We like to be in control when we're on vacation, and not have a bunch of expensive choices made for us. We like the benefit of local knowledge and never feeling like we've been just been taken. And we love authenticity, good food and feeling at home. So for all these reasons, this may just be our best vacation ever. If you are the pampered type, who likes all your plans made for you, room service and staying well with-in your comfort zone (regardless of the cost) - then go to one of the many resorts St. Lucia has to offer.
The Mango Beach Inn is an awesome little B&B right on the most beautiful bay in the Caribbean (according to James Mitchner, at least), run by the nicest and hardest working couple I've ever met at a B&B. They always were friendly, helpful and gracious hosts - interested in our activities, asking what they could do to make our stay more comfortable and, most importantly to me, full of advice (when asked) on where to go, where to eat, what to do, how much things should costs and just about anything else you want to know when on vacation.
Their place, the oldest home in the bay, is very charming with a perfect view of the bay from the breakfast/lounge area. Our room (the Blue Bamboo) was clean and comfortable - although not plush. The mattress was good, the in-room a/c worked well and the plug-in fan they had made the sleeping cool and comfortable. Two chairs, a table and mini-fridge rounded out all our needs. There was also a table and chairs on a little front porch - but when at the B&B, we spent most of our time in our room or up in the lovely breakfast/lounge area. (that's also where the wireless internet access is best) They keep a well stocked, and fairly priced, fridge (beer, wine, soda, water, rum punch, etc) in the area, that you just help yourself to (keeping track, on the honor system, on a sheet of paper). It was convenient to be able to grab a bottle of water before bed or before heading out for the day. (Also, the award-winning rum punch they keep in that fridge is the best you'll have on the island).
The B&B is the perfect place from which to explore the island. The water taxi (free to guests of the inn) is easy to access and always available, the walk down to the beach just takes a few minutes, and if you think you're up for it, there's a serious hiking trail behind the the B&B straight up the mountain with gorgeous views of the Bay.
Everyday we went somewhere different and fun - one day we rented kayaks (at a fair price, pre-negotiated by the B&B) and went to a great little beach just north of the bay to go snorkeling, another day we kayaked to a little beach to the south for more snorkeling (and some drinks on the beach), we signed-up for a sailing trip to the Pitons through the Oasis Hotel next door (Mango Beach has a cooperative relationship with them, so it was easy for us to participate in their activities), we also (at the recommendation of John and Judith at the B&B) rented a car a couple of days to explore other parts of the island (at a substantially lower price if we went by taxi or boat), and a couple other days we visited the sweet pool and swim-up bar at the very plush Discovery Hotel across the bay.
We found it to the be case throughout the island, especially in low season, that many of the very expensive resorts were happy to have you come and take advantage of their facilities - as long as you are a paying customer at their bar, restaurant, beach, etc. On our last day (as we drove to the airport), we stopped in for lunch at The Ladera Hotel, and also feasted our eyes on the absolutely breathtaking view of the Pitons that can be had there.
Speaking of good eating, we will forever be grateful for John and Judith’s dining recommendations. Even though they own the terrific Rain Forest Hideaway restaurant (which we ate at twice, happily), they suggest trying some of the area’s other eateries (which are locally owned and not associated with the major resorts). The three places we ate (Julietta’s, Chateau Mygos and JD’s), on their recommendation, were absolutely delicious (and reasonably priced). Julietta’s coconut shrimp are almost worth the trip to St. Lucia alone (just call ahead to make sure she has them, as they are harvested fresh, daily on the island). We didn’t expect it to be, but this ended up being an eating vacation (as well as a tropical one).
Another good thing about the Mango Beach B&B, and staying in Marigot Bay in general, is that it is centrally located, with all the needed conveniences located right in the bay. There’s a small grocery store, bank (with ATM), and car rental location all at the Marina. It’s an hour drive up to Castries and a 90 minute drive to Soufriere and the Pitons. The rum distillery is also just five minutes away – and worth the trip (who doesn’t love rum as a souvenir?) After each grand day out, it was always nice to “come home” to our B&B, exchange a few nice words with John or Judith, and to really feel at home.
Like every island and vacation destination in the Caribbean, you will always have someone, somewhere trying to sell you something you can’t take back (like conch shell, which we learned at airport, are not allowed off the island), to sell you something at an inflated price, to be your guide, or directing you to one tourist trap or another – any of which can ruin an afternoon, a day, or even a whole trip. So one thing I really appreciated about staying at Mango Beach Inn was John and Judith’s advice on what to do, what to avoid, what something should cost, what to look out for and, in general, what to expect. I’m not sure you would get that kind of advice for some random staff person at one of the big resorts.
Throughout the trip, we’d see bus loads or boat loads of tourists (coming from cruise ships or the big resorts), getting taken in groups from souvenir shop to tourist trap and back, not really in control of their trip, and only seeing what they’re shown – while we, with the helpful advice of hosts, were going to the best spots, avoiding the bad ones, negotiating a fair price, and moving confidently throughout this truly beautiful island.
We came in the low season (second week of October), and we had no idea how low the season was, as every place on the island was a 50% or less occupancy. Almost every meal we had, we were the only, or one of two, tables at the restaurant. For someone who just wanted to spend time alone with his wife on their tenth anniversary, it was almost magical. It also had the practical advantage of never having to worry about reservations, lines, or crowds.
I apologize for the length of the post, but it really was a great vacation, made great in large part by the place we stayed. We’re already planning a return trip – and I know exactly where we’ll be staying!
*There are tree frogs "singing" at night (as there are throughout the tropics) - we thankf...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.