With its black sand beaches, lush rainforest and natural hot springs, it's no wonder we're crushing on the Caribbean island of St Lucia. We took a trip to the "sleepy south" and found laid back resorts, natural beauty, and plenty of local flavour.
At Anse Chastanet no two rooms are alike but all include local art and a breezy Caribbean vibe. Ask for 14B, which has a tree growing through the rainfall shower (pictured). The hotel has four restaurants -- including one that's exclusively vegetarian -- and two beaches with oceanside service. Make the trek over to Anse Mamin, the hotel's more remote beach, for a Caribbean spice burger tucked between a Jonny Cake, a local bread grilled fresh to order. www.ansechastanet.com
Hotel Chocolat grows 10 percent of the island's cocoa. Tour the hotel's Rabot Estate cocoa groves, pluck a pod, and craft your own dark bar with the Tree to Bar experience. Afterwards, reward yourself with a fresh cacao martini in the hotel bar. http://www.hotelchocolat.com/uk/home
Locals swear by the healing power of the sulphur springs, part of your entrance fee the Caribbean's only "drive-in" volcano. Bring a dark swimsuit, cover yourself in volcanic mud, then dip into the natural (45 degree!) hot springs. http://soufrierefoundation.org
Guests at Jade Mountain benefit from more than just in-suite infinity pools and unobstructed views of the Pitons. At the Kai en Cielis spa, the chocolate body wrap is good enough to eat but it's the hotel's own handmade chocolates, given at the end of the treatment, that really sweeten the experience. www.jademountain.com
Every Friday, the town of Anse La Raye plays host to a fish fry dance
party. Choose from snapper, mahi mahi, shrimp, box fish or spiny lobster
then watch as your plate is piled high with homemade rice and peas, mac
and cheese and coleslaw.
--VitaminDaily.com special contributor Shannon Heth Vergette