EXPLORE ST LUCIA
A green, serene Caribbean island, St Lucia is ideal for families. It’s a centre of chocolate excellence with cookery lessons and other cacao-based experiences, plus plenty of dining options and high-octane activities
Where to eat, drink and stay on this Caribbean island
St Lucia doesn’t have the refined foodie reputation of, say, St Barts, Anguilla or Barbados, but it boasts fresh dishes with local produce from green plantain and white fish, to seafood and superb tropical fruit that makes for child-pleasing smoothies (and adult cocktails). And unlike many Caribbean islands, gated resorts don’t define the tourist offering. There are plenty of local Creole/caribbean restaurants that are casual, affordable and supremely family-friendly.
If you want to splash out, try Jade Mountain (jademountainstlucia.com), which looks like a location for a Bond film, the beautiful boutique resort Ladera (ladera.com), or the HQ of Hotel Chocolat, the Rabot Estate (hotelchocolat.com/uk/hotel-restaurants.html) with its Tree-to-bar Experience that gets children elbow-deep in chocolate-making. For parents that trust (or want time away from) their kids, its Boucan restaurant is a standout. Try a cacao bellini (£11), then a fragrant cold soup of tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, finely ground cacao nibs and croutons (£8), followed by a Boucan ‘roti’ (£19) – a punchy, deconstructed twist on the traditional St Lucian lunch.
Sugar Beach (viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/en/ sugarbeach) is a celeb-studded five-star that offers a VIP welcome to families, too. It curls around a white-sand bay set cinematically between St Lucia’s arrowhead Piton mountains with white clapboard villas stacked steeply up the jungly mountainside. Cookery lessons that include the chance to temper chocolate and make your own petit fours, under the guidance of local chef Owen Paul, are complimented by a kids’ club that offers watersports, including snuba – a child-friendly scuba-snorkelling hybrid.
The island’s hilly backbone isn’t easily navigated on foot, so you may want to hire a car. Or, high-energy families may prefer to stay at the landmark beach resort Anse Chastanet (ansechastanet.com) that makes use of its vertiginous setting between the Pitons with professional competition-grade mountain bike trails through its old sugar plantation. Alternatively, at the northern tip of the island you’ll find Rodney Bay, where affordable guesthouses and small resorts like Coco Palm (coco-resorts.com), with its ‘wow’ swimming pool, are within close walking distance of the smart marina, grocery shops and restaurants, along with such stellar stretches of sand as Reduit Beach.
At Sugar Beach Resort, guests of all ages receive the VIP treatment
You can craft your own chocolate bar at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, and the high-grade cacao grown on site also features on the menu at their restaurant Boucan. Try a starter of scallops marinated in cacao, seared and basted with a cacao citrus sauce and served on a bed of spinach
Smoothies and chocolate are free-flowing at Sugar Beach