TRIP COACH

Planning a Caribbean Vacation

Two frazzled law school grads want to relax and enjoy the outdoors in the tropics. Which island suits them best?

Finding reasonable airfare winds up being fairly easy, in part because Jenny and Heather shifted their dates to after spring break. A few Internet searches make it apparent that U.S. Airways has the best fares out of Little Rock: $630 round trip, with stops in Charlotte and Barbados, about $100 less than other carriers for the same dates. Satisfied with that rate, they decide against trying to save some cash by flying out of a bigger hub such as Memphis or Dallas; it isn't worth the trouble.

"We definitely want to experience some of the local culture, especially in terms of cuisine," says Jenny. Camilla's, an unpretentious, second-story restaurant with balconies overlooking downtown Soufrière, has excellent dinners (lobster thermidor, creole chicken), as well as burgers, sandwiches, and salads for lunch. The Stonefield's own Mango Tree restaurant specializes in fresh seafood, and every Thursday night hosts a fun barbecue ($35).

To stock their kitchen, Jenny and Heather will need to take the shuttle into Soufrière and walk to the markets on Bay Street, a block off the waterfront. They'll find all the basics, as well as island vegetables such as dasheen (similar to a potato) and callaloo (for a delicious spinach-like soup).

Jenny and Heather will want to get out of the Soufrière area at some point and are leaving the option open to rent a car for a day or two. While most agencies are at or near the airports, Ben's West Coast Jeeps and Taxi Services is in Soufrière and rents cars from $60 a day. (Foreigners on St. Lucia have to get a $21 driving permit, purchased through the rental agency.) With a car, Jenny and Heather can drive to the weekly party known as Friday Fish Fry, when the village of Anse La Raye closes off several streets, and fresh seafood and lobsters are grilled to the beat of Caribbean music. (A cab from Stonefield will cost about $30 per person each way, so it's cheaper to rent a car.)

They could also drive to the Enbas Saut Waterfall Trail, which leads through rain forest and over steep steps to falls that double as a popular swimming hole. Lucky hikers catch a glimpse of St. Lucia's rare national bird, the Amazona versicolor. Even at a good pace, hiking the entire Edmund Rainforest Trail, not far from Enbas Saut, can take three hours. But the walking is easy and straightforward, and it's not essential to do the entire hike to spot orchids and bromeliads clinging to trees, along with occasional panoramas of the coast and St. Lucia's tallest peak, Mount Gimie.

Deep into the planning, after they've booked airfare and plotted a day-by-day itinerary, the women conclude that five nights just isn't going to cut it. "We're concerned that we won't be able to do everything we want," says Jenny. "So we're thinking about staying two more nights." Changing their flights means $100 more per person--not the end of the world. They stick with Stonefield for five nights, but want something less expensive for the two extra nights, perhaps even camping. Then they book a hotel in northern St. Lucia that they had dismissed earlier: Coco Kreole, where rates start at $85. "It's an inexpensive way to extend our stay," says Heather. "And the location, near all the action in Rodney Bay, gives us a nice change of pace after Stonefield." Making a vacation longer is hardly against the law--and returning to life as responsible adults can wait.

Surprise!

Jenny and Heather will enjoy a Rainbow Reef snorkeling package, free of charge, thanks to St. Lucia's luxurious Anse Chastanet resort. The package includes an excursion to nearby reefs and a plantation lunch with creole specialties. A water taxi picks the ladies up and drops them off at the Soufrière port. Bring an underwater camera!

Transportation

  • Ben's West Coast Jeeps and Taxi Services 758/459-5457, westcoastjeeps.com, car rentals from $60
  • Lodging

  • Fox Grove Inn 758/455-3800, foxgroveinn.com, from $55
  • Crystals Guest Cottages 758/384-8995, stluciacrystals.com, cottages from $120, seven-night package from $850
  • Stonefield Estate Villa Resort 758/459-7037, stonefieldvillas.com, weeklong package for two from $1,225, $60 per person per day for breakfast and dinner
  • Coco Kreole 758/452-0712, cocokreole.com, doubles from $85
  • Get Inspired with more from BudgetTravel.com


    Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
     

    Budget Travel Real Deals


    • From $1,399
    • From $1,078

    See more deals »

    Video


    Our newsletter delivers vacation inspiration straight to your inbox.

    Check Prices