“Saint Lucia, We Love!” is the chorus to a catchy dance track by Mongstar. The video, images, and lyrics sum up perfectly how welcoming it is in St. Lucia.
So many people I talk with are afraid to travel. Fear of sickness, crime or worse keeps them home in the good ol’ USA. If that sounds like you, St Lucia is a place where you can relax. The weather is tropical, water is turquoise and the people are friendly, kind and genuine.
It’s hard to compare St. Lucia. It’s lush and tropical with gorgeous turquoise water and sandy beaches, including some black sand beaches and the man-made Sugar Beach. Not an exact, but an easy analogy would be saying St Lucia is like Florida, except not flat.
If you want some hiking or fishing with your beaches, then St. Lucia is your place.
The people could not be nicer. Speaking English with a hint of French and British accents, I couldn’t help but think how boring I sounded compared to them. They’re not only warm, accommodating, with great senses of humor, the people of St. Lucia I met were very inviting. They don’t just smile and move onto the next tourist.People working in the St Lucia service/tourist industry engage with you about their country, your country, history, current events, anything. You feel immediately welcome.
Forget Carlos & Charlie’s or Señor Frog’s, The Gros Islet Friday Night Street Party is the real deal. Locals and tourists gather in the area to enjoy food, drink and live music. Front yards transform into lemonade stands for grown ups complete with lights, music, and homemade food. Start time is 9pm, but the party doesn’t really start in earnest until midnight (what good party does?).
For the first half of our visit we stayed at The Landings Resort & Spa.
Offering 1-4 bedrooms with a kitchen, 2 bathrooms, and massive verandas in the front and back of your condo, The Landings is perfect for gatherings of family and friends.
There are several pools, a marina, beach club, two restaurants and a gorgeous spa, all minutes from Pigeon Island National Park. With everyone under one roof, you can lounge by the pool or the beach while someone else does nature photography or rents a snorkel from the beach club.
From The Landings we literally went next door for a few days at Sandals Grande St Lucian, your quintessential all-inclusive beach resort. You’ve seen the commercials. Sandals knows its guests and has created a very relaxing, fun environment here.
You want a drink? It’s coming right up. Hungry? There are 9 restaurants on property plus you can almost always grab a burger, hot dog, crepe, pizza or ice cream. The ice cream at Sandals Grande St Lucian is fabulous and also makes tasty milkshakes. I was a little underwhelmed by the desserts, but the ice cream more than made up for it.
Sandals is a cruise ship that never leaves port: plenty of food, booze, sand, water activities and entertainment. I found this Sandals resort to be pleasantly more relaxed than others. You’re not harassed by staff into a belly flop competition or drinking contest with bad house music blaring everywhere. The music around the main pool was primarily Caribbean with appropriate rock, country and pop hits. While energetic, I could actually hear myself talk. Imagine that.
If you want culture, this is not your property. There a many more authentic and/or boutique places on the island. If you want to relax and not think about anything, Sandals is a fine choice. Keep in mind it’s a couples-only resort. There are a lot of honeymooners, weddings and corporate groups.
My favorite part of the journey was the catamaran to Soufríere and the Pitons in Southwest St Lucia. You can stay at or near a Unesco World Heritage site.
I’ve seen many hotels and resorts. Ladera Resort is unforgettable. Located between the Pitons on the Unesco World Heritage site, Ladera has no TV in your room. Who needs it? The resort has been built into the hillside with views more stunning than anything on cable. There is high speed internet, so you can humble brag to your friends while relaxing in your private Piton-view pool inside your suite. Shuttles run down to nearby Sugar Beach just below.
We took a five hour flight from Seattle to Miami, then a little less than fours hours from Miami to St Lucia. It takes about 90 minutes to shuttle from the international airport at the south end of the island to The Landings and Sandals Grande (there are 3 Sandals resorts on St Lucia). I was perfectly comfortable during the flights and transfers. Or you can book a seat on the helicopter. It’s slightly more expensive, but it takes 12 minutes and it’s a flight seeing trip.
Most any tropical vacation offers sun and sand. St Lucia is filled with friendly people with a passion for life. That passion will compel you to leave your resort and enjoy local food, drink and activities. With very few chain restaurants and stores, it’s less commercialized and more authentic than many tourist destinations. A week in St Lucia was an inspiring way to celebrate my birthday with my wife.
Like the song says, ‘St Lucia, We Love.’