My family’s new goal is to have at least one vacation a year, someplace new, and someplace warm. Since nearly all of us come from Colorado, it’s nice to get a break from the winter cold. So, after over a year of planning and debate, we chose the all-inclusive Coconut Bay Resort in St Lucia during early January, 2020 for our 8 day vacation.
In total, nine of us went. My family of four, my sister’s family of four, and my mother all made the 8.5 hour flight(s) from Denver Colorado to St Lucia in the Caribbean, which had a small layover in Miami, Florida.
Coconut Bay Resort is a sprawling 85 acres, located literally 5 minutes from the International airport. The good news is, we got to the resort very quickly once we landed and got through customs. The sort of not-so-good news is, I never really felt like I left the airport. Not too big deal, but it’s hard to get that remote tropical island feel when from the resort I could watch large commercial aircraft departing throughout the day.
Below are my thoughts on the vacation, what I liked, and what I didn’t like. I talked to many people while there who regularly frequent the resort because they like it so much. One couple from Britain was on their 9th visit and had already been there for 18 days!
The Weather and Bugs (Rating: 4/5)
Temperature and Humidity
The weather as expected was warm, humid, but comfortable. It took about a day for us to get used to the humidity coming from Colorado’s ultra-dry climate, and the first step off the plane was a shocker! But in no time, we were all enjoying the warmer weather. Even at night it felt wonderful. I had no issues taking a stroll along the beach in shorts, sandals, and a t-shirt during the day or night. The daytime temperatures were right around 86°F, and it only cooled off by about 10°F at night.
Flagging in trees is an indication of sustained winds. If the trees are leaned over in the same direction, but still growing upwards, that means the wind is always blowing. Virtually all the trees on the beach showed some signs of flagging. Since the Coconut Bay Resort is located on the windward and southern side of the island, I was expecting a constant “breeze”.
However, I was not expecting a driving wind. My goodness. It was flat out windy while we were there. I’m not sure if it’s always as windy as the video to the left shows, but and I’m pretty certain there’s always a good breeze based on what other return guests were saying. My guess is, the wind was blowing around 20 mph all day long, even throughout the night. This did have an overall impact on the vacation, but more on this later.
To the left is a video of the windiest day while we were there. The other days weren’t quite as bad, but I’d still classify them as windy and not breezy. Basically, the wind never stopped blowing. Our second day there was the least windy, and most enjoyable.
It is a tropical island, so it is going to rain from time to time. Fortunately, the day time rain showers are short-lived, perhaps just a few minutes in length, but they can put down a fair amount of water. It only rained heavy once at night while we were there, and that shower lasted about an hour. No lightning at any time, though. We got a light rain during our outside buffet dinner, but it too was short-lived.
Bugs and Critters
There really weren’t a whole lot of bugs. Certainly none of the hover-in-your-face-bugs. No swatting necessary because at first, it appeared the wind blew them all away, or at least kept them away. Even during the night. However, “something” was biting us on the beach. I have a feeling it was Sand Fleas or some small gnat. Never saw what they were, but they did leave some pretty good welts. My brother-in-law at one point looked like he had the measles or small pox. They itched like mad as well.
There were some really unusual sounding and loud crickets. They sounded like little electronic chirping devices. The first night we were there (and after quite a few drinks), I thought they might be fake. Like, perhaps the resort was lacking tropical noises so they added artificial sounds instead. But no, they were in fact real. The video to the left was my best attempt at capturing the crazy sounding little insects. They chirped all night long, but didn’t bother us at all. I actually enjoyed listening to them.
I saw a few frogs hopping around. My sister found a lizard atop their bed one day (not in it, though). I also noticed a few different kinds of bird in the resort area, but not a lot. I think there was a dove or pigeon of some kind and some small white lanky looking stork thing. All were eager to eat any scraps of food left behind, but by no means were they annoying.
The Rooms and Grounds (Rating: 5/5)
The rooms we stayed in were large and very clean. The bathrooms were roomy and clean as well. We never felt cramped, and there was three of us. Room service came by every day and cleaned the rooms thoroughly and quickly.
The balcony overlooked the resort’s pools and beach. It was very relaxing outside during the evening hours listening to the crickets.
Each room had a mini-refrigerator that was re-populated with water and sodas each day. I don’t believe there was room service, so any food had to be brought up on our own.
The air conditioning was very nice and very welcomed at night. It could easily turn the room into an ice box if you wanted it to.
There was one 110v, 60hz A/C plug in the room. The rest were the typical European form-factor, so we brought a couple converters, but never ended up using them.
Free WiFi is included at Coconut Bay and we had good reception from our room. It was very spotty elsewhere within the resort, except the lobby. This wasn’t too big a deal for us as we coordinated before venturing out for the day and we were hardly on our phones. None of us had an international cellular plans, so we left our phones in Airplane Mode with the WiFi turned on.
