Blessed by nature, St Lucia has geographic and cultural riches enough to embarrass far bigger nations. Notwithstanding, it remains a down-to-earth place that wears its breathtaking beauty with nonchalance.
Noted for its oodles of small and luxurious resorts that drip color and flair, it is really two islands in one. Rodney Bay in the north offers lazy days and modern comforts amid a beautiful bay. In the south, Soufrière is at the heart of a gorgeous region of old plantations, hidden beaches and the geologic wonder of the impossibly photogenic Pitons.
Nature lovers can hike to jungle-clad waterfalls, climb extinct volcanic cones or zip through the forest canopy on land, or dive beneath the calm Caribbean to get up close to St Lucia's marine life. Foodies will be enamored with the islands delicious Creole cuisine. The island's East Indian, French, English, and African heritage mean its culture and music traditions are especially rich; active pursuits, meanwhile, vary from strolling serene botanic gardens to diving into thrilling watersports. This St. Lucia travel guide will help you craft the perfect itinerary.
THINGS NOT TO MISS IN ST. LUCIA
While it's tempting to spend all of your time sipping a rum cocktail at your resort, travel to St. Lucia demands you do more. Sunbathe on a white-sand beach, hike rainforest-covered mountains, or try rock-climbing. Put the following on your St. Lucia travel list:
• Piton mountains
• Sulphur Springs (try mud-bathing)
• Pigeon Island National Park
• Fort Rhodney
• Castries market
• The former French port of Soufrière
• Marigot Bay and Gros Isle
BEST TIME TO VISIT ST. LUCIA
The best time to visit St. Lucia is between May and June. These late spring and early summer months offer wonderful weather – high 70s to 80s – plus there are enviable room rates at the best hotels. Music lovers should consider visiting in early May specifically to attend the St. Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival that's held at Pigeon Island National Landmark. The island is flush with activity in the summer and late fall, but there's a greater chance of hurricanes. The busiest and most expensive time to vacation is from December to April, the driest season.
• December—April is the ideal time to visit temperature-wise.
• If you're on a budget, consider April—early December. But remember, this is a beach destination and June—early December sees high humidity/heavy rainfall.
• January—June is the best time for dry weather and sunshine.
• April—June is less crowded and relatively affordable.
• Summer is an excellent time to visit, if you don't mind all of the tourists.
GETTING TO ST. LUCIA
St Lucia is the second largest of the Windward Islands, located around 39km (24mi) south of Martinique and 40km (24.8mi) north of St Vincent and the Grenadines. The most convenient route to St Lucia is by air to Hewanorra International Airport (UVF), located 5km (3mi) from Vieux Fort on the southern tip of the island, and around 53km (33mi) from the capital, Castries. Hewanorra is the larger of the island's two airports and receives daily direct flights from New York, Atlanta and Miami, as well as from London and several Caribbean islands. The country's smaller airport, George F. L. Charles Airport (SLU), formerly known as Vigie, is located 2km (1.2mi) north of Castries, and mainly services inter-Caribbean flights. It affords a shorter and more convenient trip to the capital and northern resorts. However, for those hotels around Soufrière, this trip is longer, around 1.5 hours by road.
Taxi: Taxis are available outside the terminal building. Journey time to Castries is around one hour, and the fare is approximately EC$200.
Shuttle: Islander operates private shuttle services to resorts and destinations all over St Lucia.
Bus: Hewanorra International Airport's proximity to the East Coast Road affords good access to public transport. Public buses stop on the main road just outside the airport complex. Journey time to Vieux Fort is 10 minutes, and the fare is less than EC$2.
Air: Helicopter services are available from St Lucia Helicopters (tel: +1 758 453 6950; www.stluciahelicopters.com), which has a desk in the terminal. Fare is US$165 – four person minimum.
GETTING AROUND ST. LUCIA
The best way to get around St. Lucia is by car or minibus, though taxis are also available and water taxis around the island are plentiful. Rental cars or scooters can be obtained at the Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) in the southern town of Vieux Fort, which is about 40 miles to the south of Castries.
Car - For rental cars, you'll need a temporary driving license, which can be obtained in advance or by showing a valid driver's license at the car rental agency, the airport or the police station in Castries. Remember to drive on the left side. You'll find car rental agencies clustered at the airport, in Soufrière, Castries, Rodney Bay and Gros Islet.
