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St. Lucia: Paradise found

Paradise has a name and it’s St. Lucia.

Our love affair was brief and I fell hard.

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Funny how things work out, however; our meeting was fairly coincidental.  For St. Lucia was never particularly on my radar– the idea to visit was borne of a general desire to experience more of the West Indies. After all, four years living and working in Asia and another four years doing the same in Europe means that most of my adult life has been spent on the other side of the world, visiting ancient cathedrals and cataloguing buddhas; my recent move to New York City had me itching to explore places closer to home.

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And, if I’m completely honest, this interest in travelling the region was also borne of a desire to rediscover my roots.  My passport is embossed with the word Canada but culturally I am from Jamaica: my family is as Jamaican as they come, my closest friends hail from myriad Caribbean nations, and I get a crazy craving for curry-goat roti, patties, and cocoa bread when too much time has transpired since they last crossed my lips.  I speak patois with my mom on the phone, get hype when I hear a dancehall or soca song on the radio, and I think it’s perfectly acceptable to eat codfish and boiled, unripened bananas for breakfast. I’m a child of the islands even though I’ve never lived there, and the urge to reconnect with this identity has been building for a while.

 

But why St. Lucia and not Jamaica, then? Well, plane tickets were cheap, the flight connections were relatively easy, and this wanderer’s compass ultimately does not discriminate.  Also, a return to Jamaica with my mom and Liebling is in the works for later this year, so there was no rush to go at this particular moment. With our first wedding anniversary looming, Liebling and I wanted to celebrate in a place that was dreamy, yet culturally and topographically interesting– St. Lucia fit the bill. Moreover, when I put out the feelers to my traveller friends, they had nothing but great things to say about the place.   We were sold on the idea. We booked without further hesitation. And it was the best decision ever.

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Natural Beauty

We opted to stay in southern part of the island, which we heard was rugged and largely unspoiled by mass tourism.  The south is also the site of the Pitons, the two massive volcanic spires that are the unofficial symbols of the islands. These, combined with the thick, leafy vegetation that grows up along the winding mountain roads, provided the perfect backdrop for a romantic, yet adventurous vacation. IMG_3957IMG_3523

Anse Chastanet Beach

As St. Lucia is a volcanic island, black sand beaches dot its coastlines.  This may seem unusual for someone who is accustomed to the golden or white sand beaches found in other parts of the Caribbean, but this was yet another detail that I think makes the island unique. Our main beach of choice?  None other than Anse Chastanet, located just outside of the town of Soufrière.  Fringed with palm trees and clear waters, it was an ideal place to catch up on my reading, frolic in the sea, and work on my tan! IMG_3650IMG_3663

When night fell and it was time to escape the mosquitoes (both pesky and plenty in number– please take repellent), we took refuge at the Anse Chastanet Hotel, the expansive, hilly estate at which we were invited to lay our heads for two nights. Our premium room was large and had ridiculously impressive views of the Pitons!  Full review of all the amenities of this luxury hotel is coming soon, but suffice to say that though the beach was a stone’s throw away, we were reluctant to leave this space. IMG_3527IMG_3532

The food

Much as I had hoped to watch my figure, St. Lucian cuisine was difficult to resist.  Starchy, spicy, flavourful treats sated my appetite and widened my waistline.  Liebling, who is a salt fiend, remarked with incredulity that he didn’t have to pick up the salt shaker even once during our stay; I nodded in agreement as I gobbled down local cuisine like fritters, bakes, and green figs (the boiled, unripened bananas I referenced above).  More details on what we ate during our stay coming soon, but we found all the food in St. Lucia divine. IMG_4015IMG_4076

A homecoming

More dispatches from this beautiful nation are coming, but before I end this post I just wanted to comment on the fact that St. Lucia felt like coming home–  the familiar couched within the unfamiliar so to speak.  From the lilting accent and hairstyles of the locals, to the spicy food, to the tropical hospitality, my time in St. Lucia felt very much like a return to a distant cousin’s house, a reunion with a part of myself that years of living far away had caused me to forget.  As a Canadian or American (particularly of Caribbean descent), it’s easy to take this region for granted— it’s close by, not seen to be as exotic as faraway island nations like the Maldives or Tahiti, and you can easily speak English and use American currency here.  But, as I’m coming to realize, the West Indies are such a treasure and, while the islands have their similarities, they’re most definitely culturally and topographically distinct from one another.

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So with all that said, St. Lucia surprised me in the best possible way, and  I can’t wait to share more of it with you. Stay tuned.

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19 Comments

  • Reply
    Reginia Cordell
    July 29, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    My goodness these photos are exceptional.

    I’m such a fan of a good hotel and this fits the bill perfectly; the space, the views, the luxury.