There is a TV in the room, but reception was pretty poor and there weren’t many channels. Like the WiFi, we rarely used it. In fact, I think we turned it on only once or twice for a few minutes.
The small electronic combo safe in the closet was great for locking up wallets, keys, cash, phones and other small valuables.
Every location at the Coconut Bay Resort was extremely clean. There was absolutely no trash anywhere. The wait staff was quick to clean up any drink glasses or food plates left behind. The chairs were well kept as were the hammocks. And despite the wind, I never saw napkins, plates or anything for that matter blowing around.
All the grassy areas, bushes and trees were very well maintained. Everything was so green, but again, this is to be expected on a tropical island! It was a very pretty landscaped area with coconut trees and various flowering bushes.
The walkways were all concrete or stone. They never got too hot that you needed shoes. so walking barefoot was no issue.
Everyone who worked at the Coconut Bay Resort was incredibly friendly! They always seemed to be having their best day ever. Singing, whistling, and had a bounce in their step. This was really noticeable and a huge positive on the whole vacation. From the moment we entered the resort, to the day we left, nothing but professional and friendly people!
Food Drinks and Entertainment (Rating: 3/5)
By far, the Jerk Tree House was my favorite place to eat. They served the most awesome jerk chicken, jerk sausage, and Mahi-mahi fish. They also had an incredibly good hot sauce, but absolutely not for the faint of heart. It was really hot, but extremely tasty. I ate there at least once a day. Even if it was just to walk-by, grab a small basket, then take it back to the pool chairs.
There’s another place called Flip-Flops that serves the typical easy cooking American food like pizzas, hamburgers, buffalo wings, chicken wrap sandwiches and a few other things. Most of this food was prepackaged, although the pizzas were cooked fresh in a large oven. The key to this place is, it’s convenient, the kids can order their own stuff, and It’s open until 1:00 am.
There is a breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet which was nice and accommodating for everyone. They served a whole bunch of stuff, with some of the food being local cuisine and then your more traditional foods like potatoes, soups, salads and chicken. It’s was typical buffet quality.
There are a couple high end places to eat called Silk (Asian Cuisine), Calabash (Fine Dining) and Sea Side (Italian). They do have a dress code at Calabash, so bring pants, collared shirt, and close-toed shoes. My daughter and son loved the sushi at Silk, I however did not. Most of the food at these places was good, but they all required reservations.
Overall, the food was average. The Jerk chicken and sausage at the Jerk Tree House was the best food around.
Drinks and Alcohol
There are quite a few bars scattered about the resort. They all mostly serve exactly the same drinks, though. I didn’t find any high-end liquor. For example, Bombay Sapphire was pretty much the only gin they had. No Tangueray or Hendricks. Titos and some other named brand where the only vodka choices. Scotches and Whiskey’s were scarce too, with the exception of Jameson. They did have a few different rums, one being from a local distillery.
They largely stuck to their small custom menu of fruity tropical drinks, which most in my family loved. I wasn’t a big fan of the drinks because they were all very sugary and sweet. My only exception was the Dirty Banana, which was like a milk shake with rum. That was pretty tasty.
Bottom line is, if you got something off-menu, the drinks were not good. I prefer a good Martini, Mojito, Margarita, or Moscow Mule. None were on their standard menu. They didn’t even have Bloody Mary’s! At the very least, just one bar that served higher-end drinks would have been fine. I understand it’s an island and getting that kind of liquor is probably difficult and pricey to offer at an all-inclusive resort, but it was disappointing. I would have even paid out of pocket for a good drink, from time to time.
Oh yeah … for some reason … the bottled water on the island tastes much different than in the United States. I think they purify their water differently. I never could get used to it. But the good news is, the water is safe to drink and no one in our group got sick from the water.
Coconut Bay has an excellent entertainment team! There was always something going on. Whether it be a band playing, karaoke piano bar, local entertainer, dancing, fire-eaters, stilt walkers, or some other activity, we were rarely without something to watch or participate in. The singers, bands and dancers were all very talented too. It was really fun to have drinks at night while listening to the electric saxophone musician, a retro band, reggae on the beach, or chilling at the cowboy ho-down!
Water Activities (Rating: 4/5)
The Pools, Water Slides and Lazy River
Coconut Bay Resort had numerous pools throughout the sprawling 85 acre campus. Some large, some small, but none deeper than about 4 feet which made it great for the kids, but a bit lacking for the taller adults. The water temperature was a bit on the cool side given the windy conditions. Without the wind, it would have been the perfect temperature. I’m not sure why this is, but there are no lifeguards on duty at any of the pools.
The largest pool had a fountain in the middle and little islands with palm trees. It also had a swim-up bar where you could order drinks, but not food. There were plenty of seats available. You can’t tell in the photo to the left, but the bar has additional seating to the right in a horseshoe shape. There were probably 15 seats in total. That surfboard menu shows the number of drinks they offered, and you can see the bar isn’t well stocked.
