While planning our next trip I had two rules:
I need to relax.
I still want to hike though.
Where could we go to unwind, relax, swim a little, and get some mountain hiking done all at the same time?
Well Saint Lucia was it and we were pumped!
We planned the trip for November, right after Thanksgiving and were booked to stay for 9 days in a lovely Airbnb located on the northern tip of the island in the community of Gros Islet. We then rented our own vehicle and decided to take Saint Lucia by storm, much like we always do... and here’s all the dirty details.
Since this was the most important part of our trip, I believe it should be mentioned first and foremost.
I desperately wanted privacy, so shying away from the resorts was necessary because we didn’t want to be around people. In order to feel completely relaxed and calm, the less people was for the better. The house also needed to have a private pool and a big kitchen so we could prepare and cook our meals everyday. I wanted to have everything I needed in this house so we didn’t have to leave if we didn’t want to.
While searching for this “perfect home”, it took me a while to find something that wasn’t outrageous in cost. I spent ample time looking, searching, reading reviews, and weighing our options delicately. And then I found: Villa Del Sol…
This house was an absolute gem. I still find myself daydreaming of it’s beauty. Spending a little more money than expected, it was still within our semi-budget range, ended up being the best option, and was worth every penny spent.
Upon arrival we were amazed to find all in the backyard: coconuts, bananas, limes, and sour oranges. We picked these fresh fruits daily and used them to make juice, and put them in our drinks as well. Absolutely nothing can compare to fresh picked fruits. The style of the home was very simple, yet we felt like we were in a mansion with so much room all to ourselves. It was very peaceful and relaxing, quiet, and we enjoyed swimming in the private pool literally every single day and every single night. The fully equipped kitchen gave us the ability to cook our own meals daily, and the view from our balconies provided a beautiful backdrop for breakfasts and dinners.
Pamphile was our host and he was very attentive, nice, and caring. He checked in with us frequently to make sure everything was going well. The added bonus was having his maids come every other day to tidy things up for us. They were super friendly and sweet girls, we chatted with them often about the lifestyle and culture of Saint Lucia.
A short 10-minute walk in either direction of our home, landed us at a semi-private beach. On one side we had the Calabash Cove Resort, and on the other we had the Windjammer Landing Resort. We spent a lot of time at both, drinking Carib’s and watching the sunset. The beaches are both open to anyone, free of charge, but in order to use their lawn chairs, umbrellas, paddle boards, etc., you must pay around $25 USD/person. We paid this fee a few times and enjoyed the amenities. They were both lightly populated with guests, but we never had any problems with it feeling over-crowded and found it to be a really nice experience. One night we had dinner at the Calabash Cove Resort, and let me tell you a big secret: THEY HAVE AMAZING FOOD HERE. We came back to eat brunch another morning because we had loved dinner so much. I highly suggest coming to this resort if you are in the area.
We rented a car from Hertz car rental, which was wonderful because they met us at the airport and we were able to drop the car back off at the airport when finished. All car rental companies pretty much charge the same, and there are plenty of options to choose from so don’t worry too much about this part. A lot of people seemed to think a 4WD vehicle was necessary to get around the more underdeveloped parts of Saint Lucia. We ended up with a Hyundai Tucson which had enough ground clearance and got around just fine without the 4WD feature. Also be prepared to drive on the other side of the road if coming from the U.S., and also, on the other side of the car. It takes some getting used to. The roads of Saint Lucia are very winding and bumpy, it can be hard to navigate as a passenger because of this as well.
The surrounding population of Saint Lucia is very much poor and poverty stricken. The people of Saint Lucia rely on the land and tourism to make ends meet. It was saddening, to a degree, seeing some of the homes and structures the locals were living in as we drove around the different towns. It really makes you thankful for the things you have, and allows you to see things from a completely different perspective.
There’s so much to do in Saint Lucia and the opportunities are endless. We chose a few things and kept it relatively simple. A lot of people hire drivers, tour guides, and help with getting around the island. We on the other hand, did none of those things. We declined all tour guides and saw Saint Lucia by our own terms…
Horse riding on the beach was one of the things I had really wanted to do. I booked a 2.5 hour beach ride on Donkey Beach in advance, via email through Trim’s Riding Stables. On the day of our horse ride, we arrived and found the place to be all to ourselves. Immediately signing a waiver, we were provided with a helmet, hair net, and off we went.
The horses were rather skinny and bony, making for a bumpy and uncomfortable ride (and bruises later). We didn’t have much training with the horses beforehand and found them to be somewhat rambunctious. The guide was very friendly, and moderately helpful… I was honestly terrified the entire time. We were only allowed to jump off and rest once, at a beach where the locals were very persistent about selling their goods to us, to the point of having to walk away and be rude. The decision to ride horses in Saint Lucia is completely yours, but I would read the reviews before jumping into this activity. I personally made the mistake of not reading any reviews, and now that I have, I realize they would’ve steered me away from wanting to try this at all. Irregardless, the scenery was actually quite breathtaking.
Our other activities included visiting the local parks and popular waterfalls in Saint Lucia.
The Diamond Botanical Gardens were absolutely beautiful and are located in the town of Soufriere. The cost of entry is $7/US per person. You can walk through by yourself, or hire a guide that can educate you about the nature and wildlife you see along the way. At the end of the nature trail there is a waterfall called Diamond Falls. The waterfall is actually quite impressive in that the water is a mixture of volcanic minerals and rainwater, making the appearance of the water a grayish black color.
We then made a quick stop to visit the Toraille Waterfalls not far from the Botanical Gardens. These falls are one of the biggest in the area, reaching about 50 feet in height. The best part? You can jump right in! The cost of entry is about $3/US per person, I believe, but it’s not advertised on their website. Be prepared to be bombarded with local vendors upon entering, as they are very pushy here.
Also located in Soufriere, is the Tet Paul Nature Trail. Cost of entry here is $10/US per person, and provides great views of the Gros Piton, and Petit Piton mountains of Saint Lucia. There are hikes that go up these Piton mountains, but after reading the cautions about how strenuous they are, we opted out. I know we seem like wimps for not doing them, but you literally had to go up a straight cliff face? Nah… that would interrupt my relaxation too much. The Tet Paul Nature Trail is a great trail full of stairs, and wonderful views, however, I don’t want you thinking it’s an easy hike... you’re going to breathe a little heavier here.
The last activity we did was Pigeon Island. This is actually a National Landmark in Saint Lucia and is at the northern tip of the island in Pigeon Island. It also includes an old fort, Fort Rodney. The cost for entry is $8/US per person, and you are free to roam the park as you please. The climbs up to the forts are a little rough, and the heat from the sun makes it harder in my opinion. Once you make it to the top, the views are breathtaking, and well worth the sweat.
We visited a couple of restaurants during our stay, the most important one to note: Ladera Resort’s Dasheene. A bit on the pricier side, but nothing short of amazing when it comes to your expectations for a good meal and even better service. We went at night, and with the restaurant being outdoors, you get a wonderful view of the Pitons in the distance and can even watch the sunset right on the ocean. The lowly lit dining area didn’t allow me any pictures that could do this place justice. You’ll just have to trust me… that you should make a visit here.
THE COMPLETE PACKAGE
The best part about our trip was by far, the home. I could have stayed there the entire time and been satisfied. Having spent so much time here, I can’t stress enough the importance in having a space you feel safe and secure in, yet still having the amenities that make you feel at home. This home was the complete package for us, and helped us to feel like we were a part of Saint Lucia.
If you ever do get to visit a magical place like this, I hope your trip is just as wonderful and full of relaxing vibes much like ours was.