I’m currently writing this post from the absolute GHETTO i.e London. It’s raining and cold, and I’m already dreaming of sipping the incredible coconut and cinnamon rum cocktails by the bar in Saint Lucia. It’s all good though, as I get to relive the past few days via this blog post, and I hope you’re able to find this useful too!
For Black History Month, myself, Sade, Onyi and Kristabel were whisked off to the beautiful island of Saint Lucia by the Saint Lucia TourismAuthority, located in the Eastern part of the Carribean. Saint Lucia is a part of the Windward Islands: the Southern, larger islands of the Lesser Antilles. The other islands include nearby Martinique, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.
This is going to be a SUPER MEGA POST as I’ve just decided to consolidate all the activities and things into one because I know what I’m like. I’ll do a part one and after that’s done, the next one will probably come out in 2020, so I’d rather post it all while it’s still fresh in my mind! In this post, I’ll be talking about where we stayed, the activities we partook in, and some general facts and figures about this absolutely stunning island so grab a cup of tea and a few biscuits, and strap yourselves in as it’s going to be a long one!
Saint Lucia: Let’s Talk Facts & Figures
Saint Lucia is only 27 miles in length (from top to bottom) and 14 miles in width. Travelling around the island though, it feels a LOT longer. The island consists of a mixture of huge mountains and volcanos: you’ll find a lot of small towns and resorts hidden within the mountainside, overlooking the beautiful landscape.
Like most Caribbean and African countries, there is a lot of history surrounding colonialism and slavery, so you’ll find that a lot of resorts, restaurants and venues are built on either plantations or held within colonial mansions. Saint Lucia was colonised by both the English and the French: with each colony having control over the Island seven times each. Mad ting! They finally gained independence from the British on the 22nd of February 1979.
The official language of Saint Lucia is English, with Pidgin English and Creole French being spoken also.
Saint Lucia is the only country in the world to be named after a woman.
The currency used in Saint Lucia is the EC Dollar (Eastern Caribbean Dollar) and the US Dollar. The current exchange rate is £1 = $3.50.
The island has a population of approximately 170,000 people, give or take. A large percentage (about 70%) of the island is uninhabited and made up of rainforests. Love to see it.
If you’re a fan of good rum, bananas, mangos, fresh seafood, spices (such as nutmeg and cinnamon) and baked pastries, you’re in for a bloody TREAT lads!
The capital city is Castries, located in the northern region of the island by Rodney Bay. It’s the entertainment capital of the island, consisting of a huge array of hotels, bars, restaurants and local attractions.
Soufriere is a town located on the west coast of the island and is the cultural capital of the island, with amazing views of the Pitons, and loads of cultural activities to take part in.
The island is chock full of vibrancy and colour. You cannot go up a mountain or drive down a street without seeing a burst of colour from a house or a stall. It’s absolutely stunning! Let’s talk about the people too, as this is one of the first things I noticed when touching down. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE…is so polite, respectful and kind! I felt so relaxed and at ease when there, and people really go out of their way to be accommodating and helpful. Why can’t people be like this in the UK?
No fatphobia or weirdness noticed at all I’m super pleased to report. I was greeted with a constant barrage of compliments actually, which makes such a lovely change. I was in my swimsuit and wearing sleeveless crop tops all over the place and not an eye was blinked. I felt super comfortable, and from my experience, you’re not made to feel awkward or bigger than anyone at all.
In regards to accessibility, however, this is a bit trickier, as Saint Lucia is basically an island of mountains. While some of the attractions we went to did offer ramp access, for the most part, it’s a lot of stairs and hills. If you’re planning on coming, it may be a good idea to budget for a driver or a series of taxis. Alternatively, finding resorts and hotels on flat ground such as Sugar Beach or Rodney Bay (where we were!) is also a good shout!
It’s worth noting that the hotel (and Rodney Bay) is a 90 minute drive from the Airport, which is located in the South of the Island.
Coco Palm Hotel, Rodney Bay
We stayed at the Coco Palm hotel located just a 10 minute walk away from Reduit beach. Coco Palm is a mega vibrant (despite my edited photos!) four-star hotel which tons loads of character – not to mention super instagrammable. We stayed in the suites on the fourth floor, which boasted a huge 4 poster bed, two(!!) bathrooms (one with a beautiful tub) and a lounge area. The suites were absolutely STUNNING, and we were made to feel completely at home.
