• Heather Vergara

Saint Lucia is So Lovely

Updated: May 1

So lovely … that’s what I found myself saying over and over on our recent Saint Lucia vacation for our 15th wedding anniversary. Two things really stood out for me about St. Lucia: the breathtaking, dramatic landscape like no other island I’ve visited and the warm, welcoming islanders who seemed genuinely interested in sharing insights about their home and ensuring our stay was fantastic. St. Lucia is the perfect spot for a relaxing, romantic honeymoon or grownup getaway.


Getting to Saint Lucia and Getting Around the Island



Before I get into everything we loved about the island, let’s first provide some grounding in geography. St. Lucia is part of the Lesser Antilles islands in the southern Caribbean. Martinique is to the north and St. Vincent to the south. We flew Indianapolis to Miami, and then Miami to St. Lucia (UVF) - all together around seven hours of flying. My husband kept saying that St. Lucia could replace Hawaii for him because it’s so much easier to get to. I don't necessarily agree given how much Hawaii has to offer, but we will be back to St. Lucia for sure!


St. Lucia is a pear-shaped island with the Caribbean Sea on the west side and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. All the development is on the Caribbean side as that’s where most of the natural beauty lies – the pitons (two triangle-shaped mountains on the coast), beaches, rainforests, waterfalls and volcano. On the Atlantic side, the water is rough, there’s no beaches to speak of, and sargassum (seaweed) is an issue.



To reach St. Lucia, you fly into Hewanorra airport (UVF) at the southern tip of the island. Then you catch a ride – car, boat, or helicopter – to your resort. St. Lucia is very mountainous with one road that winds its way up, down and around the island. I can’t imagine renting a car there because the roads are so curvy, and you drive on the left side. We would not have made it out alive had we rented a car!


The pitons and surrounding resorts near Soufriere on the southwest part of the island are about a 45-minute car ride from the airport. The large all-inclusive resorts like the three Sandals way up on the northwest coast are close to a two-hour car ride. For this reason, we chose to take a water ferry from the airport to our first resort - Cap Maison - way up on the northern tip. And what an amazing way to start our vacation! Instead of being carsick for two hours on winding roads, we saw the whole west coast and were greeted by multiple rainbows and a huge pod of dolphins! The funtoseeisland crew was so fantastic! Getting out on the water to see the island landscape by boat is a must, so you might as well do it on the way to your resort! I had clients who recently visited St. Lucia for their anniversary, and they loved it, too!


FunToSeeIsland Water Ferry from the airport to resorts


St. Lucia: Things to Do

Because St. Lucia caters to honeymooners and grown-up getaways, the island has a very peaceful vibe that makes you want to just relax and enjoy the view. So the #1 thing to do in St. Lucia is beach/pool/repeat. While the island delivers in spades when it comes to dramatic landscape, you’ll notice the water is not the iconic Caribbean turquoise as far as the eye can see like you’d find in Turks & Caicos, for example. St. Lucia does have clear water and turquoise areas, but most of the water is a darker blue. We enjoyed snorkeling, but it’s not a highlight of the trip like on other islands.


Enjoying the view


The most beautiful and interesting sights are on the southwest side of the island, so if you’re staying up north, you need to find your way down south to experience all the natural beauty the island has to offer. The Pitons (pronounced pee-tons) – named a UNESCO World Heritage site – have become the iconic symbol of St Lucia. These two mountains rise dramatically from the Caribbean Sea, providing a stunning backdrop for selfies and sunsets. Gros Piton is slightly taller than Petit Piton, but Gros is the “easier” climb if you can call a four-hour hike easy. We planned to do the Gros Piton Hike and mud baths post-hike; however, we decided to be lazy instead. We’ll save the Piton hike for next time!

St. Lucia Pitons


One way to see the island is a Tout Bagay tour, which literally means “little bit of everything” – snorkeling, boat cruise, waterfall, volcano, mud baths. While you get a lot for your money on this seven-hour excursion, we felt a bit like cattle being herded on and off the boat and minibus to see each tourist site. Plus, we dealt with torrential rain on and off the whole way back and had forgotten our quick-dry towels, so we were cold and wet for the better part of the afternoon. All we could think about was that we were stuck on that excursion for seven hours instead of relaxing at our beautiful villa at Cap Maison.

Pitons, volcano, waterfall, boat ride - a little bit of everything!


I think if the weather had been nicer and we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic and nervous about COVID exposure - and if we had not already done the water ferry up the whole coast - we would have enjoyed Tout Bagay more. However, I recommend separating your boat and land excursions. Do the water ferry to your resort and maybe add on a sunset sail during your stay. Then book a private driving tour (taxis are reasonable) so you can see some of the island, too. I was hoping the Tout Bagay would go to the Diamond Falls estate, but instead we went to a tiny ecological park where tourists stand in line to have their pictures taken in the waterfall. We also stopped at what they call the “drive-in” volcano. You could choose a guided short tour of the volcano itself or a dip in the mud baths. We chose the volcano, because we planned to do the mud baths after our Piton hike later in the week. The volcano was interesting but nothing like the active lava flow on the Big Island of Hawaii. On our next trip to St. Lucia, we’ll check out Diamond Falls with a private guide.


