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St. Lucia Essentials

Where to Eat
dasheene restaurant ladera resort breakfast table dining st lucia pitonWith a seemingly endless bounty of seafood and tropical fruits and vegetables, St. Lucia's cuisine is fresh, healthy and delicious. You'll find plenty of traditional Caribbean favorites here such as callaloo (a soup made with leafy greens) and pepper pot stew, and if you're willing to venture outside your hotel restaurant, you'll find great informal places to eat such as a fish fry on the beach or a roadside barbecue stand. The national dish of St. Lucia is saltfish (fried salted cod) with green fig (cooked bananas). Drink like a St. Lucian and try Piton, the local beer, or Bounty, the local rum.

For nouvelle Caribbean cuisine and spectacular views of the Pitons, head to Dasheene Restaurant (at the Ladera Resort in Soufriere), perched on a mountainside above the sea. The menu changes regularly, but the fresh catch of the day is always a good option.

Chill out and watch the world (or at least a bunch of yachts!) go by at The Lime, a casual bar and restaurant overlooking busy Rodney Bay. "Liming" is a Caribbean term for relaxing, and you'll do just that over reasonably priced Creole favorites like seafood and jerk chicken.

Also on Rodney Bay is the Charthouse, one of the longest-established restaurants on the island. Menu options include steak, ribs and fresh seafood.

In Vigie Marina, the family-owned Coal Pot offers a blend of international cuisines and is intimate and romantic. Reservations are highly recommended. Ferry service is available from Point Seraphine.

Green Parrot, set on Morne Fortune above Castries Harbor, provides panoramic views of the island. The cuisine is West Indian blended with Creole and international styles. Reservations are recommended.

Where to Stay
Accommodations on St. Lucia lean toward the higher-priced end of the scale, especially if you're planning to stay in one of the many all-inclusive beachfront resorts on the island. Budget travelers should seek out smaller inns, hotels and cottages, and try to find places that are near but not directly on the beach. Accommodations in the Soufriere area are close to many of the island's most beautiful natural attractions, while hotels further north (around Rodney, Marigot and Choc Bays) have a greater variety of restaurants and other facilities nearby. Winter is high season here, and prices rise accordingly.

jade mountain infinity pool twin pitons st lucia On an island with quite a few ultra-luxurious resorts, Jade Mountain stands apart. Guests stay not in rooms but in "sanctuaries" with soaring 15-foot ceilings, infinity pools, attentive butler service, and a non-existent fourth wall that opens out to spectacular views of the Pitons and the sea. Each sanctuary is individually designed, even down to the bathrooms. Guests can enjoy complimentary yoga classes and fitness options. The rates are as sky-high as the sanctuaries, but for a honeymoon or special occasion, this place is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Just outside of Castries on Choc Bay are the charming colonial-style Villa Beach Cottages. Spacious one- and two-bedroom suites look out over the sea and offer four-poster beds and full kitchens. Don't feel like cooking? With 24 hours' advance notice, the in-house chef will whip up a customized meal for you.

Coco Palm is a good bet for travelers looking for affordable but stylish accommodations. Conveniently located in the village of Rodney Bay, the hotel offers amenities such as free Wi-Fi access, iPod docking stations and mini-fridges. There are several suites for families. If you've got a little more room in your budget, splurge on one of the six swim-up rooms right next to the pool.

Private bungalows perch on a ridge overlooking Marigot Bay at Nature's Paradise. Each bungalow features a full kitchen, four-poster bed and a balcony with a sea view. Breakfast is fresh and abundant, and health-conscious travelers may wish to partake in tai chi and stretching classes offered by one of the owners.

The Hummingbird Beach Resort offers breathtaking views of the Pitons without the breathtakingly high prices of some of the other Soufriere-area resorts. The 10 rooms are clean and colorfully furnished; note that most do not have air-conditioning (they do have ceiling fans), and a few have shared baths. The property is located just steps from the beach.

Where to Shop
Most stores on the island are open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, with a break for lunch, and from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. Only major shopping centers will be open on Saturday afternoons, and much of the island shuts down entirely on Sundays.

Vendors have gathered for more than 100 years at the Castries Market and adjacent Craft Market to hawk fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, and local crafts. Baskets, wood carvings, pottery and hand-screened clothing are all excellent buys.

You can go duty-free shopping at Pointe Seraphine, a harborfront shopping complex in Castries offering imports like designer perfumes, crystal and china, as well as wood carvings and other local handicrafts.

The island's finest silk-screened fabrics and clothing are offered at Bagshaws Studio and Shop, located two miles from Castries.

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    --written by Sarah Schlichter

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