St. Lucia, known for the iconic twin Piton peaks, is a Caribbean island with the perfect mix of beach and jungle. St. Lucia is oblong in shape with a distinct feel to the north and south parts of the island. So where should you stay? Both of course! Read on for our recommendations on where to stay and what to do on this island paradise.
Located near Rodney Bay on the north coast of St. Lucia, Cap Maison is a family-owned boutique hotel set in one of the most sought after spots on the island. Shady arches, sun-dappled courtyards, trickling fountains and terracotta urns channel a hacienda-like feel. A small cliff-edge cascading pool as well as a larger one surrounded by chaise lounges welcomes guests for a dip while the private white sand beach invites a swim in the warm Caribbean waters. An unexpected find here, there is even an on-site wine cellar that houses a collection of 2,000 bottles including rare champagnes, grand cru Bordeaux, and fine Burgundies.
Accommodations are quite spacious at Cap Maison, with villa-style residences perfect for families and those who like lots of space to spread out. We stayed in the Pink Cedar Ocean View Suite, which had three levels, the top-level being an open-air terrace with lounge furniture and views over the entire north part of the island.
Smuggler’s Cove Beach has soft, white sands and is swimmable straight from the shore. Activity option here include kayaking, Hobie Cat sailing, paddle boarding and wind surfing. There is a small reef at the far west side of the beach, but snorkeling conditions were not ideal during out stay due to the presence of sargassum.
The true star at Cap Maison is the food. They say Cap Maison is a foodie paradise and that is absolutely true. Don’t skip on the option for the “Cap it All Inclusive” plan which includes 3 meals a day, top-shelf spirits, wines and soft-drinks. No buffets here! Their food offerings are some of the best we’ve ever experienced on an all-inclusive basis.
The Cliff at Cap, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, is set atop a private ocean-front bluff with magical sunset views. A must do here: Request a private dinner on Rock Maison, a wooden deck perched above the sea, which sports a “Champagne zip line” for whisking drinks to you. With candle lit lanterns and tiki torches lighting the night sky and the sounds of the waves as your backdrop, there are few places in the world which rival this unique romantic setting.
Of their two on-site restaurants, we loved the vibe and menu at the Naked Fisherman best. Its the more casual sister of the Cliff at Cap, set directly on the Smuggler’s Cove Beach and open for lunch and dinner. To get there, you’ll go down a set of wooden stairs that are lit up at nighttime with twinkling lights for a truly magical feel. And while you’re there, make sure you try the jerk chicken kebabs at least once…they were to die for!
On the south part of St. Lucia is where you will find the iconic peaks of Gros Piton and Petit Piton. the majestic Val des Pitons, which is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, was once the site of an 18th Century sugar plantation and is now home to Sugar Beach. The resort spans over 100 acres of lushly landscaped grounds that sweeps down to the stunning white sand Sugar Beach and the glimmering Caribbean Sea.
Accommodations are light and bright capturing the resort’s plantation history with high-beamed ceilings and four-poster beds. Both tranquil and spacious, you’ll find outdoor spaces offering stunning views, terraces, and private plunge pools. While it is a much larger resort than Cap Maison, it doesn’t feel crowded at all. villas, guestrooms, bungalows, cottages, and residences are spread out across the valley and feel quite private due to the natural foliage throughout.
Due to its size, on-demand van transportation is offered throughout the resort, taking you from your villa to the beach, dining spots, spa and more. You usually don’t need to wait more than a few minutes for transportation, although waits can be longer during peak times like breakfast and dinner.
The Rainforest Spa has an amazing ambiance. You are welcomed to by spa after passing through a tunneled walkway into a series of treehouses tucked away in the jungle. The feeling is instant relaxation. Here you can enjoy signature treatments including a bamboo massage, pink salt stone therapies, body wraps, and scrubs, and more. A must do here: indulge in a Hot Candle Massage that uses a candle made from specially blended oils; you can even take the candle home!
The beach here is stellar. Due to its location on the island, the staff at Sugar Beach explained that they rarely have an issue with sargassum and this was true during our entire stay. Even better, at the far north of the beach, at the base of Petit Piton is a protected marine reserve. The snorkeling here is so good that many snorkeling boats bring their guests to this very spot, but as a guest at Sugar Beach, you have easy access right from the beach.
What To Do
There’s more to do on St. Lucia than we than can list here, but here are a few of our favorites:
Sulfur Springs and The Mud Baths – St. Lucia is home to the “world’s only drive-in volcano.” Just a short drive from Sugar Beach, you’ll come to Sulphur Springs National Park with hardened lava flows, volcanic fissures and boiling cauldrons of water and mud. This is also where you will find the famous mud baths. Here you’ll be able to indulge in a ritual involving light mud and dark mud along with a soak in the hot springs.
Our recommendation for Sulphur Springs: go early right when it opens and if you can, go on a day that a cruise ship is not in port. We also recommend doing the mud baths before the volcano because the mud baths tend to get busy more quickly. And lastly, don’t forget to bring a towel – like we did, ha!
Hike the Pitons – Traverse the famed Tet Paul Nature Trail, a a spectacular trail through the verdant farming community of Chateau Belair as you enjoy views of the Pitons as well as Martinique and St. Vincent on clear days. Alternatively, you may opt for a more strenuous hike on the Petit Piton Trail, which takes you to the summit of the smaller of the two iconic peaks. For the ultimate challenge, climb the UNESCO World Heritage-listed, volcanic Gros Piton standing 2,619 feet above sea level. Explore the verdant rainforest as you clamber over boulders and are treated to the breathtaking view from the summit, and picturesque stops at Au Poye Park and the valley of Fond Gens Libre.
Underwater Adventures – Beneath the waves, Saint Lucia is an aquatic wonderland filled with dazzling underwater wildlife. The island forms the tip of an underwater volcano making for a stunning variety of coral, sponges, and sea fauna. Diving opportunities abound with the best sites centered around the southern part of the island including Pinnacles, Superman’s Flight, Anse Chastanet Reef and Fairyland. Snorkeling tours are offered as well, but we found the snorkeling right off the shore at Sugar Beach to be wonderful. For something fun and different, join in on one of their guided night snorkels at Sugar Beach where you’ll see nocturnal aquatic life that comes awake in the dark waters.
Project Chocolat – Project Chocolat is nestled within the lush Caribbean rainforest, on Saint Lucia’s oldest working cacao farm, Rabot Estate in Soufriere. A perfect experience for foodies or chocolate lovers, you can tour the cocoa grove and taste cocoa from a pod before making a chocolate bar yourself . There is are also a number cacao-inspired dishes to try at their on-site food hall including the Cacao Burger, Cacao Beer-Battered Fish & Chips and even cacao-infused cocktails.
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