I am excited to start sharing more about some of our travels and adventures, both past and present, here on the blog. Seeing the world and being out in God’s creation brings life to my soul, and I want to be able to share a piece of that in this space. Plus it’s fun for me to have documentation of some of the exciting adventures we go on.
So, first up is our vacation to St. Lucia that we took in November. We had been saving up to go on a “big” vacation for awhile, and it was so satisfying to finally enjoy the fruits of our labor and relax in this beautiful place. Today I’ll be sharing some backstory on our trip, our vacation mentality, and the highlights (as well as a few lowlights) from the trip.
The fun fact about this trip for us is that we have a bit of history when it comes to St. Lucia. Almost twelve years ago, Adam and I both had the opportunity to join our high school youth group for a missions trip to the island, allowing us the chance to experience the people and places from a local’s point of view. It was the first missions trip either of us had been on, so it was an incredible adventure in each of our personal lives, as well as our intertwined story. You see, the summer we went on that trip was the same summer we started dating. Prior to the trip we had acknowledged our interest in each other and we already established a bit of a history together, but we chose to wait until after this trip to really pursue anything further because we didn’t know what God had in store for each of our hearts. But waiting aside, our relationship was in its early stages during that trip, so it felt like something special to be able to return to this beautiful place, now married, all these years later. For nostalgia’s sake, below is a picture of Adam and me on our first trip to St. Lucia in 2008, with our friend Zack who refused to let us take a picture alone (and who also happened to be a groomsman in our wedding 5 years later).
WHERE WE STAYED
We spent 6 days and 5 nights at the Sandals Regency La Toc resort. There are three Sandals resorts in St. Lucia, and we could have easily visited the other two via shuttle, but we chose to keep it simple and hang around our own resort, so I can’t speak to what the others were like. We were satisfied with what there was to experience where we were. The location was naturally stunning, the staff was extremely friendly, hospitable, and professional, the grounds were well kept and easy to navigate, and I felt safe and comfortable wherever we went.
Going into this trip I had two main goals: R.E.L.A.X., and refrain from making as many decisions and plans as possible. As much as I enjoy our adventurous and explorative type trips, I had been craving a laidback, do-nothing kind of vacation for quite some time. In our planning process I was adamant that we stayed at an all-inclusive resort to diminish the need to plan out meals or activities and give myself a mental break. THAT, to me, felt like vacation. I was open to doing some adventurous activities, but I also wanted to maximize the amount of time I’d have to sit at the pool with a book and just “be.”
Also worth noting is that we are probably a bit of an anomaly when it comes to vacationers at an all-inclusive resort. We spent the majority of our time tucked away by the resort’s smallest and quietest pool, completely avoiding the “party scene” at the main pool. I couldn’t tell you what the evening entertainment was each night because we were usually in bed by 9pm – if not earlier. We enjoyed some drinks, but I was more focused on staying hydrated in the hot Caribbean sun. I received many confused looks when a bartender would come around taking drink orders and I’d ask for water. We even utilized the fitness center a few times (the one that multiple people laughed at on our welcome tour, because who in their right mind exercises on vacation…). Basically, I wanted to maintain my healthy habits and rhythms on the trip, because I knew that it would make me feel my best throughout it, and therefore enjoy myself more. And I’m so glad that I did.
Upon arriving to our resort, we were greeted with a surprise room upgrade, allowing us the opportunity to stay in a two-story suite tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the main area of the resort. This meant more privacy, and getting to avoid any boisterous night life. We were right up on the shoreline, so our view was incredible and the crashing waves were a constant soothing sound. Plus we were located at the center of the resort, so we had easy access to everything around.
Neither of us have ever had room service before, so we took full advantage of it. It came in handy for nights we were too tired to head out for dinner, and for relaxing slow mornings. Our last night we ordered it just so we could get one last bite of our favorite mango cake.
I think my favorite part of the trip was doing exactly what I set out to do: relax by the pool. We fully embraced our ‘old soul status’ and enjoyed many pockets of time lounging quietly at the small pool. We kept to ourselves most of the time, but we did chat with a few pool dwellers on occasion. Adam’s M.O. was lounging on a pool float with a drink in his hand, or staring out over the ledge at the crashing waves. I spent my time going back and forth from reading on a pool chair to hopping in the pool when the sun got too hot (which was often, even on cloudy days).
