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Your Guide to Experiencing St. Lucia On A Budget
Written by Nasha Smith
St. Lucia has firmly cemented its place in the pantheon of the world’s leading honeymoon destinations. The island, located in the Lesser Antilles, has captured the coveted title a record-breaking ten times, besting its closest rival twice over. Dubbed the ‘Helen of the West Indies,’ a play on the battle for the beautiful Greek mythological figure Helen of Troy, St. Lucia has been blessed with spectacular scenery, glistening waterfalls, the world’s only drive-in volcano in the Sulphur Springs, and the majestic mountainous duo of the Pitons. And we haven’t even mentioned the beaches yet.
At just 238 square miles, the island is small, yet it still packs a powerful punch that will leave you breathless. St. Lucia is not just for lovers, so be prepared to fall in love with a long-known magical escape.
Where to Eat
Located just a stone’s throw away from the beach in the fishing village of Gros-Islet, Golden Taste serves up authentic St. Lucian cuisine with a side of warm hospitality. The restaurant is not that spacious but benefits from large open doors which allow the sea breeze to circulate freely. What it lacks in size, it more than makes up for with massive portions of local staples like stewed meats, ground provisions, plantains, catch-of-the-day fish, and a well-stocked bar with freshly made fruit juices and alcoholic beverages. Best of all the prices are reasonable with most meals starting at 10 USD (25 XCD).
Orlando’s Restaurant and Bar
Owner Chef Orlando Satchell is British born but has West Indian blood flowing through his veins, which reflects in his cuisine. He has made it his mission to use local ingredients and produce at his restaurant in the west coast town of Soufriere. It’s not unusual to see the chef perusing the supermarkets and roadside vendor stalls every morning procuring only the freshest herbs and provisions for his unique takes on Caribbean cooking. Every meal is infused with flavor and personalized service.
Debbie’s Homemade Foods
A visit to Debbie’s is comparable to being invited into a St. Lucian home: welcoming and filled with warmth. Each main dish is served together with multiple small ramekins filled with generous helpings of side dishes created from local favorites including breadfruit balls, sweet potato croquettes, pumpkin puree, baked eggplant, fried plantains, and mashed sweet potatoes. The airy, open setting nestled in southwestern Laborie village is the perfect spot for a home cooked meal and their signature rum punch.
Before the pulsating soca rhythm known as the Dennery Segment became synonymous with this fishing village on the east coast of St. Lucia, their most famous production was bread. It is almost impossible to drive through Dennery without picking up some Tomazo creole bread. The bakery is actually an extension of a home and run by the family. You will typically find a small gathering on the roadside waiting patiently for the fresh bread and coconut turnovers to come out of the wood-fired oven. Make this your first stop on the way from Hewanorra Airport. Nothing beats hot, locally baked bread and butter with a cold glass of refreshing lime squash for good measure.
Where to Shop
CHI Shopping Shuttle
It began as an idea to encourage more foot traffic in the duty-free shopping centers and has since taken off as an experience of its own. The CHI Shopping Shuttle team provides pick up from your accommodation in an air-conditioned bus complete with chilled water and cold towels, where a shopping guide greets guests with a book of coupons and discounts. Passengers are then taken on a shopping excursion to stores in the north of the island or in the heart of the city. What sets this shopping spree apart is the interactivity. Guests participate in rum mixology classes, jewelry making, and have first dibs on specials, promotions, samplings, and makeovers.
A Saturday morning at the Castries Market is a St. Lucian staple and has been so since it first opened in 1894. It has changed a bit in its 125 years of existence, but it remains a central shopping hub. Six days a week, save for Sunday, vendors line a section of Jeremie Street with trays of local fruit and produce, while others sell herbs, spices, clothing, and crafts. Food stalls featuring St. Lucian cuisine also pepper the area.
Where to Party
Verve Bar and Grill
It’s only been around since 2015, but Verve Bar and Grill has already etched its place in the St. Lucian party scene. Assisted by a prime spot in the thriving Rodney Bay nightlife and the tireless work ethic of young entrepreneur Lamar Sifflet, the hotspot embodies the vigor and charisma of the West Indian experience. Patrons are treated to live performances, award-winning bartending, and an unbeatable two for one drink price point. All these elements combine to create a loyal following. Not even a fire which leveled it to the ground in 2016 could kill the spirit of Verve.
Gros-Islet Street Party
In Lucian lingo, a “lime” is a casual hangout, and you cannot set foot on the island without participating in the ultimate lime — the Gros-Islet Street Party. The weekly Friday night street jam has been around for decades and is showing no signs of slowing down. Start your night off with some delectable, grilled fish drizzled with garlic sauce from Duke’s Place, before joining the carnival-like atmosphere in the middle of the fishing village. Let loose to a mix of soca, dancehall, calypso, and even some pop and hip hop selections. Cool off with some drinks and enjoy the reggae stylings from the nearby Irie Bar.
Where to Stay
Ti Kaye Resort & Spa
Tucked away on a cliffside in Anse Cochon, Ti Kaye Resort & Spa is a locally owned and a managed boutique hotel overlooking turquoise waters and the white sand of the private beach just below. The beauty of the resort lies in its symmetry with nature. One of its most prominent features is the open air, outdoor showers which accompany each cottage. But rest assured that guests enjoy ample intimacy and seclusion on the premises. It is a five-star experience for a fraction of the cost.
Bay Gardens Beach Resort
It’s hard to stand out in an area rife with activity, but Bay Gardens Beach Resort manages to do just that. Sprawled out on the beachfront, it is a mini-escape to a piece of paradise. There is almost no need to leave the premises thanks to the jacuzzi, lagoon-style swimming pool, fine dining, and fully equipped fitness center. The resort is very family friendly and features the largest outdoor water park on the island — Splash Island Water Park. But if you do decide to venture outdoors, you are steps away from the epicenter of entertainment in Rodney Bay.