Saint Lucia is the beautiful Caribbean island that has it all and more. Home to the magical Piton Mountains, Saint Lucia offers unspoilt rainforest, sun-soaked beaches, a world-class choice of accommodation, delicious dining and a whole range of unique and thrilling activities for everyone to enjoy.
Find out what the Potton family did in Saint Lucia during the half term break
Ah, Saint Lucia, island of romance. A dreamy fantasia dotted with couples’ hideaways and honeymoon havens. But a place to take your kids? Actually, yes. This jewel of the Caribbean is bursting with stuff to do for tantrum-throwing toddlers, entertain-me teenagers and everyone in between. As my wife Liz and I discovered when we took Izzy, seven and Arlo, three, for a break over October half term. Don’t take my word for it, take Izzy’s (“Amazing!”) and Arlo’s (“It’s a lovely place, Daddy”).
It starts with the hotels, many of which are geared towards small people. Coconut Bay Beach Resort, in the south of the island near the airport, is a kids’ paradise of lazy rivers, waterslides, all-inclusive pizzas and a swim-up bar that divides, with one counter for kids and another for grown-ups. The Bay Gardens Beach Resort up in the north in Rodney Bay is similarly welcoming, with a shallow beach and a star attraction that was absolute catnip to a seven-year-old – Splash Island Waterpark (see image above), an inflatable assault course floating in the bay. A life-jacketed Izzy had a fabulous couple of afternoons scampering up ramps and swinging on ropes, although she took most delight in watching my pathetic attempts to scale the climbing wall, all of which ended with me falling ignominiously into the sea. At least it was warm.
Morne Coubaril, an idyllic estate near Soufriere on the west of the island, offers horse riding through the rainforest and ziplining between platforms in the treetops. Izzy adored the latter in particular, giggling as our guides zoomed down the wires upside down and bouncing like airborne kangaroos. Just down the road are the volcanic baths at Sulphur Springs – the chance to cover themselves with warm mud went down very well with our kids, even if it came with a slight whiff of rotten eggs.
A less obvious but equally fun trip was to Hotel Chocolat, the hotel and restaurant, where a lady called Merle had us pounding our pestles full of cocoa butter, chocolate and sugar and pouring the resulting gloop into moulds. Then, hey presto – an hour later Merle returned bearing our very own chocolate bars. Arlo’s survived for about 30 seconds before being devoured.
There’s a fair bit of sea in this part of the world. The Moorings, based at the marine in Rodney Bay, offer yacht trips. The highlight of our voyage was dropping anchor in Marigot Bay and the kids leaping into the blue-green sea. Marigot Bay was once described by the American novelist James A Michener as “the most beautiful bay in the Caribbean.” Mr Michener, you weren’t wrong. A fantasy inlet shaped like a stiletto boot and surrounded by steep mountains covered in lush rainforest, it’s a natural haven that’s been used through the centuries as a “hurricane hole”.
Marigot Bay Resort and Marina
It’s now home to one of the loveliest hotels you’ll stay at, the Marigot Bay Resort and Marina, a handsome devil of a place that stretches up the mountainside and right down to the water’s edge. Luxury hotels don’t always embrace kids but this one does, with bells on. Izzy and Arlo squealed at the jacuzzi on our balcony and spent several happy mornings wandering around the marina, spotting the tiny yellow and red crabs clinging to the mangroves. Another hit was the Hurricane Hole restaurant, which has a window in the floor so you can watch the fish swimming underneath the boardwalk.
Dinnertime is especially magical at Marigot Bay. Izzy and Arlo loved catching the tiny ferries to the handful of restaurants on the opposite side of the bay. As the sun set over the ocean, the lights of the resort blinked at us as we tucked into our chowder (or, in Arlo’s case, an umpteenth plate of pasta). A fairy tale ending – and not just for Mum and Dad
For more information on Saint Lucia, visit stlucia.org or email email@example.com for a free information pack quoting ‘Family Fun blog’
There’s a new tourism experience in Saint Lucia; going back to school.
Tour operators and travel agents tell us that people are increasingly looking for authentic experiences when they go on holiday. Having the opportunity to find out more about the destination they are visiting makes for a better holiday and a good story to tell friends and family back home. So, if you’re the inquisitive or adventurous type read on, this might just be for you.
