Last summer, I went off the grid for a week in Saint Lucia with girlfriend. We called this honeymoon destination our "homey-moon" since we're friends...homeys...get it?! Anyway... The goal was to explore the wild side of this long-loved Caribbean island, and check out some of the best and most eco-friendly resorts along the way. We managed to do all of that and more. So if you're aching for a warm weather escape this holiday season, check out my highlights from this lush slice of paradise.
WHERE TO STAY
BOUCAN by HOTEL CHOCOLAT
This eco chic resort is casual luxury at it's best, and at a more affordable price point. They rely on rainwater and solar power, source beauty and food locally and sustainably, and actively recycle and compost anything and everything. It's also conveniently located minutes from most of the sites and activities listed below, including the Diamond Waterfalls and Sulfur Springs.
SUGARBEACH BY VICEROY
This refreshing resort is everything you've come to expect from a Viceroy hotel: modern art, posh decor and basically the best of every amenity you can imagine. Private pools in many of the villas are family friendly, and YUM the restaurant is worth a visit even if you're staying somewhere else. Under the glossy finish, Viceroy is quite green. Using biodegradable products, energy efficient lighting and an comprehensive recycling program they even offer incentives to employees for carpooling and green transportation initiatives.
This one goes on the bucket list. It's a huge splurge (rooms start around $1k/night), but the experience of living out in the open perched in a jungle hillside with your own personal pool (like real pool, not just a plunge pool either)?! Priceless. Bonus points for using very little electricity, employing locals and supporting small business owners on the island. Jade Mountain emphasizes organic foods, many of which come from their own farm where they also train farmers in organic farming.
WHAT TO DO
SPA & BEACH DAY at Sugar Beach by Viceroy
Individual thatched huts make a massage feel like a trip to Bali. Once you've reached maximum relaxation, head down to the only white sand beach on the island and spend the afternoon sipping cocktails and feeling spoiled. Catch sunset from the beachfront restaurant and make sure to get the coconut shrimp!
LEARN TO MAKE CHOCOLATE! at Boucan by Hotel Chocolat
Get a tour of a working cocoa plantation, graft your own cacao tree and then whip up a bar of chocolate to nibble on later. While the tour is leisurely, be prepared to sweat as you grind up beans and earn that indulgent snack. No judgment if you need to dip a pinky in to "make sure it's coming along". Good thing chocolate is a super food!
VISIT THE DIAMOND WATERFALLS, BOTANICAL GARDENS, SULFER SPRINGS & MUD BATHS
The lush botanical gardens are a fun way to stay out of the sun, and the diamond waterfalls at the end are worth a look. The sulfur springs and mud baths down the road are known to have healing properties as powerful as the famous springs of Baden Baden Germany. Have a soak, slather on some stinky mud and know it's for a good cause. You can tackle all of these activities easily in one afternoon.
HIKE THE PITONS
For a quick and mellow hike you can do in your sandals, check out Tet Paul which offers spectacular views of the Pitons. But if you're looking for an all day challenge, you may want to tackle the Pitons themselves, which are hike-able. Ask your hotel for a guide, this isn't one you'll want to attempt alone...
WHAT TO KNOW
- Yes, they've had reports of Zika here so bring your bug spray!
- Jade Mountain uses a yellow light system, which coupled with it's high elevation above the water keeps away the bugs!
- The northern part of the island is more touristy than the south, and it's where most of the cruise ships disembark.
- The local currency is EC, but you can use American dollars just about everywhere without any penalty.
- The weather stays balmy year round, so there is no wrong time to be there. Of course resort season and especially the holidays are the most popular. So if you're craving some sunshine this season... get on it!
WHAT TO EAT
Cacao is native to the island, so get your hands on as many chocolate products as you can find. But beyond the fabulous chocolate cocktails at Boucan, Caribbean Cacao Tea is a specialty that feels more indulgent than it is. This not-so-sweet treat is a healthier version of hot chocolate that offers all of the antioxidants of cacao with a lot less sugar and a kick of caffeine. Can't make it to an island fast enough? Try making your own.
WHAT TO PACK (& WHAT NOT TO)
- The island is super mellow without much of a "scene" at all, so no need to bring heels or makeup.
- It's hot all day and night, so jackets are also unnecessary
- Even in rainy season you probably won't need an umbrella as storms are usually light and quick in passing.