ST LUCIA IN FOUR DAYS!
If you have a trip to St. Lucia lined up, but you’re worried because you only have a few days to get things done fear not because it certainly is possible to see a lot in four days! We planned our getaway to St. Lucia as an extension of our trip to the Caribbean, because we figured why travel all the way to the Caribbean from Zambia and not use the opportunity to see a few islands. Let me just tell you it was worth it. because my husband and I both love travel and the opportunity was too good to miss!
You might think, is four days really enough time to see St. Lucia? The answer is dependant on your needs. For us it was because we had listed out everything we wanted to see and managed to do it. Perhaps the only hindrance was that we didn’t have as much time to explore this beautiful island at a slower pace, and secondly if we really liked a food or drinking spot, we couldn’t go back again because we had an itinerary of things to see.
At this point I have to give a massive shout out to ‘While I’m still Young’s’ St. Lucia blog because it really gave me a good insight into what the top attractions on the island are and how to book tours etc without being ripped off! Let it be known from the beginning that St. Lucia is a fairly expensive island (it was the most expensive for us out of Barbados and Antigua). It attracts a whole lot of tourists to their small island and the tourism sector admirably does the most to bring in tourists and make money from this sector.
From the onset we could tell that St Lucia’s landscape was completely different to Barbados which was fantastic. One of my favourite parts of travel is seeing different countries and I’d always said that if I was to ever visit the Caribbean, it would be to island hop for a true Caribbean experience. St Lucia is extremely hilly and green – in December when we visited anyway because it was just after rainy season and still rained a bit whilst we were there. It did not ruin the fun one bit thankfully!
LOCATION AND GETTING TO ST LUCIA:
After our delightful Barbados trip, we flew straight from Bridgetown into Castries. The flight from Barbados to St Lucia is a short and sweet 45mins and we used Liat airlines, which is one of the local inter island flight carriers. We booked a multi-way trip using Expedia, so it was all figured out for us, and I loved that our flight arrived into St Lucia early in the morning for us to enjoy our limited days on the island.
St Lucia is an eastern Caribbean island and is small in size. What it lacks in size is more than made up for in personality and friendly people! There are two airports on the island, one for international flights and one for flights coming in from the Caribbean. Because we were flying in from Barbados we flew into the domestic airport and I must say it was a welcoming reception. It is extremely rare to find nice immigration officers, but we did in St Lucia!
The best time to visit the island is April – June, and peak period is December to April. We went in what is classed as peak period and I would say the high prices we found in accommodation and car hire for example, definitely reflected that!
VISA INFO & CURRENCY:
Zambian passport holders do not require a tourist visa to visit St. Lucia which is happy news! Actually, a lot of islands in the Caribbean are visa free which is a massive pull for a Zambian to visit! British passport holders also do not require a tourist visa.
Like I mentioned already in my Barbados blog, flights from Zambia to St. Lucia will more than likely take you through an American port, so be sure to find out via your local American embassy if you need a transit visa before you book those flights!
St. Lucia uses Eastern Caribbean dollar. Visa card payments are widely accepted, and this is what we used majority of the time. I would recommend carrying some US dollars with you to pay for tours especially, but make sure you also have Eastern Caribbean Dollars on you, because local vendors might rip you off on the exchange rate if you want to purchase using USD.
WHERE TO STAY:
I already noted that St Lucia is fairly expensive and accommodation prices will reflect that, especially if you want something memorable for a special occasion, or just because! You guys already know I don’t do horrible accommodation and we weren’t going to fly across the world to stay in the pits haha! We spent more than what we paid for our Barbados 6-night stay for our 4-night stay in St. Lucia just to give you an idea!
As usual, Expedia, booking.com, Airbnb were my go-to options for looking up accommodation and best believe me when I say I scoured them all trying to find a good deal! At one point I was depressed and regretted us booking flight tickets because the accommodation prices were a lot! Cue me pouring myself another glass of vino, taking a break and getting back to it! And thankfully I found the beautiful Marigot Bay Resort and Marina located in the picturesque Marigot Bay area on the Western coast of the island. It was stunning on pictures and just as we both imagined in real life! It has gorgeous views over the marina housing many a sailboat with extremely wonderful staff.
If you do want to do St. Lucia on a budget there are definitely options for cheaper accommodation types, but they just won’t be that glamorous. I was also impressed with the amount of selections of budget accommodation on Airbnb.
The most popular parts of the island that people tend to stay in are the North for the traveller who enjoys the hustle and bustle and wants to party and see the capital city Castries. There is a lot of nightlife happening in this area with street parties etc. I shall tell you all about the legendary Friday night street party and other activities in the North later on.
