***SMALL, SUNNY VACCATION***
When Derek Walcott painted a dreamy, picturesque image of St Lucia in 'Omeros', he definitely wasn't exaggerating. There definitely were some awkward moments such as broken roads, hefty prices and a few problems with the plumbing- but it was overall an experience to recommend. When my sister and I flew there à la Bridget Jones, we had no idea what to expect. I mean, I've been on several islands before but this was to be my first Caribbean experience. I have to say that it is exactly the kind of things you see in Caribbean films: The sunny beaches, the palm trees, the Caribbean food.... My small, albeit memorable holiday to this tiny island was definitely among the best ones I ever took. Along with a magnificent suntan, I got quite a bunch of rare island goodies, lots of new friends and fantastic food! But take plenty of antacid with you; my sister over-indulged and got quite a lot of heartburn! Despite certain shortcomings, I am already planning a second holiday over there by cruise this time. Actually, the main reason why I would recommend this island for a short vacation- apart for its lush beauty of course- is because it has something for everyone. I can imagine the setting being perfect for those who want some quiet relaxation time, or for couples looking for some romantic scenery on their honeymoon, or you can even find some rather exhausting adventures if a fast-paced, energetic vacation is what you're after. St-Lucia is most definitely an island to suit every taste and likes. I was personally after the energetic vacation since I had a couple of pounds to burn off (while my sister put on at least 10pounds because she spent most of her time eating!), and at night I was usually exhausted from my adventures- but we still managed to drag ourselves out to experience the fantastic St Lucian nightlife.
***A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY...***
For those of you who aren't familiar with the island, here's a brief little history lesson: St Lucia is actually found in Eastern Caribbean Sea and borders on the Atlantic Ocean. It's quite tiny in size, with an equally tiny population and from personal experience; I have to say that it's very easy to feel a little bit crowded on the island. When I talked to some of the locals, I learned that tourism was actually the main financial income for the St Lucian- which might explain the outstanding welcome and never-ending list of entertaining activities. The cultural dimension of the island is a delightful blend of Caribbean-Creole, East-Indian, with a bit of western culture thrown in! I would say that it's quite easy to feel at home over there. In fact, for those of you who have ever been to New Orleans, I think that you'll find this island quite similar to New Orleans, especially in terms of culture, beliefs and food (plenty of Cajun meals and voodoo dolls!).
Most people prefer stopping by St Lucia on cruises but we decided to fly there instead. I have to admit that it wasn't that cheap to fly there (I've definitely had cheaper vacations!), but the experience made it worth every penny. Well, almost. We landed on the airport after an exhausting 8.50 hours flight, and that was only because we'd chosen to fly direct. I believe that a transit flight takes slightly more than 10hours. The airport staff was not overly efficient, there were a couple of issues with misplaced luggage and checkout seemed to take five eternities, but they were extremely welcoming, kind and understanding. We were even offered complimentary drinks and Hawaiian-style flower garlands as an apology for all the trouble! We finally managed to sort all the problems out and took a taxi to our hotel in Castries. I was a bit dismayed that I wasn't able to get a pre-booked transfer to the hotel and had to wait for about fifteen minutes (fifteen minutes is a long time after a never-ending flight and chaotic luggage mishap at the airport!) for a taxi but we finally managed to get one. The cabbie was nice and friendly, spoke English and entertained us all the way to our hotel. He even gave us a couple of tips on haggling and eating spots. However, the roads in St Lucia are extremely rough and we had quite a bumpy ride. I have no idea why they don't do some work about the roads since these extremely bumpy rides can really put you off. Our taxi trip to the hotel was far from being pleasant, and had it not been for the driver's charming demeanor, I really would have loathed every single second of it.
We were staying at Villa Beach Cottage and the reception staff over there was as welcoming as those at the airport- and definitely more efficient. As soon as we stepped out of the cab, our luggage was swept away to our room and we were offered refreshing towels and delicious mock tails- which our parched throat welcomed most avidly! We were even told that we could sit in the lounge for a little while before going up to find our rooms. I have to say that I was quite impressed by the rooms; everything breathed luxury and comfort, and (thank goodness), an air-conditioning system was installed and working fine.
The hotel is definitely picturesque and literally beachfront. What I loved the most, however, was the pool view which I got. I am very much of a water person and I can guarantee you that there is nothing better than standing on your balcony at night, with a view of the pool just beneath you and the view of the sea right in front of you. The sound of the waves, coupled with the soft sloshing of the pool definitely lulled us to sleep every night! The room was also surprisingly well-furnished for a hotel; they even had quaint dinning tables if you want to have friends over for dinner. The facilities offered by our hotel included laundry, a complimentary drink and chocolate mint every night, room service (obviously), television, but with a rather limited choice of channels, Wi-Fi (thank goodness), and a tiny little fridge in our room. We also had after-dinner entertainment every single night, and these included musical shows, dancing, and campfire barbecues down the beach. The hotel offered breakfast and dinner, and we had to manage for our own lunches. For breakfast, we were usually served fresh fruit, juice, coffee, tea, and a choice of either buffet-style or à la Carte hot or cold meals. The menu was quite varied among Continental, English, American or local breakfasts. The waiters were also very smiling and charming and the restaurant seemed clean and hygienic. However, I would deplore the lack of decoration; it all seemed rather bare and cold to me. But like I said, the staff was very smiling and if you're relaxing in the lounge, they would oven stop and chat a bit with you. Dinners were occasionally à la Carte but we had some buffets also. Like I previously mentioned, the food were varied with Cajun, Indian, Creole, or European varieties. There was plenty of seafood available, but it was all extremely spicy so be sure to ask for bland/ non-spicy version while you order! We did attend the hotel's after dinner activities but most of the time, we preferred to seek our own night-life! By the way, the hotel also offered plenty of activities during the day which included water sports and adventurous expeditions. Drivers are also available, as well as tour guides and you can easily rent a driver/guide for the day at the reception desk.