A volleyball net was strung across the second to largest pool, which also has a couple water-side basketball nets. It was situated behind a building, so it received a lot less wind.
They had a couple short water slides and a lazy river, which the kids (and adults!) really enjoyed. The lazy river was long enough that it took about 15 minutes to go around. Just enough time to dry off before getting drenched by the waterfalls. I liked this a lot.
It might sound odd, but despite being on a tropical island, the hot tub was very enjoyable at night. It overlooked the ocean and was surrounded by coconut trees.
Harmony is the name of the adult side of the resort, where no one under 18 is allowed. They too had a couple small pools, lounge chairs and a bar. We didn’t spend any time over there, though.
Windy, windy, windy! Again, since Coconut Bay Resort is located on the southern tip of St Lucia, it receives a steady, non-stop blow from the ocean. At times, the wind was strong enough to get sand airborne forcing those of us with contact lenses to turn our heads. The water was definitely warm. I’m guessing around mid 80’s, but when the ocean was churning due to the wind, it seemed a tad cooler.
It also made for a very choppy ocean, especially the further out ones goes. This limited the kayak and paddle board operations that we unfortunately didn’t get a chance to try. It also intimidated the kids a bit when they got out far enough such that they could no longer touch the ocean floor.
There is a lot of seaweed that washes up on the beach multiple times a day. It’s not the big yucky kelp stuff, but rather thin noodle stands about 18 inches long. Fortunately, the resort does an excellent job of removing with seaweed via tractor. This made it a non-issue in my book.
The sand is very fine-grained, and completely void of any rocks and shells. It’s very comfortable and easy to walk on. The kids loved making sand castles, and was probably one of the highlights for them on the days we spent at the beach. One of the locals told me they bring in the sand from Tobago. No matter as it was really a nice fine-grained sand.
Snorkeling was a bit lacking at Coconut Bay as it was significantly impaired by the wind. The water was often murky and obscured due to the choppiness caused by the wind. We had to swim about 50 yards off the beach to find some coral and fish. This along with the choppy waters was too much for the smaller kids to handle. Was even a bit tough on the adults. Certainly not the calm waters we found when taking a all-day catamaran excursion to the leeward side of the island (western coast). The water there was very clear and had no choppiness at all due to the wind being blocked by the island. The snorkeling there was fantastic.
The huts were nice to throw stuff under during the short-lived rain showers. There were a good number of lounge chairs, but I feel they could have used a tad more. Not too big a deal because they usually freed up in short time. I think most people didn’t like the wind and thus would limit their time sitting on the beach.
The hammocks strung up along the shoreline right above the water was really cool. But, the wind, occasional cloud, and the splashing waves actually made it just a bit chilly at times. Unless it’s low tide, it’s not possible to lay in them without getting splashed a bit. Nonetheless, it was nice having them and we really enjoyed them on the second say when there truly was just a breeze and not a full wind blowing off the ocean.
There is a small bar at the beach as well as food from noon to 2:00 pm. They serve mixed drinks at the bar, but only a few from their very small menu list. It’s not a full bar where you could get a blended margarita, for example. The choice in food was a hamburger, hot dog, or freshly grilledsandwich (which my sister said was excellent!).
There are bathrooms with toilets and running water. They were very clean. There is also a shower that can be used to rinse off the salt water after a swim in the ocean.
Chilling and Relaxing Activities
You can check out snorkel gear, kayaks and paddle boards free of charge, provided it’s not too windy. The Coconut Bay staff will restrict usage if they feel it’s not safe. Most days we were there, no one was out in the ocean using the kayaks and I don’t think I eve saw anyone on a paddle board. At the far end of the beach, you can rent (for a cost) a kiteboard. In fact, if that is your thing, the wind makes this almost an ideal location.
There were numerous hammocks strung up between coconut trees along the ocean side of the Coconut Bay Resort. You could lay in them day or night. I preferred the night time as it was a lot less crowded and you could see the stars in the nigh sky while listening to the ocean waves. This was incredibly relaxing. They were heavily used in the day time and it’s kind of hard to relax in one when you know people are waiting for you to get up and leave.
Excursions Outside the Resort (Rating: 4/5)
The concierge desk was very helpful with coordinating activities outside the resort. Some of the excursions we took were a half-day catamaran snorkeling cruise, volcanic mud bath, lunch in the small village of Soufriere, Zip Lining through the rain forest, and a nature hike to a waterfall. As would be expected, the zip lining was the biggest hit, with the snorkeling and volcanic mud baths tying for second place.
There were many other excursion activities which included helicopter rides, shopping in town, and a drive up the coast just to name a few.
Overall (Rating: 4/5)
I can easily understand why people return for a second or even third visit. Coconut Bay is really a nice resort. My only complaints were the wind and drinks, but everything else was spot on good.
I’m not sure we would return, simply because our goal as a family is to try something new with each vacation. But I would recommend the St Lucia and Coconut Bay resort to a family that’s never been.