Minibuses - Privately run minibuses serve as the main ground transportation for much of the island, with routes forming a loop between the main towns. Buses run on varied times depending on the route, but most do not operate on Sundays. Fares range from $1 to $3. Minibuses have a green number plate with an M prefix.
Taxis - Authorized taxis have a light blue number plate with a "TX" prefix. Before you hire a taxi, confirm the fare. Fares are about $70 from the airport to Marigot Bay. You can also hire taxis for island tours, which can be convenient if you're visiting St. Lucia by way of a cruise.
WHERE TO STAY IN ST. LUCIA
Serenity at Coconut Bay is an All Inclusive, Adults Only, luxury all-suite resort located in in Vieux Fort. All suites come with personal butlers. Featuring free shuttle service, this property has an on-site restaurant, The Greathouse, featuring global cuisine. Some rooms at the property feature a terrace with pool view. The property's amenities include a personalized wet bar, 24 hour room service, complimentary WiFi, and in-suite dining. Serenity at Coconut Bay is an Adults Only accommodation.
A full-service spa, on-site dining and an outdoor pool is available in this resort in Castries. Tropical guest rooms include air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi. Pigeon Island National Park is 3 km away. Bright rooms at Coco Palm include a refrigerator and coffee facilities. They feature hardwood or tiled floors with wood furniture. Rooms with a view include a private balcony. Ti Bananne Carribean Bistro & Bar serves a variety of cuisine including French and West Indian. The restaurant overlooks the pool and the Sunday brunch features steelpan music. Palm Coco offers car rental, airport shuttle and babysitting services. Guests can work out in the gym or enjoy a massage in the guest rooms, the tropical garden or on the roof deck. Castries Waterworks Forest Reserve is 18.2 km from the resort. St. Lucia Golf Club is 0.6 km away.
Offering an outdoor pool and and free WiFi in public areas, Starfish St Lucia - All Inclusive is situated in Rodney Bay Village, 750 m from Bay Walk Shopping Mall. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant. The rooms are fitted with a flat-screen TV, coffee maker and views of the sea or garden. All come with a private bathroom and extras include free toiletries and a hair dryer. You will find a 24-hour front desk and gift shop at the property. This resort also has water sports facilities and car hire is available, while the area is popular for golfing and horse riding. Castries City is 10 km from Starfish St Lucia - All Inclusive, while Sainte-Luce is 44 km from the property. St Lucia Hewanorra Airport is 65 km away.
Located adjacent to the marina in Gros Islet, Saint Lucia, The HarborClub is directly on the water and has views of the sea and the yachts in the marina. The HarborClub boasts four restaurants, four bars, a large multilevel freeform pool with hot tub, a spa, and a gym . Each room at this resort is air conditioned and features a flat-screen TV. Suites have a separate seating area where you can relax. Views of Pigeon Island, the pool and the city are featured in certain rooms. All rooms have a private bathroom fitted with a shower. Extras include bathrobes and slippers. There is a 24-hour front desk, a cash machine, conference facilities, and shops at the property. The resort also offers car hire, a tour desk and all concierge services. Free daily shuttle to Pigeon Island available at the property.
Set in Gros Islet, 2.2 km from Reduit Beach, Royalton Saint Lucia Resort & Spa - All inclusive offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness centre. Boasting a kids' club, this property also provides guests with a water park. The accommodation provides a 24-hour front desk, room service and currency exchange for guests. All guest rooms come with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, a coffee machine, a hot tub, a hairdryer and a desk. Featuring a private bathroom with a shower and free toiletries, rooms at the resort also have free WiFi. All units feature a wardrobe. A buffet breakfast is available every morning at Royalton St. Lucia. The accommodation offers a children's playground. Guests can enjoy playing tennis or sing karaoke, or take advantage of the business centre.
