Find out what the Potton family did in Saint Lucia during the half term break
Ah, Saint Lucia, island of romance. A dreamy fantasia dotted with couples’ hideaways and honeymoon havens. But a place to take your kids? Actually, yes. This jewel of the Caribbean is bursting with stuff to do for tantrum-throwing toddlers, entertain-me teenagers and everyone in between. As my wife Liz and I discovered when we took Izzy, seven and Arlo, three, for a break over October half term. Don’t take my word for it, take Izzy’s (“Amazing!”) and Arlo’s (“It’s a lovely place, Daddy”).
It starts with the hotels, many of which are geared towards small people. Coconut Bay Beach Resort, in the south of the island near the airport, is a kids’ paradise of lazy rivers, waterslides, all-inclusive pizzas and a swim-up bar that divides, with one counter for kids and another for grown-ups. The Bay Gardens Beach Resort up in the north in Rodney Bay is similarly welcoming, with a shallow beach and a star attraction that was absolute catnip to a seven-year-old – Splash Island Waterpark (see image above), an inflatable assault course floating in the bay. A life-jacketed Izzy had a fabulous couple of afternoons scampering up ramps and swinging on ropes, although she took most delight in watching my pathetic attempts to scale the climbing wall, all of which ended with me falling ignominiously into the sea. At least it was warm.
Morne Coubaril, an idyllic estate near Soufriere on the west of the island, offers horse riding through the rainforest and ziplining between platforms in the treetops. Izzy adored the latter in particular, giggling as our guides zoomed down the wires upside down and bouncing like airborne kangaroos. Just down the road are the volcanic baths at Sulphur Springs – the chance to cover themselves with warm mud went down very well with our kids, even if it came with a slight whiff of rotten eggs.
A less obvious but equally fun trip was to Hotel Chocolat, the hotel and restaurant, where a lady called Merle had us pounding our pestles full of cocoa butter, chocolate and sugar and pouring the resulting gloop into moulds. Then, hey presto – an hour later Merle returned bearing our very own chocolate bars. Arlo’s survived for about 30 seconds before being devoured.
There’s a fair bit of sea in this part of the world. The Moorings, based at the marine in Rodney Bay, offer yacht trips. The highlight of our voyage was dropping anchor in Marigot Bay and the kids leaping into the blue-green sea. Marigot Bay was once described by the American novelist James A Michener as “the most beautiful bay in the Caribbean.” Mr Michener, you weren’t wrong. A fantasy inlet shaped like a stiletto boot and surrounded by steep mountains covered in lush rainforest, it’s a natural haven that’s been used through the centuries as a “hurricane hole”.
It’s now home to one of the loveliest hotels you’ll stay at, the Marigot Bay Resort and Marina, a handsome devil of a place that stretches up the mountainside and right down to the water’s edge. Luxury hotels don’t always embrace kids but this one does, with bells on. Izzy and Arlo squealed at the jacuzzi on our balcony and spent several happy mornings wandering around the marina, spotting the tiny yellow and red crabs clinging to the mangroves. Another hit was the Hurricane Hole restaurant, which has a window in the floor so you can watch the fish swimming underneath the boardwalk.
Dinnertime is especially magical at Marigot Bay. Izzy and Arlo loved catching the tiny ferries to the handful of restaurants on the opposite side of the bay. As the sun set over the ocean, the lights of the resort blinked at us as we tucked into our chowder (or, in Arlo’s case, an umpteenth plate of pasta). A fairy tale ending – and not just for Mum and Dad
For more information on Saint Lucia, visit stlucia.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free information pack quoting ‘Family Fun blog’