Back to Nature in Saint Lucia

by Ikenna Lewis-Miller on 03 March 2014, 10:03AM

Landing at Saint Lucia’s Hewanorra International Airport, we take a breath as the blanket of heat enfolded our air-conditioned bodies. The plan to experience the island’s culture, attractions and activities was finally underway after months of waiting.

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Saint Lucia, the mango shaped Caribbean island is a mere 27 miles long and 14 miles wide – an ideal size to digest the full spectaculars of the island and journey from north to south with ease. Famed for its sandy beaches, lavish resorts and a mean rum punch, we soon found out that’s not all it had going for it.
A one hour drive from the airport takes you to the town of Soufriere on the West Coast. Emerging from roads we were offered a rainbow of colours in the form of houses, most of which were built by their occupants. Continuing the drive, the magnificent Pitons began to unveil themselves in the horizon rising from the sea.

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Arriving at the foot of the 2,618 feet Gros Piton, our tour guides and their dog lead the way, sharing occasional Kweyol words with us to expand our knowledge of the local French Creole dialect, which is widely spoken. The base was a gentle country walk, dipping and diving over the odd rock en route. Getting a little too comfortable with the mild trek, we were sure we’d reach the top in no time. We were soon to be challenged as we were faced with a steeper trail using balance and giant-sized paces to climb the rock-filled slope. Reaching half-way was an achievement in itself and we were greeted by the jaw-dropping view of the not-so-petit Petit Piton and lush Caribbean Sea waters. The rest of the group were happy to top up on refreshments as we sat in silence taking in the view for innumerable minutes.

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Next stop was the Botanical Gardens, part of the Soufriere Estate, a 2,000 acre estate with shrubs, stunning flowers and surrounding pathways that lead to a natural gorge. Colour was bursting from every direction as our guide explained medicinal uses of the blooming wonders the gardens had to offer. To top off the nature-lover’s ideal day out, we visited the Tet Paul Nature Trail. It was certainly a walk in the park in comparison to our Petit Piton climb. The moderate 45 minute hike took us through fascinating trails of flowers, pineapple plants and exotic shrubbery before reaching our viewing point named ‘Paradise’ and rightly so. The stunning views look over the popular resort Sugar Beach and the Petit Piton, which we proudly pointed out to the guide, claiming how we had reached ‘the top’ with no trouble at all.

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After a few days in the south of the island with a fair amount of resting on some of Saint Lucia’s spectacular beaches and visiting Sulphur Springs where Saint Lucia has its own drive-in volcano and skin revitalising mud baths, it was time to head to the north of the island. Our first pit-stop was the island’s capital, Castries. The drive took about an hour, cruising up and down windy roads to reach our destination.

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Driving through the jungle-like surroundings, we were keen to get into the thick of it and decided to take a rainforest nature trail where the activities list was endless. The towering ferns and vine-wrapped trees were awaiting us as we started The Union Trail. After our adventures on foot, we took to the sky trams where we hopped onto one of sixteen open-air and noiseless gondolas, escorted by our own guide. The majestic bird’s eye view of the rainforest gave us a panoramic outlook onto the north of the island and we even spotted a hummingbird darting through the vines. The peaceful tour came to a halt as the more adventurous of us clambered out of the gondola to visit the rainforest’s zip lines. Safely getting harnessed to cables, we sped through the heights and secrets of the rainforest giving an instant adrenaline rush.

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After our taste for adventure it was time to take on another day of excitement with the island’s Segway Tour at Mount Pimard in Rodney Bay. Zooming around on the Segway was great fun, winding through the flora and fauna, all the while taking in the breathtaking views the island had to offer. We finally stopped at Pigeon Island, once a lookout point and military base when the British and French fought over Saint Lucia. The National Park offered staggering views of the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Settling there we were given snorkels to view the wonders of the waters with tropical fish swimming underneath our feet and it was a struggle to tear our heads above water.

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Throughout the trip, we appreciated the finest aromatic and mouth-watering cuisine. Towards the end of the trip we wanted one last chance to surround ourselves into the culture-rich offerings of the island. We ventured through the bustling markets of Castries where everything from banana ketchup to Saint Lucian attire was on sale. Setting off in the evening, we jumped into a local taxi to head to the infamous Jump Up at Gros Islet. Every Friday, Saint Lucia opens this street to the locals and tourists alike, blaring local music from the speakers with a selection of local foods and rum delights available for purchase. The dancing was sensational with all ages taking part, losing their inhibitions with the music. This was an epic finale for our trip full of adventure.

For more information about holidays to Saint Lucia, visit www.travelbag.co.uk.

To find out more about visiting the beautiful island of Saint Lucia go to www.stlucia.org


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