Picturesque, romantic, home of the famous Pitons, voted the Caribbean’s leading honeymoon destination for 2019, and an appropriate hashtag reading #letherinspireyou, Saint Lucia has been on my “must do” list since I have started planning Caribbean vacations. When I was given the opportunity to visit the island on a work trip a few months ago, of course I jumped at the chance!
Before I knew it, the day was here! After very little sleep due to my last minute packing, I was departing from Grand Rapids on the first Delta flight of the morning. After a quick layover in Atlanta and 4.5 more hours of enjoying Delta’s complimentary onboard entertainment, I was landing in paradise!
As with all vacation destinations, getting there takes some planning and consideration. Delta offers daily nonstop service into Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) from Atlanta, American Airlines has a daily nonstop flight from Miami, and has recently added a weekly nonstop from Chicago O’hare, and JetBlue offers nonstop flights from JFK, just to name a few flight schedules. Your Embrace the Journey Travel Planner can assist you with selecting the best flights from your preferred airport.
Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) is small and easy to navigate upon arrival. For guests interested in skipping all of the lines and crowds, Royal Airport Concierge offers VIP arrival and departure services at UVF for an extra fee to allow for true stress-free travel. UVF (which is the main airport in Saint Lucia) is currently undergoing a 175 million dollar complete transformation estimated to be complete mid 2021. I breezed through customs, collected my luggage, and met my private driver outside of the terminal building.
From the moment that my driver pulled out of the airport parking lot, I knew I was in paradise! I was glued to the passenger window not wanting to miss a second of the lush scenery and stunning hillsides. I could tell immediately that Saint Lucia was unlike any other Caribbean island that I have visited and I was already “inspired.” It was love at first sight! Those from the United States should note that Saint Lucians drive on the left side (or as Americans would say the “wrong side”) of the road, and the highway is very hilly and winding. I do advise against renting a car. Let one of our recommended drivers take care of that so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the views. Also, if your budget allows, I highly recommend upgrading to private transfers.
At only 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, Saint Lucia’s landscape is so diverse. This was evident throughout my transfer by car to my resort as we drove through the different regions. From bustling cities with nightlife, quiet beaches, to jungles and a drive-in volcano, Saint Lucia has something for everyone.
North Saint Lucia: This is the most popular choice for visitors and there are many resorts to choose from in this area. Although the furthest from the airport, this portion of the island offers Pigeon Island National Park, Rodney Bay, top beaches, nightlife, Gros Islet Friday Night Street Party (ask me about this!), snorkeling, kayaking, and most resorts face the Caribbean Sea with beautiful, calm blue water. This area is great for groups, honeymooners, families, and couples.
South Saint Lucia: Closest to the airport, so you will be on the beach in no time! Very historic with Vieux Fort which offers ruins and hiking. Some resorts in this area are on the Atlantic side of the island, which is great for kite surfing! I toured a fabulous resort on the Atlantic side in South Saint Lucia, Coconut Bay Beach Resort! I will discuss this in more detail in a future blog post. This area is an ideal choice for shorter trips, vacations with kids, and history lovers.
West Saint Lucia: The West Coast of Saint Lucia is home to the famous Pitons located outside of the town of Soufriere (original French capital). This area has many popular excursions such as hiking in the Pitons, some of the best snorkeling (I snorkeled at the base of the Pitons), the world’s only drive-in volcano and mud baths! This area boasts some of the most unique, luxurious resorts with stunning views of the Pitons. I recommend visiting this area no matter where you stay, but resorts in this area are perfect for honeymooners and those craving unique, luxury accommodations.
Central Saint Lucia: Although there are not many hotels in this area, visitors enjoy visiting Central Saint Lucia on day trips to experience the gorgeous rainforests, waterfalls, streams, exotic birds and wildlife. Be sure to visit Edmund Forest Reserve for great hiking and spectacular views…some of the best views on the island.
My drive continued with a stop at the fishing village Dennery Lookout, for some postcard worthy pictures. Next, my driver stopped at a roadside food stand and treated me to some authentic Saint Lucian cuisine. He handed me a package wrapped in foil and explained that I was about to try saltfish accras or “fish patties.” Accras are essentially saltfish fritters, Caribbean Style. He explained that saltfish is actually salted cod introduced by the original explorers who brought salted fish on voyages so it would keep longer. These fritters are now a popular staple of Saint Lucian cuisine usually eaten at breakfast or for appetizers with any meal. They were delicious with the perfect blend of salty and spicy. I knew that I would be well fed at the resorts, but resort food is typically Americanized. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to try the local cuisine and I try to do so at all of the destinations I visit. See below for a saltfish accras recipe and try it in your own kitchen!
Many of the popular resorts in Saint Lucia are located at the north-western side of the island near Castries and Gros Islet, which means you should expect about 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minute drive from the airport. There is only one main highway that curves its way around the island and keep in mind that traffic conditions can add on to that transfer time. I arrived on Friday afternoon and we were heading through Castries right as everyone was getting out of work for the week, leading to stopped traffic, and a longer transfer time. If you are not a fan of long car rides or get motion sickness with curvy roads keep this in mind. Don’t worry, though, you won’t need to miss out on the beauty of this part of the island! In this case, I highly recommend the helicopter transfer. I opted for this transfer on my return trip and will discuss this (amazing) experience in a future blog post.
As I was finishing my saltfish patties, we pulled into my first resort of the trip, Royalton Saint Lucia Resort and Spa.
Next Up: Royalton Saint Lucia Resort and Spa! I stayed in the Diamond Club Luxury Penthouse One Bedroom Jacuzzi Suite which is the top room category!
Fish Cakes (Accra) Recipe – Go Eat Give
- ½ lb. Saltfish (or dried salted cod)
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp. Baking powder
- 2 tbsp. Finely chopped green seasonings (combination of fresh thyme/oregano, chives/spring onion/green onion, shadon beni/cilantro)
- 1 tsp. Minced garlic
- 1 tsp. Finely chopped onion
- Hot pepper to taste
- ½ cup water (approx.)
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup vegetable or canola oil for deep frying
Scald saltfish, remove bones and flake fish finely. Keep aside.
Combine flour, baking powder, green seasoning, garlic and onion in a large bowl. Mix the fish with the flour. Add pepper and water to make a soft mixture and mix until smooth. Add salt to taste.
Heat oil in a large frying pan until really hot. Drop the batter into the hot oil using a large spoon and deep fry for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm with hot sauce or banana ketchup.
Make sure to read Part Two of this series if you haven’t already!
Thanks to Embrace the Journey Travel Planner, Andrea Cassidy for writing this blog post for us. You can learn more about Andrea here.