Located in beautiful grounds overlooking Pitons Bay, Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort offers luxurious accommodation with views of the surrounding valley. Set on Sugar Beach, it features a spa, outdoor pool and 3 restaurants. The Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort offers attractive rooms and villas with private plunge pools or swimming pools. All accommodation has a flat-screen TV, an iPod docking station, a coffee maker and a fridge. All rooms come with complimentary Piton beer, soda and water . The on-site spa is set amongst the plantation’s lush gardens and next to a stream. It features a hot tub and a Temazcal outdoor sauna. Treatments include wraps, massage and facials. You can enjoy breakfast in the Terrace restaurant, while the stylish Great Room offers gourmet cuisine for dinner and the Bayside Restaurant serves St Lucian dishes throughout the day. There are 3 chic bars, including a rum bar. Gros Piton and Petit Piton are within 3 km of the resort. Soufriere is a 10-minute drive away, while Hewanorre Airport is less than 30 km from the resort.
One of our top picks in Gros Islet.Located in Gros Islet, 2.1 km from Reduit Beach, Hideaway at Royalton Saint Lucia - All inclusive - Adults Only provides accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness centre. Among the various facilities of this property are a bar, a garden and a tennis court. The accommodation offers a 24-hour front desk, room service and currency exchange for guests. Guest rooms at the resort include air conditioning and a wardrobe. Guests at Hideaway St. Lucia can enjoy a buffet breakfast. The accommodation offers a terrace.
Splash at Coconut Bay Beach Resort and Spa features a fitness centre, bar, a garden and private beach area in Vieux Fort. Featuring a 24-hour front desk, this property also welcomes guests with a restaurant, a water park and an outdoor pool. There is a terrace and guests can make use of free WiFi and free private parking. The units come with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, a coffee machine, a shower, a hairdryer and a desk. At the resort all rooms come with a wardrobe and a private bathroom. Splash at Coconut Bay Beach Resort and Spa offers a hot tub.
Located on the north shore of St. Lucia, Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort overlooks the crystal-clear Caribbean Sea and boasts landscaped gardens and waterfalls, 6 outdoor pools and a luxury spa. The Windjammer’s air-conditioned rooms and villas feature free high-speed wired internet, cable TV, a mini-fridge and tea/coffee making facilities. Bathrooms include hair dryers and free toiletries. Some of the fully equipped villas offer a private pool. The Serenity spa features a private pool area, steam room and treatment room overlooking tropical gardens. Treatments include aromatherapy, massages, body wraps and facials. The resort also has a hot tub and a gym. Casual and formal à la carte dining are offered at this St. Lucia villa resort. There are 5 restaurants and 3 bars to choose from. The Windjammer’s Jacquot Fun Club offers supervised activities and theme nights for children from 4 to 12 years old. Teenagers can enjoy bonfire nights, karaoke and watersports in the Teen Club.
Featuring a prime location in Rodney Bay, this resort boasts colonial style architecture and direct access to scenic Reduit Beach. It offers rooms with balconies overlooking the landscaped pool garden. Bay Gardens Beach Resort has a petal-shaped, lagoon-style pool featuring a whirlpool island. You can also book a massage on the seafront at the La Mer Spa. The air-conditioned rooms at this luxury resort incorporate traditional Caribbean elements such as ceiling fans and timbered verandas. Each is equipped with cable TV and a DVD player. Free Wi-Fi is provided in rooms and public areas. Dining options include the Trios Caribbean Fusion Restaurant and the Hi Tide Beachside Restaurant, which serves an all-day menu. Drinks are available from 3 different bars. Bay Gardens Beach Resort has a tour desk, and on-site activities include a fully equipped gym and various water sports on the beach. There is a playground and games room for children, and babysitting services can be arranged on request. The Bay Gardens is just 8 km from George FL Charles Airport and offers free parking. It is adjacent to a number of restaurants and is a short walk from Treasure Bay Casino, the only casino on the island.
PLACES TO VISIT & THINGS TO DO IN ST. LUCIA
Crowned by the towering twin volcanic peaks of the Pitons, St. Lucia is the beauty queen of the Caribbean. Crescent-shaped beaches, small fishing villages, rainforests, reefs, waterfalls, geothermal attractions, and lush mountains are just some of St. Lucia's many attractions. Castries, the island's capital and cruise ship port, offers a colorful slice of St. Lucian life at its lively market, as well as some fascinating historic landmarks. At Morne Fortune and Pigeon Island National Park, you can learn about the history of the island's many battles between the French and English, who fought savagely for its possession. Adventure seekers will find plenty of things to do on St. Lucia. Ziplining, climbing the Pitons, hiking the many marked nature trails, horseback riding, sightseeing cruises, and exploring the island's active volcano are popular island activities. Diving is excellent on the west side of St. Lucia, with a rich diversity of corals, sponges, and reef fish. After all the action, you can relax under rustling palms on St. Lucia's golden sands or soak in the island's healing hot springs.