When we weren’t at the small pool, we made a few attempts to enjoy time by what I’ll refer to as the upper pool. It wasn’t too big and didn’t have ongoing events throughout the day like the main pool, but it did have a swim up bar and some music playing. We would try to get chairs along the ledge facing the ocean because it had some of the best views at the resort, but this pool was frequented by everyone who had butlers, so most of the chairs were reserved before we even had a chance to get to them. Plus the two mornings we attempted to hang out here, we were rained out. So instead, we would return to this pool at the end of our days to watch the sunset.
We only managed to step into the ocean once on this trip. I’m not sure if it was due to the location or the time of year, but the waves on the shoreline at our resort were a bit rough. Most days it was flagged yellow, and sometimes even red, and by our final day we saw some waves crashing that were easily 7 ft high. Our one ocean story involves Adam getting hit by a crashing wave when we first ventured out into the water that immediately knocked his sunglasses off his head. We considered them a lost cause, but a local on the beach noticed what happened and offered to look for them in exchange for some compensation if he found them. The guy searched for about an hour and a half – even after we had left the water – and sure enough he found them, without a scratch. We were pretty impressed. We didn’t stay in the ocean too long because once we got past the waves, the water was steadily moving between tip toe height and out of reach, so it got tiring quickly. Plus, salt water splashing in your eyes is even less enjoyable when you have contacts, so I opted pretty quickly for the pool.
As far as food goes, I was just thrilled that I didn’t have to cook anything for a week, but we did enjoy a great deal of the food on the resort. We didn’t go to every restaurant option available, but we enjoyed the ones that we tried, which included an Italian restaurant, an English pub, local cuisine, the breakfast buffet, and a made-to-order pizza shack.
Apart from getting to relax like I wanted to, our biggest highlight of the trip was getting to hike to the top of the Gros Piton (the second highest peak in St. Lucia, and one mountain in an iconic set of two that we became familiar with on our first trip). As a part of a guided tour, we hiked up just over 2,000 ft across a two mile span. Our group agreed that scrambling up the mountain was a better descriptor of what we did than hiking. Because of that, combined with the humidity, it was one of the more challenging hikes we’ve done. But despite the challenge, it was still a spectacular experience. Not only did we get a new experience of hiking through some jungle-like terrain, but we also saw some beautiful landscapes along the way. For sight seeing purposes, it was unfortunately a pretty overcast day so we couldn’t see much at the top other than the clouds that we were within (which was kind of cool in itself), but we were all pretty grateful for the rain that followed on our hike back down to help rinse off the massive amount of sweat pouring from us all. The entire hike took us probably 4.5-5 hours, so we were all exhausted by the end of it. I enjoyed one of the ‘top 5 best showers of my life’ when we got back to our room and I think we were in bed by 7pm.
In hindsight, we were very glad that we only planned one excursion for our trip. Not only did it allow us more time to relax without a schedule, but more significantly neither of our stomachs fared too well on the winding St. Lucian roads, so the less time we spent driving anywhere, the better. I’ll spare you the details, but we both put a tally on the scoreboard of roadside vomit as a result of our drive to the Pitons.
We only had a few disappointments with the trip as a whole. The two most significant being the discovery that a local soda we enjoyed on our first trip is no longer produced, and our favorite local fruit, guinep (or St. Lucian ackee), was out of season, so we didn’t get to enjoy two of the memorable tastes from our first go around. We were also a little bummed that we didn’t get to experience more local fruit on our resort, but that’s what happens when you stay somewhere that caters to Westerners.
Missing out on enjoying the beautiful views on our drive to the Pitons because of motion sickness was a downer, as was the shore at our resort being rough and not allowing much chance to enjoy the ocean. It did rain a couple of the days we were there, but thankfully in true tropical fashion, it never lasted too long. But as a whole, none of these things ruined our trip in any capacity. Ok, we might still be bitter about the ackee and soda (RIP Busta), but we’ll get over it.
After experiencing St. Lucia in two drastically different ways, I’m truly grateful for each opportunity. You can’t beat the chance to experience a new place from a local’s perspective, as well as the opportunity to connect with the people and share the love of Jesus. But this trip was also everything I hoped for it to be, and more. It was the relaxing vacation I had been dreaming of, and it ended up being much more timely than I ever anticipated. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to return to this beautiful, lush land. The combination of ocean and mountains is a spectacular one. And the people – my goodness, the people are just gorgeous. After both of our experiences there, I would highly recommend this destination to anyone looking for a tropical getaway.