We’ve visited a couple of places in the Caribbean over the last few years and each trip has left us wanting to see more! So, when we had the opportunity to book another trip to the Caribbean, we needed something that could compare with Jamaica and the Dominican Republic and we think we found it on the beautiful island of Saint Lucia.
Reconnecting at Rendezvous
When it came to booking our accommodation, we returned to the trusty Turquoise Holidays who we had used to book our wonderful honeymoon in Mauritius. With their help we chose a beautiful couples only all inclusive luxury resort called Rendezvous which is located just outside of the capital city of Castries.
The hotel is a boutique style with only 100 rooms, making for an amazing exclusive experience. The mantra of the hotel, perhaps given away by its name, is for the couples that visit to be able to get away from the distractions of modern day life and reconnect with each other in paradise. We certainly managed that! The Rendezvous staff, like everyone on Saint Lucia, deserve a special mention as they are so incredibly friendly and cannot do enough for you.
Being coeliac I always get in touch with the hotel before I go to find out how well they can accommodate for my dietary needs. Rendezvous were really a level above in this. They made sure the Head Chef came and spoke to me at check-in to explain what they could do for me and to make sure I was comfortable with everything. I’ve certainly never had that kind of personalised service before and it made me glad we decided to do all inclusive luxury in Saint Lucia!
The hotel also has an amazing offering of activities from games on the beach like ring toss, boules or volleyball to paid-for excursions to hike the beautiful Gros Piton or visit Pigeon Island. And how could I forget the daily champagne tasting in the champagne bar?!
As with any holiday we like to see as much of the local culture as we can but we were in desperate need of some R&R too so we tried to have the best of both worlds. Days by the pool soaking up the sun with a good book and rum cocktail in hand were plentiful and exactly what the Doctor ordered!
Catamarans, Chocolate and Mud Baths
Our first trip away from the hotel was a catamaran cruise along the west coast of Saint Lucia, starting in Castries and taking us to Soufriere. I’m someone that suffers from sea sickness and although I always want to do the water based activities, more often than not we do avoid them. However, I had my sea sickness tablets with me and I really wanted to do this trip so we gave it a go. Boy am I glad we did!
The catamaran was so smooth you almost didn’t realise you were on the water. The views as we sailed along were incredible, even despite the cloudy wet weather. The trip to Soufriere can also be done by road but as Saint Lucia is a volcanic island, the winding roads make the trip much longer than the more relaxing catamaran cruise.
As we approached Soufriere we started to see the majestic Pitons in the distance – you really can’t miss them! Soufriere has the majority of the tourist attractions in Saint Lucia nearby – the Botanical Gardens, Sulphur Springs, waterfalls and of course the Pitons.
Also nearby is Boucan which is the only hotel in the world by Hotel Chocolat! There was no way we were going to miss this so we headed to Boucan to spend our afternoon making our very own bar of chocolate. The Bean to Bar experience teaches you how to make chocolate in the traditional way, using a hot pestle and mortar to grind up the cocoa nibs into a powder and then stirring in the cocoa butter. It was much more of a work out than I was anticipating, but it was definitely worth it in the end having a hand-made delicious bar of chocolate to enjoy!
Next up was a well-deserved lunch in the Boucan restaurant where each dish had some element of chocolate in it. The bread contained cocoa nibs and was served with cocoa butter, the burger bun was shaped into a cocoa pod and the chocolate themed dessert was inspired by the Pitons. An indulgent way to start the day, if ever there was one!
On to our next spot – the worlds only drive-in volcano and sulphur springs. The volcano last erupted over 200 years ago and we were able to drive right into it as the crater has previously collapsed. Driving into the volcano was pretty cool as we were surrounded on either side by yellow cliffs sporadically emitting puffs of steam. I’d like to say we got used to the rotten egg smell the longer we were there but we didn’t, although it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting!
A little way from the sulphur springs are the mud baths where the water is still hot but just cool enough for people to get in. On such a hot day it felt a bit odd getting into the hot water but at the same time it did feel pretty good! We spent some time soaking ourselves in the spring water before getting out and lathering ourselves in the white minearal-rich volcanic mud. The locals say that taking a dip in the spring water and having a mineral-rich mud bath makes you look ten years younger. Caked in the white mud, our guide then got some different mud, rich in iron meaning it was much darker in colour and we painted some tribal prints onto ourselves for a bit of fun. There’s only one way to get the mud off – back into the hot water!