If you want a peaceful trip soaking up the sun rays on the beach, then the Southern part of the island could be for you. The area is dotted around with beautiful and idyllic all-inclusive resorts that have everything you could ever wish for. I will give this disclaimer though, after the stunning beaches we saw in Barbados, the ones in St. Lucia didn’t match up! And it worked out well for us staying at the Marigot Bay Resort and Marina with no beaches directly on their premises because we didn’t feel like we missed out on anything. I was much happier sipping numerous G&T’s at their gorgeous swim up bar than I would have been on the beach.
ACTIVIES & ATTRACTIONS:
This island has something for every kind of traveller, from beach bumming to hiking, to chocolate tasting to cooking classes. Fun fact for those who have lived in the UK or know the British supermarket Sainsbury’s – St Lucia produces a lot of delicious bananas on their banana plantations dating back to the days of slavery, and supply Sainsbury’s with their bananas. I love that the Lucians have reclaimed that part of their fraught history and made a booming tourist economy out of it. In most places you visit, you can try banana ANYTHING; including rum made out of banana, banana ketchup and even banana liquor. Which was yummy by the way!
If you only have three or four days, I recommend hiring a car for at least part of your trip to get around quicker and cram in more. We did this for a couple of days and that is how we managed to see and eat at different places. The season will reflect the car hire prices; we paid $100 per day for 2 days and booked through out hotel. For activities, I recommend the following below:
A stunning lookout point on the Northern side of the island that was used as a look out point for the British during the war with the French. The British colonialists eventually won, and the French retreated to Martinique. On a good day when the skies are clear, you will be able to see Martinique in the distance.
To get to the beautiful views you have to do a 15minute hike depending on your fitness levels and how many beers you’ve had before! Hehe, please note that it is not advisable to have a couple of Piton beers before doing the walk in the sun. I did survive but it hurt a bit!
Once you leave the hike, the beach is in close proximity so have a dip and a rum punch to cool off! Also, just right outside Pigeon Island National park is another public beach with informal looking bars and restaurants about that you can get your fill at! Entry into the national park is $10 for international visitors.
This quaint town on the West Coast, which was once the capital city of the island is not to be missed. We passed through the town, had a bit of a walk about and had a delicious lunch here as part of our day tour to the sulphur springs and waterfalls. If we had more time, I definitely could have spent a couple of hours in the town. It is so pretty with colourful shops and it is right on the ocean front as well.
A lot of people choose to stay in this area, and a lot of the exclusive high-end resorts are in and around Soufriere. The town hosts the magnificent Pitons, which are two magnificent mountainous volcanic plugs, which is always a major tourist pull. If you’ve ever seen any St Lucia pictures, a lot of them will have the twin mountains as a background. Just outside of Soufriere town are many waterfalls dotted around in this rainforest area. A 10-minute drive out of Soufriere is also where the Sulphur springs are located. More on the Sulphur springs coming up later!
Gros Islet Street Party:
Let me just tell you first that this was a TOTAL vibe. Quite honestly the best street party I have attended in my life thus far. Lucians love to party and boy do they do it well! This street party is on the Northern side of the island in Gros Islet, and most tour companies offer it as a tour in a group, or you can go it alone like we did. I would 100% recommend doing it without a group if you are comfortable to do so. It is very safe and there is police presence too just for extra comfort. That way no one dictates what time you have to leave. I would have been one of those people complaining that it is too soon to leave the party! Get there at 7.30pm to bask in everything!
We had hired a car, so we drove from Marigot Bay to Gros Islet and found the directions easy to follow using google maps. But boy the drive was long and scary in bits through the long winding mountains after dark. Next time I would probably get a cab there and back despite the high cost!
Imagine a street party with soca, reggae and dancehall music blasting from speakers and bars dotted along the sides as well as stalls outside. It was really so much fun! Both my husband I didn’t notice the time going, and we met some cool people the same evening to have a good laugh with.
If you are hungry, there are stalls selling local Lucian cuisine. On our way out we had kidney skewers with chilli sauce and some fried bread. It was so good!
Sulphur Springs & Waterfall:
Because of our limited time on the island, we decided to do a day tour of these two activities. We did not book through our hotel because they charged exorbitant rates and I don’t enjoy being ripped off! We met a local Lucian tour guide called Jojo at the Gros Islet Street Party (remember I told you how friendly and lovely the Lucians are), and we swapped numbers!
We finally decided on the speed boat half day tour with his guided expertise, and it cost us $125 each compared to what would have been triple that booking through our hotel! For the $125 charge, we were picked up right from the Marigot Bay Marina, had quick entry into both attractions, had a delicious lunch in Soufriere and had lots of cold beverages to keep us cool! A bonus was also stopping at Sugar Beach to do some snorkelling and or just take a dip in the ocean.