The one thing I will deplore about the hotel was that there were a few minor glitches about the plumbing- which thankfully didn't last long- and I will also never forget the one time when the aircon didn't work and I had to endure a whole night in the sweltering St Lucian heat. However, the sea breeze was near enough to refresh us and the problem was sorted out the following day itself so I will not really be holding these against the hotel. They weren't recurring incidents, anyway.
*****************THINGS TO DO******************
* ***Catamaran Trip***
As you might have guessed from my previous travel reviews, I cannot visit any island without seriously indulging in nautical activities. My favourite one was the Catamaran day sail. It was an extremely breathtaking experience. Without wanting to sound cliché, I can definitely say that the water was crystal clear, turquoise and matched the equally turquoise sea! That's not to mention the fantastic sun-bathing experience I indulged in on the catamaran. We sailed for a whole day and the crew was as charming as ever, pointing out certain spots as we got a beautiful view of the island from afar. We stopped by a tiny islet for lunch and managed to snorkel in the lagoon. I have to say that this experience really makes you forget every single worry you might have. My sister had just broken up with her boyfriend (this was actually a forget-him kind of trip), and not only didn't she mention his name once but also went on quite a few dates with some wonderfully nice locals. On a side note: The local guys love flirting!
This catamaran trip was actually part of our hotel activities and we were back on shore by five in the afternoon. It has been an amazing trip, only slightly ruined by a snooty French couple who believed that they owned the boat. But it was overall an extremely relaxing experience.
* ***Underwater Walk***
This was my third underwater walk- and each experience has been quite different from the other. The island's underwater kingdom is definitely worth paying a visit to. I have never seen such colorful fish, corals and the weed things before! The sand at the bottom of the ocean was soft and grainy but surprisingly not that white, rather a brownish-beige color. I've heard that there are a few spots where you can go on an underwater walk and discover some ancient weapons/ship wrecks left behind from the British/French war over the island- but disappointingly, the most exciting thing I saw was a huge fish that looked rather like a shark. However, while there were no weapons or shipwrecks, there were plenty of fantastic corals and shells, and we even spotted a bunch of beautiful starfish. I know that sea-walking can be quite a daunting experience (I'll never forget how I almost backed out on my first one!), but if you ever go to St Lucia, I definitely recommend an undersea walk. Their marine life is quite reputed and definitely everything you would ever expect. Booking is quite easy for hotels usually offer pamphlets/catalogues of companies offering sea excursions or you could just book one online. But again, the price was quite hefty.
I did say that there are quite some exotic adventures on St Lucia. In my sister's words, Parasailing was rather like "becoming a fishy kind of bird!" The sensation of swooping through the air was certainly one of a kind- and not for the faint-hearted! It didn't make things better when we were warned of a couple of incidents which previously happened, but we decided to go ahead with it anyway. While the catamaran/sea-walking offered a nautical view of St Lucia, Parasailing gives you an amazing bird's eye view of the island; if you are brave enough to open your eyes. My sister literally closed her eyes through the entire parasailing experience but I was delighted by the fantastic mountain-sea-sand scenery which was displayed beneath me. To top it all, the sea breeze added an extra buzz to your flying sensation and can really, really quicken the pace of your flying- especially if like me, your boat driver is rather fond of extreme sensations. This activity, as adrenaline-inducing as it might be, is definitely not recommended to those prone to epilepsy and of course not for pregnant women.
Like my friends always tell me, I can never, ever visit an island without amassing tons of interesting stuff. Indeed, I would say that St Lucia can provide an amazing shopping experience, but it is really quite expensive. In fact, I would rather recommend you to choose between an intensive shopping spree or sight-seeing activities. But St Lucian window shopping was also quite entertaining! To start with, you have plenty of beach sellers, where you can buy colorful parasols, swimming suits, hats, t-shirts, loose kaftans and sarongs. Compared to some of the above-mentioned goodies, the sarongs were quite cheap and so colorful that we just couldn't resist! The seller was even nice enough to show us different ways of wearing them. Like I mentioned, the locals are very friendly and relaxed and they always, always have time for a nice chat. The beach also boasts of some lobster-oyster sellers. The only downside to the numerous beach sellers was that there were quite a lot of them and a relaxing nap on the beach might too soon start feeling like you're trying to sleep in the middle of a market! A note of warning though: I was told that the beach vendors charge quite more than the market vendors, and that you can probably get the same stuff for half price at the market.
The Castries Central Market was quite an exhilarating experience. If you can stand crowds, I would definitely recommend a visit there- despite the prices. You can find almost anything at this market; ranging from Indian spices, fresh fruit, clothes and cute little souvenirs. Haggling seems a common sport there so I would not advise you to buy anything without a good dose of extensive haggling for we managed to get things for a quarter of the price. The market sellers were certainly more flexible than the beach ones. We purchased colorful t-shits to bring home as souvenirs, wooden decorations and scarves. In addition, we also bought tons of exotic fresh fruits that included coconuts, mangoes and bananas. In fact, banana-lovers would thrive on St-Lucia for this is one of the staple fruits of the island. The market place is also a fabulous place to meet and interact with the other locals, who are just as friendly as the hotel/airport staff. Many housewives were purchasing stuff that day and we had some nice and long chats with them. In fact, one of them was nice enough to give us a delicious local cake to taste, along with some fruit she'd just bought. Really, these people seemed extremely un-selfish and I will never stop gushing over how friendly they all were. Our presence certainly added to the huge crowd on the small island but they didn't seem to resent us at all! You can also find plenty of beaded jewelry over there, along with large, bright sunhats.
