Visit to Saint Lucia, British West Indies

It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a family vacation. So to start 2015 I took advantage of an excellent deal with American Airlines to fly to Saint Lucia in the British West Indies with a little stop over in Miami on the way. This was a fantastic trip like nothing else I had experienced until now mainly because of my one year old nephew being the highlight of the entire experience. For the $197/per person we definitely got our money’s worth because of the Blizzard of the century that we managed to escape early… the blizzard didn’t quite happen but we got an extra day in Miami to visit the Everglades and Zoo Miami as well as sample some of the finest Cuban cuisine South Florida has to offer.

new jersey snow

I am not a big fan of the snow, so beating the winter storm was a great adrenaline rush especially since we managed to do it before the airlines started cancelling flights on the day of our scheduled day of travel. Upon arrival in Saint Lucia the first surprise was my little Suzuki rental car.

saint lucia west indies

Not quite what I had in mind when I booked a small SUV but it turns out they had run out by the time we got there. For the next six days we realized why having an SUV is crucial on this island with it’s crazy offroading opportunities just to reach some of the more secluded beaches, but we had a great time doing it in our more fuel efficient Suzuki. The views around the island were absolutely stunning. Driving up the steep and twisty mountains was amazing and I can totally see the country hosting a rally or a hillclimb competition in the future. But with only two roads encircling the island it might pose a bit of an inconvenience for the locals and the tourists that are looking for a relaxing time.

saint lucia suzuki

We certainly had a blast. Besides the sulfur mud baths, and a steaming volcanic crater in the interior of the island, we got to visit the botanical gardens and water falls. It was there that I tried fresh cacao fruit for the first time. And even though I’ve had coco tea before that I didn’t much like, it turns out I prepared it completely wrong, so it was nice to have it served properly on the island.

st. lucia cacao

I’m so glad we got a chance to drive around most of the island ourselves because the alternative would have been taking a boat or one of the souped up Taxi vans. Though I’ve seen plenty of Toyota Hiace’s in Asia and the Pacific, these were definitely prepped for off road use with a serious offset wheels that stuck out several inches beyond the body of the car:

saint lucia hiace taxi

st. lucia hiace taxi

I don’t know how practical this larger footprint was but they were certainly flying around the single lane road catering to the cruise ship crowd of tourists.

st. lucia flag

One of the coolest experiences of the trip for me, besides the quiet bay we called home for a week in Marigot Bay was visiting Soufrière where we had some authentic seafood and really delicious drinks. The local people were incredibly friendly and it was really pleasant to watch them interact with the baby. We made a lot of new friends and would love to have an opportunity to come back to this part of the Caribbean again.

Thank you Saint Lucia for the warm hospitality!

PS. I would highly recommend St. Lucia to anyone looking for an amazing island with a true “undiscovered” feel to it, but keep in mind it is ridiculously expensive. Food, car rental, accommodations were far pricier than what I had experienced in Aruba or Saint Martin – Sint Maareten (both French and Dutch sides). Saint Lucia was not suited for my budget, that’s for sure. My sister put it best, the people that visit on their big yachts dictate what the pricing, and there were a lot of massive yachts just outside of our resort which was only reachable by a small private ferry. Do try the passion fruit flavor Piton beer, it was an outstanding soft drink alternative.

Addendum: we started and finished our trip in Miami, Florida. And besides being my favorite part of the country to visit in the US, I was so glad my little nephew got to experience some of the things I love most about it like visiting South Beach in Miami Beach.