Friday, September 1, 2017

Honeymoon to St. Lucia

Our trip to St. Lucia was such a dream and such a fun escape for just the two of us. When Stephen and I started planning our honeymoon, we relied quite a bit on reviews and recommendations from friends. We discussed a variety of ideas: flying to California and taking a road trip up the coast, going to Antigua or the Bahamas, among other options. But we kept coming back to St. Lucia.
It was the perfect week for us to relax and reset. Stephen and I have traveled quite a bit together, but this was our first international trip with just the two of us. There was nothing like waking up early on our first full day in paradise, making a cup of coffee, and sitting on our balcony together reflecting on our wedding, first week of marriage, and the days to come. I took my camera with me but never even picked it up, which I think was refreshing for both of us. It was so nice to just take some moments enjoy gorgeous weather, gorgeous views, and each other. 
Choosing the Resort:
I fell in love with the idea of St. Lucia because of the gorgeous views. I love that in the middle of the ocean there are these gorgeous mountains that create the island of St. Lucia. We did our research and were sold: St. Lucia was our destination. There were several resorts that we considered when we were booking our trip, but so many of our friends have traveled to Sandals and it came recommended. I wasn't sure if I would love the resort or not, but I can honestly say that we loved arriving, having our bags sent to our rooms, and not really lifting a finger for the entire week.

There were three different Sandals to choose from on the island of St. Lucia. We talked about booking either La Toc or the Grande but finally opted for the Grande. You can travel in between all three resorts, but we only left ours for excursions and never visited the other two (though we heard that those were great, as well). Sandals is an all-inclusive resort, so once you arrive, all restaurants and bars were included. Sandals is also a cashless resort, so if you choose to make any purchases (like in the spa or for excursions), the resort charges your card so there's no need to carry around cash or even your wallet.

There are a variety of room types at the resort, and we opted for an oceanview club level room. We loved our room location as it was central to everything and we had a beautiful view. For club level rooms, room service is readily available, the club concierge will book all of your reservations for dinner, and guide you through booking excursions. Our room had a balcony overlooking the pool, ocean and Fort Rodney. 

The Activities:
There is plenty to do on the island of St. Lucia and at the resort! We booked a few excursions (one in particular being my favorite), but on the beach at the resort, there are also several fun options. We went paddleboarding for about 2.5 seconds (a storm rolled in), but there was also snorkeling, Hobie cats, cayaking, scuba diving and more.

Our first off-resort excursion was for a sunset party cruise around the island. We took a shuttle from the resort to another marina, hopped on a catamaran, and cruised around the island. The weather was great and we did this cruise with our couple friends that we met, so it was great to take in the views with a little wine and rum punch.

My favorite excursion was our day with JJ's land & sea tour. We were picked up (along with a big group) from the resort dock and boated around the island, making stops along the way as our (hilarious) guide "No Problem" told us about hot spots and beautiful parts of St. Lucia. One of the things I loved about this was truly experiencing the island by water. The Piton mountains are stunning and since our resort was on the other side of the island, I loved seeing them a little bit more upclose. We went to St. Lucia's volcano for a dip in the mud bath - it was extremely hot but my skin felt great afterwards - followed by cooling off in a gorgeous waterfall. We then snorkeled a bit which was so fun to see St. Lucia's underwater specimen.

We headed to lunch, where we ate a delicious St. Lucian meal. To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what all I ate, but I'm a fairly picky eater and enjoyed all of it By this time, the rum punch was flowing (beware the rum punch), and everyone had a little pool party before hopping on the boat and heading back to the resort. This was such a fun excursion that both Stephen and I would recommend. 

Stephen and I did enjoy the spa as well. We opted for a couples' massage on our first day and it was the perfect way to dive headfirst into relaxation. This was also Stephen's first massage experience, and I think he's officially hooked.

One thing we did not do but had planned on was hiking to Fort Rodney. The fort overlooks the resort and the ocean and is settled in a national park. Our plan was to do that Friday morning, but the same Hurricane Harvey that has battered Texas hit us as a tropical storm, making for very stormy conditions for a good part of our last full day. We would have loved to do this hike (there's also a hike in the Pitons, but we heard it was quite difficult), but we still loved our last full day together. 

Where We Ate:
Overall, we loved all of our meals! There were a variety of restaurants to choose from, and though we had our favorites, we enjoyed each meal. A few of the restaurants require reservations, so we planned out our dinners on our first full day based on the restaurants we really wanted to try.

Toscannini's: This Italian restaurant was our choice for our second night at the resort. I was feeling a little under the weather, but there were quite a few great options. Stephen ordered lasagna and I opted for gnocchi, plus an appetizer of bruschetta. Toscannini's does not require a reservation, but is resort evening attire, meaning long pants for the guys and a dressier option for the gals (I wore a maxi dress and sandals). 

Kimono's: We loved this restaurant! Kimono's features Japanese cuisine, with the chef preparing your meal on the grill at your table. It's very similar to the Japanese restaurants we have here in North Carolina, but there was definitely a St. Lucian flare to our meal there. The cocktails are fantastic and our chef was hilariously talented. We definitely would've eaten there again if we had been there a few more days.

Soy: Hello, delicious sushi. I've only recently started to love sushi (and by that, I mean anything that has friend shrimp in it or is all fried in itself), but we went to Soy one night for appetizers (it really could've been a meal) and it was so good. Unlike the 8-piece rolls generally served here, they do 4 piece rolls, which was a great option for us to try a variety but still leave room for our dinner. I chose vegetable sushi and crispy shrimp and Stephen opted for snow crab & spicy tuna rolls. 
Gordon's: We saved Gordon's for dinner on our last night and it was definitely worth the wait. Gordon's is situated on the far end of the resort on the pier, and despite stormy weather that morning, it was a perfect night to have dinner oceanside. Gordon's was Stephen's favorite meal from our trip and it was a great way to spend our last evening together. We both ordered the steak and lobster and though I'm not the biggest seafood eater, I still enjoyed it. 

Barefoot by the Sea: We ate here with a couple we met on our first day for lunch. It's a fun beachside (you are sitting in the actual sand) restaurant with great burgers, sandwiches and wraps. We walked from the pool with our coverups on and grabbed a quick lunch before heading back to the poolside bar.

Bayside: We had breakfast at Bayside every morning and loved it! Each morning featured a breakfast buffet in this open air eatery and I was in line at the omelette bar every day we were there. We also made a friend with a local cat who visited us for each breakfast. 

The takeaway:
Overall, our trip was incredible! Though I think we would have enjoyed a variety of places and any of the resorts on the island, Sandals ended up being a good fit for us. Because Sandals is quite traditionally a honeymooners resort, there were quite a few people our age there. We met some great people from around the country (and world) and had a blast getting to know them. It was fun to meet new people, spend time just the two of us, and adventure in a new place. If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask!


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