Saint Lucia, made up of 238 square miles and located in the West Indies, is an island that consists of 167,000 of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. St. Lucia’s closest neighbor is Martinique, 21 miles north of the island and St. Vincent 24 miles to the south. The French and British fought endlessly for possession of St. Lucia, as it changed hand 14 times between the two. English is the number one spoken language and french based creole. This is the first island I’ve ever been to where I did not feel obligated to pay people to leave me alone, there was no haggling and no real feeling of being taken advantage of or hustled.
I stayed at La Haut Resort in Soufriere for $420 for four nights, five days (for two people!) and cannot express how much I loved it here. It was unlike any place I’ve ever been. You need to go experience it for yourself. Here are 6 things you should absolutely do while in St. Lucia.
1. Meet The Locals
Traveling into a foreign place may be uncomfortable for you and may cause you to be a bit more cautious or perhaps you’re an introvert. I will tell you that I would not have done half the things I did in St. Lucia if it wasn’t for the locals I met. I suggest forcing yourself to strike up conversations even if it’s hard for you to do. You will be glad you did in the long run.
I’m naturally outgoing and love meeting new people. I was traveling with my mother who was a bit more cautious than I, since this was her first time out of the country in many years. However, when she was much younger, she traveled across the country at the age of 16 by herself and used to travel and scale rocks in Switzerland. Age changes you and she insists it changed after she had kids, but I told her she was in good hands.
As soon as we stepped off the plane, we met the owner of a #1 taxi company in Saint Lucia (ask for David!). We befriended each other right away and exchanged info. We then used him to take us around the island while we were there for the next five days. He showed us things we would have never seen had we not met him. And then of course, I asked him 1,000 questions every time we saw him about the island, what it was like to live there, so on and so forth.
Now we have friends there and know we will be taken care of if I ever decide to go back.
2. Take a boat taxi to Sugar Beach, Anse Chastanet Beach, and Marigot Bay Beach
All beaches in Saint Lucia are public. However, getting to them can be a bit tricky.
Sugar beach is located at the Viceroy, and the public part of the beach is reserved for non guests in the very corner. Snorkeling, cheap rum punch and free beach chairs are there for your pleasure.
Anse Chastanet, a volcanic sand beach, is located in a sheltered cove at the bottom of the Anse Chastanet resort. You will find a beach bar and restaurant and some of the best snorkeling reefs, known by divers around the world, are a stone’s throw away. But if lounging under the thatched huts is more your thing, be ready to pay $100 if you are not a guest at the resort.
Marigot Bay beach is located in the mid western coast of Saint Lucia. The best way to get there is by boat. Known for its abundance of boats and catamarans, you can often see shots of the picturesque bay in aerial shots in movies.
3. Explore Downtown Soufriere
After meeting another local at the Anse Chastanet beach, we learned that he owned a water taxi company who we used to take us to each of the beaches mentioned above. Davel took us downtown Soufriere and said “what’s up” to almost every person we passed. He took us up and down streets while telling us and showing us the history of the town. The town is full of filigreed balconies and tin roofs covered the wide variety of colorful homes. We explored backyards (apparently this isn’t considered rude or trespassing), we walked through alleyways and then hit the best place to eat in town where I was introduced to the “local” food.
4. Saturday Morning Farmer’s Market in Soufriere
Get here early. The sellers arrive by 4am and the mornings catch of fish and meat will be gone before 10am. It was an early morning for us as we arrived at 6am. We didn’t want to miss the hype. Local sellers laid blankets on the ground and covered it with their veggies harvested from small gardens in their back yards. Find everything from fresh eggs to turnips to carrots to coconut water to sweet breads and everything in between. You’ll find the majority of the buyers in the back where we found men with machetes divvying up the day’s slaughter. That was the hottest commodity.
5. Eat local food
We ate local food every day for lunch. Fresh seafood, green figs, plantain, rice and my FAVORITES, breadfruit, yams and dashee. There is heavy French and Indian culinary influence with curry being quite popular. Ask a local where the best food spots are and go there! We visited a couple hotels to check out their dinner scenes and highly suggest going to the following:
6. Hit the market in Castries, St. Lucia
Castries, the cruise ship port of the island, has a lively daily market but the best day to go is on Saturdays. The 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. Get here by boat if you are staying in Soufriere.
All Photos Taken by Merideth Morgan