I spent ten days in St. Lucia, and I have to say the island truly captured my heart. Despite being there for work, I was able to squeeze in some time to explore a bit and experience some of what the island has to offer (thank goodness for that day off). Before I even launch into telling you about the beautiful sights, I must first acknowledge the people of St. Lucia. Being from Jamaica, an island known for the warmth of its people, I must say that St. Lucia is right on par and giving us a run for our money. I felt quite at home there.
Funnily enough, I spent Valentine’s Day there, and believe it or not, without even having a significant other there it was one of the most enjoyable Valentine’s Days I’ve ever had. The people and the vibe made it a great evening, and my co-worker was awesome company. Yes, we stuck out like sore thumbs amidst the loving couples at dinner at the hotel, but nevertheless, we had a good time.
Fast forward to Friday night, and although feeling tired we decided that we simply had to make use of our time in St. Lucia. On a Friday night that can only mean one thing; the Gros Islet street party. (The party is named after the town in which it happens; Gros Islet, located in the north) It ended up meaning that we woke someone up from bed to pick us up and take us (which we felt so bad about), but what did I tell you about the people in St. Lucia? They are absolute sweethearts. The Gros Islet street party is literally just that; a party in the streets. A long stretch of road is blocked off and there are loudspeakers along the way blasting music. You pretty much just walk along until you get to a section in the crowd where you enjoy the music that’s being played and you feel a vibe from the crowd there. Speaking of the crowd, it truly is a mixture; the locals and the tourists are out in full force, and everyone is just having a good time together. No worries, no cares, just pure fun and enjoyment. Policemen can be seen along the sidelines keeping an eye out, but not intrusive in any way. By the way, they play waaaaaay more dancehall than I expected. I pretty much forgot where I was and thought I was back home in Jamaica. From Alkaline to even a Spragga Benz tune, Jamaica was certainly represented. Oh, and I tried Piton beer (named after the infamous Piton mountains on the island). Red Stripe is to Jamaica what Piton beer is to St. Lucia. It doesn’t taste quite as strong as ours though.
While I thought Gros Islet would have been the only stop for the night, I was quite wrong. St. Lucians don’t play when it comes to partying. After enjoying ourselves there, it was then time to go to Coconutz in Rodney Bay. It’s an open air bar and it had a nice little vibe going. This was not to be the last stop either. Next up was Zen, a small club with modern decor elements.
After that we called it a night. Now that we had experienced some of the night life, next we wanted to really see the island. How better to do that than a tour? Trying to figure which of the tours would be best required extreme deliberation. We went back and forth on it for quite some time. (What is wrong with us? Lol). Finally we decided on the Soufriere Adventure, and I’m so happy we did. It was the perfect choice. If you prefer something fast paced then perhaps the Joe Knows tour would be ideal for you. From what we gathered, Joe Knows is great if you’re looking for more of a party vibe. Our tour was more on the laid back side, which was more in line with what we wanted.
We met at the marina, boarded the catamaran and were on our way. We hadn’t had time for breakfast so the banana bread and fresh fruits awaiting us on board were greatly welcomed. If driving along we thought St. Lucia was beautiful, seeing it this way, drifting along the ocean was even more of a beautiful sight; one that I won’t forget. Our tour guide pointed out various sites along the way, such as Anse La Raye (Bay of Stingrays) and Anse Cochon (Bay of Pigs, but no longer so as they ended up as dinner on the tables of the locals). At one point we even saw a pod of dolphins. How awesome is that? No photos to show unfortunately, as they moved so quickly. The stately Pitons, St. Lucia’s twin volcanic peaks came into view and as we got closer we understood just why they are such an infamous landmark. They truly are a sight to behold.