Bay Gardens Resorts– made up of four properties on the island, including its four-star Beach Resort and Spa – has opened up its community initiative to holidaymakers. The Monchy Feeding programme provides healthy breakfasts to less fortunate children at Monchy primary school in the north of Saint Lucia.
Visits run during term time and will be escorted by a teacher and a member of staff from Bay Gardens to explain how the scheme runs. You will also get an introduction to daily school life in Saint Lucia and the opportunity to read with the children.
The programme started in 2012 following an impromptu visit to Monchy School by Bay Gardens’ Beach Resort and Spa General Manager, Waltrude Patrick. A former teacher, she had dropped in to see her old colleague, the principal, on the way to her grandmother’s house. Whilst there she saw first-hand that some of the children came to school without breakfast and struggled to concentrate on their studies as a result.
Bay Gardens Resorts set up The Monchy Feeding Programme to give a nutritional boost to pupils and now, every year, food worth over £7,000 is given to the school providing breakfasts to 70 pupils.
Waltrude is incredibly proud of what has been achieved to date. “I didn’t realise how many children turned up to school without having had their first meal of the day. I’d left teaching and worked at Bay Gardens at that time so once I’d seen it, I talked to my managers and they were really supportive. This is a family-run business which comes to the fore with schemes like this.
“The programme is thriving now and we provide a healthy breakfast to those children who would otherwise go without. They can choose cereal, fruits, eggs, milk, chocolate mix, cheese, sausages, bread and juices. We saw a real need as being well fed is essential to being attentive during classes.”
Experience a real summer in Saint Lucia
Unlike summers in the UK, summers in Saint Lucia are a year-round affair with guaranteed hot weather, beautiful scenery and an unmistakable friendly vibe. So what better way to celebrate Lucian summer than with our Soleil Summer Festival; five great events throughout the year giving you a chance to experience our rich culture, warm hospitality and stunning scenery.
What type of festival goer are you?
Soleil 2018 Jazz Lineup HD Broadcast - YouTube
We have two great festivals for those that love music. We have Saint Lucia Jazz from 6th – 13th May with live performances from international, Saint Lucian and Caribbean artists including Robert Glasper, Lalah Hathaway, Aziza, Pauline Jean, Denys Baptiste, Zara McFarlane, Avery Sunshine, Boo Hinkson and many more. Watch the video above or visit www.stlucia.org/jazzfestival for more details. Tickets can be purchased online now.
Soul connoisseurs and reggae fans will love our Roots & Soul festival from 31st August – 2nd September. The festival is dedicated to musicians who are setting new trends in reggae, conscious hip-hop, Afro-punk and R&B. Performers last year included reggae artist, Christopher Martin, R&B singer Musiq Soulchild, Etana, David Rudder and Morgan Heritage.
Soleil Saint Lucia Carnival 2018 - YouTube
The ultimate street party in Saint Lucia is Carnival with Gros Islet ‘Jump Up’ a close second! The celebrations for Carnival actually start in June with beauty pageants, steel band competitions, beach parties, ‘fetes’, J’ouvert and culminates in the two-day parade through the streets of Castries on 16th & 17th July. Get ready for an explosion of colourful costumes, pulsating Soca music and some serious dancing! So grab a Piton beer in one hand and your horn-blower in the other and party! For the Carnival activities calendar, watch the video.
Foodies For the foodies, we have the Food & Rum Festival in January celebrating the culinary excellence of international and Caribbean chefs with bespoke dinner menus, live cooking demonstrations and food and rum tasting. A highlight of the festival was renowned chef, Marcus Samuelsson who presented a Saint Lucian twist on his menu from President Obama’s first State Dinner. The festival this year also launched the first Caribbean Rum Awards. See what you missed, by watching the video here.
Culture enthusiasts For the month of October, Saint Lucians celebrate their rich Creole heritage with musical and theatrical performances, seminars, lectures, varied culinary experiences, street parties and art exhibitions. The Festival culminates on the weekend of 28 & 29 October with a celebration of International Creole Day in designated communities.
For more details, visit www.stlucia.org/summerfestival