We just got back from our honeymoon trip to St. Lucia. We had heard horror stories about how incredibly expensive it was and that it was most likely going to be a once in a lifetime kind of trip. I wasn’t buying it, though. In fact, we spent a minimal amount of money for having stayed at one of the nicest resorts on the island, eaten like royalty, and explored almost every excursion that paradise has to offer.
It is important to know a countries history. I inquired with several cab drivers and local beach goers about the history of St. Lucia. I wasn’t disappointed. St. Lucia was once saturated with slaves. At the base of the Gros Piton, the second tallest mountain on the island, there is a cave that is made up of two conveniently positioned boulders. Slaves use to hide from their masters in this cave, as well as many others distributed throughout the island, but I did not get to see. It was during these times of slavery that the St. Lucian language was given birth. Slaves did not want their masters to understand them in case they spoke of an escape plan, so the St. Lucians, to this day, speak a beautiful collaboration of four languages made up of broken french, creole, and the other two languages were made by the slaves.
St. Lucia went back and forth between the British and the French 14 times before it was concluded that the British would ultimately posses ownership of the island. However, it was eventually decided, in 1979, that St. Lucia was stable enough in the vegetation industry to be able to withstand a government of their own, thus, St. Lucia became independent.
The politics in St. Lucia seem to be centered more around jobs. There are people who open gates by hand, just because it creates a job. Automation is scarce on the island, which is best. In some towns such as Soufriere, the streets are constantly saturated with people selling produce and other sources. Jobs are badly needed in most areas, but rather than having secretaries and journalists, there are more jobs that pertain to the care of the island as a whole, such as fisherman and street cleaners.
It stayed between 80 and 85 degrees the whole time we were there. It was somewhat humid outside, so the air was warmer than that of a Texas 85. It was comfortable and sunny. I never felt like I was burning up or melting. At night the temperature goes down to about 65 with a light breeze; perfect for sleeping conditions where we stayed.
The entire island is rich in vegetation, so you could be driving down the street and see mangos on the ground in masses. All kinds of juicy, exotic fruits grow there, vegetables too. It is their main export, and rightfully so.
WHERE WE STAYED
We stayed at the beautiful resort of of Ladera. The entire resort was built on the side of the mountain, overlooking both mountains: Gros Piton and Petit Piton. Our room was afforded this breathtaking view as well. There are only three walls in the entire room, leaving the ocean facing wall open and welcoming the outside into your room.
I know what you are thinking, “weren’t there bugs?!” The answer is yes, of course there were. But they don’t bother you, nor can they even touch you while you sleep due to the tule that surrounds the entire bed. The only time bugs were seen in our room was at night if we left a light on, as moths are drawn to light. Other than moths and an occasional June bug, I saw nothing there that I haven’t seen in Texas. Truth be told, I have seen far worse camping in my own back yard than I ever saw in St. Lucia.
The room being so open was a most peaceful experience. The rain, the wind, the birds, the ocean lapping onto the shore, it was all naked to the ear. I have never slept so wonderful in my entire life. The whole resort is an experience, in and of itself. The staff and general manager are some of the friendliest I have ever encountered. They are genuinely interested in how your day was, what you did, and they are happy to offer suggestions for future experiences on the island.
Upon checking in, we were greeted with a delicious fresh squeezed fruit punch. The fruit juices they serve are packed with enough vitamins to kick a cold in a matter of minutes. I was under the weather until I got to the island. They fed us fresh fish, vegetables, and fruits for days. I lost about five pounds and have never felt more refreshed and recharged.
HOW WE SAVED
Yes, the flight + resort was a splurge, however, it was our honeymoon and we counted on that. There was most certainly other options that I would have been happy to occupy had we been in St. Lucia on any other occasion such as a vacation. The exchange rate is $1 US = $2.5 EC, so you can still get a hotel outside of a resort for as low as $30 if you are willing to ditch the luxury for a few days.
At Ladera, there was a restaurant called Dasheene. What we didn’t know is that that restaurant is the single most expensive restaurant on the island. We did breakfast there every day, but we only did dinner once or twice so that we could save for excursions. Again, with food, you can eat local and save tons. It’s a cultural experience, buying from locals. The cuisine on the island consists mostly of fish, vegetables, and fruit. All locally grown and harvested. There was very little processed food where we were, however, we did make a cheat run to the local supermarket to snag some ramen, easy mac, and a bottle of wine for nights that we wanted to stay in. This ultimately saved us about $200-$300.
As far as excursions go, we did just about everything. I was worried about excursions costing a ridiculous amount of money because that is how it was on the cruise ship when we cruised the Caribbean. However, with the help of some locals and a few taxi cab drivers, we were able to support local guides for half the price. We did hike the Gros Piton through our hotel excursion counter, but even that was not expensive. You pay by the couple rather than the person.
WHAT TO DO
There is so much to see and do in St. Lucia. You can hike, you can visit local markets, there are beautiful waterfalls to be seen, you can snorkel, and thats all only on the south side of the island. One night, we ventured over to the north side for a street party that is held every Friday night. This was probably the closest thing I had ever felt to a cultural experience while I was there. Vendors were lining the streets selling food, goods, and drinks. The music blared Rastafarian tunes and of course, everyone had “something special for you” (TIP: it is totally legal to drink and drive in St. Lucia, but weed is illegal and will get tourists thrown in jail. If you ever visit this location, decline all offers for marijuana). We bought some local food consisting of jerk chicken skewers, marinated corn, and veggie noodles and sat down at the The Roll Over Bar where we met a most beautiful soul. Although I cannot recall her name, she served a fierce rum punch (perhaps the reason I cannot recall her name). She told us to stay where we could see the lights, that was no joke, nor the first time we had been told that. At this street party, we were given strict instruction to stay on the straight and narrow. If we made even a single turn down a dark street, we would have likely been followed and robbed.
I was happy to comply with our instructions and did so without fear. There is nothing that goes on in their country that doesn’t go on in our own, in fact, sometimes I wonder if the US is worse about crime than some of the countries we fear. In any case, we had a fantastic time on the north side of the island. My only regret is that I never opted to visit that side sooner. If you take a street taxi, it will most assuredly take you at least 2 hours and cost about $300. However, if you talk to the locals and find a water taxi, they will be happy to take you by way of boat which only takes 45 minutes. The boat ride ended up costing us $160 and they graciously provided refreshments for us the whole way there and back.
Over all, the trip to St. Lucia was a honeymooners fairytale. There were several other couples there that were sharing the same occasion that we were and we had the pleasure of getting to know a few of them. I would love to return to St. Lucia one day. The only thing I would do different is make my rounds on the island. I would like to go hotel hopping so that I can see more of the island and all it has to offer. From what I have seen thus far, the people are so friendly, the land is beautiful and minimally industrialized, and the water is amazing.
I’ve decided to document all of my experiences with travel and boarding from here on out. I still work, but I will be dedicating much of my time to seeing as much of the rest of the world as I can, even if it just somewhere near by in the Great State of Texas. There are so many hidden treasures right outside our front door. I am done saying “one day”, because the day I set out for St. Lucia was the day I said “day one”.