The hotel also has an on-site spa and a BEAUTIFUL swimming pool with a bar/restaurant close by. I had the absolute best rum punches of my entire life here, and if you end up going and want a rum punch, ASK FOR CHRISTIAN. He’s the man. An amazing bartender. Changed my life. The average cost per night is £160.
FUN FACT! Saint Lucia is adorned with sugar sand as well as black sand beaches.
Reduit Beach, Rodney Bay
Reduit Beach in Rodney Bay is located about 10 minutes walk from the Coco Palm hotel, and is lined with a host of restaurants and pubs along the way. One thing to note is that ALL the beaches in Saint Lucia are public, even if the resorts have their own sections. You can still sunbathe and frolic; the cost only comes in if you want to use a sunbed or a little beach hut.
FUN FACT! Sulphur Springs is the “world’s only drive in volcano”. 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.
During the quiet season, the beach is pretty deserted, but you have to remember that Saint Lucia is also a cruise chip island, so make sure to see when the ships come in before booking, so you don’t get caught up in the mayhem! The beach is perfect for long walks alone or with friends, as it’s over five miles long! You can also snorkel, sail and scuba dive at this location, as well as receive massages! Definitely 10/10 recommend for this specific beach.
A Colourful Town!
The towns in Saint Lucia are world-renowned for their beautiful, vibrant colours. It also seems to be stuck in a bit of a time capsule, with a lot of the buildings retaining their colonial structures with very strong French influences. The square almost reminds me of the French Quarter in New Orleans: think blinded shutter windows and structural pillars.
If you’re looking for a place where you can take all the photos, Saint Lucia is your place!
Pink Plantation House
It was quite difficult to get a lot of information on this property as they do not have an official website and we had to be told everything orally, but the Pink Plantation House is a former colonial mansion-turned restaurant, gallery and hotel hidden away among the foliage within the hillsides, overlooking the capital city of the Castries. The mansion is estimated to be around 140 years old.
FACT! The first inhabitants of St. Lucia were the Arawak Indians, who were forced off the island by the Caribs. Explored by Spain and then France, St. Lucia became a British territory in 1814 and one of the Windward Islands in 1871. With other Windward Islands, St. Lucia was granted home rule in 1967 as one of the West Indies Associated States. On Feb. 22, 1979, St. Lucia achieved full independence.
I mentioned this on my Instagram Story highlight, but I think it’s important to note here that while these buildings and places of business are aesthetically stunning and wonderful, it’s always important to acknowledge the sad and often brutal history behind the buildings and what they represented. Saint Lucia – like a lot of the other Caribbean and African countries – has a sad story based on colonialism and oppression and these buildings are a reminder of that. Fortunately, however, Saint Lucia has been able to reinvent and repurpose these buildings in order to give something new to the community. For instance, the Pink Plantation house has a beautiful gallery within the main house which houses gorgeous handpainted crockery and paintings designed by local artists for people to buy. Their food isn’t too bad either! While there, I had a gorgeous shrimp kebab, followed by lamb with a rosemary sauce and mashed potatoes. What I love about the food is that you can TELL it’s fresh AF. So so tasty!
FUN FACT! One of St Lucia’s main export is bananas, but they also export cacao, vegetables and clothing.
There are also three rooms upstairs available to stay in, which look absolutely beautiful and cost $150 a night.
Like I mentioned earlier, It’s wonderful to support local artists and business owners in their endeavours and the services they provide the local public and tourists, but it’s also important to acknowledge the history!
Ladera Resort is a five-star romantic paradise also based in the hilltops overlooking Soufriere. The resort is – to put simply – absolutely STUNNING. A favourite for couples and newlyweds, the resort is the epitome of luxury, and we were kindly invited to have a look around one of their most beautiful 3 wall open air rooms – The Paradise Ridge. The room features a beautiful four poster bed, a HUGE ASS BATHROOM complete with air conditioning, a semi-infinity pool with views of the Piton, a yoga studio, gym and meditation room, as well as a top tier restaurant that serves gourmet food. It’s safe to say that the hotel room alone was one of our highlights!
