The following article was featured on the Luxury Travel website on December 22nd, 2021.
With the holiday season upon us, many are dreaming of an escape filled with white sand beaches, lush tropical rainforests, and stiff drinks overlooking sapphire waves. While COVID-19 has made it more difficult than in past years to hop on a plane and jet off, it’s still possible to plan a romantic and rejuvenating getaway to the Caribbean – even on short notice – especially for the adventure-minded.
Just a 4-hour direct flight from New York, the island of St. Lucia offers the perfect mix of upscale resorts and boutique accommodations, fine dining attractions and adventure activities, all set against a backdrop of crystal waters and vibrant sunsets. Popular with honeymooners, St. Lucia is known for its lush rainforests dotted with secluded waterfalls and revitalizing hot springs, iconic twin-peaked Piton mountain range, and diverse marine life worthy of an underwater safari.
Since the initial outbreak of COVID-19, St. Lucia has worked hard to keep both inhabitants and visitors safe through a series of precautions and measures, ensuring that by summer 2021 – when we visited for a quick getaway – it was open to tourists and thriving.
Before flying, both locals and visitors must register a Travel Authorization Form on the St. Lucia government website. A negative COVID-19 test, taken no more than five days before landing, is required. On arrival, you must show proof of vaccination to receive a wristband that allows you to travel the island freely. International travelers to Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) undergo a health screening before heading through customs toward approved taxis, rentals, and helicopters.
Where to stay
A secluded honeymoon or weekend getaway
For adults seeking Old World Caribbean charm fused with luxurious amenities, Calabash Cove on the northwest curve of the island offers an intimate retreat. The stunning resort features elegant touches like a freshwater infinity pool, complete with a swim-up bar, as well as wellness activities like a fitness center, beauty parlor, and the on-premise Ti Spa, which offers personalized sunset massages overlooking the Bonaire Bay (many utilizing organic ingredients culled from the resort’s lush grounds). Dining options fuse the flavors of the West Indies with Asian-inspired techniques, with attention paid to using whole local foods. Nearby, the poolside C Bar offers sunset drinks with ocean views. The true blossom of Calabash Cove are the Water’s Edge Cottages. Nestled within a tropical garden buzzing with hummingbirds, these beachfront, Balinese-style mahogany cottages are outfitted with secluded plunge pools and jacuzzis, slatted outdoor rain showers, hammocks, and open-air dining nooks for meals steps from the sand. Those looking to tie the knot can book the Calabash Cove “Elope to Paradise” package with a bespoke ceremony on the beach.
What to see
Seize the moment with a romantic sunset cruise around the twin Pitons or, for something a little more strenuous, scale the Gros Piton (2,530 feet high) overlooking Petit Piton. St. Lucia is also home to over 22 spectacular dive locations that weave through shipwrecks and coral reefs, the Marine Park ecosystem home to more than 150 different fish species. (Snorkeling and scuba lovers should especially investigate the Soufrière Marine Management Area, which also includes a recreational area for beach activities and visiting yachts.) At Anse Chastanet’s beach, get to know the island by kayaking, windsurfing, sailing through the afternoon. For a taste of culture, head to Castries to visit the bazaars filled with spices and textiles of all kinds. Or, cap off the day by jungle biking under Anse Mamin canopy, or on a waterfall cycling excursion.
Take a rejuvenating drive through the Soufriere Volcano (“the world’s only semi-active drive-in volcano”) capped off with a therapeutic warm spring mud bath. For a scenic walk, explore the island’s rugged east coast and visit Mamiku Botanical Gardens, which was once a gift to Baron de Micoud by the King of France Louis XIV. The garden’s 12 acres feature an orchid and medicinal-herb garden, attracting plenty of the island’s most colorful (winged) characters. For a truly transcendent experience, visit Maranatha Gardens, a “prayer sanctuary” with guest houses, restaurant, and gardens featuring over 100 plant species, from torch lilies to exotic orchids, all in view of the Pitons’ peaks.
St. Lucia runs on 220-240 volt electric current, so bring a converter and plug adapter. The official currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD), though U.S. dollars and credit cards are widely accepted. Vaccinated travelers can rent cars and explore the destination on their own. Travelers returning to the U.S. from St. Lucia will have to test negative for COVID-19 before their departure. For more, visit stlucia.org.
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