You also get the occasional shopping malls scattered across the islands, but I have to admit that I was quite shocked by the prices. The prices were of course fixed but I would rather log on eBay than purchase handbags/clothes at these malls. I am usually not a stringy person (quite the opposite in fact!), and definitely a self-confessed shopaholic but even I couldn't stop gaping at the outrageous prices at these malls. This was one of the rare instances in my life where I left a shop with very few carrier bags. I will certainly recommend that you do the majority of your shopping in the market or from street vendors- it is not only kinder to your rapidly-decreasing budget, but it's also more of a fun experience. This is because some malls have (sadly) tried to become overly-westernized and when I visit an exotic island, I want to see more of their culture, shops and items to purchase, not imported stuff from Europe with typically European kind of shops.
***INTERESTING PLACES TO VISIT***
We also visited a very cosy research centre down at Castries. This will definitely enhance anyone interested in the local culture and history of St Lucia. The museum is found in an old manor and everything about it breathes charm and simplicity. While it was certainly an enjoyable cultural experience, the research centre does inform you of some sobering facts including slavery and the wars which plagued the island long ago. On a brighter note, there are plenty of reproductions of local St Lucian musical instruments; some of them looking so complicated that you wonder how on earth the locals played them! Much to my delight, the centre holds a small but interesting library where the works of Derek Walcott are proudly and prominently displayed. You can also get some research works, as well as a couple of journals but barely any magazines. However, there are plenty of fabulous photos that boast of the magnificent views and folklore of the island. Just staring at these pictures made me want to pop downstairs and buy thousands of postcards as souvenirs. We were on a group tour so we had a rather comprehensive tour of the museum but I also noticed some people wandering about alone- which might suit you if you like to take your own sweet time for a private visit. Surprisingly, this tour was quite cheaper than the other activities which we booked on the island. Like everything on St-Lucia, though, the research centre was quite small.
My sister and I also love hiking and there were plenty of hiking activities for us. St Lucia is surrounded by wonderful hills and mountains, as well as fabulous acres of lush forests. Our first hike was, however, around a dormant volcano. This was definitely one of the most adventurous hikes on the island. We were once more on a tour group and the hike was tough enough for us to need some serious equipment such as ropes and the likes. Some other heavy equipment was recommended, but luckily the guides helped us in manipulating them. I have to say that heels and cute slacks are a big no-no since volcano hikes on St Lucia are actually very rough. At one point, we even had to slide down on our bottoms! But the adrenaline buzz was exhilarating.
We also took an easier, and more leisurely hike in one of the forests. It might be easier but I would still recommend that you hire a guide to accompany you just so you don't get lost. I would also recommend a guide because you have to get permission to hike in the rainforests and there are quite some lengthy rules and regulations to follow. However, the experience is so enjoyable and peaceful, especially since our guide walked at quite a leisurely pace. Nature lovers will most definitely thrive on this trip. The rainforest certainly presented another facet of St Lucia to us, and this was one of the rare places where we were genuinely far from crowds, noises and people. In fact, we were so entertained by the wonderful and calming forest sights that we barely noticed the fact that we've practically been walking for hours non-stop. Best of all, the jungle tours take you to some picturesque waterfalls, and our guides even encouraged us to take a dip in an amazing natural pool. Believe it or not, we even got to play Tarzan as we hung down ropes and plunged in the water. However, I'm such a clumsy person that this particular experience turned out to be quite a little painful for me (I would rather not go into details here!). The picnic next to the waterfall was delicious and we were quite ravenous after all our swimming and jumping about. However, you have to be extremely careful not to litter and clean everything up afterwards since the forests are extremely well protected by the authorities. If the crowds of the island get too much for you, the rainforests are exactly what you need. They were so enchanting and such a refreshing change from the overall scenery of St Lucia. However, please do bring a very strong mosquito repelling cream with you or you might just exit this lush, green haven covered with ugly itchy red bites.
The St-Lucia nightlife was just fantastic. The only downfall to it was that one of the hotel staff recommended that we go out in groups at night because there are quite a few tourist muggings that happen at night. One of our friends nearly got mugged on St Lucia once and security-wise, that really had a negative impact upon us. However, nothing happened to us and the nightlife experience was quite terrific for us. Night clubs are scattered all over St Lucia and while they weren't the most posh nightclubs I ever visited, they provided a great deal of fun and entertainment. The music varies quite a lot from local to European and even some Indian-Western fusion. I thought I heard a French remix once but I can't be sure! The best things about the nightclubs were that while some provided some energetic dance sessions, others were more mellow and the kind of place you could just go and relax after a long day of sightseeing.
I can't mention the St Lucian nightlife without mentioning the Gros Islet festival that apparently takes place every Friday night. This festival provides the perfect blend of culture, fun and dancing and the atmosphere was extremely entertaining. These festivals are apparently called Jump-Ups and are basically street parties, not unlike a carnival or a nightly Mardi-Gras. Food stalls are installed everywhere and you can sample some fantastic local food such as seafood, rice and beans, as well as barbeques in St Lucian style. There's also a dancing space with some fabulous Caribbean music. Drinks include everything from virgin to alcoholic and even some local varieties for the most daring. My sister sampled something called sea-shake or sea-moss shake which was made out of fruit, seaweed and milk. It was apparently delicious but I wasn't brave enough to try one! This event provides yet another chance to mingle with the locals because it seems to be a favorite spot for both tourists and locals alike. Some pubs and restaurants are also opened all night long so late-nighters should definitely make the most out of an amazing nightlife.
