St Lucia is a Caribbean island with a rich heritage shaped by a variety of influences. Add to that a tropical climate and a gorgeous volcanic landscape and you’ve got a country with plenty of things to do. From climbing the iconic Pitons to soaking in the Qualibou volcanic mud baths, there’s so much to explore here.
While banana exports once fueled the economy, today tourism is the biggest contributor. However, you can still find the legacy of sugar plantations throughout the landscape and in the dishes served on local menus. St Lucian cuisine blends West Indian ingredients with Creole cooking techniques, French flair and spices from neighboring islands like Dominica and Jamaica. This mix creates some dynamic meal creations. Saltfish and green fig, pepperpot stews and accra (spicy fishcakes) are just some of the dishes to be found on the island’s menus.
Saint Lucia’s capital, Castries, is home to many historic sites and has an energetic atmosphere with a number of lively bars, restaurants and shops. The city is also the site of the St Lucia Carnival, held in mid-July before Lent. The celebrations involve a two-day parade with costumed participants carrying lighted torches.
Most Saint Lucians are descendants of African slaves brought to the island by the British in the 19th Century. They live alongside the descendants of French settlers, whose influence is evident in the unique local language called Patois. The official language is English, but the majority of the population speaks Patois and visitors are encouraged to try to speak a little before their trip.
St Lucia has a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood available locally. Among the most popular are callaloo soup, a creamy coconut milk-based broth that’s loaded with spinach and other veggies, as well as fresh seafood. Another local favorite is the koko, a boiled yam and vegetable dish with a deliciously spicy scotch bonnet sauce.
In addition to savory dishes, St Lucia’s cuisine has a wide range of regional desserts as well. Paime is a cornmeal-based treat that’s sweetened with raisins, coconut and spices. It’s often topped with a slice of banana to make it even more decadent.
After a filling meal, it’s time for something to drink. Many Saint Lucian dishes are enjoyed with a refreshing juice, such as soursop, golden apple or guava. It’s worth trying a fresh pineapple juice as well, which is a local favorite.