The Pitons. Breathtaking right? Photo credit: Tracy-Ann Jerry-Ellis
We arrived at Soufriere, a town located along the west coast of the island, and got into the buses that were waiting to take us to Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens. There we met our tour guide, ‘Alexander the Great’ or ‘Walking Internet,’ both self-proclaimed titles. He certainly did seem like the internet. He has such vast knowledge on all the plants and even gave us a few history lessons here and there as we trekked along. If you do that tour I hope you get Alex as your tour guide. He was so entertaining. He took us up to the waterfalls, and most persons took advantage of this great photo opp.
‘Alexander the Great’
Just a little peek at the gardens
It was then time to get back onto our bus and head to Sulphur Springs Park, home to what is known as the world’s only drive-in volcano. While there we had the choice of partaking in one of two activities; tour the volcano or have a mud bath (said to have healing properties). We chose the volcano tour.
It was quite a sight to take in; such a vast area, the rising steam. Oh but be warned, it smells! It really does. The sulphur creates a smell of rotten eggs in the air. Our guide told us the story of Gabriel, a tour guide who many years ago fell through the crust and received severe burns. Years ago you used to be able to just walk across the landscape but because of Gabriel’s mishap, you are now restricted to view from a platform. Smart idea! Gabriel created a crater (known as Gabriel’s hole) that to this day you can still see there.
To our disappointment, it felt like the tour of the volcano ended a bit abruptly. Our guide motioned towards a pathway and said that there is a village beyond there and also a restaurant which only serves chocolate. Having a sweet tooth and also craving more adventure, I was ready to go explore, however the tour does not include seeing the village or the restaurant. I suppose the locals wouldn’t particularly like tourists trekking through their village everyday and I guess who can blame them? We had already disturbed two little girls who had come down to bathe in the river, which we were told is always warm. We got to feel it for ourselves and indeed it was.
Guess we’ll never know what lies beyond this path.
This is where we got to dip our hands in to feel the warmth of the water.
We boarded the buses again and headed to a quaint restaurant for buffet-style lunch. I had a little of everything; the chicken, fish, mac and cheese, green fig salad. The food was soooo good! No exaggeration. As I type I’m remembering it and wishing I could have a plate of it right now. It didn’t hurt that there was chocolate cake for dessert. Chocolate is the way to my heart!
On the note of food, I found the green fig salad served in St. Lucia to be quite interesting. What they call green fig is what we in Jamaica call green banana and we simply boil it and eat it with fish or meat. Both times I had it in St. Lucia it was done as a well-seasoned salad and included ingredients such as pepper and escallion. Codfish or saltfish as we call it in Jamaica can be added. They even added mayo and this gives it a creamy texture. It was REALLY good and I am so ready to try preparing green banana this way.
Sidetracking from the tour for a second to show you the green fig salad they served at the hotel (on the left). You can see it better here than you can in the pic above. The photo on the right shows the fried float (looks like a roll), also from dinner at the hotel. In Jamaica we call it fried dumplings and it’s much smaller.
Back to the tour! After lunch it was time to head out. The buses took us back to the dock and we got back onto the catamaran. There were more fresh fruits and we were also served the infamous rum punch we had heard so much about. We sipped as we sailed along and were taken to an area where you are able to snorkel or just swim.
Next up, we sailed through Marigot Bay. I loved it. The palm trees make it look like a scene from a post card.
The music got livelier and the crew started dancing. We sat there watching and feeling quite entertained. Don’t ask me how, but my co-worker and I found ourselves pulled up to join them and the next thing we knew we became a part of the entertainment and were being cheered on by the other tourists. All eyes were on us and the crew as we did the ‘Cupid Shuffle’ and ‘Wobble’ lol. Who would have thought we would have been the life of the party? Hahahaha. If you know me, you’re probably finding it hard to imagine that lol. It was so much fun though 🙂
All good things must come to an end, right? Well, as such, our tour came to an end. It was such a great experience, and I look forward to visiting the island again to see what else it has to offer. There is no way I can fully convey the warmth of the people or the beauty of the island. You need to take a visit and experience it all for yourself, and when you do, you will fall in love with St. Lucia just as I did.