Like every tropical island, St Lucia's climate can be quite sweltering so I would recommend that you take some light, loose clothing with you. And in true tropical fashion, sudden rainfalls are not at all surprising! However, we were lucky enough to experience more sun than rain during our stay and I won't stop gloating over the marvellous tan that I got! But speaking of tan, you have to know that St Lucia is extremely, extremely sunny so stock on the sunscreens and tanning oils before you go. It's not easy to get some serious sunburn over there and trust me when I say that there's too much to do on this island rather than spending your stay nursing your sunburn! I also loved the cool sea breeze which felt more than amazing at night, especially when we were on the balcony. There's nothing more relaxing than refreshing sea-breeze, coupled with the salty smell of the sea.
Okay here's the bad news. You really have to save up to be able to go-and really enjoy it there. My sister and I saved for ages before we could go to St Lucia, and our grandparents even chipped in a little! Like I mentioned, some prices are quite outrageous and it takes lots and lots of willpower to refrain from purchasing the different and interesting goodies which are splashed all across the island. St Lucia currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar- EC$. Currently, £1 currently equals to EC$ 3.85 (according to Coinmill). While this might seem fair enough and give you an amazing head-start, the expensive prices and irresistible siren call of some fantastic goodies can really make you overspend during your stay!
The main language on the island is local creole but they are also quite fluent in English too. I personally didn't have any problem with communicating with the locals. After some asking around, however, I discovered that they are much less fluent in Spanish, Italian and French so you might want to get a tour guide, a translation booklet or simply some English lessons before you go there!
This wasn't our cheapest vacation ever and there are a few issues about general security, plumbing and over-spicy food. But our experience on the island was so enjoyable that we're doing it again- and I will certainly recommend this visit to you. Like I said, there is something for everyone out there, whether you want some quiet time or romance or seeking some adventures. The locals are amazingly nice and like my sister and I, I bet that you'll be quite sorry to leave the island at the end of an incredible vacation.
~Thanks for reading~
I visited St Lucia in 1992 and always promised myself that I would go back. I didn't expect that it would not be for 17 years and then with a husband and two children in tow! However I was not disappointed with the return visit and my family loved it as well.
We stayed at Almond Morgan Bay which was a delightful hotel suitable for all the family but I will write a seperate review eventually for that.
St Lucia is set near the southern end of the caribbean and has a very tropical weather pattern. Rain showers occur nearly all year round but if possible it is best to avoid the traditional summer months as they are the islands wettest. Christmas through to Easter seem to be the best times to visit.
The island is only 27miles long and 14 miles wide. English is the official language but the locals mainly speak a creole patois. This makes it very easy for English tourists. The currency is the Eastern caribbean dollar which has a fixed exchange rate with the US dollar which means that excursions were more expensive than we had originally budgeted for as the dollar has been strong lately. As a tourist it is wise to be sensible about your safety but we never felt at all uncomfortable or unsafe, in fact the island has a really friendly feel.
If you are into exciting night-life this is not the place for you. I am not bothered at all, I asked some of the other guests about local evening entertainment and there did not seem to be much and what there was centred on the Rodney Bay area.
As this is a tropical island the flora is beautiful, everywhere you turn there are exotic,almost artificial looking flowers and plants. Bananas and Mangoes grow everywhere. I even saw cashew nuts growing which are fascinating as they grow below the fruit on the tree so are very labour intensive to harvest-now I know why they are so expensive! The beaches on the Eastern side of the island are served by the Atlantic sea so are cooler and much choppier than the western side. Here you will find the ideal tropical beaches, clear water fringed by palmtrees. I am not usually keen on swimming in the sea but even I couldn't resist the warm blue water. At the North end of the island the sand is quite pale but becomes darker as you head south, closer to the volcano but it certainly didn't look black which I had heard. Remember the sun is very strong so slap on your highest factor sunscreen, we saw many people impersonating lobsters as factor 15 wont do a thing there for many people! After a long day of relaxing in paradise be prepared for a quick sunset. If you were planning a glass of champagne whilst you watch the sun go down -be quick. It goes from full daylight to night in about 20minutes!
There is only so much lying on a sunbed I can take so we decided to head off on an island tour. We used the carnival company and went on one of their catamaran tours down the western coast. It was lovely to see the island from the sea. We had travelled through the heart of the island on our way to the hotel and had seen the villages inland so it was nice to have a different perspective. We travelled all the way to Soufriere and had a magnificent view of the Pitons which are the famous volcanic plugs shown on all pictures of St Lucia. Soufriere means "Sulphur air" and is named because of the strong smell from the volcano. It is billed as the caribbeans only drive-in volcano as when it last erupted it blew the side of the mountain into the sea so now you can see the bubbling rock at ground level. The smell is very intense when we got out of the minibus (that had picked us up from the dock). When I had visited previously you were free to roam around which was very dangerous and now everyone has to stay behind the barriers as a guide went through the crust about 17 years ago and had to be dragged out by his party, not a nice thought. There is not really much to see but it is an experience none the less! After the volcano we travelled to the botanical gardens and the diamond falls. The gardens are wonderful and we had a fantastic guide with a huge voice and a great line in patter, he was extremely knowledgeable and was well tipped by everyone when we left. The diamond falls is a small water fall in the gardens, it is named because of the variety of colours of minerals that have been deposited on the rocks, I remember being surprised the first time I saw it as it was smaller than I expected but it is still pretty. We then headed back to the catamaran, the journey through Soufriere is interesting as the houses look typically caribbean and the resdents are very laid back. We had a lovely lunch on the catamaran of lots of local produce, my favourite being roasted plantain. On the return journey we stopped for some snorkelling, if you have your own gear bring it as there was not enough to go round. It was a trip I would recommend to get a feel for the dramatic nature of the landscape.
