After spending a few days in St. Lucia, you’ll leave with one very important takeaway: the St. Lucians like to “lime” (or hang out and socialize). The vibe on the verdant West Indies island is laid-back, and after a couple of rum punches, fitting in with the locals (population of 185,000) will be so easy to do.
Our Forbes Travel Guide editors took to the streets in and around the fishing port town of Soufrière to partake in all sorts of fun-filled activities. We’ve highlighted our top five recommendations, which include basics like where to stay and where to go when you want to dance all night long.
Book Luxury Lodging
Since where you stay is just as important as where you play, making reservations at a resort that prides itself on its authentic Caribbean experience is invaluable. And that’s why we love Ladera Resort Saint Lucia—it’s as local as you can get. All of the hotel’s 140 employees are from St. Lucia, the locally sourced wood furniture (chairs, coffee tables) seen throughout the property is made onsite by native Eustace Augustin and his team, and food from Dasheene, Ladera’s restaurant, comes directly from the resort’s own botanical garden (be sure to try the sweet potato and coconut soup).
The adults-only property sits at 1,100 feet above the Caribbean Sea and provides views of the Gros Piton and the Petit Piton. And with its open wall floor plan—yes, there are only three walls in the room—you’ll be able to enjoy starry nights from your suite’s wicker-furnished sitting area.
Another resort that seamlessly blends into its natural surroundings is Jade Mountain. Located 1.5 miles north of Soufrière and 250 feet above sea level, the luxury resort comes with 24 infinity pools, and like Ladera, offers an open wall layout as well. There’s nothing more breathtaking than going for a swim in a 900-square-foot pool while soaking up the panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea from your “Sun” sanctuary. And when you’re done splashing around, head down to the resort’s beach for its complimentary Saint Lucian rum mixology class. It is here in this hourlong class (on Sundays only) that you’ll learn how to make the popular Coco Doux. (Here’s what you need to make this drink: one hollow jelly coconut, 1½ ounce of coconut rum, ½ ounce dark rum, 3 ounces of coconut water from the jelly coconut, 2 ounces of coconut cream, a pinch of nutmeg, 1 teaspoon of shaved fresh coconut. Add all ingredients together—except the nutmeg—over ice in a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy consistency. Then, garnish with nutmeg and the shaved fresh coconut.)
Mix and Mingle at the Market
You’ll want to take a trip to St. Lucia’s capital, Castries, for its bustling open-air Castries Market. Locals will be peddling homegrown goods like cucumbers, soursops (a sweet fruit), mangos, eggplants, dasheen, papaya, curry spices, fresh fish, meats and more. What we love about the market are the little shops that sell true Caribbean food, such as accra (fish cakes) and plantains. And although the market, which is located at Jeremie and Peynier streets, isn’t open on Sundays, there’s plenty to see during the other six days of the week thanks to the next-door Craft Market where handwoven straw hats and hand-carved wooden knickknacks take center stage.
Spice Things Up
Grab your friends and head to Spices Cooking Studio for its three-hour Cooking Lime class. Under the supervision of owner Jenni Killam, you can make Lucian fish broth and cocoa tea flan all while sipping on handmade rum punch or a refreshing glass of coconut water. Killam, a longtime passionate home cook, opened Spices less than a year ago in her private residence in Cap Estate. Her impeccable communal kitchen includes Fagor ovens, Kitchen Aid food processors and Oster blenders and is set up with four stations where you’ll find items like sweet peppers, dry coconuts and spices such as nutmeg and turmeric.
The fun part about taking the Cooking Lime class is it’s just that — a lime. You can do as much as you want or as little. Either way, Killam won’t pressure you. She might offer you a refill on your rum punch or have you nosh on some breadfruit balls while you wait for your meal to come together. Once the main course is ready, head outside to the deck to taste your creation without worrying about who will clean up afterward. Killam and her team take care of that for you. Other classes you can choose from include the two-and-a-half-hour A Taste of St. Lucia workshop (try your hand at pumpkin soup and caramelized bananas with rum) or the three-hour Caribbean Flavours session (learn how to make dishes from Trinidad, Grenada, Jamaica, Guyana, Puerto Rico and more).
Dine And Dance At Fond Doux
If it’s good enough for Prince Charles, enjoying a meal at Fond Doux Resort & Plantation should be good enough for you, too. (The prince and his wife, Camilla, the duchess of Cornwall, stayed in the property’s two-story French-colonial-style Angelina Cottage in 2008.) Located on 130 acres filled with bright red and yellow flamboyant trees and torch ginger lilies, the 250-year-old Soufrière plantation, which is owned by charming couple Lyton and Eroline Lamontagne, offers you a grand old time with its 15 cottages (including honeymoon suites as well as one- and- two-bedroom suites) outfitted with jalousie shutters and savory dining options at Cocoa Pod Restaurant and Jardin Cacao Restaurant & Bar.
We recommend having dinner at Jardin Cacao Restaurant & Bar for its curry goat and rice or its slow-cooked chicken breast covered in a creamy coconut sauce alongside carrot and pumpkin mash and a side of vegetables. In between eating and drinking a delicious strawberry-banana daiquiri, get up and dance the night away to Caribbean tunes such as “Tiny Winey” from musicians like Future Lights Band. The experience is lively. Don’t be surprised if you catch the darling Lamontagnes on their feet dancing right beside you.
Go Coo-Coo for Cocoa
Although August is designated Chocolate Heritage Month in St. Lucia, the island has a rich history in producing cacao. And because of this chocolaty connection, the tasty confection is celebrated throughout the year at a variety of properties. At Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort’s Rainforest Spa, indulge in a 90-minute chocolate body scrub (the relaxing treatment uses 100 percent organic cocoa).
If you’re staying at Jade Mountain, it’s a must to sign up for the resort’s Emerald Estate Cocoa Tree to Chocolate Bar Tour with the property’s director of pastry, Wouter Tjeertes. You’ll be able to do everything from taste raw cacao to learn about the drying and polishing of the beans. Our favorite part was spending time in the Chocolate Lab with Tjeertes, who has dedicated the past 18 years of his life to the chocolate business. In the Lab, you’ll sample bars that have an extreme fruitiness (think red fruit or banana) or others that are loaded with cashews.
For another sweet time, check out Hotel Chocolat’s Tree-to-Bar interactive tour at Rabot Estate with plantation manager Cuthbert Monroque. It starts off with you learning to identify the difference between a mature cocoa pod, which is purple/yellow in color, to one that isn’t ready (you’ll notice a green hue) to be cut from the tree. Then Monroque and his assistant will show you everything from how to graft a tree—you will also be able to graft your very own tree that will be planted among the 145 acres—to the step-by-step process of making your own toothsome chocolate bar. Not only will you learn a lot during the three-hour experience, but you’ll also get a chuckle or two from Monroque as his vibrant island personality is sure to keep tourgoers on their toes.