If you’re hoping to go dairy-free in St. Lucia, let me give you the spoiler alert first: You’ll be just fine. If you’re looking for more detail, read on!
I have a long list of destinations I’ve been wanting to blog about. Every time I travel, a big part of my planning involves where I think I’ll be able to eat, how receptive a destination is to a dairy-free diet, and where I can buy either a dairy-free donut, cupcake, or pizza. For some reason, those things are very important to me.
Generally, I make these plans within the United States, but earlier this year, I had to research possibilities in St. Lucia. To be honest with you, I wasn’t sure to expect, even after I landed. Even in the States, there are a few wild cards with planning where to eat: How far you can get somewhere by walking, bus, subway, rental scooter. Until you’re actually settled in your AirBnB, there’s only so much preliminary research you can do.
I’m happy to report that St. Lucia is a great dairy-free destination for couples, groups of friends, or solo travelers, like I was. I had the pleasure to visit St. Lucia for my friend’s wedding, and the experience was so great, I can’t wait to go back! This post is all about sharing the great tidbits, food and non-food related, that I took from my time there.
Advice for traveling in St. Lucia
I want to start this recounting of my St. Lucia trip by first sharing some non-food things I learned and some advice:
If you’re going to St. Lucia, actually SEE the island
You should explore St. Lucia, or any other country for that matter, outside of the confines of a resort. My second day on the island, I walked back from Pigeon Island to my AirBnB past a Sandals resort. A guy who drove past actually pulled over and asked me if I was lost. I’m pretty sure he thought I had escaped from Sandals! What I learned from my friend who grew up in St. Lucia was that people from Sandals do not leave the resort alone. I cannot stress this enough: Do not be a Sandals person. Be adventurous instead. You’ll have a lot more fun!
The best way to explore is to rent a car
I won’t sugarcoat it: If it is your first time driving a car on the left side of the road, St. Lucia is a daunting place to take it on. This may sound silly, but if you keep repeating to yourself that you are driving on the left side of the road, it gets less scary over time (but you may look a bit unhinged). Because I drove by myself, I kept talking to no one to keep myself calm. The roads are windy. You’re not ever going that fast, but it feels faster because of how sharp some of the turns can be, and how lively some of the other drivers can be. No one I ran into was overly aggressive, but most of the people driving around you know the roads much better than you do, so if they have the chance, they WILL pass you.
If you rent a car, pay for the insurance.
One cautionary tale, and a more serious piece of advice: Pay for the insurance. For the love, please pay for the insurance. I said no in some solo-travel-fueled adrenaline, and I regretted it from the moment I drove the car out of the parking lot to the moment I returned it. Most of my driving experience was without incident. However, I had one harrowing experience and one close call that justified the cost of insurance.
I was driving behind a truck piled high with cinder blocks. My thought was initially, “OK, this guy knows what he’s doing, he’s probably lived here his whole life, you’re fine.” I was wrong, dear readers. Not long after having this thought, the driver took a turn a little too sharply, and all of his cinder blocks fell off of his truck, landing in the street. If I wasn’t paying attention, or driving a bit closer to him, I would have been under the rubble. Add onto this the moment driving back to the airport where I scraped my left tire on a barrier, and just…just get the insurance. You won’t regret it. I guarantee you’ll have a scary driving moment, and the peace of mind is worth the cost.
But seriously, rent a car in St. Lucia.
You may think because all that happened to me, I’d say I regretted renting a car. Nope. Rent the car. Having a car made me more adventurous. It made me drive out to shopping centers after checking into my AirBnB. It allowed me to see any part of the island I wanted on my terms (albeit for the brief period that I was there). It also gave me bragging rights when I got back. You won’t regret renting a car.
Be friendly when you’re walking around.
St. Lucia is a very safe country. My friend told me that the country has some petty crime, but as long as you’re paying attention, you should be just fine. You’ll be in even better shape if you’re friendly to the people you pass on the street. I met a ton of friendly locals, including some resort workers behind that Sandals from where I “escaped.”
