2020-05-05
🇱🇨 Saint Lucia

I visited Saint Lucia at the onset of the global pandemic of 2020, Covid-19. It was a vacation that was centered on a 10-day sailing voyage in Antigua that didn't end up happening. In light of the events, my friend and I tried to make the most of the situation (while trying to self-isolate/quarantine) as best we could.

Saint Lucia was not quite what I pictured when I thought of the famous Caribbean landscapes. While here, I learned that the Caribbean Islands fall into 2 categories, either extremely flat and beach-filled (my original expectation for all the islands), or like Saint Lucia, extremely mountainous.

In total, we stayed in Saint Lucia for 10 days and stayed across the island in a few different places. We rented a car (a must for Saint Lucia), and drove everywhere we needed to go. We were concerned about the newly forming pandemic, so we decided it would be safer to cook most of our own meals and limit exposure to everyone. This meant that most of our time was filled with cooking for ourselves and solo beach time.

I've put together a Google Maps list for those interested in checking out some of the things we saw [link].

Rapid Fire Facts

Landscape

  • Beautiful Mountains everywhere
  • Famous Caribbean blue water
  • Soft white sand beaches
  • Sunny and hot every day (mid-March). Running about 29ºC
  • The island is covered in greenery, ranging from tropical palms to deciduous trees
  • There are two huge pointy mountains that are impossible to miss. They go by the names Gros Piton & Petit Piton. You can hike/climb both ~2500 ft.
  • The entire island was created from volcanos
  • There is a huge volcano which erupted 30k years ago. More recently there was a small eruption was just lava flows in 1776. It is currently overdue for another 🤯

People

  • Locals are genuinely friendly and nice
  • Personal space not so respected. Supermarkets are crowded and nobody seems to mind
  • A huge majority of the population works in the service/tourism industry
  • Approximately 200k people live on the island

Culture

  • Saint Lucia had changed hands so many times between the French and the English, you get this unique language that formed into what they we call Creole. Interestingly, every time a new nation (France or England) claimed Saint Lucia they would attempt to rename all of the cities and change the language. The locals became tired of this constant change and so most of the cities kept their French names, but the pronunciation is now heavily anglicized, as the English were the last to rule Saint Lucia before they claimed independence
  • Music - There is one genre specific to Saint Lucia, about domestic violence. Public officials tried banning the music for its largely sexist messages, however after public outcry, because other Caribbean countries were beginning to copy their style, it was later reintroduced.
  • Most common language spoken by locals is Creole, a dialect of French & English. Essentially impossible to understand for English speakers. However, everyone speaks English to foreigners.
  • Be prepared to drive on the left
  • Castries - The Capital of Saint Lucia - Largest city and much busier than the rest of the country
  • Soufriere - Smaller city, beautiful streets and homes, really tight one-way streets, fewer shops
  • 65% of their GDP is tourism

Accommodations

  • Lots of Airbnbs across the island, ranging from cheap ~70 USD/night to very expensive ones too
  • No real "hostel" accommodations as far as we could find, but there are countless resorts and hotels

Food

  • Chicken (bbq / baked) is a staple with rice, beans & plantains as a side
  • Piton Beer is one of the favourite local brews

Agriculture

  • The portion of their economy that isn't based on Tourism is largely rooted in agriculture
  • Main exports include, Banana, Mango, and Cashew trees

Itinerary

Like I said we spent a brief 10 days visiting Saint Lucia during a time of unease and uncertainty. We generally tried to avoid anything touristy and preferred cooking our own food when we could. That being said, we still saw some of the most beautiful parts of the country.

Beaches

All beaches in Saint Lucia are open to the public regardless of where they are. This means that even the nicest resorts have public beaches.

  • Lac Toc Beach - Sandals Regency La Toc - You can access this beach by driving towards the Sandals resort, parking in a lot near the top and walking down the hill. There's a small dirt entrance to the right of the main Sandals gate [link].
  • Choc Beach - Sandals Halycon - Another Sandals resort with a tricky access beach. There are a few volleyball courts and lots of open space [link].
  • Reduit Beach - This one is a lot easier to access. Huge white sand beach with a bunch of decent beachfront restaurants [link].
  • Sugar Beach - Sugar Beach Resort - This is the only 5 Star resort in Saint Lucia. So yes, it is extremely bougie. We were able to park near the top and catch a shuttle down to the bottom of the hill (I don't recommend walking as it at least a mile long) by promising to buy lunch at the beachfront restaurant. This beach was one of the most picturesque bays I've ever seen. I could tell why the 5 Star Resort would be built in it. Sugar Beach is also an amazing snorkeling spot [link].

Food

Unfortunately we tried to keep our distance from people most of the time we were here. We did however get to eat a select few places and they were all delicious.

  • Triangle PUB - A low-key Caribbean counter-service spot. The mains and sides were all delicious [link].
  • Hotel Chocolat - A high-key hotel and restaurant. Amazing views of the Pitons, and honestly, one of the best burgers of my entire life. This restaurant runs on the more expensive side, but is well worth when you're in the mood to treat yourself [link].
  • Chicken Lady - The first night we arrived in Saint Lucia we discovered a lady, who we dubbed the "Chicken Lady", just a minute walk from our Airbnb. She had about 20 chickens roasting on spits in a truck for sale. So we bought one, and it was honestly one of the best meals of the entire trip. We assumed she sold chickens every day and were sad to find out the next day she was nowhere to be found, apparently she only sells chicken on the weekends [link].
    Triangle PUB
    hotel-chocolat

Activities

  • Petit Piton - Hike the Pitons. Seriously if you are in decent shape and love pushing yourself as well as the outdoors you must climb the Pitons. We climbed the Petit Piton, which is actually only marginally smaller than the Gros Piton; however the main difference is style of the ascent. This "hike" is more of a climb. 1 mile, 2500 ft. elevation. For the majority of the hike you are pulling yourself up with ropes and grabbing onto rocks. It is recommended to climb with a guide even if you're an experienced climber, you can find these online on trip advisor. We ended up just texting a few guides on WhatsApp the night before to coordinate. The views from the top are absolutely stunning, clear unobstructed views of the entire island in 360º [rough trailhead].
  • Sulfur Springs - There's two parts to this attraction, the first is a set of geothermally heated pools. These pools range between "hot tub" and "scalding hot". Beside all of the pools are buckets of minerals that you are encourage to put all over your skin. The second portion of the Sulfur Springs is an add-on you can purchase (but do before the baths), is a brief tour of the active volcano. I would specifically recommend this to anyone, as the baths were fun enough and the smell of sulfur was nauseating, but we learned a bit about the history of the island from our guide [link].
  • Diamond Botanical Garden - This was arguably the prettiest botanical garden I've ever seen. There were so many tropical species with fantastic descriptions. At the end of the garden is a nice waterfall [link].
    petit-piton
    piton-view

Thanks for following along. For more photos from this trip, check out my photography page here.