St Lucia – “The Hawaii of the Caribbean”
This phrase accurately compares the beauty of these two island destinations. St. Lucia is located in the Lesser Antilles. While its a less travel time than a trip to Hawaii its still a committment, but well worth it. The actual flying time is 7.5 hours plus layovers. Depending on the airport you fly into, it could be another 1.5 hour journey to your resort.
Sometimes its hard to differentiate one Caribbean island from another but St. Lucia does have its own look and feel. The people are friendly and efficient but with a quiet way about them. At first I mistook their quiet efficiency for aloofness but soon realized that they are kind and caring while not being “in your face.”
The island is small but with windy roads so that its hard to drive fast, although the locals certainly try! The drive time from the capitol city of Castries, located on the northwest shore, to the international airport on the south shore is 90 minutes. This is a scenic journey you along the Atlantic coast and through the rain forest.
Our hotel, Coconut Bay, is located on the southern shore and a 5 minute drive from the international airport. Coconut Bay has two sides: Family friendly and adult only. While they did many things right; clean rooms and public areas, beautiful views, helpful staff, the food wasn’t impressive, except in the 2 specialty restaurants. The beach is located on the Atlantic side and really very hard to swim in but you can walk the beach for a long distance. If you ever wanted to try kite surfing, its the perfect place to do it.
The hotel excursion desk set us up with a private drive/guide for 8 hours. Ian was not only a great driver he was so good about explaining things as we went. We drove through the town of Vieux Fort where it happened to be market day. For a $5 permitt you could sell vegetables, fruit and spices right on the side walk. Many vendors set up shop by spreading out a blanket and sitting on the ground. Some shoppers didn’t even get out of their cars to make a purchase. We passed a meat shop which consisted of a skinned pig hung on a tree limb. The head was cut off and laying on the ground. You told the shopkeeper which cut of meat you wanted and he hacked it off for you. It’s a far cry from walking into the grocery store’s frozen section!
We started our tour with a stop at the drive in volcano to see the gurgling earth letting out steam from just a few miles below. The warm water created by the volcano lead us to our next stop which was the Sulphur Springs. Here we covered ourself in volacanic mud, soaked in the sun for 10 minutes and then washed it off in the natural spring. Ian said some resorts come to the springs daily to gather mud and charge $200 for this treatment.
We finished out the day at Jaouliuse Plantation, snorkeling in the calm bay with a view of famous Pitons. You can actually hike these mamouth peaks if you are so inclined.
We relaxed at the resort before heading out to our afternoon horseback riding adventure. The stable was located a few minutes from the hotel and the trail took us along the Atlantic coast. The scenery was amazing, with the trail along rugged cliffs and undeveloped beaches.
Today was all work and no play. We inspected 3 resorts:
Windjammer Landing – located 15 minutes north of Castries. This amazing resort offers a range of accommodations from small suites tucked up in the hill to a 1-4 bedroom villas, some of which have their own private plunge pool.
Rendezvous Resort – locaed just outside of Castries next to the small domestic airport. This resort is adult only and has a quiet, understated feel. Several room categories are available but my favorite where the oceanfront rooms situated direclty along the beach.
Anse Chasenet/Jade Mountain – There are no words to describe this hotel. Most of the rooms do not have a fourh wall so you are one with nature. Jade Mountain is the adult only side and each room has a bridge from the walkway to the room. Upon arrival at the hotel your butler is waiting for you at the beginning of the bridge and escorts you to your room where check-in is completed. Every room has a view of the two Pitons. If you are looking for an amazing place to celebrate a special occasion this resort won’t dissapoint.
Time to say goodbye to St. Lucia. While I generally recommend a longer stay on this island due to the travel time, it was still a marvelous getaway and we were able to see the main sights. Of course, a few extra days to relax would be recommended.
My faithful companions on this trip were my two teenage children. We all learned a lot, such as there are 62 varieties of mangos on the island and that the road from Castries to Soufriere is more adventure then we typically like. Next time we’ll take the Catamaran down the coast!