With a government programme promoting village tourism, a farm-to-table food culture and myriad outdoor pursuits, St Lucia is making all the right moves.
Soca music throbs from roadside speakers, fresh fish sizzles on barbecues, rum flows freely.
An elderly local throws his arm around my shoulders, we grin at each other and clink glasses.
I feel like I’m in an intoxicating dream, dazzled by neon bar signs, gyrating hips and pulsating bass.
What else could I expect from Gros Islet’s famed Friday night Jump Up street party?
This jamboree has been enticing tourists and locals for decades, who congregate in this northern St Lucian town to sample authentic Creole cooking, hear the sound systems and enjoy a rum punch or two.
The potent rum has loosened my limbs and inhibitions enough to attempt a “whine” – rhythmic rotating of the hips, much to the embarrassment of my friend Kristina, who has joined me on the trip.
For an Irishman cursed with two left feet, my moves are nothing short of a miracle.
I strike up a conversation with a local landscape gardener who has just clocked off for the evening.
“Things really kick off after 11pm when people finish work,” he laughs. “This is when the locals come out to play. The question is, are you ready to experience the real spirit of St Lucia?”