Part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Pitons Management Area, the Pitons are St. Lucia's twin towering peaks and prime topographic features. These distinctive peaks soar out of the sea to great heights. The Gros Piton (large piton) to the south is 798 meters high, and the Petit Piton (small piton) is 750 meters high. Formed by volcanic activity about 200,000 to 300,000 years ago, both the Pitons are considered difficult climbs. If you're a diver, you can explore them as underwater cliffs. However, most visitors simply view them for their scenic beauty. The colorful fishing village of Soufriere affords one of the best vistas of the twin peaks, and some hotels also boast breathtaking views of them, including the luxurious Anse Chastanet and adults-only Jade Mountain Resort, one of the best luxury all - inclusive resorts in the Caribbean.
Marigot Bay, arguably the most beautiful bay on St. Lucia, is best viewed from a vista point on the road between the main Caribbean coastal route and the bay itself. Lush hillsides plunge to the pretty palm-fringed beach, and yachts bob on the bay's blue waters. The harbor is so deep and sheltered that the British fleet supposedly hid here from the French by covering their masts with palm fronds. Marigot Bay was also the setting for the 1967 film Doctor Doolittle, a claim to fame that has left a permanent mark on the names of some of the local establishments. Water shuttles ferry visitors across the bay to hotels on the opposite side. If you want to base yourself here, the luxury Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina has lovely views of yachts bristling in the bay amid the green hills.
Anse Chastanet coral reef harbors a treasure trove of sea life across varying depths. On a plateau of two to eight meters, divers can see colored sponges, soft corals, boulder coral, and brain corals. Frogfish inhabit a large nearby cavern, and divers may spot many varieties of fish in the coral gardens, including parrotfish, goatfish, wrasse, chromis, and barracudas. The edge of the plateau is a wall that drops 46 meters to a lace coral ecosystem inhabited by lobsters, crabs, and eels. Plate coral starts below 30 meters. Above the surface, Anse Chastanet is a sheltered beach with beautiful views of the Pitons. About a ten-minute walk from here, Anse Mamin is less crowded with a lovely secluded feel and great snorkeling.
Winding through tropical forest in St. Lucia's World Heritage-listed Pitons Management Area, the Tet Paul Nature Trail offers some of the most spectacular views in southern St. Lucia. On a clear day, hikers can see all the way to Martinique and St. Vincent. The hike takes about 45 minutes and is rated easy to moderate. Along the gentle trail, you can learn about medicinal plants and trees, sample exotic tropical fruits, and discover the traditional Amerindian art of cassava production. The highlight is the "stairway to heaven," steps leading up to a 360-degree panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.
The colorful fishing village of Soufrière is wrapped around a beautiful bay and is best seen from an overlook on the main road to Vieux Fort. The town was founded in about 1745, and its most prominent features are the town square, home to the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the many buildings with filigreed balconies and tin roofs. The town square was the site of the guillotine erected during the French Revolution in 1780. Many plantation owners and their families were executed here. The wharf, a block away from the town square, is the stopping point of several sightseeing cruises. The 1989 courthouse next to the wharf has been converted into a restaurant with a batik shop on the second floor. Soufrière's main claim to fame is that Josephine, the wife of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, was born here in 1763.
Overlooking Soufriere Bay, Morne Coubaril Estate is a popular stop on the tourist circuit. The estate is an elegant working plantation growing cocoa, coconuts, and manioc. Ziplining in view of the Pitons is the most adventurous activity on offer, but you can also enjoy guided tours of the plantation, its tropical gardens, and a replica of a traditional village. Guides demonstrate the processing of coconut for food products and show how sugar cane syrup, cocoa, coffee, and manioc are produced. After the tour, you can enjoy Creole food at the plantation's restaurant. Plantation tours on horseback are also available.
Named for the sulfur once mined at this site, Mount Soufriere (also known as Sulphur Springs Park) is the most active geothermal area in the Lesser Antilles. A road traverses the edge of the 274-meter crater making this one of the world's rare "drive-through" volcanoes. Though the last major volcanic eruption in St. Lucia occurred about 40,000 years ago, this volcanic pit continues to vent sulfur into the air and heat pools of water above boiling. You can view the bubbling pools and hissing fumaroles from observation platforms and soak in some nearby therapeutic springs.
