St Lucia is a British island which became an
independent state of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is one of the Windward Islands located in the Lesser Antilles in the
eastern Caribbean. The island runs north/south with the Caribbean
Sea to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Martinque is the
next island to the north and St Vincent & the Grenadines are next to
the south. The island was named by the French after St Lucy of
Syracuse. The British took control of St Lucia in 1814 and the
island is now part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. St Lucia is
27 miles north/south and 14 miles east/west. The
capital and cruise port is Castries and the island has a permanent
population of about 175,000. The cruise ship port is Castries.
Look for registered taxi drivers at the wharf who will take small
groups in a van to Morne Fortune, the Pitons, Soufriere, Marigot Bay and
the Diamond Botanical Gardens. The pricing of $40 per person for a
4 hour tour compares favorably with cruise ship tour pricing. Pay
a few dollars additional to enter the gardens.
Pitons and Soufriere
Attractions in St Lucia:
Things to see and do:
The Pitons – two 2,000 foot volcanic outcroppings, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, best viewed by boat tour but with good views from the hill
above Soufriere too
Marigot Bay – James Michener called it the most beautiful bay in the Caribbean
Soufriere – the oldest town in St Lucia, established in 1746, murals in the market place
Sulfur Springs – located near Soufriere, a drive in volcano with bubbling mud and sulfur smells, cost $8 per person
Fond Doux – colonial plantation tour
Castries – walk the streets of the port and shop; visit Morne Fortune (the hill of good luck), the Cathedral, Iniskilling Monument, Caribelle Batik
Pigeon Island – 40 acre islet with a museum and interpretive center
Marquis Estate – a former banana plantation
Stony Hill – a private home and gardens with views of Rodney Bay Marina
La Sikwe – a restored sugar mill
Anse la Raye
Ladera Resort – rated #1 by Conde Nast with great views of the Pitons
Aerial Tram – ride up 2,000 feet as you travel under the rainforest canopy in an open gondola at Rain Forest Adventure Park and then zipline back down if you prefer
St Lucia Marine Park – snorkeling
Diamond Botanical Gardens – a myriad of plants, some hummingbirds, a river and waterfall originating two miles above from the volcanic crater, cost $5 per person plus a tip to your guide.
Book an island tour at the pier with local registered taxi drivers.
We visited St Lucia by finding our own tour at the pier – realistically they find you as soon as you are past the ship’s tour line ups.
This time our tour was $40 each and lasted more than 4 hours. The van was very new and nicely air conditioned.
The roads on St Lucia were also very new, very steep and very switch-backed.
After passing Columbus Square, renamed Derek Walcott Square
after St Lucias’ Nobel Prize Winner, and passing the Catholic Church, we
ascended Morne Forture, a hill with lovely views of the town and the inner harbor.
We could see Martinique in the distance. Next we wound our way to Anse la Raye for picturesque views of this fishing town. Then we climbed into rainforest and stopped for my photo shoot with a boa constrictor.
We climbed and switched back to heights that might have been dizzying if the view weren’t so obstructed by the vegetation.
Diamond Botanical Garden
After that we stopped at a view point above the coastal village of Canaries, which is very similar to Anse la Raye.
Next we came out of the rainforest above Soufriere and enjoyed views of the village, the Pitons and the steam from the volcano.
In Sourfriere we visited the Diamond Botanical Gardens. The river and waterfall were nice, but you need to appreciate plants and gardening to truly enjoy the stop.
It cost $5 to enter the gardens. Afterward the group opted not to drive two miles to the volcanic cone base, as the consensus was that it wasn’t worth $8 each to smell a bubbling sulfur pot.
On the way back to Castries, we stopped above Marigot Bay and enjoyed the fabulous view. It was hard to beat the quality and price of this tour, but the hours of up, down, twisting and turning does wear on you. Those who don’t get sea sick on small boats might enjoy the coastal cruise version of this expedition better.