St. Lucia

Just recently, St. Lucia, and Castries in particular, has become one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean for tourists. The accommodations and facilities are top of the line, and the restaurants and activities fabulous. The majority of travelers settle between Castries, which is the capital of St. Lucia, and the northern end of the island. The entire north side of the island is comprised of white-sand beaches to dazzle even the most seasoned and experienced traveler. The water is a glorious blue-green, and the atmosphere is a majestic combination of beach and lush gardens. With the exception of the area between Castries and the northern peninsula, the island is unspoiled and a lot of it only inhabited by exotic animal life.

St. Lucia is a mountainous island of about 240 square miles, and approximately 240,000 citizens reside there. Derek Walcott, native of Castries, won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1992. He is extremely proud of his hometown, but he does not write of his bountiful homeland, out of fear that "everyone [will] go there and overrun the place." Unfortunately, others (myself included) are doing the writing for him, and the area is already bustling with tourists.

Banana plantations, green-mantled mountains, valleys, wildflowers, a bubbling-volcano, and interesting fishing villages are only the beginning of this incredible paradise. The majestic Pitons, two two thousand-foot mountains that rise from the sea in dramatic and breathtaking fashion, are a one of the scenic wonders of the world. Taking a tour around the island is like watching all of the best cinematography out of your favorite movie. The sights and sounds will dazzle your senses and the beauty will boggle your mind. St. Lucia is truly an experience that is a must for any Caribbean traveler.

The beaches and wide array of outdoor sports on St. Lucia are marvelous. You could not ask for more activities and fun-filled events to occupy your time. The best part about the island is that if you do choose to have a day out of the sun, the shopping, dining, and indoor relaxation stations on St. Lucia are magnificent.

Docking & Local Transportation

Cruise ships dock at the Port of Castries in St. Lucia. It is a full-service pier with restaurants, shopping, and more. In addition, taxis are ready and waiting to take you to your island destination.

Taxis are readily available on the island, and although a bit pricey, they are experts in navigating the hilly and narrow roads that make up the local infrastructure. Taxis serve as excellent guides as well, so discuss taking a driving tour of the island with them.

St. Lucia has a minibus system that connects Castries with Vieux Fort & Soufrière as well. They depart from Jeremy Street in downtown Castries.

Local Interests

The Fregate Islands can be discovered halfway up St. Lucia's eastern shoreline, and they are a rock formation a short distance offshore of Praslin Bay. The area is named after the exotic birds that breed here, and the region has a mysterious and fascinating quality to it that must be seen. Tall grasses shoot up into the sky, seeming to thrive off of the mist from the crashing whitewater. Except for the rock formations and grass, the land is barren and seems lifeless. That is, until you look up into the sky, and witness a true marvel of nature, the Fregata Magnificens, the scissor-tailed frigate birds, from which the islands get their name. Between May and July, the birds migrate and breed, and while in the air, they form flying patterns and formations that bewilder all who observe. Watching their graceful flight is a joyful and amazing experience. Most concur that the best way to tour the Fregate Islands and observe the Fregatas is to travel along the nature trail that the St. Lucia government has established. If you walk elsewhere, you might get lost, not get nearly as good of a view, or disrupt the fragile ecosystem of the area.

In addition, from the same general vicinity, you can venture a bit further and find overwhelming enjoyment in the form of observing the unique St. Lucian coast. Here you can see dry ravines, marvelous sea caves, a waterfall, and a remarkable mangrove swamp.

Just off the southeast tip of St. Lucia, right near Vieux Fort, you can encounter the Maria Islands. This fabulous region is home to over 120 species of plants, butterflies, lizards, and snakes that are believed to be extinct everywhere else in the world. Among these interesting creatures are the kouwes snake and the large ground lizard. To take a tour of this great region, contact St. Lucia National Trust (758/454-5014).

Activities

Beaches

All of the beaches of St. Lucia are open to the public, and this is a nice feature because on a lot of the other Caribbean islands, certain hotels have a monopoly on particular beach areas. This is not the case on St. Lucia, and there are plenty of tremendous beach spots near Castries. The beaches along the western coast of St. Lucia are calmer and more geared toward family usage. This is because the surf is a lot more tranquil as a result of the decreased wind flow in this region. On the windward, or East Side, the winds can be higher, and the waves are often much larger.

Pigeon Island, off the north shore, is a wonderful destination for relaxation. Outdoor sports can be played here as well, and a wide selection of sport and swim equipment can be rented. Food is nearby, and the entire scene is ideal, with a charming feel and friendly locals. Reduit Beach at Rodney Bay is the most frequented beach on the island. The smooth, beige sand and clear, calm waters attract tourists like no other. In addition, the beach features water-sport kiosks, with restaurants and bars just a minute's walking distance.

Dining and Nightlife

The Green Parrot in Castries is an island favorite. Located on Chef Harry Drive, Green Parrot overlooks the Castries Harbor. The food could best be described as a mix of European and West Indian, and the drinks are some of the tastiest and most exotic you'll ever try. Enjoy your dinner or lunch and at the same time be entertained by the limbo contest and fire-eating show! The ambiance, scrumptious meals, and view of the harbor make Green Parrot (758/452-3399) a wonderful overall dining experience. San Antoine (758/452-4660) is known best for its succulent lobster and great fettuccine Alfredo. Visit San Antoine, located in Morne Fortune, and your taste buds won't be disappointed.

Indies is a spectacular soundproof dance club that is the hot spot on St. Lucia. Located at Rodney Bay, Indies is the most happening place on the island once the sun goes down.