We also went to the Northern end of the island to Pigeon Island which is actually no longer an island because when the bay next to it was dredged they used the silt to make a causeway. This is a national monument and was where the fort stood that where Admiral Rodney watched for the French invasion from Martinique in about 1750. The site is currently under renovation and they hope to restore the fort fully. It is a good walk on a hot day but the views are fantastic and yes you can see Martinque in the distance. What I loved about Pigeon island is the marked contrast in the sea as you walker from one side to the other (only takes 5 minutes) as one side is Caribbean and the other is virtually the Atlantic.
There are attractions now inland in the rainforest including high rope courses and tree gondolas. These looked good fun but seemed very pricey so I can't comment on them.
All in all I think this is an idyllic tropical island. Friendly people, lovely food and beautiful scenery. And if you go in April like we did you will certainly experience the sun too (although you may have to dodge the odd shower!)
My husband and I visited st Lucia for the first time in Jan 08. Having never been to The Carribean before we were ounsure what to expect. We didn't want the "BIG RESORT HOTEL" experience, so stayed at a small hotel, outside Soufriere called La Haute, an old plantation house beautifully restored. The pools gave fantastic views onto the Pitons- spectalular.
The staff were fantastic, and I couldn't praise the place highly enough. The area around Soufriere is gorgeous, lots to do and see. Take a trip out to sea, to see the dolphins. Visit the botantical gardens, and the Sulphur springs.
Also vist the beach and eat at Anste Chastenet. The food there is great, and the beach popular. Didn't like the Hilton Beach, very very American. Best restaurant La Dashene, again overlooking the Pitons, magical spot and food out of this world.
All in all i wholeheartedly recommend ST Lucia
The second part of our recent trip to the West Indies took us by air from Barbados to Saint Lucia. If you have never travelled by a turboprop aircraft then it is an experience in its own right, but to travel in the Eastern Caribbean then it takes on a whole new meaning. The first part of the experience begins when you take your seat and watch the other 'local' passengers come on board, it is as though you are on the local bus taking you into Bridgetown, where everybody seems to have come on board with everything including the kitchen sink. At one stage with a particular woman I was half expecting her to bring on some goats she had so much hand luggage, however LIAT airways are prepared for this local foible, they do not provide a lot of space above your head for goods but there is plenty below as long as you are prepared to put up with putting your feet on top of your luggage. After everyone has settled down then comes the next bit of excitement, we have to wait whilst Concorde takes its last but one flight from Barbados, now Concorde needs the whole runway that can't be said for this plane. Off we go straight up to about 12,000 feet and as we try to speak to each other there is the strangest sensation as your voice box vibrates in time with the aircraft, it's really weird! This is a very short flight and you would not expect to have the usual services, but low and behold around comes the stewardess with the trolley of drinks! No sooner has she been round than we are descending past the Pitons and we taxi into the airport, slamming on the anchors as we go, hoping against hope that the pilot stops before he hits the fence as we can see Castries getting closer and closer. Having made the landing we grab a taxi and go to our accommodation on this island. We are staying at Windjammer Landing and for those who have never been there, well all I can say is it was worth the trip. Set on a hillside it is not ideal for anyone who is not fit
but the resort does run its own free taxi service to your piece of the hillside at any time of the day or night. Having received our welcoming fizzy drink we toddled of to our villa, although the interior could probably do with a little modernising you could not complain about the terrace as we went outside and gazed across at the Caribbean Sea, what a view! Windjammer Landing has a few restaurants on site and would probably prefer you to stay on site and take up their offer of all inclusive, but I would warn against that as personally unless you truly are an alcoholic and eat incessantly you would find truly find it difficult to justify the cost, better to buy what you want when you want, afterall it is a self catering complex and it does have happy hours! Not all restaurants on site are available to families, but if you so desire you can hire a baby sitter, not be that way inclined we chose to either eat in, at Papa Don's or Jammers. Papa Don's was latterly at the bottom of our garden so did not involve a trek down to the main complex and as the name implies it was an Italian restaurant so our son could tuck into his usual piazza and we could enjoy some thoroughly good Italian cooking at fairly reasonable prices considering we were in the Caribbean. Jammers on the other hand was the snack bar at lunch time and the Caribbean style restaurant at night time with entertainment, but you mustn't forget that like most restaurants in the Caribbean it has a tendency to cater for the American market. That said there is nothing better than sitting eating your dinner listening to the rollers coming in and watching the fire-eater at work. It would, of course, be a shame to come all this way without touring the island and this island is certainly interesting to tour as we were about to find out. We decided that we must see the Pitons closer up and since there was a drive-in volcano nearby we headed towards Souffriere, the previous capi
tal of St. Lucia. It was inter esting take an automatic four by four along the island's roads, especially since having never driven one before I did not know what all the different positions for the gear stick were for (it turned out that neither did the people who hired it to me!). We travelled through the island's new capital Castries and got lost, but it is relatively small so we eventually found our way out. After an hour or so of some interesting bendy roads we got to our target and immediately got lost again , but before we could sort ourselves out we were surrounded by some rather drunken locals offering their help, which was rather off putting as they kept getting in the way of my driving, eventually I got away from them but seemed to have picked up a local on the car. This turned out to be a local who would for a price show us round ? yes we were being kidnapped!! Or so my wife thought. Well the better part of valour took hold and we allowed him to show us round and although he did a thoroughly good job I must admit it spoilt the island for me, as when I go on holiday to a holiday island I expect to be able to go and explore on my own and St. Lucia therefore disappointed me. It is one of the reasons I have never bothered going to the likes of Jamaica because you are hassled there, when you go to Barbados you do not have this problem, in fact quite the opposite they are so genuinely helpful there not expecting a reward for just telling you the right road to go on, unlike the drunks above. It was with some relieve that we dropped the local guide off at the bridge entering Souffriere some two hours later. I cannot even without this high jacking really recommend the area, as Souffriere itself is a pretty weird ex capital probably the size of a village in this country and as for the drive in volcano I think that is a bit of an exaggeration personally, if you'e expecting to see a crater and perhaps some lava, forget it all you'll get