Rent an AirBnB.
If you are more about adventure than amenities, rent an AirBnB. My rental cost $40 USD per night, had air conditioning, was very close to all the fun in Rodney Bay, and could have easily slept 6! Plus, it was home to The St. Lucia STAR, a weekly St. Lucian newspaper. When I told my friend where I was staying, she was delighted. I won’t say much more about it, except to give a few of the articles a read. You’re welcome.
I already know where I want to stay the next time I go. If you’re a dog person, you might want to bring one home with you after seeing so many strays around the island, and you can, if you end up staying at the AirBnB which is also an animal rescue! **more detail here** At the very least, I’m hoping I can take a pup with me into someone’s loving arms, as the island is overcrowded with them, with limited homes in which to put them. Such a great cause, and dang cute, too!
Experience the small island’s different climates.
Depending on where you’re staying, you could experience rainforest climates, or weather that’s much drier and cooler. I stayed at the north end of the island, and while locals told me it was drier and hotter than normal, I know that at the south end, things are much more tropical more of the time. It doesn’t take too long to get from one end to the other (about 90 minutes by car), so make a point to book excursions, tours, or find sites you’d like to visit on both ends of the island to get the most complete experience.
Dairy-Free St. Lucia Food
OK, now to the food. I’ll cut to the chase: It is really easy to eat dairy-free in St. Lucia. My friend who grew up on the island told me that cow dairy is a relatively recent phenomenon. Much of the dairy you can find in St. Lucia is produced by goats, and a lot of native food doesn’t involve dairy products of any kind.
I was able to find dairy-free options at a St. Lucia wedding
I always get worried that I won’t have the kind of food I need when I go to events like weddings or conferences. Because of this, I normally pack some dairy-free options to take along with me, like granola bars, nuts, protein bars, and dried fruit. Luckily, I had nothing to worry about in St. Lucia.
My friend got married at this amazing house on the top of a very steep hill. The views were incredible, even though my phone at the time was not well-equipped to capture the full splendor. The house was also host to a botanical garden. It was a great opportunity to see a lot of native St. Lucian plants all in one place, so cool! I even managed to snap a couple selfies at the venue, something I always forget to do on vacation (see the beginning and the end of the evening above!)
The best part of the wedding was to get to see someone I love marry someone she loves, but it was icing on the cake to find out I could eat almost everything they had to serve for dinner. The only items at the buffet that contained dairy were fairly obvious, like mac and cheese. I think there were only two menu items that were off the table for me. I enjoyed everything else with an overloaded plate. Yep, that loaded down plate above was from my friend’s fabulous wedding!
The grocery store near my AirBnB had tons of dairy-free options
Because I rented an AirBnB, I went grocery shopping the first night, and most meals I ate at the apartment. Some imported items can get pretty expensive, but overall, my trip to the grocery store was super affordable. I spent $27 USD and had more than enough food for the four days. I even had leftover eggs and produce I hope went to some use from the host.
Eating out was no problem at all
I went out to eat in Rodney Bay, at Pigeon Island, and in Castries, and had no issues anywhere finding food. Rodney Bay has a ton of restaurants to choose from featuring all different cuisines. Most menus are available online, but if you walk around near the busiest part of Rodney Bay, you can also survey menus outside of each restaurant before committing to eat somewhere.
Pigeon Island has two restaurants. I stopped at one close to the beach, the Snooty Agouti, and got a tuna sandwich with rum punch. I’ve been told that the other restaurant at the park, Barnacles, is even more amazing, but it was closed when I got there. I’ll have to give it a try when I visit the island again!
My friend and I ate at a beachside food stand in Castries. Johnny cakes, a standard deep-fried bread, is traditionally dairy-free. You can find a lot of vegetarian food, but I ended up getting a chicken roti at the stand, which was delicious! It comes with some really spicy hot sauce, so approach with caution. Start small – a little goes a long way.
I have quite a few more dairy-free travel posts coming up in 2020. Anywhere you’re curious about? Maybe you can influence my travel plans! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post in the comments!