Caribbean

St. Lucia Beyond the Pitons

written by | Posted on March 1st, 2011

Herman points to Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa as a top hub for ATV and horseback riding activities. The resort is especially family friendly, with a water park on its grounds and an extensive kids’ club schedule that includes gifts, games and visits from the resort’s cartoon coconut mascots, Coco and Loco. But one side of the resort is reserved for adults only, catering both to parents who’ve left their kids at the kids’ club for the day, as well as couples in search of a relaxing, romantic atmosphere. Both markets can sign up for the resort’s Honeymoon Beach ATV tour, a 3-hour trip along the island’s Atlantic coastline, passing mangroves, private estates and plantations, mud pits and more. There’s also a stop along the way for a quick dip in the ocean. Tour rates start at $90 per bike; regular all-inclusive rates at Coconut Bay start at $469 per room per night dbl.

party time Like most Caribbean islands, locals in St. Lucia love to party—and when it comes to visitors to their island, the more, the merrier. This island is home to some of the Caribbean’s biggest celebrations, Herman says, and visitors taking part will come away with unforgettable memories of music, food and fun.

One of the biggest events here is St. Lucia Jazz, a music festival that celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Running from April 30 to May 8, this year’s lineup brings some of the world’s biggest performers to St. Lucia, including R&B star John Legend and jazz saxophonist Maceo Parker. But there’s plenty of local flavor in this year’s acts, too, with six main stage acts calling St. Lucia home, playing everything from jazz to reggae to steel pans.

The event is held at Pigeon Island National Park, just minutes from the Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort. From here, clients can easily access the festival, as well as Pigeon Island’s historical attractions like Fort Rodney; and Sandals Stay at 1 – Play at 3 Exchange program provides transfers and access to the all-inclusive amenities at the other two Sandals properties in St. Lucia (Sandals La Toc and Sandals Halcyon Beach) free of charge. Rates at the Sandals Grande St. Lucian start at $580 pp per night.

Jounen Kweyol, or Creole Day, is another major event on the island. The standout aspect of this festival, Herman says, is the cuisine. “It’s nothing imported, really local stuff made the old fashioned way,” he explains. “You have bread as it was made in the past. There are really, really tasty dishes, not using any of the artificial flavor they have now.” Jounen Kweyol is celebrated in towns all across the island on the last Sunday in October. (This year, the celebration takes place Oct. 30.)

Clients who can’t travel during these annual events shouldn’t despair, Herman continues, because, “Every weekend, there are street parties in St. Lucia.” One of the most popular is the fish fry at Anse la Raye, a seafood village set on the island’s western side. Locals and tourists alike gather here on a weekly basis to dig into fresh seafood dishes like fish cakes and fried catch-of-the-day. “On Saturday night,” he continues, “a similar party takes place in the town of Dennery in the east.” Many St. Lucian resorts, including Anse Chastanet and Coco Palm, provide transfers to the weekly parties. It’s a great opportunity for visitors to mingle with locals, Herman explains, and to soak up the culture of the island in its food, music and overall ambiance. But picky eaters beware, he cautions: “It’s a strictly seafood diet.”