is the smell of rotten eggs and a bit of steam, hardly worth the journey time and the 'kidnapping' Having done our trip out and gone to the local supermarket to get supplies we decided to spend the rest of the holiday on the resort, which I suppose is a bit of a shame but I didn't like to push it, despite being told by another intrepid explorer about the bit of the space shuttle that had crashed on the island and was being used as a tourist trap by a restaurant on the east coast. It seems the Americans were supposed to come and collect it but haven't done so yet! The rest of the week was spent lounging on the beach or eating in the restaurants (in between the happy hours etc.). There are plenty of sporting activities that can be undertaken (and some are included in the all inclusive package), especially in the water, but fortunately it so much more relaxing to watch people fall into the water than to do it yourself. They also have a fun sport to get involved with and that is betting on crabs in the crab races, my son was particular fortunate as he bet on three of the four races and won on each! You can if you so desire also watch the occasional wedding take place as the complex does have a beautiful spot on the headland for this to take place although a few paces on it is a little disconcerting to spot a sign that says it isn't recommended for clients to go beyond this point. If you want a beautiful part of the island to stay in then I can recommend Windjammer Landing as nearly everything you want is available on site, however you should take into account if you want to visit some parts of the island on your own then it can be a bit daunting, I would recommend the use of a local taxi driver who knows his stuff. You should also take into account that if you are flying in to the international airport and want to get to this part of the island by yourself it is some one and half hours away by car/taxi; we were comi
ng in from a local island and hence used the local airport. However you can always take a helicopter fight from Hewannora, it will cost about £120 for the flight! One final point to take into account not all the amenities were open at this time of year (last week in August) as it is not classed as high season, hence the need occasionally to either go out of the resort or eat in. The return trip was nearly as exciting as the previous trip (I'm still looking for the goat), but on arrival at Barbados there was something rather special waiting for us. As we got off the plane we could see that familiar snout looking out at us, regally poised wondering what all the fuss was about. I quickly snapped off a couple of photos as I thought I would not get another chance once inside the airport, how wrong I was, just as we got to see the full picture the local airport staff moved out of the way to allow those with cameras to snap the very last pictures of the big bird herself, yes it was Concorde's last flight out of Barbados and there she was no more than 100 metres from me and so I snapped a picture off and being digital it is forever engraved with the date 30/08/2003. and even as I write this tears well up for such a beautiful piece of engineering and such a waste to let something as magnificent be mothballed, I like many citizens of this island and France helped to pay for this machine and it still deserves to be flying. As we left the airport in a taxi everyone on Barbados seemed to have stopped what they were doing just to stand and watch the big bird fly it's last trip out of the island, even cars pulled up including our taxi just to watch and think of what had been and what could have been. What a site. For more on Windjammer Landing you can go to http://www.windjammer-landing.com/
Imagine yourself sprawled on the purest white sand , your body cultivating the sexiest of tans while your head relishes the shade of a leafy palm tree. A strawberry colada, oozing with crushed ice crystals and blended with frozen ice cream, sits on a tray to your right. You can hear the soothing sound of the gentle sea a few paces along the beach. Welcome to my idea of Paradise – St Lucia! I splashed out on a holiday to St Lucia in October 2000, and it was the best impulse buy I’ve ever made. After a difficult and depressing year, I just wanted to get away from it all and indulge myself. I made the right choice - St Lucia is an island that positively demands indulgence! One of the smallest Caribbean islands, St Lucia has a reputation for being one of the most expensive, and it did turn out to be the priciest holiday I’ve been on so far. My partner and I paid £800 each for two weeks on a room only basis at the Rainbow hotel in Rodney Bay. We ended up paying twice that again for meals, drinks and excursions, but I have no regrets. Usually careful to the point of stinginess with money, I threw caution to the wind and rushed headlong into enjoying myself in this beautiful place. It’s a once in a lifetime holiday – what’s the point of spoiling it by worrying about money? THE ISLAND : St Lucia is a green and fertile island with the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever seen. For sun worshippers, it affords the perfect opportunity to do absolutely nothing but loll about in the sun being waited on hand and foot, with the occasional swim in the sea/pool to cool off. I had plenty of days where I felt like doing nothing but this, but I also tried to include a few excursions so that I could get to see some of the island and its people. FAVOURITE MOMENTS : One of my favourite moments was a visit to an enormous waterfall during an excursion to the Pitons – St Lucia̵
7;s famous twin peaked mountains. The mountains themselves were very impressive – huge extinct volcanoes towering over the rest of the island – but the waterfall took my breath away. It was quite simply the most beautiful natural waterfall you’re ever likely to see, crashing down the side of a cliff to form a sparkling clear pool at the base. People were encouraged to swim in the pool and the braver of our group – including my intrepid boyfriend – ducked their heads under the fall itself, and described it as the strongest power shower they’d ever had! Another memorable moment was swimming amidst thousands of brightly coloured fish in a tiny bay away from the main island itself. I didn’t take to snorkelling as I’m asthmatic and found the mask restricted my breathing, but my boyfriend swam underwater for hours with these fish and described it as the most fantastic experience. The fish were bold and inquisitive and some went so far as to nibble your toes in the water – a strange but not unpleasant experience! On the second week of our visit, we booked to go whale and dolphin watching. This too was memorable – zooming around the sea in a tiny boat packed full of tourists eager to spot a whale or two. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any whales, but we did see several schools of Dolphins, and captured them on video! Dolphins are among my favourite animals, and this was a dream come true for me, marred only slightly by sea sickness (the driver of the boat did have a tendency to twist and turn all over the place chasing the Dolphins!) and a raging sunburn on my legs – we ran out of sun cream halfway through the trip! A ‘must’ during your visit to St Lucia is a trip to the ‘jump up’ in Gros Islet, this is a kind of street party which takes place every week, and locals and tourists alike get together to dance, drink and sample goodies from the barbec