The Diamond Falls section of the Soufrière Estate offers three popular attractions: well-conceived gardens, a beautiful waterfall colored by mineral deposits, and healing mineral hot spring baths originally built for the troops of King Louis the XVI of France. The gardens were planted among coconut, cocoa, mahogany, and red cedar trees, with tropical flowers and shrubs from around the world. Within the gardens are educational displays of local fruits & vegetables such as christophine, soursop, and dasheen. For a small fee, you can also use the soothing outside pools or private bathhouses. Another attraction of this historic estate is the old mill and waterwheel, where visiting groups are served a Caribbean buffet.
Across from Rodney Bay, Pigeon Island National Park is one of St. Lucia's most important historic attractions. Strategic lookouts on the island allowed the British to monitor the movements of French troops in Martinique during their struggle for control of St. Lucia. Today, a causeway connects the island to the mainland, and you can hike up to the lookout point and enjoy panoramic views of St. Lucia's northwest coast. Also on the island are the ruins of the military buildings used during battles between the French and English, an interpretation center describing the island's fascinating history, a small restaurant, and two white-sand beaches.
On the Gros Islet northern end of St. Lucia, Rodney Bay is St. Lucia's tourist magnet with its picturesque crescent-shaped beach and many hotels, restaurants, and shops. Enclosed to the north by Pigeon Island National Park and to the south by Labrelotte Point, this sheltered bay is a popular spot for mooring. The Rodney Bay Marina is one of the best equipped in the eastern Caribbean with many watersports on offer. Impressive homes dot the hills surrounding the bay, and St. Lucia's biggest shopping mall is in the area. Nearby Reduit Beach is one of St. Lucia's most popular stretches of glittering white sand.
Accessed at Edmund, above Soufriere, the Enbas Saut waterfall trail lies on the lush slopes of Mount Gimie, St. Lucia's highest mountain. The well-maintained trail circles through dense rainforest to a waterfall, which has eroded its way into volcanic rock. The trail takes about two hours 30 minutes and requires suitable hiking shoes. Be prepared to work your calves by walking up and down many steep steps. Along the way, you might spot birds such as the St. Lucia parrot, St. Lucia oriole, Semper's warbler, and St. Lucia wren, and the park also harbors exotic plants, such as the Blue Mahoe and Honduras mahogany. Most visitors access the trail in four-wheel-drive safari vehicles along a rough and rocky road that also affords one of the best vistas of the Pitons.
From 1803 to 1844, the British made St. Lucia's capital, Castries, a major naval port and built fortifications on Morne Fortuné, the mountain overlooking the harbor. It was here that some of the most brutal battles between the French and English took place. Today, Morne Fortuné, meaning "Hill of Good Luck" still offers stunning views of Castries and the harbor from its scenic overlook. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Martinique. The original fortifications still stand, and you can visit a monument as well as old military buildings and cannons. The northern side of Morne Fortuné is home to Government House, the official residence of St. Lucia's Governor General, set amid beautifully landscaped private gardens.
The colorful Castries market, at the easternmost point of Castries harbor, is a great place to experience a slice of local life on St. Lucia. Merchandise ranges from handicrafts to locally grown fruits and vegetables. Shoppers can buy batiks, woodcarvings, gift baskets of spices, banana ketchups and oils, hand-made brooms, hot-pepper sauces, and the usual souvenirs. While the market is open every day, the most active day is Saturday.
Named after St. Lucia's Nobel Laureate, Derek Walcott Square is a great starting point for a walking tour of the capital, Castries. Its most famous landmark is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The cathedral exemplifies a Victorian variation on a Romanesque design and features an Italianate-style clock tower centered on the square. Opposite the cathedral sits the restored public library and a series of brightly painted gingerbread colonial buildings with verandahs overhanging the sidewalk.
WHERE TO EAT IN ST. LUCIA
If you're staying in the Soufrière area, head north to nearby Anse la Raye, a fishing village that hosts a fun Friday night fish fry. It's not as crowded or boisterous as Gros Islet's weekly jump-up, but it's lively enough to give a taste of island "liming," or hanging out with friends at the end of the workweek. Order your fish of choice, throw back some cold beers, and glimpse a slice of laid-back fishing-village life.
