to do. Each evening the resort has a form of entertainment, whether it’s the “secret cinema night” or live music in the veranda of the main house, the options are relaxing and the perfect way to end a day in paradise.
If you happen to be celebrating a special occasion at Sugar Beach, let them know ahead of time as they have really great options to help you plan out a great celebration. You can find out more information here for celebration options and scroll below to see what they planned out for me. Cue in perfect sunset.
Talk about total relaxation, if you stay at Sugar Beach, you must indulge at the Rainforest Spa, located right on property.
Sugar Beach is truly the gold standard in service and accommodations and I hope I can return soon to say hello to so many new friends I made while on vacation.
As you probably already know, I am an "off the beaten path" traveler and enjoy seeking places and activities that are noteworthy and can be shared with my readers. You can find a shortened version of my findings here at Pop Sugar.
Tourist activities you can skip:
Volcano and Sulphur Springs:
This site, called the world's only "drive-through volcano", allows visitors to come within steps from the site and experience one of nature's true wonders. In theory, this sounds incredible, but don't expect much once you arrive. There are pools of naturally healing muddy sulfur and mineral baths (for an additional fee) that are mildly worth it in my personal opinion. The "tour" is not exceptionally educational and very quick and the site itself is less than impressive. If you have been to the mud baths in Napa, don't expect that here. Here you will sit in a pool of mud with about 25 other people and then rinse off with mineral water. I saw some of the guides "paint" fun designs on people for photos, but at the end of the day, I was not impressed.
Diamond Waterfall and Botanical Garden:
Diamond Waterfalls and Botanical Garden is a natural wonder of Saint Lucia and while the garden itself is beautifully manicured and well kept, the tour itself lacks information and enthusiasm. Beautiful and exotic flowers and lush greenery will absolutely surround you, but if you are limited on time and can not make it to this site, don't be disappointed. I heard so much about the famous diamond waterfall as it was supposedly one of the most colorful waterfall in the Caribbean because of the mineral-laced water. You can judge for yourself in the image below; hugely underwhelming. In the botanical garden, they do have the option of private mineral water bath houses (for $1 more than the public ones) which I would suggest doing if you happen to go to the garden. Relaxing and worth the $7.
Activities NOT to miss:
Tet Paul Nature Trail:
This 45 min trek boasts some of the most gorgeous views of Saint Lucia and its absolutely for someone who isn't into a whole lot of physical activity while on vacation. I wouldn't even really call it a hike, it was more a nature walk with walking sticks and a guided tour talking about the wildlife, plants and farmers living in the area. The view of Jalousie Bay and both Pitons from the top of the nature trail is absolutely breathtaking, you would think you would have had to hike an insane mountain to get those views, but you don't.
Fish Fry in Anse La Raye:
Every Friday evening, there is a local Fish Fry in Anse La Raye, which is one of the most local experiences I have ever had on a vacation. Street dancing, lusic and authentic Creole cuisine cooked right on the street makes this Friday night experience, one of a kind. I went to the fish fry with Dwight (From the Moby Dick water taxi) and he guided us through the streets and to different vendors for food. Fresh fish, poultry and unique dishes such as turtle and rabbit stew are all on the menu, so if you're an adventurous eater, this is a great place for you. Order a baka in addition to a fish wrapped in foil and you won't be disappointed! I'd highly suggest going here with a local to help navigate. If you can from your resort, try to take a water taxi (versus a land taxi) to Anse La Raye. Its faster and a night boat ride is absolutely magical.
People will say that Anse Chastanet is a black sand beach, but if you know what a true black sand beach looks like, you will immediately fall in love with the private beach at the Balenbouche Estate. This 75 acre gem spans 2000 years of Amerindian history and includes an 18th century sugar mill, a historic main house, fruit and vegetable orchards and various guest houses built from recycled materials. For a small donation of $5 USD, you can come to the estate and hang for the day; picnic near the lily pond, stroll around the old sugar mill or swim in the ocean from the estate's private beach. Uta, the owner, is always on the property and is absolutely lovely to speak with. She has lived a well traveled life and can tell you stories about the countries she has lived in and her love of Saint Lucia. I also had the pleasure of meeting Anitanja, one of Uta's daughters, who handles estate operations and is one hell of a cook. If you are not staying on property, you must make a reservation if you wish to have dinner, as all the food is locally sourced and preparation and presentation is key. One of my favorite parts of the estate is the finding yourself among the winding roots of the property's iconic tree near the sugar mill.
Jazz Cruise From Anse Chastanet:
Take a water taxi to Anse Chastanet Beach on Thursday evenings and sail off into the magical sunset for a three-hour live jazz performance alongside cocktails, light bites to eat, and a champagne toast that is sure to be the perfect ending to your day in paradise. The Jazz is performed by Rob Zii and Phyness, an intoxicating duo that combine exhilarating vocals and soothing saxophone harmonies. With their performance of perfectly-blended ancient melodies alongside futuristic sounds, with the sunset and the Pitons as a backdrop, no Thursday evening will ever be the same.
Travel Journal Tips:
As I continue adding to my travel repertoire, I have been using my Fujifilm Instax Mini 70 to document moments for my travel journal, that I can instantly print out and write on as part of tangible trip memories. Being able to have an instant Instax print is perfect, especially while traveling, and a great help in capturing a memory book for yourself. Find out more about how I document my travels HERE.
Until we meet again in paradise.... go JETSETAWAY!