Filet Mignon with greens and red wine gravy. LIVING MY BEST LIFE I TELL YA.
If you’re a newlywed or newly wed-to-be, consider giving Ladera a try if your budget can cover it because you won’t be disappointed. The views ALONE are worth it!
The Tet Paul Nature Trail
Guys I did A THING.
I did an actual hike. A trail. I walked up hills. I’m not a fan of any of these things on a normal day, but when in Rome, one must do what the Romans do. We did the Tet Paul nature trail is one of Sait Lucia’s leading trails and is GREAT if you’re a hiking newbie like myself, as the guide will take it quite slow, to make room for photo taking and all that good stuff. The tour in total lasts around 50 minutes or so, and once you’re done you end up 600m above sea level, which magnificant panoramic views of the island, as well as the famous Piton mountains.
Saint Lucian cuisine is a combination of French, East Indian and British dishes. St Lucia’s national dish is green figs and saltfish (actually it’s made with green plantain, not figs).
The hike is great for both families and individuals alike, and is a pretty moderate climb tbh. It is headed up by knowledgeable locals who give you tons of information about the mountain (like did you know pineapples take two years to grow?!) and other little titbits that make the hike so much fun. If you have dodgy joints, you can also use the Moses stick provided to help you climb up! When you get to the top, you have amazing views.
Sulphur Springs and the Toraille Waterfall
I’m lumping these two together as they are pretty close to each other, and can easily be done within close range, so may as well hit two birds with one stone right?
We took a visit to Sulphur Springs, which lies inside a dormant volcano. FUN TIMES. I was mad for it, I tell ya. I have a thing for volcanos (in a non-sexual way obvs) and am fascinated by them, so when I found out that we would be bathing in the sulphuric waters and clay, I was so happy! The Springs contain two to three hot pools that are around 38 degrees Celcius, which we lay in for a few minutes. It was so relaxing! We then covered ourselves in sulphur clay (light grey clay) and iron (dark grey clay) and dried for about 20 minutes before washing off in the springs again. Fun fact, the staff have to walk near the crater of the volcano to collect more clay for the visitors every time they run out – a pretty dangerous job!
It was pretty cool knowing that we were adorning ourselves from stuff that came from a REAL LIFE VOLCANO you know?! I was mad for it. After cleaning the clay off, my skin felt so smooth and glowy. Note, it absolutely STINKS here. You do get used to the smell after about 10 minutes, but the smell of eggs is just…Whew!
We then took a gander to the Toraille Waterfalls, a beautiful 50 ft waterfall that cascades into a beautiful lagoon that one can take a dip in. We didn’t go in as we’d just finished in the Springs but it looked incredibly inviting. The waterfall is also surrounded by a botanical garden that you can take a look around. It’s so serene and peaceful, and definitely worth taking a look at!
Pigeon Island was another stop on our whirlwind tour. The site of the British military base and one of the most important monuments on the island, the islet used to be independent of the rest of the island until 1979, when a man-made causeway was built to connect to connect the two. The island was where the military would stay in order to keep an eye on the French, using Ford Rodney.
Pigeon Island has two stunning beaches, two restaurants, and is also close by the famous Sandals couples retreat. On on a good, clear day, you can actually see the neighbouring island of Martinique!
Chocolate Making at Howelton Estate
Before jetting off, we did a spot of chocolate making at the Howelton Estate, a beautiful estate dating back 122 years. Not only can you do a chocolate-making workshop, but you can also buy some beautiful batik prints, make some cold-pressed coconut oil and also take a wander into the souvenir shop for any bits and pieces you may need. If you ever wondered how chocolate was made, this is the activity for you! It’s incredibly fun, and you get your own little tasty treat at the end!
All in all, I had such a WONDERFUL time and would return in a heartbeat. The landscape is so fruitful and rich. The food is gorgeous. The people are amazing and the weather (averaging within 29-34 degrees) is perfect. Sandy beaches, rich culture and amazing food. What’s not to love?! A huge thank you to Kristabel and the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority for arranging such an amazing press trip! If you want to, check out all of our Saint Lucia content on Instagram, using the hashtag #BHMxSaintLucia and you can also check out my Saint Lucia highlights tab on Instagram for all the videos!