On St. Lucia

St. Lucia is impossibly beautiful. People are friendly. The trade winds are the best I’ve experienced in the Caribbean — they’re constant, but not overwhelming, and they chase away the mosquitoes that can haunt you on other islands.

Yet I had a “meh” time on the island earlier this month, and it’s nobody’s fault but mine.

What I discovered — and would have known if I’d done more homework — is that St. Lucia is an island better suited to people staying in resorts, not independent travelers. Its size and steep, mountainous roads make it difficult to get around; it has a hefty population that plugs up traffic in urban areas; it draws a lot of seriously moneyed tourists and yachtie types who polished a handful of areas beyond where I’d ideally like them. It also had fewer beach options than I ideally would have preferred, although some of the ones there are seriously beautiful and the island’s interior is just stunning.

It’s an island that you go to if you have a lot of cash, want to have someone peel you a grape at a resort, and are willing to hire guides or drivers to help you get around. If that sounds like you, you’re going to love this place. If you basically want to bum around and hang out on beaches…not so much.

For the next few years while we still hope to afford it, I’d anticipate my wife and I will take a winter vacation to Saint Somewhere. For the last few years, that’s meant hitting up one or more of the Virgin Islands, a place I love dearly. Two Category 5 hurricanes took them out of the picture this year. I was hoping St. Lucia would be a substitute, but it wasn’t — it wasn’t empirically better or worse; it was just different. You might like that flavor of “different.” It just wasn’t for me.

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