St. Lucia Diamond Falls


St Lucia: Where to Stay

Like most of our vacations, we decided to split our stay and booked three nights at Cap Maison on the northern tip of the island and four nights at Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort, in between the pitons down south. This allowed us to experience two very different areas of the island and two AMAZING resorts – like two vacations in one! I highly recommend!


Cap Maison

Cap Maison, St. Lucia


Our first stop was Cap Maison, a small and intimate Mediterranean boutique resort nestled in the cliffs above the Caribbean. All of St. Lucia is so peaceful and serene, but Cap Maison was the epitome of peace – picturesque, private, quiet – which was perfect for the beginning of our trip when we were ready to chill after the stress of traveling internationally during the Omicron COVID scare. Cap Maison is family-owned and managed with 40 or so villas with jaw-dropping views of the Caribbean and Pigeon Island National Park. St. Lucia has a very European vibe, and I loved that Cap Maison held true to those European influences in the architecture, the food, and the charm. You definitely feel worlds away from the US despite the fact that everyone on the island speaks English, all signs are in English, and everyone is happy to accept the US dollar.


We booked a one-bedroom villa with plunge pool and were lucky to get upgraded to a villa with a rooftop terrace thanks to my luxury consortium perks, which I can offer to my clients! Our villa was enormous – full kitchen, 1.5 half baths, living and dining room all open air to our main floor veranda that overlooked the beautiful Caribbean, pools, and Cliff at Cap, the resort’s main restaurant. Curved stairs led up to the pièce de résistance – our rooftop terrace with plunge pool, outdoor dining and lounge chairs. While the pool water was never warm enough for swimming, we dangled our legs to say we got in and thoroughly enjoyed the view and solitude up there. On our last day at Cap, we ordered room service for lunch, which was delivered to us on our rooftop. So luxurious!

Cap Maison 1BR Villa with Rooftop Terrace


We were surprised the open air concept was never an issue – no bugs, not too hot, and the only wildlife we saw in our villa were a couple small birds who quickly exited when they saw us. Our bedroom was closed off and air-conditioned, but we loved that we always had the veranda open with amazing views, a cool breeze, and the sounds of waves crashing against the rocks.


As a special celebration for our anniversary, we booked Rock Maison, a private dinner for two out on a platform deck over the water’s edge. We relaxed with champagne (delivered by zipline!) and beautiful views while our poor waiter ran up and down the somewhat treacherous stairs with our multi-course meal. By the end, we were a bit tipsy and wind-blown and needed the restroom after a bottle of champagne. We then had to navigate the rocky beach and stairs in the dark - an adventure we’ll remember forever!

Rock Maison at Cap Maison, St. Lucia


I loved the beach at Cap Maison – quiet, authentic and picturesque but with all the amenities of a bigger resort beach. Our lunch and drinks at the Naked Fisherman were divine! The water was beautiful, and the seating at the beach was plentiful and diverse – beach loungers with tiki umbrellas, a platform with beach beds, and a swing out on the rocks. But don’t have too many drinks at the Naked Fisherman, because there’s 92 steps up from the beach to get back to the resort!


Cap Maison beach


Cap Maison is a quick taxi ride to Rodney Bay where you’ll find restaurants and nightlife as well as smaller hotels. We met some women on our Tout Bagay tour who were staying in Rodney Bay, and they seemed pretty happy with the party atmosphere there. Pigeon Island National Park is also close by and is definitely worth a visit for hiking, beaches and views of Rodney Bay and Martinique. The Pigeon hike was the only exercise we got the whole week because we were lazy bums!


Pigeon Island National Park hike


St. Lucia Sandals resorts

Three Sandals adult-only all-inclusive resorts grace the beaches of St. Lucia – Sandals Grande St. Lucian, Sandals La Toc, and Sandals Halcyon. I have several friends who honeymooned at Sandals Grande, the largest and most popular of the three. The Grande has a big, beautiful beach, overwater bungalows that get snatched up quickly, and a party atmosphere. La Toc also has a beautiful beach but is more about glamour and serenity than partying. Halcyon is quaint (smallest of the three) and peaceful with not as much activity. However, you can stay in one and play in all three if you want options! I had clients celebrate their 10th anniversary at La Toc recently who were happy to never leave the resort!

St. Lucia Sandals resorts - Grande, La Toc, and Halcyon


Sugar Beach, a Viceroy resort

After our lovely stay at Cap Maison, we took another water taxi down south to Sugar Beach, an exquisite resort nestled on a white sand beach in between the pitons with breathtaking views and vibrant gardens. Built on an 18th century sugar plantation nestled in the rainforest, Sugar Beach may very well be the most beautiful resort I've ever visited. The sand in St. Lucia is more golden brown in color, so they imported white sand to make Sugar Beach more sugar-y. The beach is sublime and serene with comfy loungers, tiki umbrellas and beach service. Every day for lunch, we dined alfresco at one of two beachfront restaurants where we had fresh catch and crisp white wine just steps from the Caribbean and then walked 100 feet to crash on our beach lounger. Did I say that Sugar Beach was relaxing? Once we got there, we never wanted to leave!

Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort, St. Lucia


Just up from the beach is a stunning infinity pool with cabanas and loungers. However, the pool was not heated, so few guests were brave enough to swim. The Caribbean was much warmer, so most of the action was at the beach! Up a grand staircase off the lawn is The Great House where we had our free breakfast every morning (divine!) and where they serve dinner.

Sugar Beach pool, beach, repeat


The resort provides complimentary kayaks, SUP, and snorkel gear. A marine preserve on one side of the beach is great for snorkeling; however, snorkeling is much better on other Caribbean islands. We kayaked every day and got the paddle boards out when it wasn’t too windy. We won’t talk about my hubs’ fall off the SUP and how I was no help at all because I was laughing so hard. On our actual anniversary, we celebrated with a couples massage experience in the picturesque treetop spa. Sugar Beach also has a beautiful fitness center that we did not use once. Remember, I told you we were being lazy!

Kayak, SUP, Snorkel & Spa at Sugar Beach


Sugar Beach has a wide range of accommodations from Beachfront Bungalows, 1-4BR beachfront residences, and 1BR villas perched up in the rainforest. We had a rainforest villa for the first half of our stay and then were lucky enough to be upgraded to a beachfront bungalow for the last half. Both were so beautiful and luxurious, but the villa was a long, steep (albeit beautiful) walk or ride to the main part of the resort. After two days of the walk, we were happy to be moved to the beachfront bungalow, which could not have been any closer to the water. Thank you to Korina for the amazing upgrade! All accommodations include a private plunge pool or hot tub - although not heated - even the hot tub. Cold water seems to be a common theme in St. Lucia. I’m sure those pools are more useful in the hot months. When we were there in January, the outside temperature was a lovely 70-80 degrees, but the pools were nowhere warm enough for me. Luckily, the Caribbean was just right!

Sugar Beach 1BR Rainforest Villa with plunge pool and piton view



Sugar Beach Beachfront Bungalow and views


All accommodations at Sugar Beach also include a team of butlers who take the time to get to know you and are there to help with anything you need. They greet you when you arrive and seem to know when you return to your room and will call or stop by to see if you need anything. They provide you with a special butler phone you can use throughout the resort for any requests. And the butler team talks to each other, so there’s no repeating yourself when you are awaiting a response on a request. They all knew we were anxiously awaiting word on the Beachfront Bungalow upgrade and were so excited when we got it!

Sugar Beach butler


I mentioned how lovely the islanders are, and our experience with our butlers, our driver, and our ferry boat crew all contributed to our warm welcome. Everyone we met went out of their way to get to know us. We had some very real, very insightful conversations and were surprised to find no language barrier. During our week, we talked fondly about missing Josiah from the water taxi our first day. He felt like a friend by the end of the ride. We ended up using the same driver from Sugar Beach for all our dinners out and our ride to the airport, so Lex felt like a friend, too.


Other St. Lucia Accommodations

While I didn't get to tour any other resorts due to COVID, we did dine out at three properties, which gave me a taste of what else is out there. Jade Mountain is the creme de la creme of St Lucia with just 24 panoramic "sanctuaries" built into the cliffs overlooking the pitons and Caribbean Sea. I desperately wanted to spend at least one night here, but after seeing the beach Jade shares with Anse Chastanet, I think we chose well with Sugar Beach where we were steps from white sand and the water's edge. Jade requires a ride down to the Anse Chastanet beach.


Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet beach


We also dined at two other resorts up in the hills above the pitons. Ladera Resort's Dasheene is famous for its views at sunset and its food. We would agree that both were spectacular and worth the drive from Sugar Beach. We also dined at Hotel Chocolat, which has yummy drinks, but the food and service were less than stellar and not worth the trip up the mountain. While the views and solitude at these resorts are amazing, I think I would miss being on the beach. So I feel like our choices of Cap Maison and Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort, were perfection!


Dasheene at Ladera resort for amazing food and views


Is St. Lucia a good fit for your vacation?

St. Lucia is a top honeymoon spot and many of its resorts are adult-only, so I don't think it's a great family destination like Hawaii. We did see some babies and toddlers at Cap Maison and Sugar Beach, but not many. The island is built for relaxation and romance, and I think my kids would be bored after a couple days. It's not easy to get around, so it's best to stay put at an amazing resort and sprinkle in an activity here and there. My hubs and I definitely want to come back – and we would stay at Sugar Beach for sure! – but I don’t think I’d bring our kids. Who's joining us next time?



 

Heather Vergara is a former Pepsico marketing executive who left the corporate world to be a Mom and never made her way back. In addition to travel and adventure, Heather is passionate about kindness, community, whole food, and fitness. Her travel business, Show Them the World, is more fun than she ever imagined! In just her first year and a half in business, she's helped almost 60 families see the world - Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Turks & Caicos, St. Lucia, National Parks, and more to come!


Heather has an MBA in marketing from Indiana University, a Digital Marketing Executive Education certificate from Columbia University, and a BA in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She lives with her husband, two kids and two furry dogs in Zionsville, Indiana.









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