Island Getaways: A Philadelphian’s Guide to Vacationing in St. Lucia

St. Lucia’s Jalousie Beach in Soufrière. / Photograph by Afton Almaraz / Getty Images

If you’re jetting to St. Lucia, you’re likely a honeymooner or a couple on holiday. Otherwise, you’re surrounded by them, as I was on my visit sans husband. But that’s no problem: St. Lucia is worth a trip whether you’re traveling solo or basking in newlywed bliss.

The Windward Island has all the classic Caribbean elements — candy-colored homes, white-sand beaches, fragrant air — plus rain forests, a mountainous landscape and sulfur springs. Fun-loving residents give St. Lucia a rep for boisterous nightlife, and before tourism took over, the local banana biz was the main industry. You might recognize Marigot Bay’s natural arch — a rock formation that curves gracefully into the sea — from its cameo in Pirates of the Caribbean. Oprah once called the Pitons, a pair of lush volcanic spires that rise from the Caribbean coast, one of the five things to see in a lifetime.

On my visit last fall, I stayed at the all-inclusive Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort (rooms from $420) in Labrelotte Bay, on the Caribbean Sea. The sprawling destination, a 90-minute drive from the airport, is built into a hill; its Mediterranean-inspired terra-cotta-roofed villas overlook the crescent-shaped beach and turquoise waters.

My home for five days was a cliffside two-bedroom villa, with an outdoor patio, a plunge pool, and sweeping views of the coast.

I found it just as easy to pack my days with water sports and yoga as I did to lounge all afternoon in an overwater hammock, sipping a rum punch from the tiki bar. And as if to entice me to stay on the sand, the resort-wide wi-fi is strongest at the beach.

Daily activities, posted in the lobby, range from beach volleyball and personal training at the gym to waterskiing. I was invigorated after my first attempt at stand-up paddleboarding, and while the idea of being pulled behind a boat on an inflatable couch — an activity aptly called “crazy sofa” — didn’t strike my fancy, I ultimately had a blast. (This would be a humorous bonding activity for lovebirds.)

It was tempting to never leave the resort, but off-site excursions like scuba diving were reason enough to venture out. A catamaran took me to Soufrière — a town popular for its drive-in volcano and Instagrammable sulfur-springs mud baths. Touted for their healing benefits, the springs can be packed, so during my soak, I tried not to think about the travelers who’d come before me. Sadly, the baths didn’t take years off me, but my skin was softer, and my runner’s aches were soothed.

I also enjoyed wellness boosts at the resort thanks to Windjammer’s spa program, led by former pro basketball player Alexandru Danila. I tried hummingbird yoga (while I only saw two of the critters, the garden setting, in which weddings are held, was serene) and a traveler’s-reprieve massage (available for couples) with West Indian sandalwood essential oil to relax my nervous system.

And to satisfy my appetite? A delightful range of on-site restaurants. The Upper Deck stands out for its sunset panoramas and creative cuisine — including sesame-coated tuna sashimi and the national dish of green fig (unripe banana) and saltfish.

Evenings for me ended with a moonlit soak in my pool; only chirping crickets broke the silence. It was island perfection and would only have been better if my husband had been there. He will be when I return.

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Published as “Island Time” in the March 2022 issue of Philadelphia magazine.