‘Arguably the most beautiful Caribbean Island’ is a common claim to read when researching Saint Lucia. As it is currently the only one of the islands I have visited I can’t comment but it really is the place to go for dramatic landscapes and pretty beaches.
Being a redhead, I am not much of a beach bunny and much prefer visiting places with a great food scene and interesting history and culture, but my partner and I wanted to relax and rejuvenate after two years of commuting a long way to work and being three-hours apart in a long distance relationship. We chose to stay in Rodney Bay which is quite an expensive part of the island but we travelled in low season (November) which made it slightly more affordable.
In November the weather on the island is still bright and warm without all the crowds. Our hotel was directly on Reduit Beach which only ever had another eight or nine couples along it the whole time we were there. We were told in high-season the entire beach is packed full with sun loungers and there’s hardly any space, so we definitely picked the right time to go. The locals here are really friendly announcing ‘welcome to paradise’ as they greet you.
Pigeon Island National Park sits close to Rodney Bay and is about a 20-minute walk or short taxi journey to get to. You have to pay to get in so it is worth going in the morning and spending a whole day there. There are lots of walks with historical sites from when it was occupied by pirates and later the British. The island is also home to white sandy beaches and clear waters which are excellent for snorkelling with the chance to see colourful fish, black tip reef sharks and turtles. We walked to the top of Fort Rodney which is fairly easy but made harder by the heat, at the top you’ll see old cannons, stone walls a water catcher and hiding dungeon, but the best bit is the view. On one side you have the crashing Atlantic Ocean and the other, the calm Caribbean Sea lightly lapping onto the beaches. On a clear day, you’ll also see the nearby island Martinique which you can get to on a day trip.
Another great place to venture is the Gros Islet Street Party. We met lots of people at our hotel and ventured there together around 8pm. You’ll see some of the local houses which would be fantastic to photograph in the day time. We were warned to leave around 10pm because it can get dangerous but the vibe was so relaxed we stayed until the early hours of the morning and had a great time. The rum isn Saint Lucia is cheap and strong, after one drink you’ll be dancing with the locals and feeling like you know everyone as the people are so friendly, anyone who served you in a restaurant or met you on the beach will treat you like an old friend. The street party happens every week on a Friday and at the end of the night minibuses back to your hotels are available. I can’t remember how much anything was which means it must have been cheap!
It is such an open, friendly place all-around, everyone you meet wants to get to know you which is really refreshing, even the security guard at the hotel was telling us the best things to see and do on the island. One night there was a tropical storm so all the restaurants were closed, the evening was actually dry though so we sat outside and drank a bottle of Chairmans Rum with a guy from Jamaica and one from Barbados.
The only downside to the trip was a bit of hostility towards us as a gay couple. Saint Lucia is typically a honeymoon destination and it was clear that most of the other couples were straight newlyweds. Due to this, the locals aren’t used to seeing two girls travelling alone together and thought we were sisters or friends so we got quite a lot of hassle from local (and British) men. We had been told it isn’t massively gay-friendly so didn’t want to say we were a couple, and one time that we did we were shouted at quite nastily by a local man. Although at the street party we told the locals we met and they were all really happy and relaxed about it, they were a bit older and told us the Caribbean is open-minded so it may not have been representative.