South Pacific Island in the Caribbean Sea
Saint Lucia would feel at home in the South Pacific, but it resides in the southeastern Caribbean Sea and is part of the Windward Islands.
Just north of Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago is a tropical paradise equal to the Pacific islands of Tahiti and Fiji. The calm waters of the Caribbean Sea, which are generally compared to the turquoise color, appear to be royal blue around the island of Saint Lucia. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that this is a volcanic island unlike the coral islands of the Caribbean basin.
Ancient ship records tell of how captains and sailors were in awe of the sighting of St. Lucia. Perhaps that is why the island fought and changed hands 14 times in its history. Two countries, England and France, fought 14 back-and-forth battles to gain control of the island. The English finally won the war, but France won the battle as the island is definitely French in culture.
The most photographed scene in the Caribbean and the landmark of Saint Lucia are Petit Piton and Gros Piton. These two huge volcanic mountains are covered in lush green vegetation and rise more than 800 meters above sea level and 300 meters below. Soufriere, located at the base, is where the jungle meets the royal blue sea. The majestic twin pythons greet you at all times while you are on the island, an incredible sight!
As a comparison among its Caribbean neighbors, the only two that come close to the beauty of Saint Lucia are Dominica (the island of nature) and the interior of the island of Jamaica. Saint Lucia has a variety of exotic black sand beaches, tropical birds, plants and flowers. Wherever you look, and in every adventure on the island, there is more beauty to see. I tried to capture the island in the image, but the intensity and depth of the color was lacking more than often. While family and friends commented on how beautiful our vacation photos were, I knew that the true essence of the island must be seen in person.
This is an island to be explored with nature walks, mountain hikes, visits to nature reserves, boat trips to nearby island sanctuaries, drive the only “volcano tour” in the world! And a trip to the inland rainforest is a must! Volcano – You literally drive through the crater into over 15 pools of thick, black lava that bubbles up. The smell is a bit overwhelming. In this region you will also find green and yellow sulfur vapor rising from the ground and pools of hissing vapor. You can definitely feel the heat from the ground and the guides will guide you around the hot stones.
Another interesting site outside of Soufriere is Diamond Waterfall and Mineral Baths. Louis XVI sent a sample of the mineral water to France in the late 1700s for analysis, and it was deemed beneficial. We had a great time in the mineral baths, and I admit I felt quite revitalized afterwards. Diamond Waterfall is close to the baths, and this rivals many of the waterfalls on the island of Jamaica, just beautiful!
The lush mountainous region is home to tropical rainforest that offers lush and colorful foliage. As you move further into the northern part of the island, the mountains turn into lush hills and orchards of banana, coconut, mango, citrus and papaya.
In addition to land tours, it is recommended to sail around the island for half a day or a day. From a small peninsula that extends from the southern tip of the island you can see where the rugged Atlantic Ocean meets the calm Caribbean Sea. On a clear day, you can even make out the small island of San Vicente. Another advantage of the location is that you can easily island hop to the islands of Martinique, Dominica, and Guadeloupe.
The east or windward side of the island is on the Atlantic coast and has big waves and surf, and swimming is not recommended, but the ocean views will be remembered long after your vacation is over.
The western side, or Leeward Island, is in the Caribbean Sea, and the waves and waters are fairly calm, and most of the oceanfront resorts are located on this side of the island.
No matter which side of the island you choose, you will find the constant cooling breezes of the trade winds coming off the coast of Africa.
Getting to Saint Lucia can be challenging in terms of time, depending on where you start. Expect a minimum 5-6 hour trip from North America. An important aspect when booking your vacation is the hotel’s proximity to the airport. Saint Lucia has two airports, and the main airport (Hewanorra) on the southern tip of the island is where most of North America’s air traffic goes. The smallest airport (George Charles) in the north of the island serves most of the smaller airlines in the Caribbean. Of course, most of the best known hotels are in the north of the island.
Flying to Hewanorra airport in the far south and booking a hotel or resort in the far north can result in a long 2 hour drive. Rather than fearfully looking at the travel time to the hotel, consider it an excellent opportunity to enjoy a pleasant tour of the island. The mountain route offers a more panoramic view of the magnificent pythons. The eastern route is faster and passes through hundreds of banana plantations and beautiful landscapes. Take your pick, but I recommend the longer western route.
Saint Lucia is home to some of the most exclusive resorts, charming inns, guesthouses, and romantic hideaways in the Caribbean. Two of the most unique are Ladera and Anse Chastanet.
Ladera offers an open wall concept with its own private pool. The western side of each unit is open to view of the Pitons. It is like being in a luxury tree house, and as they say “the only thing that separates you from nature is the web of your bed”.
Anse Chastanet is a luxurious mountaintop retreat where each room offers something different, no two are alike. Most of the rooms are scattered on the lush hillside, and some more expensive rooms are on the beach. Note that there are almost 100 steps down to the beach from the hillside.
Jalousie Plantation sits below the Pitons and offers a very romantic and private location that is hard to match anywhere in the Caribbean. Another option is Windjammer Landing with its own secluded villa in a Mediterranean-style village setting.
Rodney Bay’s smaller hotels, which are Caribbean Jewell, Coco Kreole, and Coco Palm, offer a location within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and nightlife. Reduit Beach is one of Rodney Bay’s main attractions, which is also home to the European boating community. Each of these smaller hotels has a unique charm, excellent service, and moderate prices.
There are approximately eight all-inclusives on this small island. Many Caribbean islands offer all-inclusive properties where visitors are isolated and spend most of their time. All-inclusive St Lucia celebrates the beauty and attractions of the islands, and does everything possible to promote the beauty and culture of the islands. The most popular all-inclusive is Sandals, which offers three different resorts, the Body Holiday Spa Resort and Rendezvous, a popular resort just for romantic couples.
The beaches of Santa Lucia offer as much variety as the lush vegetation. There are black sand beaches where the sand is thicker, soft white sand beaches, beige-gray and brown beaches. One thing to remember: black sand heats up much faster than white sand, and your feet can burn and blister.
Although the island is French in culture, English is widely spoken in the areas of business and tourism. Elsewhere you will hear Creole, along with a French Patois. The Creole spoken on the island is derived from the original slaves who mixed their African language, along with French words. There is even a national holiday in which all the inhabitants of Santa Lucia are encouraged to speak Creole and prepare dishes of Creole food.
If you are used to the typical steel and calypso drums of the Caribbean, you will find that the French Caribbean has a taste for the Zouk, the African drums and also the Soca. The French Caribbean is not as secretive as the British-influenced islands, and the English lyrics are quite explicit about current social norms; In other words, you might be a little surprised by what you hear.
Zouk is a Creole word for “party,” and it has an upbeat beat with layered percussion and heavy brass. You will hear Zouk primarily on the French Caribbean islands of Saint Lucia, Martinique, and Guadeloupe. The beat is contagious and you can’t help but dance or at least kick your feet.
Soca is a combination of calypso with a faster rhythm, and curiously it has its origin in a combination of calypso mixed with Indian rhythms from Trinidad and Tobago.
It is not your typical Caribbean island! If I were to summarize what is special about Saint Lucia, I would conclude the following: an exotic island paradise with unique resorts and romantic hideaways, great beaches, hiking, boating, and deep-sea fishing. Additionally, the island’s rugged shores and excellent reef system offer world-class snorkeling and diving.