ues lining the street. I danced for hours and enjoyed every second! CUISINE : The food in St Lucia is very good, but you can expect to pay similar prices as you do in Britain, unless you eat in the smaller bars and cafes where the locals go to eat. The Creole food is delicious, lots of seafood, steak and spicy Caribbean sauces. There are also other types of cuisine such as Thai, chinese and Italian. We tried them all! PEOPLE : The people were absolutely fantastic, very friendly and laid back, ready and willing to talk about their country, things to see and do and the best places to go. We did get pestered by people on the beach trying to sell necklaces and trinkets, but a pleasant and firm “no” was enough to send them on their way, still smiling. Cab drivers were pleasant, chatty and charged reasonable prices for fairly long trips. PROBLEMS : There was only one thing that marred the holiday for me – insect bites. Not the normal run of the mill red lumps you get when bitten in Britain – these were full on, painful itching molehills that stopped us sleeping, made even the flimsiest of fabrics against the skin unbearable, and turned us into desperate, frenzied scratchers pleading for remedies from anyone close to hand. I had over thirty bites on my lower legs at one point. And the thing is – you never actually SAW the little bleeders! I still don’t to this day know what one of those bugs looked like! I was told by one of the locals that rubbing fresh coconut milk into the bites soothes them, but for one reason or another I never got round to trying this. It’s worth a go though – none of the over the counter remedies seemed to help. St Lucia really was the holiday of a lifetime for me, I’m already planning (and saving!) for my next trip back! It’s a beautiful island populated with generous, friendly people and
I’d encourage everyone to pay it a visit, at least once.
Ive now been to the caribbean 6 times. 5 of the were st lucia and 1 was the Dominican Republic. As far as im concerned St Lucia is the best island in the caribbean. Its hot, its humid, its paradise! I stayed at Club St Lucia, its situated on the top west coast of the island. There are 4 pools, a raquet club, many bars, a few restuarants and daytime activities. Room are actually small houses, there are hunderds of blocks of 4, dotted arround the place amougst the lush green grass and bananna trees. The people in St Lucia are the most friendly people in the world. You end up sitting is some rasta bar talking to these people for ages. There no dodgy stuff like everyone makes out and it just fantastic. There are many trips you can go on such as sulphur springs visits, drive in volcano, horse riding etc. The hotel is an all inclusive meaning all food and drink is free. And let me tell you, you ask a bartender in england to make a drink that will knock you out...they cant do it, you ask a bartender is St Lucia surrounded by every single drink possible to make you one that will knock you out...they can, and it wont only knock you out, it will keep you dead for days. The night entertainment is also excellent, they have shows which involve the audience and make it fun. Parents can be worry free about there kid because the resort is so safe they can stay out all night. The resort is massive and with no shortage or drink or activity you can go for weeks and not be bored. St Lucia is a 7-9 hour flight from the UK. When you land in St Lucia you catch a free taxi up to the top of the island. This ride take about 1 and half hours, but its great. You drive though greenary, up and down twisty raods until you get there. When youve covered everything on land (which you wont unless youve gone there for 5 months) you can resort to the water. You can cathc speedboats everywhere (my favourite being a boat called hurricane, it has X2 22
5 h/p engine and travels very quick while skipping the wave beautifully. Definaltly worth goin on...also a quicker way to travel round the island. You can go dolphine/shark/whale watching and you wont be disappointed, because you always see something. The waters are really clear and the beaches are white (with exception because of volcanic ash) this make it the perfect island for scuba diving at. The scuba diving is fantasic on your own or with instructors, you see millions of fish and can feed them bananna (as this is what they eat). With the occasional sting ray, shark and baracuda swimming past you, you go deaper. Its trually beatiful. Also because of the clear waters and hot weather deep sea fishing is a great thing to do, catching baracudas, tuna but most of all blue marlin...The king of fish. WOW! St Lucia really is a place to go if you want to see lush green plants, exotic animals and beautiful views (especially the sunsets). Activities include: swimming football tennis tabletennis snorkeling kayaking jet skiing water skiing scuba diving geep safari drive in volcano sulphur springs daytime activitie general socialising with endless amount of drink eating sleeping sun bathing boat rides dolphin wathing whale watching fishing horse riding squash wedding wake boaridng yaghting pedelos glass bottom boat trips exotic dancing rainforset trips It really is 100% worth your money.
St. Lucia is the sort of island that travellers to the Caribbean dream about--a small, lush tropical gem that is still relatively unknown. One of the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, it is located midway down the Eastern Caribbean chain, between Martinique and St. Vincent, and north of Barbados. St. Lucia is only 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, with a shape that is said to resemble either a mango or an avocado (depending on your taste). The Atlantic Ocean kisses its eastern shore, while the beaches of the west coast owe their beauty to the calm Caribbean Sea. In natural beauty, St. Lucia seems like an island plucked from the South Pacific and set down in the Caribbean. Its dramatic twin coastal peaks, the Pitons, soar 2,000 feet up from the sea, sheltering magnificent rain forests where wild orchids, giant ferns, and birds of paradise flourish. Brilliantly-plumed tropical birds abound, including endangered species like the indigenous St. Lucia parrot. The rainforest is broken only by verdant fields and orchards of banana, coconut, mango, and papaya trees. St. Lucia has been inhabited since long before colonial times, and its cultural treasures are a fascinating melange of its rich past and its many different traditions. The island's people have earned a well-deserved reputation for their warmth and charm, and the island itself is dotted with aged fortresses, small villages, and open-air markets. There is a broad array of exciting and exotic activities available on St. Lucia. The island's steep coastlines and lovely reefs offer excellent snorkeling and scuba diving. The rainforest preserves of St. Lucia's mountainous interior are one of the Caribbean's finest locales for hiking and birdwatching. Of course, the island also possesses excellent facilities for golf, tennis, sailing, and a host of other leisure pursuits. Not to be missed is St. Lucia's Soufriere volcano, the world's only drive-in volcanic crater.
