This week, we’re heading off to the Caribbean with Cathy. She’s a fellow travel blogger who I admire very much – so I’m over the moon that she’s taking part and sharing her wonderful trip to St Lucia with us. She got up to a huge amount from visiting a ‘drive through volcano’ to eating gorgeous creole food. I’m just off to book a ticket…
Over to you, Cathy…
I’ve never been very good at lazing on a beach for days (and definitely don’t get the option to practice with a two-year-old) but I love a bit of adventure, exploring new countries and having different experiences, or sightseeing in cities. I rarely get the chance to revisit destinations so I always try to pack in as much as possible in case I don’t get to come back.
Where did you go?
St Lucia with a toddler!
I’ve wanted to visit for a few years, as there’s so much more to discover on the island than some of the others in the Caribbean – so when I got the chance to combine it with a work trip, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.
My husband was stuck at home working, but my mum came with me and my daughter, who was 22 months old at the time.
We stayed at two different places for a few nights each. Although the island isn’t huge, having two bases made it easier to explore without driving long distances with a toddler.
St James Club Morgan Bay
First, St James Club Morgan Bay, a fantastic family-friendly all-inclusive resort in the north of the island which is great with kids. There’s a separate children’s pool and kids’ club, and it’s right on a private beach as well. They’ve also got lots of watersports for older children, and several different restaurants on the site, plus you’re very close to the capital Castries.
Then we headed to an old cacao plantation called Fond Doux in the Soufriere Hills as I was writing about the island’s chocolate. They’ve got huge colonial-style cottages, with mosquito nets and a big living area, as well as the best chocolate fondue cocktail I’ve had in my life. You’re right in the forest, so it’s very peaceful.
Were there plenty of activities for the kids?
The thing I loved about St Lucia is the fact that everyone seems to love kids. There was nowhere that my daughter wasn’t welcome, from the volcanic sulphur springs and thermal pools to the busy Castries market to the different tours we did. She even came on a rainforest canopy tour in the ‘aerial tramway’ – like a big open-sided cable car – and spotted parrots with us.
She’d have been happy spending every day in the pool or on the beach, but for slightly older children, there are also zip lines through the rainforest, some gentle walks to see the Pitons and a plantation tour where you can make chocolate at the end.
There were so many! Best was the cacao plantation tour at Boucan by Hotel Chocolat, seeing the whole chocolate-making process on the estate. My daughter was in her buggy but kept herself entertained playing with two huge cacao pods the size of her head, and we finished by making our own bar and a chocolate-themed lunch.
But I loved our pitstop for lunch in Soufriere, on the way to the ‘drive-in volcano’ as the sulphur springs are called. Sitting looking out onto the Caribbean and the brightly painted houses of the fishing village, eating local Creole food at Petit Peak restaurant as she played in her high chair. Bliss.
It’s obviously not a cheap destination to get to, thanks to the long-haul flight, but prices can be pretty cheap once you arrive – and if you do go all-inclusive at somewhere like St James Club, special offer packages mean it needn’t cost a fortune.
Your top tip/s for St Lucia?
• Do get out and explore. It’s easy to lounge by the beach around the main resorts in the north, but take a couple of day trips along the coast or into the hills and you’ll see a completely different side of the island.
• Pick up some banana ketchup and rum cake at Castries market.
• Take at least one walk which gives you a view of the Petit Piton – the Tet Paul trail isn’t too tough, even with a toddler in a carrier
• Slap on the volcanic mud before you go into the water at the Soufriere hot springs. It’s great for mosquito bites!
Which photo is your favourite and why?
The shot of me and my daughter on the beach is one of my favourites – it was our first morning on the island, and watching her paddle in the Caribbean, hearing her squeak with surprise and delight as the waves kept coming over her feet made every minute of the flight and the jetlag worthwhile!
Absolutely and I’d love to go back again, perhaps in a couple of years when she’s old enough to try more of the activities herself.
What are the five-holiday essentials you couldn’t live without?
• Wet wipes and stickers are two definite essentials if you’re travelling with a toddler
• My Kindle Fire to play CBeebies downloads and apps (and let me read occasionally, and blog!).
• My first aid kit – I don’t travel anywhere without stocks of infant painkillers, just in case.
• My beloved DSLR camera, to capture some of the fantastic moments and scenery.