Coubaril Abbey of the Assumption, just south of Castries, easily accessible from the highway, is a special enough place by itself. Last Sunday, the stone-built church, which features a unique, jaw-dropping sea view from the inside, was the venue for the Christmas concert by The Three Tenors of Barbados.
The group of magnificent singers is a Caribbean version of the famous Three Tenors, but with a local flavour and sense of humour. With a careful selection of classical and modern pieces plus some Christmas evergreens, the Three Tenors of Barbados simply could not go wrong.
The audience who thoroughly enjoyed both the singing and the entertaining performance of the closing piece ‘O Sole Mio’ was after the concert invited to a tasty refreshments reception prepared by the tireless Benedictines.
Christmas preparations in St Lucia do not get much better than that!
Creole day is about celebrating traditions and culture of St Lucia. And we would be lying if we said food built on two the best of the world’s cuisines is not one of the key components of these traditions and culture. A thing for St Lucians to be proud of.
A good way to spend Creole day is visiting the stalls around the island that sell all sorts of Creole food, from bakes and saltfish to coconut turnovers. However, nothing beats enjoying a Creole breakfast with hot bakes and cocoa tea at a Lucian home.
Sprawled on the cliff overlooking Anse Cochon, Ti Kaye is an upmarket, small-scale resort geared to couples seeking chic seclusion. The setting is delightfully intimate, especially if you don’t mind the bone-jarring track between the main road and the hotel. The smartly finished rooms feature outdoor showers and giant hammocks, even private pools. Continental breakfast offerings are both tasteful and diverse, taken on a patio with cracking views of the bay. The ash-grey beach, dotted with coconut palms, is wonderful for a splash and the snorkelling offshore is among the best on the island. But Paradise comes with a catch; there are 166 steps to the beach, and the dive centre on site was closed the last time we checked, possibly due to the low turnover of divers. For those too lazy to make the trek down to the beach, the hotel’s spa menu is extensive and should keep most spa bunnies happy.
You might think getting proper homemade Creole bread is an easy task in St Lucia. Not quite. However, if you don’t mind a little drive and when you add experience of seeing how it is actually made – it should not be too difficult. Trust us, it will be well worth the trip.
Take the road south from Castries, direction Vieux Fort. Pass Barre De L’Isle – as you will be descending from the mountain, you will find the Creole bread bakery on your left hand side – in Grande Riviere, Dennery.
Get plenty of oven-hot Creole bread rolls! Our pick: get one with cheese to eat immediately.
Chocolate is a funny industry: although its key ingredient is produced in the tropical rainforests, it has been in the eyes of many associated with the Swiss Alps.
Thanks to the likes of Hotel Chocolat, that is beginning to change. Not just in its London upmarket chocolate shops but also in St Lucia: in Boucan, London chocolate maker’s Caribbean establishment, St Lucia cocoa gets the prominence it deserves.
Featuring magnificent view of the rainforest and the Pitons, St Lucia’s landmark peaks, Boucan restaurant offers full use of St Lucia cocoa pods. Whereas you might find cocoa pulp to be a slightly too unconventional ice cream flavour, St Lucia cocoa nibs ice cream is nothing short of being amazing.
Plus guaranteed the best chocolate lava cake you have ever had – pictured. Made of St Lucia cocoa.
Saint Lucia Jazz Festival 2015 has come to an end, which is always a sad time. Big thanks to all the people who made it all work smoothly. Here are Luciagel’s three main observations (and at the same time three tips for the organisers):
1. This year’s concentration of activities was amazing and the organisers deserve a huge praise for that. It was lovely to walk Rodney Bay in one evening to see the stage at the Baywalk Mall strip and then continue to Fire Grill to see Jazz on the Grill. As always, jazz and grilled chicken stalls are a marvelous combination.
2. Nothing beats the atmosphere at the main stage at Pigeon Island. Magical for regular goes but even more magical for first-time visitors. Our tip: don’t start early in the hot sun and finish early on a beautiful evening when the crowd is willing to hear and experience more.
3. We sometimes hear true jazz musicians (and true jazz fans) being sarcastic about Saint Lucia Jazz Festival saying there simply isn’t much jazz around. We might want to overhear that. After all, we are talking a big event and the atmosphere is at least as important as the music. However, think quality: singers who sound like karaoke (and can only reproduce stuff from US and European charts) should not be allowed to come anywhere near the Festival (not to mention its televised big stages) if the Festival’s reputation is to be maintained. Show the world the true quality of Caribbean music instead!
Indian food can be a tricky business even when there are loads of competitors. In places like central London, one can easily associate it with tourist traps. So why assume it would be any better in St Lucia? Honestly, Luciagel does not know. But whatever prejudice you might have against eating Indian food in crowded, touristy areas, Spice of India at Rodney Bay Baywalk Mall will prove you wrong.
Established and run by chef Adil Sherwani, this might indeed be St Lucia’s best restaurant. Plus it matches the best Indian food we were recommended in London by members of its huge Indian community. Considering the mastery of some Lucian Creole chefs, including those who prefer cooking for their families instead of outside guests, Luciagel finds it sort of hard to admit that the best restaurant on the island might in fact be Indian.
But hey, let us not forget part-Indian roots of Creole cuisine itself. And let this be an incentive for Creole chefs to open a place that can match Spice of India.
A hint: the best curry, chicken lababdar, chef’s speciality, is not listed on the menu.
Going to Reduit Beach (The Ramp) seem like the most obvious place to get a nice blended / frozen cocktail. As you approach the beach, you can make an immediate stop at Spinnakers. However, for a rather more sophisticated cocktail experience, you should head some 50 metres further north to reach Bay Gardens. They serve cocktails either at their beach bar or in their lovely courtyard, and their mango coladas are fantastic. Aim for the happy hour in order to get a really good value for your money.
Featuring torchlight and a wooden pier with a magnificent view, the ambience is even more appealing if you had further north to The Landings. Nevertheless, the cocktails are not considerably better compared to Bay Gardens, so you will need to decide whether the marvelous atmosphere is worth the extra buck.
Never mind the hassle getting there through a resort ground (although the staff is in Luciagel’s experience super nice and helpful), Sugar Beach is well worth the visit – and the swim.
Located just between the Pitons, the view upwards from the water is simply magnificent and filled with awe. Crystal clear water feels somehow special too. Unlike on many beaches in St Lucia, it gets deep really quickly and you will find grains of black volcanic sand at the bottom.
Ladera guests have the privilege of getting to possibly St Lucia’s most amazing beach with the resort shuttle.
Whereas Ladera is a lovely place to visit for lunch to get a magnificent view of Pitons, nothing beats spending the night there – and waking up (literally) in the middle of the rainforest. Outside, of course: Ladera’s three-wall concept means sleeping under the stars (yet still under the roof!).
But is that not a bit scary? Not really. High elevation renders mosquito threat virtually non-existent, whereas thick insect nets around your bed prevent too close encounters with a variety of rainforest moths – some of them rather beautiful!
If you spend the night at Ladera, do not miss breakfast. Their French toast with banana mash was lovely but, if you have not done so yet at a St Lucian home, go for bakes & saltfish with cocoa tea, a proper Creole breakfast.
Properly tropical Sugar Beach, an amazing place to swim right between the Pitons, is accessible by a short shuttle ride.