The Caribbean’s most iconic landscape – in particular, the blanketed peaks of St Lucia’s twin pitons, plotted off the island’s southwest coast – offers visitors acres of rainforest and plantations to explore. Whilst being rife for adventure, the island is also the perfect place for a chilled out, do-as-little-as-possible break, fuelled by rum, green figs, and salt fish.
Here, GB sprinter Imani-Lara Lansiquot shares her insider guide to the absurdly photogenic island.
Essential items to pack?
Mosquito spray. A Polaroid or disposable camera – you’ll want a hard copy of the incredible view. Lots of swimwear.
The best time to visit Saint Lucia is…
The weather is warm and sunny all year round. It can get hotter in the summer months and as a tropical climate, it will rain, albeit in short sharp bursts. The locals call this liquid sunshine!
Our first pitstop should be…
On the way from the international airport in the south, stop at Thomazo Bakery in Dennery on the east coast. The freshly baked hot bread is delicious.
Your favourite hotel to check-in at is…
It’s tough to pick just one, as people often stay in the north and the south in one visit. I have just come back from a post-Olympics holiday and I did just that. The north is livelier and the south is more serene.
So, I’d say: Jade Mountain Resort in the south. This is such an iconic hotel – it’s been described by some as looking like a James-Bond villain’s lair. Constructed on the cliff side, each incredible suite is built with just three walls! Where the fourth wall would have been is open, so the views of the Pitons and the sea below is out of this world.
In the north, it’s The Royalton Saint Lucia.
For an early morning workout head to…
The Gros Piton trail. You are taken up the mountain with a guide and you need to start early to avoid the heat later in the day. It’s not an easy climb and whilst the guides skip up and down, be prepared for a challenge. At the top, the clouds clear and you can see across the island.
If you’re not feeling quite as energetic, take an early morning stroll along the beach at Pigeon Island. You’ll see the fisherman heading out in their brightly painted boats, from Gros Islet village.
Where should we go for breakfast?
I would suggest Café Ole in the Rodney Bay Marina. It’s a friendly coffee shop on the boardwalk.
How about for a long, lazy lunch?
Stonefield Villa Resort’s Mango Tree Restaurant. It has a stunning close-up view of Petit Piton, coupled with a peaceful pool setting. The food is great too! The chefs use only fresh, local ingredients using herbs, fruits, and vegetable grown on the property or across the island. The menu has lots of local favourites including catch of the day with green fig mash. Delicious.
And for dinner with friends?
Orlando’s Restaurant in Soufriere. It’s a cosy and welcoming restaurant serving gourmet Caribbean food.
A must-try spot for date night?
Rock Maison at Cap Maison – it’s located on a private wooden deck overlooking the sea, with just a table for two and a champagne zip line (bringing your drinks down to you).
Your favourite restaurant…
Budget: Golden Taste for great local food in Gros Islet.
Blow Out: Big Chef Steak House in Rodney Bay.
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The drink to order at the bar…
Anything with local Saint Lucian rum – my favourite: ‘Ti Punch’, a spiced rum, lime, and honey mix. However, you could also try something a little less sweet, like a chairman’s spiced mixed with cranberry juice.
The best place for people watching…
Rodney Bay and Rodney Bay Marina. Both in the North of the island, the area is brimming with energy and business, so there will be much to see at the bay.
The culture spot to rave about…
The community of Choiseul is the craft centre of Saint Lucia. There are lots of studios that are run by artists where you can see them make their crafts – and then buy them of course! Some also have a bar so you can have a Piton beer whilst you browse.
The best place to treat yourself is…
Did you know that Hotel Chocolat has a cocoa plantation in Saint Lucia? There is a small hotel there too, but I would highly recommend visiting the new Project Chocolat. You can plant your own cocoa tree and make your own chocolate. There are food stalls and shops so you can buy beauty products, souvenirs, and, of course, more chocolate.
For great shopping head to…
Point Seraphine shopping centre is just outside the capital, Castries, and is the best for duty-free shopping.
The one place only locals know about…
On a weekend: Dukes Place in Gros Islet for seafood.
For the best views head to…
Jade Mountain Resort. The views of the Pitons are completely unmatched and will captivate you straight away.
For a change of pace try…
Visiting Soufriere, which is based in the South. I was blown away by the lush greenery coupled with complete serenity and silence most evenings. A great escape if you are looking to decompress!
Great day trips include…
Firstly, I would recommend a visit to the sulphur springs and volcano in Soufriere. You get the chance to bathe in 35-degree, magma-heated water and decorate yourselves with volcanic mud. It is a great day out and also a fantastic treatment for the skin – you will leave feeling silky smooth! I also have to recommend a Segway adventure into the rainforest – which is probably best-suited to those seeking a bit more thrill and adventure. The tour includes a small hike to a waterfall and little workshops on the various herbs and spices that grow in the forest. A brilliant day out.
How should we spend the final day of our trip?
I would always advise doing something completely relaxing before a return back to reality. For us, we chose an in-room massage at Jade Mountain followed by a beach sunset watch with a cold glass of Piton beer.
What’s your St Lucia secret?
The local food is incredible. Branch out and try their delicacies before you leave; they do international food well, but there’s nothing quite like tasting the traditional foods of the island. Cocoa tea for breakfast with bakes is a must-try. The national dish is green figs and salt fish. It’s really tasty. Psst: green figs are actually bananas before they ripen and turn yellow.
In a word, St Lucia is…