I spent a week in St Lucia last October. It was my first experience of the Caribbean, so I don't know how the island compares to others in the area. However, what impressed me was the American-style friendliness of all the hotel staff. Nothing was ever too much trouble (such a change from our familiarly surly attitude in the UK). The hotel - Windjammer Landing Resort - is the last word in comfort and style - lovely mediterranean-style villas set in 55 acres of lush gardens, with an attractive beach of white sand imported from Antigua. There is plenty to do in the way of water sports, and there's a fitness centre. Because there is a feeling of being cut-off from the real world there, I would suggest a trip into the capital Castries to look at the local market, and an island jeep/catamaran safari gives you a good idea of what the rest of the island has to offer (rain forest and a drive-in volcano). I wasn't prepared for the sudden nightfall (6pm - all year round) or for the aggression of the mosquitoes. Local prices are not all that cheap, either (about the same as UK), and I didn't find Caribbean food much to write home about. But, when you are taking your breakfast overlooking the beach and the hummingbirds are trying to pinch the sugar sachets off your table, while you steel yourself for another day of lying under a palm tree, I really don't think that matters much, does it?
We spent our 16-day honeymoon in St. Lucia in April-May 1999 and it was a totally unforgettable experience. We chose St. Lucia because it was one of the lesser known Caribbean islands with direct flights from the UK. We stayed at one of the many all inclusive resorts outside Castries (Wyndham Morgan Bay) and our only complaint was that 2 restaurants aren't enough for a 16 day stay. We opted to explore the island on our own and rented a jeep for that purpose. At first it seemed a bit dangerous to go driving on our own, but once we got used to the driving style of the locals we were OK. Armed with a guide book we found it less stressful to travel without a big group of tourists and we were lucky to arrive at some lovely spots in between the big tours. The shopping in Castries is great for the Caribbean. You can get all your tacky souvenirs from the market along with some exotic, local produce. There is also a big duty free shopping centre where you can get some excellent deals. We bought a gold bracelet and a Citizen watch for close to half the UK price (much less than duty free at Gatwick). The weather was always great. It was hot, slightly cloudy and always a nice breeze so it rarely felt too hot. The resort had plenty of activities (hobie cat sailing, banana boat rides, water skiing, wind surfing etc all included in the price) so there was never really a dull moment. And when we felt that we needed to get out of the sun, we had American cable TV in the room with several movie channels.
After we got married, we spent our honeymoon in St Lucia. The resort was perfect, white sand, clear blue seas, friendly people and an ocean side cottage. We had an idyllic two weeks in our own paradise, with gorgeous views in every direction. However, this was only half the story. Outside the resort, the 'real' island was on view. The people were still friendly, the scenery just as spectacular, but the island is one of the poorest in the Carribbean and it shows. Many of the people lived in ramshackle huts, walking miles every day to find work. It seems a shame that all those tourist dollars seem to be concentrated only on the resorts. We had a fantastic time, every thing we needed was in our all-inclusive resort, but you had to feel that it was all a bit false, with such poverty just a few miles down the road. Much of the commercialism in the Carribbean seems to have passed St Lucia by. Maybe that's not such a bad thing, as on the surface, everyone there seemed to be enjoying life. With that scenery, you'd have to.
I was fortunate enough to spend Christmas and New Year 1998 in Paradise! St Lucia is THE MOST gorgeous place I have ever visited. I knew it was going to be a warm and pretty place - It was the Caribbean and I was from England!! However I just imagined it to consist of beaches and a couple of towns. Wrong! - St Lucia is the greenest island I have ever seen. The trip from the airport to our resort was a real eye-opener. We drove up and down mountains, through banana plantations and got to see some Caribbean communities. Our resort was beyond stunning, right on the ocean with a beautiful beach and pool. The people were beyond friendly, always with a smile and happy to chat and the food - well lets just say don't come here and expect to keep to your diet! If you're looking for a beautiful destination with plenty to do this is the place - believe me it will be beyond any expectations!
In November 1999 armed with lots of beach gear plus two sets of wedding oufits (one in each case as I was terrified of loosing our luggage) we left a cold, wet and windy Gatwick and 10 hours later arrived in a sunny St Lucia just as Hurricane Lenny was leaving!! We stayed at an all inclusive resort near Castries which was lovely small quiet and just what we had hoped for. The arrangements for the wedding had all been made by the co ordinater and apart from meeting the lawyer to sign the affadavits and the photographer to select what photos we just sat back and got a tan. Although we did have to try not to eat to much otherwise either outfit would have fitted!! One week past and then the day arrived it was lovely everything was so easy and relaxed but still very special. So if you are considering getting married abroad I'd recommend At Lucia anytime.
Saint Lucia is an island nation in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. Saint Lucia is one of the Windward Islands, named for Saint Lucy of Syracuse. It was first visited by Europeans in about the year 1500 and first colonized successfully by France who signed a treaty with the native Carib peoples in 1660. Great Britain then took control of the island from 1663-1667 before going to war with France over it fourteen times. The British finally took complete control of the island in 1814. Representative government came about in 1924 (with universal adult suffrage from 1953) and from 1958 to 1962 the island was a member of the Federation of the West Indies. Lastly, on February 22, 1979 Saint Lucia became an independent state of the Commonwealth of Nations. The island nation celebrates this every year with a public holiday, which coincidentally marks the birthday of the prominent British diplomat, Lucia Ladi.