Just Back from St. Lucia and Barbados

Fodor’s editor Doug Stallings took a whirlwind five-night trip to St. Lucia and Barbados in early March. Combining two very different—but nearby—islands was an exhausting but eye-opening experience. Would he do it again? You bet.

Why would you go to two different islands in such a short period?
Few Americans would think to combine two islands in the same trip, but Europeans do it all the time. So when the opportunity came up to hit not only St. Lucia but also Barbados, I couldn’t pass it up. I did a connecting flight through San Juan and was deposited at St. Lucia’s tiny Vigie Airport, which was only ten minutes from my resort.

Where did you stay in St. Lucia?
The main reason I made this trip was to see the “new” Almond Morgan Bay resort in St. Lucia (it used to be the St. James’ Club and has had a major renovation, including the addition of several new bars, restaurants, and a new pool). For an all-inclusive, the food is excellent, the facilities are nice, and the excellent kid’s programs include all-day babysitting for infants, so parents can relax. The other thing I loved was the local minibus. It stops right outside the entrance to the resort. I rode into Rodney Bay for EC$1.50 (about 40 cents) to do a little shopping.

I added two nights at the Almond Beach Village in Barbados. The resort has a mile-long beachfront—need I say more? Almond offers packages that include stays at both resorts, so anyone can do a trip like this.

What was your favorite part of the trip?
The Gros Islet Jump-Up in St. Lucia. It’s a street party held every Friday night. The crowd is a mix of locals and tourists, and there’s a DJ right in the middle of the street as well as excellent cheap barbecue and drinks. At the Jump-Up, I witnessed a sort of dance-off between two groups of local guys, and if the music hadn’t been reggaeton, I might have thought it was a scene straight out of West Side Story.

What surprised you?
How different St. Lucia is from Barbados. The islands are only 100 miles apart, but they couldn’t be more different. St. Lucia is a lush, wild island with dramatically beautiful scenery, but the roads are twisty and narrow, and nothing works exactly the way it’s supposed to. Barbados is the polar opposite. Everything is manicured and polished. The island has been in the tourism business for 250 years, and it shows. Everything is smoother there—even the roads. And where St. Lucia’s beaches are volcanic and a bit rocky, Barbados has fine, powdery sand on its west- and south-coast beaches.

What advice do you have for someone doing a two-island itinerary?
First, stay more than five nights, if you are able. I did a lightening-fast tour of Barbados and loved what I saw, but I wanted to spend more time at the beach. Second, you must take time to get out of the resort. Though you might be tempted to limit your exertion to trips between the pool and beach, both St. Lucia and Barbados are safe, friendly places, so there’s no reason not to get out and explore on your own.