It seems like whenever winter in Chicago is at its harshest, I start dreaming and planning our next beach vacation. I like to head to somewhere warm at least once a year (usually in February) to unwind and leave the cold winter winds of Chicago behind me. The Caribbean is always a great place to head, especially if you’re based in the States. Adam and I have previously headed to the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas. When it came to determining our next spot in the Caribbean, it seemed like St. Lucia was a no-brainer. The volcanic island is a Caribbean dream, which is popular especially among honeymooners and celebrities.
Where We Stayed
It seemed like everyone we spoke with that had been to St. Lucia has stayed at one of the four Sandals Resorts. While they all had great things to say about each of them, we found a different resort that seemed to fit our needs a bit better. We wanted something that ticked our checklist of close proximity to local restaurants, a beautiful beach, and a nice pool. We chose Cap Maison near Rodney Bay in the northern part of St. Lucia.
Cap Maison is a family-owned luxury boutique resort. They do have an all-inclusive option but you can also opt out and pay on your own for lunch and dinner with breakfast being included. A huge selling point to us was that the resort only has 49 rooms and thus was a very quiet and relaxing resort. The resort has Spanish-styled buildings that range from a standard garden view room to three-bedroom villas with their own private rooftop pools!
We opted for an ocean view Junior Suite that was somewhere right in the middle. Our room was incredibly spacious and the king bed was very comfortable. The A/C worked great but a note that it was only in the bedroom, and not in the bathroom. Given that, the bathroom did warm up pretty quickly during the day but cooled off at night. There is also a mosquito net above the bed that you can use as a precaution.
The fact that so many villas have their own private pool meant for us that the main pool and beach were virtually empty most days. How many times have you had to wake up at the crack of dawn to go and secure your beach chairs? Not at Cap Maison! We got our preferred spot every day. Their pool chairs were so comfortable that it felt like we were laying on a cloud every day. We also loved the beautiful grounds that were immaculately maintained and had hummingbirds skipping from one tree to the other. The bonus too was that Cap Maison has its own beach and offers floating day beds, kayaking, snorkeling, and every Instagrammer’s dream of a swing that overlooks the ocean below.
Cap Maison’s staff was so helpful and friendly. A glass of cold champagne or rum punch greets you when you check-in. The staff even brings ice-cold towels to you when you are laying by the pool. Pool and beach service was top-notch and we really enjoyed speaking with the staff throughout the day.
Overall, we would absolutely stay here again when we visit St. Lucia. The food and amenities were everything you would hope for. Other hotel recommendations we have heard from others who have stayed in St. Lucia are Sugar Beach, Anse Chastanet, Sandals Grande St. Lucian, Ladera Resort, and Sandals Regency La Toc.
Where We Ate
Our resort Cap Maison has two of the best restaurants on the island in Cliff at the Cap and The Naked Fisherman. Even if you end up not staying at Cap Maison, both are open to the public and are well visited by locals and tourists. Both restaurants are by far the best we have ever had in the Caribbean. Head Chef Craig Jones has won numerous awards for his restaurants.
Cliff at the Cap – This is the main restaurant at Cap Maison and is an outdoor restaurant that overlooks the Caribbean Sea. A French Caribbean-styled menu that is seafood-heavy. We recommend the fresh linguine, roasted Red Snapper, and Kobe Short Rib.
The Naked Fisherman – The beachside restaurant at Cap Maison is open for all-day dining. Their Kobe burger was one of the best we have ever had (not even joking!) and their Creole-style catch of the day is not to be missed. Their catch of day usually features Mahi Mahi, Red Snapper, Sea Bass, Grouper, and Tuna.
Jacques Waterfront Dining – Located on Rodney Bay, this restaurant features seating outside right on the water. Amazing views looking out onto the bay and outstanding food. We started with the garlic bread and a salad and for the main meal had the grilled grouper and filet, which were excellent.
Cap Maison Wine Cellar – We also enjoyed the wine cellar at the hotel on our last night. What a treat it was! It was an intimate night for only 6 people, where we were served a light dinner paired with the hotel’s recommended wines. One of the best experiences I’ve had at a hotel and can’t recommend it enough.
What We Did
St. Lucia has so many fun activities to do if you are one to get bored of the pool and the beach. They are most known for the world’s only drive-in volcano, Sulphur Springs. This is where their popular mud baths are.
We ended up taking a sea and land tour offered by Joe Knows that left from Castries Harbor and went south via a speedboat to Soufrière, where we went past the picturesque Pitons and then took a bus to Sulphur Springs. The mud baths are a must-do! You first lather your whole body with white mud. According to the locals, the mud has amazing skin-healing powers. It’s great for sunburn, bug bites, and eczema. You then rinse off your body in the natural hot springs. There are four different pools that get noticeably hotter the closer to the volcano you get.
After the hot springs, we drove a few minutes to a nearby waterfall where we rinsed the rest of the mud off. *Useful tip – Wear water shoes as the waterfall is a bit rocky!* We ended the Joe Knows tour by having a traditional St. Lucian lunch and snorkeling in Anse Cochon (i.e. bay of pigs). The water was so clear!
St. Lucia is also known for its great zip-lining, rainforests, and hiking. The island is also packed with amazing reefs for scuba diving and snorkeling. We saw plenty of Catamaran tours while on our speedboat tour.
- Pack your bug spray and avoid wearing any fragrant lotions or perfumes! The mosquitos (as well as sand flies) here are no joke and I paid the price for it after I put lotion on my legs before dinner one night and ended up with many, many bites on my legs.
- Be ready for a long drive to your resort. The international Airport ( get name) is at the very southern tip of the island. Most resorts are on the western and northern sides of the island taking between 1-2 hours to drive from. Our drive to Cap Maison took almost two hours on the way there and an hour and a half on the return leg. St. Lucia is very mountainous so pack some non-drowsy Dramamine for the drive. Trust me on that!
- Get to know the locals. St. Lucians are some of the nicest and most friendly people we have come across. The island is only home to 200k+ people and they all seem to know each other. They even encourage tourists to join them at their weekly Friday Night Street Party in Gros Islet. The island has very little crime and is very safe.
- It’s avoided major hurricanes. St. Lucia is south of most hurricane paths each year. It was clipped by Hurricane Irma in 2017 but had zero major hurricanes from 1980-2017.
- St. Lucia is expensive. It’s known as one of the most expensive islands in the Caribbean. Expect high hotel prices in the busy season (January-April) and expensive restaurants ranging from $100-250 per meal.
- You can fly direct! This was a major selling point as United offers a direct flight from ORD. You can fly direct from Chicago, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Miami.
If you head to St. Lucia, we hope you have just as amazing a time as we did! Bon voyage!
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, career coach, speaker and founder of Lipstick & Ink®. She also works full-time in technology as a Role Strategy and Employee Engagement Manager at Salesforce and has over 12 years of digital marketing experience. Kelly has been featured in Thrive Global, Chicago Tribune, International Association of Women, General Assembly, Salesforce, and SheFactor. She’s fueled by black coffee, sunshine, a good ink pen, and a bold lip.