Set on the grounds of a cacao plantation turned hotel, Boucan's open-air restaurant is just one more fine-dining option with impressive views, in this case, St. Lucia’s verdant hills and Petit Piton. But the difference between Boucan and the others is that Boucan offers a menu informed by its immediate surroundings, throwing a hint of cacao into many of the dishes. Chocolate balsamic vinegar, cacao butter dip, chocolate onion soup—a meal here is a unique experience. Dessert, of course, is divine; opt for the molten chocolate cake. For more insight, ask for a walking tour around the plantation's cacao groves. Better yet, sign up to take part in a tree-to-bar chocolate-making experience.
Dasheene, the restaurant in the award-winning Ladera Resort, is a magical place unlike any other on the island. The open dining room, overlooking the sea, is so close to the Pitons that you feel as if you could reach out and touch the peaks. The menu, which focuses on ingredients sourced from local farms and plantations, puts a creative spin on classic St. Lucian cuisine, including plantain gratin with a coconut rum sauce, and roast conch. The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch as well, but there's no beating the romantic atmosphere and sunset views at dinner, which make a meal here well worth the high price.
Find great St. Lucian soul food right in the heart of Gros Islet at a traditional pastel-colored house turned restaurant. Generous meals—pork chops, fresh fish, lamb chops, curried goat, corn, rice and peas—are cooked and grilled outdoors and served up at picnic tables in front or on a side garden terrace. The food is plated as artfully as in more upscale establishments. Don't skip the rum cocktails or the homemade dessert of the day. The place gets busy quickly, so arrive early for both lunch and dinner service—particularly on Friday nights when Gros Islet fills up for its weekly fish fry.
The Hardest Hard is a quintessential St. Lucian food stop. Set under an almond tree off La Toc Road, this restaurant, with a zinc roof and a blue and yellow exterior that matches the Piton beer bottle, has a windowless interior that may put you off—until you notice the crowds of locals who flock here at lunchtime. Order from the changing menu of home-cooked dishes like fish Creole, goat peleau, grilled pork chops, pigtail bouillon, and pumpkin soup, all served with a healthy dose of side dishes, including rice and plantains. Fresh juices are available daily, as are desserts. The atmosphere is friendly and lively, and you'll likely be so full you'll need a nap afterward.
After its previous Vigie location was destroyed by fire, Jacques rose from the ashes at a striking waterfront perch at the entrance of Rodney Bay Marina, a bit removed from the bustle of the other restaurants and bars. As popular as before, the upscale but unpretentious establishment serves Mediterranean and French dishes with a distinctive Caribbean influence to the likes of the prime minister and other high-ranking officials. Chef Jacques offers specialties like pan-seared scallops and red snapper. The veranda setting is particularly romantic at night.
Around for over 10 years, this small "ital" (vegetarian) and vegan spot dishes out flavorful, affordable, and creative lunches in the one-table interior of a green house in Soufrière's downtown. Favorites include the house pizza, a pie with whole-wheat crust topped with lentils, cabbage, pumpkin, and cheese. Other options include salads, veggie burgers, empanadas, smoothies, fresh juices, and a special cocoa tea. The atmosphere is about as casual as it gets, with a TV loudly blasting as locals stop by for a bite and to hang out.
Jambe de Bois is an unpretentious food escape set idyllically in Pigeon Island National Park. The café—made of stone, driftwood, and thatch—serves up a beach view, an island atmosphere, and a simple menu that will keep you happy for hours. Sit on the deck at one of the picnic tables, and snack on sandwiches, salads, or local dishes like rotis, curries, or fish fillet with rice and peas at lunch and dinner. Come for happy hour or join the locals for live jazz on weekend evenings. The local art on display inside is for sale.
Mama Tilly’s has a way with grilled food, a knack that has made it a longtime favorite in Laborie. (This little fishing village has retained its charm despite widespread tourism in the region.) The main courses—like grilled chicken, pork, mahi-mahi, lobster, conch (a local specialty), or other fresh catch of the day—are complemented by plentiful sides of plantains, rice, or potato salad. Wash it all down with the potent house rum punch. Everything's served family style on wooden tables under the zinc-roofed porch or indoors. The atmosphere is chatty and friendly as folks come in and out to pick up their orders.