Feeling refreshed and of course looking ten years younger we got back onto the catamaran to start our journey back towards Castries making a stop first at the Anse Piton Marine Reserve to do some snorkelling. Located between the Pitons, and rich in flora and fauna we didn’t know where to look for the better view! The marine park conserves an area of beautiful coral which was littered with exotic fish. The water was also full of jellyfish but they were harmless as they didn’t have tentacles so it was pretty surreal being in the water with so many of them! Definitely a new experience.
On the journey back we timed it so we could enjoy the sunset from the boat. I can honestly say that I have never seen a more incredible sunset anywhere. The sky was such vibrant shades of pink, orange and red and as the sun set further into the horizon the sky became even more ablaze. It was the perfect way to end the most incredible day and if you’re looking for one thing to do in Saint Lucia, this trip has to be it!
Castries, Bike Tours and Crafts
Rendezvous is located just outside of the capital Castries so it was easy enough to go in for a couple of hours to explore. Our hotel had bikes which we could borrow so we donned our helmets and went on an adventure. Cycling was really fun and the locals certainly enjoyed seeing us, greeting us with a honk of the horn as they overtook us!
We visited Port Seraphine which is the duty-free shopping area where cruise ships come to port. Having never been on a cruise before it was interesting to see the hustle and bustle as the passengers came ashore for their tour excursions to the island. A cruise experience is definitely high up on our bucket list.
We also ventured into the main town centre where we had a wander around. In particular, we saw the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception which is fantastically ornate inside and also the Derek Walcott square park named after the famous Nobel Laureate poet who was from Saint Lucia. The capital is really beautiful with colourful buildings, lush green parks and the picturesque harbour.
The capital also holds an indoor craft market just by the harbour. Sometimes visiting craft markets can be a bit stressful for me as I like to look at the stalls but I don’t like it when the owners try to pressure you to buy something! It wasn’t like that here though, the stall owners were happy for you to look and if you weren’t interested in buying something, they were still happy to continue talking to you without any pressure. We had a lovely conversation with a craftsman who made hand carved statues and photo frames from different kinds of wood. Even though he knew we weren’t looking to buy anything he explained how he got into wood carving, the different kinds of wood he uses, how he does the carving and how he finishes the products. Saint Lucians really are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met!
Forts, Health and Hotels
We took another day trip from the hotel, this time to the Northern tip of Saint Lucia, to a place called Pigeon Island. Despite its name, Pigeon Island is no longer an island but rather is attached to the mainland via a man made causeway. The island has two peaks used as viewpoints and ruins of an old fort as it was once occupied by the British to spy on the French as they made their way over from Martinique. We took some time walking around the fort ruins, imagining what the island must have looked like at the time when the British and French fought over it.
It was a pretty warm day and making our way to the top of the peaks had us dripping with sweat so it was interesting to read about how the soldiers had to amend their uniforms to cope with the heat. The views from the top were absolutely incredible, looking down at the powder white beaches and turquoise waters of Rodney Bay to one side with the silhouette of Martinique in the distance on the other.
Rendezvous has a sister hotel just slightly further North called BodyHoliday Saint Lucia and guests of each hotel can visit the alternative hotel, making use of the facilities completely free of charge. Seeing as we were close by at Pigeon Island anyway we thought we’d drop by at BodyHoliday for a spot of lunch. The hotel is beautiful set in its own private bay and has a big focus on health and fitness with different exercise classes running throughout the day. Not only this but all restaurants serve freshly made healthy food and the hotel even has a smoothie bar making healthy refreshments all day long. We took a dip in the sea to cool off after our morning hike and then enjoyed a spot of lunch. Although the only dessert they had was fruit (which does not satisfy my sweet tooth) the food was so scrumptious!
On our way back to Rendezvous we stopped off at Rodney Bay which we saw from the top of Pigeon Island. Popular among the locals and tourists alike, Rodney Bay has lots of shops, restaurants and bars which come alive at night. Unfortunately, we visited during the day so there wasn’t as much of a buzz in the air but the beaches were absolutely stunning and it’s definitely another reason for us to return!
Our all inclusive luxury trip to Saint Lucia marked Alex’s 29th country and my 24th. I’ve still got some way to go before reaching my 30 countries before I turn 30, but Alex only has the one! Saint Lucia is just the most incredible island and I think would come top on our list for beach destinations. Leave us a comment below and let us know what your top beach destination is!
My three favourite things about Saint Lucia:
1. The people are just the friendliest people I’ve ever met – more people should be like the Saint Lucians!
2. The mud bath – if we had the option to bathe in spring water and mud baths to make us look ten years younger, I’d be there every weekend!
3. The catamaran – seeing the beautiful island and an amazing sunset from the water was simply unforgettable!
The Rambling Travellers