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

BBC Good Food - - Inside - Words SARAH BARRELL

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

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