    Glad you guys had a great time and again Happy Anniversary.

    • Reply
      Oneika
      July 31, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      It definitely ticks all the boxes!

  • Reply
    Nina Travels
    July 29, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Great post! Me and my hubby are also planning to visit the Caribbean, but we are more focused onto Martinique, Guadelupe and Dominica. Reading your post about St. Lucia, we might add this too… Beautiful!
    p.s. LOVE the room and the views – great for our wedding anniversery too 😉

    • Reply
      Oneika
      July 31, 2015 at 12:42 pm

      St. Lucia is only a 2 hour ferry ride from Martinique and I think it’s really worth it!! Thank you!

      • Reply
        ES
        August 5, 2015 at 3:23 am

        Which ferry service did you use? I’m heading to St Lucia in 3 weeks and want to visit Martinique. We’re staying outside of Rodney Bay.

  • Reply
    Alyssa
    July 29, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    I did a really budget weekend trip to St Lucia when I was living in Martinique and it was fabulous. Just like you, I had that unfamiliar familiar feeling – things reminded me of Jamaica but with a little more of the French influence like the Caribbean. Travelling around similar not similar places makes you realize that it’s not even really fair to compare.

    Also: Has it been a year already?!?! Hope you’re enjoying NYC xx

    • Reply
      Oneika
      July 31, 2015 at 12:42 pm

      Time’s flying right?! When do you begin your new adventure!? Let me know if you ever pass through NYC!

  • Reply
    Nadeen
    July 29, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    Happy Anniversary!! These pictures are beautiful! As a Jamaican I also love exploring the Caribbean islands. StLucia has been on my list for some time but I can never find a good deal! So I am impressed that you and others have. I recently Looked into for my honeymoon but all the nicer hotels were pricey. But going to Turks and Caicos and can’t wait!

    • Reply
      Oneika
      July 31, 2015 at 12:41 pm

      Well, good deal is relative… We paid about $550 USD each for tickets arriving in St. Lucia, departing from Barbados and another $80 to fly between St. Lucia and Barbados. Was hoping for a glitch far but the dates didn’t work out for us!

  • Reply
    Melissa
    July 30, 2015 at 2:12 am

    You know lately I have been thinking the same thing. Back in the day, I used to think the West Indies are close by, I can go anytime. But I never been. I’ve been to the Caribbean by way of countries whose coastline settle onto the region but never to an island enveloped by the Caribbean sense. As soon as I find a job, I’m hoping to try to not start work for two weeks- and I’m off the the West Indies. Great story!

    • Reply
      Oneika
      July 31, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      Good for you! Which islands?

  • Reply
    Chanelle
    July 30, 2015 at 4:46 am

    Looks absolutely wonderful. I always wanted to go. I’m a Jamaican living in the UK and I was looking at St.Lucia as a honeymoon spot after my wedding in Jamaica next year. I was disappointed to learn that there is no direct flight between Jamaica and St. Lucia and I would have to go via the States and thus increasing travel time ?.

    • Reply
      Oneika
      July 31, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      I think you can also go via Barbados! Have a look at LIAT airlines.

  • Reply
    Nick Fox
    July 30, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Another great post, Oneika. Fantastic photos.

    Stay on the good foot,

    Nick Fox

    • Reply
      Oneika
      July 31, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      Thanks Nick!

  • Reply
    kristie
    August 4, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    “…I’m coming to realize, the West Indies are such a treasure and, while the islands have their similarities, they’re most definitely culturally and topographically distinct from one another.”

    As an island-girl from St. Vincent I was really happy to read this. Many people don’t seem to realise this and lump us all into one category. Even being from the Caribbean there are lots of Caribbean countries (including St. Lucia as I only passed through once) on my travel bucket-list.

    I hope you exploring the region, I look forward to reading about your adventures.

  • Reply
    Bianca @itsallbee
    August 8, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Sweet lawd!! What a beautiful place. I am dying to visit this side of the globe. Trying to decide if I should head towards the Caribbean or Thailand for my birthday this xmas. I guess that decision will very much depend on the ticket prices. I definitely wouldnt mind St Lucia.

  • Reply
    ty
    August 10, 2015 at 11:43 am

    I get great comfort knowing that you loved St Lucia. Beautiful post. I am going next week and looking forward to seeing the beauty. I love reading your posts before I make my trips. Last year I went to Nice France and enjoyed discovering the places you visited there….happy anniversary 🙂

  • Reply
    The Best Places for African-Americans to Travel – Yahoo Travel | Everyday News Update
    October 7, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    […] links to my own background and history — I love finding a bit of “home” abroad (like I did in St. Lucia). However, it goes without saying that human beings usually travel to discover “the Other”; […]

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