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 would eventually expand the plantation to produce sugar. Today, even after its buildings have been repurposed as a resort, the estate still produces cocoa plants, ginger, nutmeg, and more. In addition to its samples of fresh cocoa, the property offers visitors the privilege of roaming 135 acres of exotic gardens, cinnamon trees, and a historic battle site between the British and the French. Named one of the world’s five best plantation resorts by the Guardian, Fond Doux Holiday Plantation not only reveals Soufriere’s breathtaking landscape, but also the island town’s rich history.
Fond Doux is so dedicated to its French colonial roots that many of the centuries-old buildings had been rescued from demolition and reconstructed onsite to preserve the resort's 18th-century feel. Many of the one-bedroom cottages feature wood-shake shingles and natural-wood four-poster beds and wicker furniture. In the Cinnamon cottage, rocking chairs sit on a sunlit veranda. Alternatively, the Banana Tree cottage recalls the surrounding rainforest through lime-green drapes.
At the onsite restaurants, The Cocoa Pod and Jardin Cacao, sample fresh mahi mahi with plantain chips or banana-rum flambé, served on traditional creole earthenware dishes. To support the estate’s self-sufficient, eco-friendly efforts, many of the ingredients used have been grown onsite.
To get an up-close and personal feel for the plantation, guests can tour the cocoa farm and see the step-by-step production process. Guides lead groups through hands-on demonstrations of cocoa drying all the way to making cocoa sticks.
Soufriere, St Lucia: Former Colonial Town with Volcanic Geography and Rainforests
Located in between Martinique and St. Vincent in the eastern Caribbean, St. Lucia was coveted by the English and French, who quarreled over the island for more than an a century. The French seem to have left a more noticeable influence on its arts and cuisine, as upscale French eateries can be found all along the coast. Grab a table to sample pepperpot soup, made with beef and spinach-like callaloo, or the country’s national dish of salt fish paired with green fig.
Named St. Lucia’s first town in 1746, Soufriere sits on the island’s eastern coast. Further inland from the crystal-blue beaches, Soufriere’s landscape shows dramatic evidence of ancient geographic upheaval. On either side of Jalousie Beach, a favorite for snorkelers, stand the Pitons, two imposing 2,000-foot volcanic plugs that still experience geothermal activity. Dense rainforests sprawl throughout Soufriere, so the area is ideal for bird watching, especially sandpipers, egrets, and parrots.
Billed as the world’s only “drive-in volcano,” Soufriere’s Sulphur Springs on St. Lucia allows visitors to drive right up to the mountain and stand steps from bubbling tar pits and steaming fumaroles. Feel free to bathe in a bubbling mud spring, as the springs are said to have therapeutic properties.
Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.