After years at Ladera's Dasheene Restaurant, where he won awards and was recognized as a leader of the island's sustainable food movement, chef Orlando Satchell opened his own smaller restaurant on the coast. Presentation and flavor inform Satchell's culinary creations, including his versions of island pepper pot and creole kingfish. Innovative salads like saltfish with christophene and papaya provide lighter options. Dinners are fixed four- to five-course menus, and lunches are available as well. Orlando's is a welcome addition to the ever-evolving St. Lucian gourmet dining scene.
Built on a deck overlooking the Vigie marina, The Coal Pot is a local favorite that makes a breezy, delightful spot for a lunch or dinner with a view. Named after the traditional methods of island cooking, the restaurant specializes in some of the best seafood on the island, including St. Lucian crab back and traditional saltfish with green fig (banana), as well as steaks, poultry, salads, and soups. Weekday lunches have a fixed three-course option. Reserve ahead for a bayside table: At night, the setting couldn't be more romantic.
WHERE TO SHOP IN ST. LUCIA
St. Lucia is world-renowned for its natural beauty, but the Caribbean island also boasts a gorgeous selection of art galleries and boutiques that are perfect for infusing your wardrobe with a chic dose of St. Lucian style. Of course, this plentiful array of artisanal chic—dispersed in corner shops and villages around the island—can be enough to intimidate the overwhelmed traveler. To that end, we've rounded up the 10 best places to go shopping in St. Lucia, so you don't have to buy all your souvenirs at the airport.
Established in 1891, this open-air market in the St. Lucian capital features hundreds of vendors, selling everything from local coffee and cocoa sticks to straw bags and calabash bowls. The market closes at 6 p.m., though you will want to arrive early to skip the heat and the crowds. Afterwards, hike up the Morne Fortune to appreciate the glorious ridge-top view of the capital below.
If you're looking for high-fashion styles to show off on the beach, check out the seaside gift shop at Sugar Beach. A word of warning: The prices at this Viceroy Resort are on the steeper side, though the labels are top-notch. The gift shop at nearby Ladera Resort is another chic option for travelers looking for a festive coverup or sun hat to match the tropical ambiance of the island.
Sea Island Cotton Shop is the island's largest duty-free souvenir shop. There are two locations: one in Bay Walk Mall in Rodney Bay, and the other in La Place Carenage in Castries. For those in search of the perfect souvenir, Sea Island Cotton Shop has all the classic items, including rum, soap, and cocoa. Be sure to stock up before you return home.
St. Lucia is a chocolate lover's dream destination. The best way to experience the process and history behind this home-grown delicacy is via a Tree to Bar experience with Boucan by Hotel Chocolat. Not only will you get to tour the hotel's cocoa estate, you will also get to create your very own chocolate bar. After you've labored over this yummy treat, you can buy many more (that weren't handmade by you) for friends back home.
This pastel-hued establishment in Castries is both a restaurant and an art gallery. Plan to head their early in the evening to check out the gorgeous pottery and textiles on display (and for sale)—and stick around for an elegant dinner of fresh seafood and specialty cocktails.
Located in the 214-year-old Howelton Estate, the Batik boutique opened in 1979 and has been delivering colorful, handmade Batik items ever since. There's no better way to commemorate a Caribbean vacation than with a print that will give off the energy and spirit of the tropics whenever (and wherever) you wear it.
Choiseul Art Gallery is a must-visit for collectors and artistically-inclined travelers, though you don't need to be fluent in the art world to enjoy the quality and uniqueness of the products. From prints and oil paintings to local crafts and greeting cards, there are many hidden gems just waiting to be discovered within the gallery's walls. As there's so much to see, allocate up to an hour of browsing time.
If you're looking for a shop that will have a little bit of everything (including St. Lucian rum), then the Image Tree is your best bet. Located on Bridge Street in Soufriere, this purveyor of artwork and souvenirs has you covered.
The aptly named Zaka Art Cafe in Soufriere is a must-visit for artisanal coffee and artistic crafts. The Zaka Masks—carved from hard wood and painted in a variety of colors and expressions—are the perfect (and instantly recognizable) gift to hang on your wall back home.