This is my first “healthy travel diaries” post. There are so many people struggling with autoimmune conditions, I thought it would be helpful to document how I navigate my travels with numerous food sensitivities and methylation problems. I travel with the intent of staying healthy while I am on the go.
My first stop in 2017 was Saint Lucia. Saint Lucia appealed to me because it offered a combination of beach and adventure. This view of the Saint Lucia Pitons is my digital post card to you. Do you need any more convincing to book your flight? I included my healthy tips, favorite restaurants and attractions to inspire you to make the trip.
It can be done! Traveling can be challenging if you have dietary restrictions and sensitivities. I always pack extra snacks to have for flights and throughout my trip. I took a direct flight from New York on JetBlue. JetBlue has upped their game with inflight snack and meal options for purchase. They offer vegan and gluten free meal and snack options which is especially great on the way home when you run out of food. I love that airlines are making healthy food accessible on the go! Way to go JetBlue.
We stayed at the Calabash Cove Resort & Spa a boutique hotel located on the north side of the island near Castries, the capital. The general guests were all adults. It sits on a private beach with the most amazing views of the ocean (see view above) and the beautiful hotel pool. The grounds were very serene and perfect to relax and unplug. The staff was very friendly and accommodating.
The hotel was very flexible with cooking up meals I could eat. They modified dishes and created completely new options for me. Food restrictions are very common today. Through my travels, I find most restaurants are very accommodating. Even in the Caribbean! If you are unsure, you can always call ahead of time to see if they can flex to your needs.
During our stay, we checked out a few restaurants on the island. My favorites were the Big Chef Steakhouse which was near our hotel and Hotel Chocolat located in the southern part of the island about 1.5 hour drive away.
Hotel Chocolat had by far the most breathtaking views of the Pitons. Most of their dishes incorporate cacao in some way. They did have gluten-free, dairy free and vegetarian options on their menu including a trio of sorbet. Yes, I am still a health nut but I splurge a little on vacation. I also bought some of their dark chocolate on the way out. Raw dark chocolate is my weakness in life.
Sites & Attractions
It would be a good idea to figure out what interests you most early on in your trip. Some excursions are only available on certain days of the week and some require a minimum number of people. The main attractions are spread far apart and there is one main road to get to everything. Many of the group and private tours are a full day due to the time it takes to get from place to place.
We signed up for a private tour so we did not have to be rushed from one site to the next. I also wanted the flexibility to eat where I would have options. Our tour-guide took us to all the popular spots including Marigot Bay (where they filmed Pirates of the Caribbean), Soufrière, Botanical Gardens, waterfalls, views of the Pitons (which you can hike), hot springs and the volcano.
All of the views were truly magical as you can see from my photos. I loved the botanical gardens because we got to see all the beautiful exotic plants and flowers that grow there. Spending time outdoors always re-energizes me.
The mineral rich hot springs are said to have healing properties and are used in other cultures as a natural remedy for various ailments including skin conditions, pain relief and boosting circulation. The Saint Lucian natives say “it will make you feel 10 years younger.” I don’t know about 10 years but we definitely felt refreshed afterwards. I would recommend the private hot spring bath where you can enjoy the benefits in your own space.
- The locals are very aggressive with trying to sell things at the various attractions. They are incredible sales people, so smooth that you don’t realize they are trying to sell you something. This includes everything from tangible items to singing you songs while you snap photos at the attractions. They are not trying to start conversation with you. They want either a tip or a purchase. Be prepared to politely say no thank you as they will approach you at every stop.
- Bring small bills. At our hotel, any tips left on a credit card receipt went to the hotel and not to the staff. You can tip them directly.
- Plan your excursions in advance so you can do everything you want. Many excursions run in group tours by boat and can take a full day. You also have the option of booking private tours via car (we did this).
- Wear strong sunscreen. I made the mistake of starting off with 25 SPF and burned pretty badly. Luckily, the hotel spa had fresh aloe leaves on site which they delivered to our room. Stick with 50 or above to avoid the strong rays of the Caribbean sun.
Healthy Travel Diaries: Final Thoughts
Saint Lucia was a great place to recharge and have fun. I hope to be back some day. Next time I will be more prepared to hike the Pitons.