In May of last year, I visited the tropical paradise of St Lucia, to explore the breath-taking Caribbean landscapes complete with beaches and rainforest, and also to experience the vibrant and diverse cuisine of the island.

St. Lucia’s cuisine is a delightful blend of African, French, and Caribbean influences. The island’s rich history is reflected in its food, creating a unique combination of flavours that is sure to leave any food enthusiast craving more.

Away from the numerous cocktails and freshly grown mangos, papayas and bananas, we indulged in at our hotel, we decided to fully immerse ourselves in St Lucian culture by taking a trip with the locals to eat and drink our way around the island.

We started at a local café ‘Kaye Savann’ situated in the hills just outside Castries, with a light and nourishing breakfast of hot bakes and saltfish. This traditional St Lucian breakfast of ‘Bakes’ are a popular fried dough dish, served like a sandwich with lightly spiced salted codfish. Served with this was cocoa tea, not to be confused with hot chocolate, or tea! This rich concoction is made from locally grown cocoa which is boiled with spices including cinnamon and bay leaf and can be enjoyed with or without sugar.

From here, we made our way to our next destination in Anse La Raye, driving along the winding roads of the island, stopping at Plas Kassav – a family-run roadside bakery and shop selling cassava bread. This round and chewy bread is made from the root of the cassava shrub, and comes in both sweet and savoury flavours. We opted for a chocolate and cherry flavour – the latter was recommended by a local as there was just one left.

With our tummy’s full and needing a short break from food, we stopped at the St Lucian Distillers which produce some of the most highly regarded rums on the island. Whilst learning about the history of rum production on the island we manafged to sample not one but twenty four(!) different rums – from premium ‘Chairman’s Reserve’, to creamy rum liquors of ‘Marigot Bay’ which included peanut and coconut flavours. What a day – you could try as much or as little as you like, as many times as you like!

For lunch we then headed to a local town for another traditional saltfish dish of saltfish curry, served with breadfruit – a vegetable which when cooked taste somewhat like bread or potato.

We then meandered inland into the tropical rainforest, which was the highlight of my day, to a local farm called ‘Tony’s Place’. We were welcomed with fresh coconuts to rehydrate, before sampling bananas, mango, pineapple, cacao, grapefruit, coconuts and even freshly roasted cashew nuts. As a self-declared mango enthusiast, I have to say it was the best mango I’ve ever eaten.

Reflecting on my time in St. Lucia, it’s clear that the island’s food culture is as diverse and captivating as its landscapes. St. Lucia’s cuisine isn’t just about the food; it’s a genuine expression of their culture. I would highly recommend to anyone visiting the island going in search of authentic foods and eating with the locals.