Volcanic mountains

Discover the natural wonders of Saint Lucia, from volcanic spas to historic mountain trails

Stacey is as fearsome a force of nature as any on the island, a whirlwind in leopard-print shoes. Covid-19 has hit hard. When she lost her job at a bar, Stacey turned a negative into a positive by fulfilling a lifelong dream of becoming a cook and opening her own business. Now, customers drive for miles to grab lunches of braised oxtail and green fig salad from his Cool Runnings Kitchen truck. She gets up before dawn to prepare pots of goat curry, and once the lunches are served, she leaves for her evening shift as a waitress at Cap Maison Resort & Spa. Now she also offers culinary experiences for travelers. “I have a lot of energy,” she tells me, unnecessarily.

Everyone knows Stacey. Cars honk as they pass the truck – which is as unforgettable as its owner, every inch painted with palm trees and the gold and green of the Jamaican flag (Stacey was born there). “That guy, he freaked out today,” she shouts at a man with a cigarette in his mouth who is sitting on a nearby wall. “They were pretty big!” “Once you’ve done it, you never forget,” replies the man with a broad smile.

When we’re done eating, Stacey takes me around the rest community, past Jake’s car wash and barbershop, to a van with a sign outside saying, “No credit ! My friends are the ones who pay! Owner Steve hands us beers on the counter. “After a meal, you have to have a cold one,” says Stacey. We sit on plastic chairs and drink while the vacuum cleaner buzzes through the car wash and cars drive by. “Life is made of good times!” calls our friend, who is still perched on the wall. And he’s right, up to a point. But Stacey and OB — and the frogs that whistle in the forests — know it’s also about the tough times and how you weather the storms.

ESSENTIAL

Getting there and getting around

British Airways flies non-stop from Gatwick and Heathrow to St. Lucia’s Hewanorra International Airport (40 miles south of the island’s capital, Castries). Virgin Atlantic also operates flights from Heathrow.

Average flight time: 8h40m.

It is easiest to get around Saint Lucia by car. Car rental is available at the airport; you will need a temporary permit, which can be arranged by the rental company. Taxis can be booked through your hotel or collected from stations in towns. Inexpensive private minibuses also run between towns and villages.

when should we go

The high season is from November to the end of March, when it is dry and sunny at around 28-30°C. From June to October, it rains a lot and there is a risk of hurricanes. The shoulder season from April to June is a good time to visit as the weather is warm, 25-30C, and prices are cheaper.

Where to stay

Ladera Resort. Suites from £550.

Cap Maison Resort & Spa. From £387, half board.

How to do

Elegant complexes offers a Peak to Beach package, including three nights in a luxury suite at Ladera Resort, four nights in an oceanfront suite at Cap Maison Resort & Spa, a visit to Sulfur Springs, a sunset cruise, a hike at Gros Piton, transfers and international flights from £5,895 pp.

“Eat Like a Local” experiences can be arranged through Cap Maison or by messaging Stacey Martin via Facebook.

Published in the May 2022 issue of National Geographic Traveler (UK)

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