A Trip In to St. Lucia.CloudCity
I have always enjoyed going to the Caribbean to enjoy the rich culture, stunning landscapes, and beautiful beaches that make it so unique. While Saint Lucia is known as a romantic getaway to relax on the beach, I did find out that it has so much more to offer even if you are taking a working holiday as I did. Part of the Lesser Antilles south of Martinique, northwest of Barbados and Saint Vincent, Saint Lucia is an incredible paradise that a lot of people have yet to discover.
I got in and out Saint Lucia through Vieux Fort, the second largest town and the home of Hewanorra International Airport, the island’s main international airport. The town is on the southern tip of Saint Lucia and as you touch down you get to enjoy the spectacular views of the blending of the rough Atlantic Ocean with the deep blue-green tinge of the Caribbean. The coastal area around the town and particularly the lovely bay is very scenic, peaceful and wild, and would make for a lovely place to take a walk.
I was working in Castries, the capital of Saint Lucia which is about one and a half-hour drive from Vieux Fort. If you want, you could also take a short flight from Hewanorra International to George F.L. Charles Airport in Castries. While I was in town for work I also did some sightseeing of the major tourist attractions on the island. Castries has standard bus routes to all outlying districts of the island or if you like more privacy you can always take the taxis that are designated with blue license plates and the prefix “TX”.
The town has some incredible landmarks which I visited when I had some downtime in the evenings. If you are ever in Castries you should visit the likes of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Fort Charlotte which sits atop the 845 foot Morne Fortune, Derek Walcott Square. The town also has some immaculate beaches such as La Toc Beach, Choc Beach, and Malabar Beach.
I stayed in Rodney Bay and it was everything that it had been touted to be. As one of Saint Lucia’s most popular destinations, it has everything you could ever want for. There are entertainment, dining and shopping spots galore. Rodney Bay has a bustling array of local and international cafes, bars and restaurants, the only casino on the island, and the largest shopping malls JQ Rome and Baywalk Mall. The resorts and hotels are also centrally located in town making it easy to experience all the good things that Rodney Bay has to offer.
Rodney Bay provides some great dining experiences and I got to enjoy the legendary culinary diversity of the island. The authentic Saint Lucia fare is a fusion of locally inspired and international flavours with Caribbean fusion cuisine at some of the most eclectic restaurants. Rodney Bay also has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean with Reduit Beach and its long stretches of soft white sand vying for the position of the best beach in St. Lucia. The good thing about it apart from its accessibility is that it’s the perfect spot for a stroll after a long day at work for some exquisite Caribbean sunsets. Rodney Bay Village is the capital of entertainment and nightlife. It has several clubs, restaurants, and bars where you can get nightly entertainment with Karaoke, DJs and live bands. The Treasure Bay Casino was also a great place to while away the evenings with its Vegas-style gaming. But one of the highlights of my stay was the legendary “Jump Up” or “Friday Night Street Party” that attracted large crowds of tourists and locals alike.
Inside the volcano is the town of Soufriere, which gets its name from the overwhelming odour of Sulphur. It is a great place for hiking as the volcano is 12 kilometres squared and in some places has erupting geysers with bubbling water at 340 degrees Fahrenheit. Our guide took us up a trail to get a better view of the town and to tour some of the old estates founded by the French. Some of these included the picturesque Soufriere Estate, the Fond Doux Estate, and the Mourne Coubaril. The Diamond Botanical Gardens are an especially quaint place on the Soufriere Estate with its onsite restaurant, estate house, gardens, mineral baths, nature trails, and Diamond Falls the main attraction. It also comes with exotic plants charming lawn ornaments, Japanese gardens, tropical flowers and plants.
Pigeon Island Beach was once a paradise for pirates that were hunting for ships to raid. It is now a tropical lush spot that is just as beautiful as any other part of the island but more intimate. I love history and culture and was fascinated to learn about its history and explore the 18th-century military ruins. However, despite its deceptive name, it is not only a place for pigeon watching as it has some of the best places to take in the views of the island and take a swim.
Another must-visit spot in Saint Lucia is Fort Rodney which offers a strategic view of Rodney Bay and the western approach. While it is currently in ruins, it is a great place to explore as you head to Pigeon Island National Park. There are no official offerings but I loved the opportunity to explore the ruins and take in the exquisite views from the still remaining walls.
Saint Lucia has some of the most beautiful Sulphur springs given that it is a volcanic island. In fact, the springs are in what is the only drive-through volcano in the Caribbean. Our tour through the springs took us past hissing hot springs and tranquil pools that our guide said would leave the skin looking like that of a baby if used as a spa. I like that you could really get close to the steam from the springs though it made me crave a spa bath. It is important to note that the place gets crowded and hence we had to leave early so as to get the spring experience before hitting the Sulphur baths.
Of course, no visit to Saint Lucia can be complete without visiting the Pitons, the Eiffel Tower of the Island. Rising straight out of the sea, the majestic forest-clad peaks provide one of the most spectacular views from the western coast St Lucia. They stirred in me that feeling of magnetic allure that spoke of something that transcended the ordinary to become visceral in their beauty and splendour.