Where & When?
Saint Lucia is a mountainous island in the Caribbean and is mostly covered by dense rainforest. I spent 8 days on this island in November and the weather was great every day!
A few facts about the island:
Language: English (official language), Saint Lucian French Creole
Currency: Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$)
Capital: Castries, on the north-west coast of the island.
These are a few tips that I gathered whilst travelling Saint Lucia:
- Carry cash – credit cards are not widely used and most street vendors only accept cash.
- Avoid driving at night (arrive during the day if you can) as the roads are not well lit, and very windy.
- Rent a 4×4 or SUV for a more comfortable drive.
- If you are hiking, start as soon as sunrise to avoid the heat.
- Hitchhikers are generally harmless and a great opportunity to get to know the locals and get some local travel tips. However, the usual rules of vigilance and safety ought to be followed.
Day 1 – Arrival[ultimate_maps id=”1″]
As you approach the easterly runway into Hewanorra International Airport on the southern tip of the island, the Pitons are visible and the view from the aircraft window is stunning. This was a long 10 hour or so flight from the UK, so I planned the first day to just collect my rental car, get to my Airbnb and relax!
I stayed in an Airbnb overlooking the port of Castries. I chose this location due to the proximity of the beaches I wanted to visit. Also, having a rental car meant I wasn’t too far off the hiking trails further to the south!
Day 2 – Vigie Beach[ultimate_maps id=”2″]
Vigie Beach is an ideal beach for aeroplane spotters because it’s located right next to the airport. This is a smaller airport that mostly has general aviation traffic and inter-Caribbean flights. Like most beaches on Saint Lucia, there was plenty of free parking, and right up close to the shore.
Like any of the Caribbean islands, a brief downpour is quite normal – they can come suddenly but they are over just as fast. You can always take some shelter at the decked area close by that has an array of huts serving delicious Caribbean meals.
Day 3 – Reduit Beach & Pigeon Island[ultimate_maps id=”3″]
Reduit Beach was one of my favourite beaches on Saint Lucia. You can park right up to the beach for free! There’s a nice beach hut called Spinnakers serving espressos and cappuccinos, and food close by too. However, if you’re lazying on the beach and don’t want to move there are even a couple of ladies that walk up and down selling rotis and fresh juices! For those unfamiliar with roti, they are of South Asian origin and consist of a wrap filled with curried meat or vegetables and are a very popular street food across the Caribbean. I happened to choose a spot on the beach close to where they set up base and unpack their delicious homemade rotis and juices!
Once I had my roti and juice, it was time to get out of the mid-day sun. Even I get sunburnt, so it’s really important to seek shade and put on sunscreen. So, I set off to explore Pigeon Island National Park, a short drive north of Reduit Beach.
Hiking trails on Pigeon Island take you to British and French colonial ruins and also to an impressive viewpoint looking towards Martinique in the North and the rest of St Lucia towards the South. There’s a cafe near the beginning of the trail to relax, enjoy the view and rest your feet.
Day 4 – Marigot Bay[ultimate_maps id=”4″]
This is a gorgeous bay where Hollywood movies such as Dr Doolittle were filmed. The drive to the bay, through the rainforest and banana plantations, from Castries is amazing! The bay itself is sheltered by hills and trees on all sides, making it a natural shelter for boats in hurricanes.
Once you descend down the hill into Marigot bay, you can park the car at the car-park next to the shopping centre. A short boat ride over takes you onto a small beach with a hotel and restaurant where you can relax and enjoy this picturesque bay. Note that the boat ride is free if you intend on visiting the restaurant on the other side – otherwise, it’s a small fee with any of the other boats taking you across.
Day 5 – The Pitons & Soufriere
After ample meandering and lazying around on beaches, it was time to do a bit of hiking. Saint Lucia is easily distinguishable by its Pitons as seen on the feature image on the top of this post. Designated a world heritage site – these pair of mountainous volcanic plugs were created less than a million years ago. Gros Piton reaches 798 metres/2619 feet and Petit Piton is slightly lower at 743 metres/2438 feet.
A guide for the Gros Piton hike is mandatory. It is a source of valuable income for the locals but it is also for your safety as people have sustained injuries on these hikes in the past. You can either get a guide by booking a tour ahead of time online or turning up and a guide is then assigned to you when you pay the park entrance fee (which includes the guide).
The hike begins at the village of Fonds Gens Libre, where you meet the guide and pay the fee. I set off as soon as daybreak to avoid the mid-afternoon heat. I was glad that I did as the temperature was rapidly rising just as we were halfway down the piton on the return. The hike takes around 2 hours on the climb with a few stops in between for rest and photos. Needless to say, the view at the top is stunning!
Once the hike was over I was ready for some relaxation. The “drive-in” volcano close in Soufriere was the perfect spot for watching some volcanic activity and dipping in some warm volcanic spring pools and having a mud mask!
Day 6 & 7
I enjoyed the peace and quiet at Marigot Bay so much that I visited again. I also spent more time at the beaches close to Castries. After all, I am in the Caribbean in the northern hemisphere winter to enjoy the sun, sea and sand!
Day 8 – Departure
Sadly it was time to leave the perfect winter paradise to a colder climate at home. However, I couldn’t but help take a quick trip to the beach just before I headed to the airport. Thankfully there is a beach right on the doorstep to the airport – Sandy beach, near the town of Vieux Fort.
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