Saint Lucia: A Dreamworld of Rainforests, Volcanoes, Waterfalls, and the Caribbean Coast
Updated: Nov 10, 2020
The geographically and culturally-rich country of Saint Lucia is a small island nation located in the southern region of the eastern Caribbean chain of islands, just a three-and-a-half-hour direct flight from Miami.
Words by Adriana Garuolis & Markin Abras
Blessed by nature and recognized as being a singular destination for romantic getaways, Saint Lucia has 238 square miles of rainforest-covered land and 98 miles of turquoise-watered coastlines: all in all, a stunning visual paradise that stirs the soul. Its notable topography (it is more mountainous than most Caribbean islands) and diverse natural landscapes offer unique experiences for everyone. Explore tropical rainforests, a myriad of magnificent beaches, fishing villages, abandoned sugar plantations, coral reef diving and snorkeling spots, jungle biking and hiking trails, as well as numerous renowned tourist sites.
The island has a prominent pair of volcanic spired peaks named The Pitons; they are an UNESCO world heritage site. At 2,400 feet, the Pitons are towering and breathtaking from every viewing point, and they are fronted by a marine reserve teeming with coral reef. The Sulphur Springs Park features the world’s only “drive-in volcano” where visitors can holistically delight in warm sulphuric pools and volcanic mud baths. The Saint Lucia Botanical Gardens and Diamond Falls feature 6 acres of tropical gardens, a 17-meter high waterfall (considered to be the most colorful waterfall in the Caribbean due to its rich mineral composition), and healing mineral hot spring baths originally constructed for the French troops of King Louis the XVI in the 18th century.
In addition to its resplendent natural beauty, Saint Lucia has a celebrated gastronomical scene that includes rum-making, locally-brewed beers, a growing production of organic cacao and chocolates, and world-class Caribbean cuisine characterized by dishes harvested from the sea and farm-to-table, locally-grown produce. Saint Lucian food is a delectable fusion of East Indian, British, and French cookery.
In line with its rich and vibrant cultural history, Saint Lucia holds several illustrious annual festivals proudly celebrating its roots. These include The Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival, as well as two rival flower festivals: La Woz ("The Rose") and La Magwit ("The Marguerite"). Both sensational floral festivals are a spectacle of costumes and color preluded by Creole seances (consisting of all-night-long singing and dancing) and leading to a day of Church-service marches, followed by a street parade, and, finally, "the grand fête": a great feast and party.
It is relevant to note and said around the island that part of Saint Lucia's cultural diversity is attributed to the French and British settlers who battled for island control for over 150 years. Both ruled the island 7 times each with the British colonizing it last in 1814. The island gained its sovereign independence in 1979.
The island is home to 178,000 warm and hospitable Lucians. English is the official language, although French Creole is also spoken throughout the island. The official currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (US$1 = EC$2.70), but US dollars are readily accepted everywhere.
STAY IN LUXURY
Bonaire Estate, Marisule Gros Islet, St. Lucia
Nestled in the sloping hills of the sheltered Bonaire Bay, Calabash Cove Resort & Spa counts amongst the top of the few all-inclusive luxury resort options in Saint Lucia. At Calabash Cove you will delight in the palpable harmony of nature’s elements --dramatic oceanfront sunsets included. Upon arrival, be immediately swept away by a breathtaking panorama of the Caribbean ocean and the capital city of Castries. Walk through the Cove Gardens, masterfully landscaped walkways encircled by groves of fruiting trees and vibrant, fragrant flowers. Relax on the paradisiacal white-sand beach of Bonaire Bay. Get full-service pampering at Ti Spa. Swim in the resort's impressive 500,000 gallon 40-foot infinity edge pool. And experience fine dining at Windsong restaurant, featuring international cuisine with fresh local produce and soft live music in the evenings.
