Photo courtesy of Eric Hossinger.

Saint Lucia has a rich culinary history and culture. A blend of West Indian, African and French cuisine, as well as a landscape that features fertile soil and a tropical climate, visitors can enjoy spicy stews, fresh fruits and flavorful curries. That being said, visiting the island is more than just eating food, it’s experiencing the cuisine. To help guide you, here are five must-have St. Lucia food experiences.

Indulge In Their Chocolate Culture

Cocoa was once Saint Lucia’s most important export, and still plays an important role in their culture today. There are many ways to experience this sweet heritage, including plantation tours, making your own chocolate, cocoa-inspired spa treatments and adding chocolate to your meal. Plantations like Marquis Estate, Anse Mamin Plantation, Emerald Estate, Morne Coubaril Estate and La Dauphine Estate offer tours, as does Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate which offers a “Tree-to-Bar Experience” allowing visitors to make their own chocolate. Additionally, spas like Ti Kaye Village Resort & Spa and Kai En Ciel Boutique Spa at Jade Mountain Resort combine chocolate’s indulgence with its health benefits through cocoa-inspired massages, body wraps and scrubs. And if you’d simply like to eat chocolate, head to Boucan Restaurant for dishes like Cacao Gazpacho and Tomato, cacao-infused chili and Cacao Ravioli. Cap Maison also offers a “Study on Chocolate” which features a mix of indulgent chocolate desserts.

Photo courtesy of My Aching Head.

Take A Rum Tour

The Caribbean is renowned for producing high-quality rum, and Saint Lucia is no exception. To truly experience the island’s rum culture, opt for a “Sugar to Rum Revelation Tour” with Island Routes. Visitors are taken to the Roseau Valley which was once used for sugar cane production but is now Saint Lucia’s largest banana plantation before being brought to the restored Sugar Mill at La Sikwi. Also included in the experience is the chance to learn about sugar in a museum, as well as the main event, touring a distillery and sampling locally produced rum. If tours aren’t your thing, head to the nearest bar and order a typical rum cocktail like a “Saint Lucia Rum Punch” which blends lime juice, orange or pineapple juice, Angostura Bitters, sugar and rum, or a “Banana Daiquiri” with banana, banana cream and rum.

green bananas
Green bananas. Photo courtesy of pzAxe via Shutterstock.

Sample Saint Lucia’s National Dish

Most people attribute “Green Bananas and Salt Fish,” sometimes known as “Green Figs and Salt Fish,” to being the island’s national dish. The meal combines Saint Lucia’s number one export, banana, with salted cod fish and local vegetables. While the banana and cod are boiled the vegetables are sauteed. The fish is then broken up into pieces and mixed with vegetables to be served over the banana. While you can order it at almost any restaurant, some that are known for making it especially well are Coal Pot Restaurant and the traditional lunch buffet at Morne Coubaril Estate.

Roti. Photo courtesy of gogatsby.

Explore Castries Market

Located in Saint Lucia capital, the bustling Castries Market offers handicrafts, souvenirs and local foods and spices. The market has resided in the same building since it opened in 1894. Along with taking in the unique sights and smells of the attraction, visitors can sample local fruits like bananas, breadfruit, soupsop as well as spices including cinnamon, star anise and nutmeg. Sample fresh seafood from fishermen just back from a day at sea, as well as typical dishes like roti stuffed with curried vegetables, potato and meat in a flour pancake or baked breadfruit stuffed with sauteed onion, tomato, garlic, ham and minced meat. While the market is open everyday it is at its liveliest on Saturdays.

Photo courtesy of Alpha

Celebrate At The Dennery Seafood Fiesta

Every Saturday at 4pm to 2am the fishing village of Dennery hosts their Dennery Seafood Fiesta. Seafood is a big part of Saint Lucia’s culinary culture as it an island with access to some of the freshest food items. Dozens of tents line the beach, allowing attendees to enjoy fresh fish, crab, conch, lobster, shrimp and authentic Creole dishes. There is also an array of music — soca, zouk, reggae, dancehall, country and more. Sample an array of local dishes while dancing on the beach and watching the azure waters lap up onto the soft sand. This is a great way to experience not only Saint Lucia’s food culture, but also its music and dance while meeting friendly locals.

What’s your favorite Saint Lucia culinary experience? Please share in the comments below.

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This article originally appeared on Travel + Escape

Jessica Festa

Jessica Festa is the editor of Epicure & Culture as well as Jessie on a Journey. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia, agritouring through Tuscany, and volunteering in Ghana.

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