250-Year-Old Cocoa Plantation with Tropical Gardens near Sulphur Springs
In 1713, King Louis XIV granted the Fond Doux estate on St. Lucia to chocolate and cocoa producers, who eventually expanded the operation to include sugar. Today, the estate still cultivates cocoa, ginger, and nutmeg, but now it also houses the Fond Doux Holiday Plantation resort—135 acres dotted with exotic gardens and cinnamon trees. Set on the site of a historic battle between the British and French, the resort showcases the area's rainforest landscape as well as the island’s rich history.
Fond Doux is dedicated to preserving its French-colonial roots—the owners rescued many of the centuries-old buildings from demolition and reconstructed several others. Shake shingles and natural-wood four-poster beds decorate many of the one-bedroom cottages. In the Cinnamon cottage, rocking chairs are perched atop a sunlit veranda. Outside, guests can dive into one of three pools or visit the nearby Sulphur Springs, which are warmed by the island's volcanoes.
At the onsite restaurants, Cocoa Pod and Jardin Cacao Restaurant & Bar, diners sample fresh mahi-mahi with plantain chips or banana-rum flambé served on traditional creole earthenware dishes. In keeping with the owners' goals of sustainability and eco-friendliness, many of the ingredients used at the restaurant are grown onsite. To get an up-close feel for the day-to-day workings of the plantation, tour the cocoa farm and participate in hands-on demonstrations of drying and cocoa-stick creation.
St. Lucia: French-Inspired Cuisine and Spectacular Volcanoes
Located between Martinique and St. Vincent in the eastern Caribbean, St. Lucia was coveted by the British and French, who quarreled over the island for more than a century. Although English is now St. Lucia's official language, the French seem to have left a more noticeable influence on its arts and cuisine. Along the coast, a string of marinas exhibits a cultural blend through restaurants ranging from fried-fish shacks to upscale French eateries. Grab a table to sample meaty pepperpot stew, spinach-like callaloo soup, or the country’s national dish of green fig—a Caribbean term for small, unripe bananas—and salt fish.
With several beaches, St. Lucia attracts those looking for snorkeling excursions, dolphin-watching tours, or deep-sea fishing trips in search of blue marlin, barracuda, and mako shark. Crowds descend on the popular Reduit Beach at Rodney Bay, not too far from the 18th-century British forts at Pigeon Island National Park. For a less hectic scene, head south down the coast to Anse Chastanet, a more secluded beach with giant palm trees and undulating green hills.
A vacation in St. Lucia is not complete without a visit to one of its volcanoes. Considered the country’s unofficial symbol, the Pitons are two vegetation-covered volcanic plugs rising more than 2,000 feet above the western coast. Nearby St. Lucia Volcano is considered "the world's only drive-in volcano," as you can drive your car close to the volcanic crater to see its steaming sulfur springs.
Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.