A boutique luxury resort, Calabash Cove counts on 3 categories of rooms for an intimate total of 26 rooms, each infused with old Caribbean charm. The water’s-edge cottages are made from Balinese mahogany and feature their own private verandah and plunge pool, outdoor rain shower, super-size jacuzzi, hammocks, and unparalleled vistas of Bonaire Bay. The swim-up junior suites are directly connected to the Sweetwaters infinity pool; they feature indoor rain showers, a jacuzzi, and stunning oceanfront views. The sunset ocean-view junior suites feature impressive vistas, a private patio, jacuzzi, and indoor rain shower. All in all, Calabash Cove does an excellent job of enticing its guests to stay on property for their entire stay --it’s a true island getaway that will recharge, renew, and reignite body, heart, and soul.
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MARIGOT BAY RESORT AND MARINA
Marigot Bay Resort & Marina, Marigot Bay, St. Lucia
The award-winning Marigot Bay Resort and Marina is another one of Saint Lucia’s prized, secluded locations, a hidden gem and private luxurious getaway for both romantic couples and vacationing families alike. The Marigot Bay Resort and Marina is a sheltered bay located within a 30-acre property that is supremely lush and encircled by a serene turquoise sea. A charming two-minute free water taxi ride away lies the LaBas Beach, a blissfully quiet and picturesque small stretch of white-sand beach lined with exotic coconut palm trees and clear calm waters to wade in.
This five-star resort provides its visitors with a luxurious yet laid-back atmosphere, characterized by supreme and thoughtful personalized service in every aspect of its hospitality offerings. The hotel features 4 restaurants, a rum cave, a swim-up bar, two outdoor pools (one for adults only), a holistic spa, a world-class premiere marina, and a plethora of signature resort activities and classes (such as rum tasting, body scrub making, and Saint Lucian cacao tea making). Its unique concave-shaped campus is lined with multi-level townhouse buildings featuring 124 rooms and suites, most with spectacular views of Marigot Bay.
Guests are welcome to dine at The Grill at 14⁰61⁰, the resort’s main restaurant, featuring fine dining and an open kitchen where one can watch the culinary team at work. The Rum Cave serves regional rums and cigars along with beers, wines, whiskeys, specialty cocktails, and small plates. The Brut Bar and Pool Bar is open poolside for lunch and specializes in sushi, local ceviche, salads, sandwiches and burgers. Dine at Hurricane Hole for a scenic waterfront patio lunch and dinner. The Auriga Spa offers a holistic approach to all of its natural, locally-inspired treatments. A spa sanctuary with nature-filled surroundings, the Auriga Spa features indoor massage pods with outdoor decks and open-air showers as well as a Zen garden with wooden soaking tubs, sauna, steam inhalation room, and hot tub. A lovely treehouse massage hut serves as the elevated setting for a private dining experience, a massage amongst the trees, or trademark spa classes in holistic treatments.
The Marigot Bay Marina is touted as one of the best in the Caribbean. It is blessed with naturally deep waters that accommodate the largest super yachts and sailboats from around the world year-round. It lies within a “hurricane hole”, so-called because it is surrounded by mountains which have historically protected it from tidal changes and severe weather. Marina guests have access to the luxury resort services and amenities, including banking and immigration services, boutiques, supermarket, duty-free outlets, an art gallery, bakery, and ice cream parlor.
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JADE MOUNTAIN and ANSE CHASTANET
Coming into Jade Mountain is like walking into a dreamworld, into buildings and spaces and landscapes that are mesmerizing and spellbinding: a masterful composition of elevated architecture, thriving nature, and singular luxury. This is truly a new dimension of organic life. Built upon a steep terrain in order to maximize vistas, guarantee utmost room-to-room seclusion, and minimize land disturbance, every space in Jade Mountain offers absorbing views of the iconic Pitons and the endless Caribbean Sea.
All aspects of this impressionable resort are founded upon principles of environmental conservation and preservation and both Jade Mountain and its sister property Anse Chastanet are uniquely natural resorts that notably filter out all modern-day distractions: there are no phones, no tvs, no sound systems, nor clocks on property (WiFi, however, is available). Guests are presented with an environment that facilitates an exceptional interaction with nature and the present moment. This is an intentional philosophy by the resort creators: “so that the outside world cannot intrude.''
