Friday, April 12, 2024

Lovely: St Lucia


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So it was with unbridled excitement that I checked in for my LIAT flight to St Lucia at the Grantley Adams International Airport.

Told by the air stewardess that it was open seating I quickly took a window seat – my view for the flight was to be recorded with pen and paper. It was an afternoon flight and I was to disembark in Trinidad to spend four hours, then reboard LIAT to stop off in St Vincent for a half-hour and then on to St Lucia.

I went window shopping in Port-Of-Spain to pass the time and by 9 p.m. I was heading through the tiny George F.L. Charles airport.

I quickly made my way to Smugglers Cove Hotel where I was checked in and was taken to a late-night buffet – but the meal seemed like it was a full-fledged five-course with chicken, pork and fish. Sandwiches and tea were on offer for those who wanted something lighter.

The next day I was taken to Pigeon Island and from there I was mesmerised. St Lucia has a staggering variety of landscapes, from jungle-draped peaks and black-sand beaches to tranquil cocoa plantations; luxurious marinas to sleepy Creole villages. Diving, hiking, bird-watching, sailing, yachting, and sport-fishing are all superb here. As is eating: those verdant slopes and dense forests are the source of fabulous produce.

Smugglers Cove’s breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night buffet made me gain at least five pounds and you can eat at least three different restaurants on property. The hotel is self-suffcient in that they plant all their food on an expansive 60 acres, so there was fresh fruit everyday and herbs and vegetables.

As the name suggests it was an area where pirates used to hide their ships and use the beach to offload and hide their illegal gains in coves and inlets. From the resort’s private cove, guests can enjoy a front row seat to some of the most awe-inspiring sunsets in the Caribbean. The calm waters are also ideal for enjoying the resort’s plenitude of recreational offerings, including snorkelling, kayaking and sailing.

When was the last time you went out for a casual drive and ended up inside a volcano? A surreal scenario comes to life at La Soufrière, one of the most popular attractions in St Lucia. There is a guided hike of the two volcanic plugs known as the Pitons that rise majestically in the background. I am not scared of heights but craning my neck to see the top of these mountains had me rethinking the climb. But was it worth it? Yes! Yes! Yes!

Full of greenery, Petit Piton rises to a height of 2461 ft. Gros Piton is taller by about 150 ft. The panorama view from the top of Gros Piton is looking north and gives a view of the Petit Piton and northern St Lucia.

One trip is a must – the waterfalls at Diamond Botanical Gardens. These gardens were developed in 1784, when the king of France ordered baths to be built to take advantage of the health-giving properties of the mineral-rich sulfur springs. Those were destroyed, but rebuilt mineral baths are there for your soaking pleasure. The gardens themselves are lush and well-kept.

Every Friday, there’s a street party close to Rodney Bay and vendors sell food and souvenirs. Despite the length of British rule, the island’s French cultural legacy is still evident in its Creole language and I can imagine how my patois sounded to them as I tried to eavesdrop on conversations spoken in their local language.

The people were friendly and on my deaprture date I took a taxi to go shopping and the driver gave me a lecture on how to bargain and where to go.

I will admit that on that shopping trip I spied a Burger King and had to sample it for comparison. Delicous. Sporadic rain brought my shopping to an early end and I headed back to the hotel for my trip to the airport.

The departure lounge of the airport was a tiny room and the “duty-free shopping” section was closed but I had enough souvenirs so I was comforted in the fact that my first St Lucia trip will not be my last.


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