The sulphur springs are so famous and popular that a visit to the island is not complete without a dip in their famous sulphur spring mud baths. It is so cool because it is the only drive in volcano in the world! The mud bath and sulphur springs are said to have anti-aging qualities (how cool – who doesn’t want to look younger?!), and it is also known as a healing for certain skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
After our time of the sulphur hot springs we were then taken to a beautiful waterfall to rinse off. I must say that the rainforest part of St. Lucia is extremely stunning!
Find Jojo’s St Lucian adventures through his Instagram handle: @jojosstlucia.
Marigot Bay Marina:
If you want to spend a day looking at beautiful sail boats in the marina with gorgeous mountain views, then spend a day at Marigot Bay. Whilst there isn’t a lot to do here, you can enjoy a few cocktails and some food overlooking the Bay. We did this a couple of times and it is amazing how time just passes by!
EAT AND DRINK:
There are numerous good restaurants in St. Lucia as we discovered so it is down to your taste buds to choose what to eat! My advice would be to get out of your all-inclusive resort even once if you can explore and try local bites. We would have done a lot more of this like we did in Barbados, had time allowed. The local Lucian food is delicious and has something for everyone. In our 4 days on the island, I must say we managed to get a lot of eating in!
Make sure you try the Piton beer which is their local beer and is absolutely delicious! Tasted different to what I usually go for in a beer, but it is light and goes down so well with the Lucian heat. Also – you have to try their locally made Chairman’s Reserve rum. I thoroughly enjoyed the mixture with a dash of ginger ale and lime, on the rocks. And a trip to the Caribbean would not be complete without trying rum punch. And what I like is that every Caribbean island we visited had its own personal twist to rum punch because of course the rum and ingredients will vary.
Barnacles – This cute little spot in the corner of the Pidgeon island national park was a beautiful treat. After our hike we were so hungry and thirsty (for beer and or a cocktail OF COURSE) so we wanted to find the first place we saw. I had seen a sign for the restaurant, and I was a bit sceptical because usually eateries in tourist areas can be crap. But Barnacles far exceeded our expectations and we had a delicious meal of chicken roti and seafood paella.
This restaurant is run by a Lucian woman and her French husband. It is cute, cosy and they are extremely welcoming. So glad we stumbled upon it! Also – if you are extremely hot and sweaty and just want to head to the beach for a dip and to relax on your sun lounger, just know you can order both food and drinks from Barnacles at the beachside.
The Coal Pot – If you want to eat some of the most delicious food you’ve ever eaten, then the Coal Pot should be high up on your list of eateries to visit. Every member of staff at the Marigot Bay Resort and Marina recommended it to us, so we had to go! It was our number one eating experience whilst on St. Lucia.
We got a cute table overlooking the ocean (it was so close that if I dropped my cutlery it would go into the ocean)! To start my husband and I both had the French onion soup which was heavenly! And then for mains I had the lamb chops and the hubby had the pork. The jus that the lamb was adorned in was delicious and the whole meal was wolfed down….zero leftovers!
One of the most charming things about the restaurant is that they have a handwritten menu and it is so intimate and romantic. The staff also know their menu inside out and have great recommendations for you if you need it.
Masala Bay – If you are looking for delicious Indian food, then look no further than Masala Bay restaurant. Especially if you are staying at Marigot Bay, because this is one of the restaurants in the vicinity. Just thank the heavens that it is actually delicious haha! We opted for dinner here on our first night because we did not want to eat in any of the hotel restaurants. A quick 2-minute walk from our room and we were there basking in the views over the ocean as we enjoyed a bottle of red wine and perused our menu.
We had veggie samosas to start, and for the main meal we had a chicken curry in a garlic, ginger red sauce and an okra veggie curry as well as vegetable fried rice AND garlic butter naan bread. To say that we were stuffed is an understatement! Well worth every feeling of discomfort for this delicious meal!
Rum Cave at Marigot Bay Resort & Marina – We had a few delicious meals at the various hotel restaurants during our stay, but our personal highlight was the night before we left at their Rum Cave Restaurant. It is housed in what looks like a cellar and is super cute. Head here if you love tapas and light bites and a good atmosphere! All the tapas we had was heavenly and we ordered loads! If you are interested in rum tasting, you can do that here too.
There are so many activities to get your teeth stuck into in St. Lucia. This was our personal highlights. Do your research because the island also offers chocolate tours/walks at Boucan by Hotel Chocolat, there are cooking classes on the island and you can also hike the very famous Pitons. Seeing them is a marvel in itself, but if you are adventurous why not hike up to the top for panoramic views of the island. I will certainly do it next time I’m in St. Lucia.
Hope you found this blog useful and informative and thank you for reading.