The property’s 600 lush, tropical acres border two soft-sand Caribbean beaches with pristine coral reefs teeming with aquatic life. Part of the property includes the historical plantation of Anse Mamin as well as Emerald Estate, where the resort grows its own organic produce and cacao beans. Booking a room at Jade Mountain or Anse Chastanet means booking an enormous resort experience with loads of facilities and activities at your fingertips. Enjoy exploring the extensive estate, jungle biking, bird watching, sunset sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, kayaking, yoga, tennis, and some exciting island excursions. Sign up for the rum mixology class, chocolate sensory tasting, creole history class, or plantation walks. Indulge in Jade Mountain’s Kai en Ciel Spa (creole for “house in heaven”) or Anse Chastanet’s beachside Kai Belté Spa (creole for “house of beauty”). The options are endless.
Architect and resort owner Nick Troubetzkoy has laudably succeeded in building both resorts in creative harmony with Saint Lucia's nature. Jade Mountain guests stay in aptly-named sanctuaries -- large, loft-style spaces with a fourth wall that is entirely absent. Accessible by a dramatic private bridge entrance, the sensuously secluded sanctuaries feature 15-foot ceilings, gorgeous natural finishings, and all the luxurious amenities you expect from a five-star resort. The unique open-space format encourages you to intimately connect with your surroundings and stimulate your senses -- breathing in the freshest of air, communing with the birds, and, if you wish, feeling the sun and the moon’s rays directly on your skin --truly a one-of-a-kind experience.
Welcome to your own enchanting sanctuary
Choose from any of the 24 extraordinary galaxy, sun, moon, star or sky sanctuaries, all with extravagant infinity pools and striking views of the twin Pitons. Please note that Jade Mountain is an adult’s only resort. Anse Chastanet’s unique, individually-designed suites are equally celebrated. A dozen rooms are tucked behind the coconut palms that line the beach and the remainder tiptoe up a lush, flower-decked hillside. Octagonal whitewashed cottages make the most of the panoramic views, and some come with wraparound flower-draped balconies. All 49 of the rooms share the property's continuing theme in common: an openness to the surroundings that fosters a feeling of connection to the landscape. Rooms, bathrooms, and tropical hardwood furniture all blend harmoniously with the environment and nature.
As far as resort dining, Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet guests have plenty to choose from on property. Jade cuisine at the Jade Mountain Club caters exclusively to resident guests and offers exotic and delicious modern fusion cuisine with live entertainment on select evenings. The Treehouse Restaurant consists of two open-air treehouse structures with fine Caribbean dining and beautiful views of the ocean and surrounding hills. Dine or enjoy a drink at the Piton Lounge and Bar with Piton and ocean views, turning into Emerald’s Vegetarian restaurant at night (for dinner reservations only). Enjoy lunch at the Trou au Diable beach restaurant and bar at beach level, or the Jungle Grill at the neighboring beach of Anse Mamin (accessible only by foot or resort shuttle boats). Delight in East-Indian/St. Lucian fusion cuisine at Apsara, a dinner-only restaurant located beachside. The only thing that may be lacking in a vacation at Jade Mountain or Anse Chastanet is the time to enjoy all it has to offer. These magnificent resorts are guaranteed to keep their guests awestruck and coming back to experience and see more.
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Making a Difference: Saint Lucia Tourism Enhancement Fund The Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA) launched the Tourism Enhancement Fund project in 2013 to encourage the sustainable development of Saint Lucia whilst facilitating the tourism sector development and management on the island. Through this fund, resort guests and island visitors are asked to donate $2 for each night of their stay at resorts in Saint Lucia. Donations are used to finance and implement developmental initiatives, including beautification, infrastructural, educational projects, and training programs in the Tourism and Hospitality sector.
According to Karolin Troubetzkoy, President of SLHTA, “The Tourism Enhancement Fund has been able to bring about positive change, supporting long term projects like our Apprenticeship Placement initiative, which gives young unemployed persons their first exposure to a job. We also collaborate with the National Conservation Fund in the area of marine health and preservation and plastics reduction.” To learn more, visit www.saintluciatef.com.