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St. Lucia
Helen of the West Indies

Published in the Fall 2007 Issue of Canadian World Traveller
By Melanie Reffes
Photos: St. Lucia Tourist Board (www.stlucia.org)

One of the Windward Islands, St. Lucia is snuggled halfway down the eastern Caribbean archipelago, between Martinique and St. Vincent.

The Atlantic Ocean rims its eastern shore, but the island’s finest beaches are found on its leeward coastline, which is washed by the gentler Caribbean Sea.

Dubbed “Helen of the West Indies”, St. Lucia is known for its natural beauty, its five-star resorts, its local rum and its culinary traditions.

The island also has one of the world’s few drive-in volcanoes and sulfur springs, a tropical rainforest with picturesque waterfalls and the dramatic Piton Mountains, which soar 2,000 feet above the sea and have become St. Lucia’s signature image.

Home of Intellectuals

St. Lucia boasts the highest number of Noble Prize winners per capita in the world – two out of a total population of 163,000. The island is the birthplace of the late Sir W. Arthur Lewis, who won the prize for economics in 1979, and poet Derek Walcott, who was awarded the 1992 prize for literature.

Volcano and Turtles

Near the charming town of Soufrière lies the famous drive-in volcano, which is a rocky lunar landscape of bubbling mud and craters seething with sulfur. You literally drive your car into a millions-of-years-old crater and walk between the sulfur springs and pools of hissing steam.

Turtle watching is another favourite activity of nature lovers. The island has an abundance of these majestic reptiles, due to the protection provided by environmental activists and the Ministry of Agriculture.


Bargains Galore

The 100-year-old market in the capital Castries is chocked full of vendors ready to bargain. Rice and peas at the outdoor café will set you back $4.00 and worth every bite. Other shopping venues include the duty-free J. Q. Mall in Rodney Bay and the Caribelle Batik studio near Castries.

Sleepy Hamlets

Gros Islet is an authentic slice of West Indian life. This sleepy fishing hamlet is predominantly Catholic and its St. Joseph the Worker Church welcomes tourists to Sunday Mass. Bring your cameras as the ladies dressed in their finest are happy to pose.

Nearby, the ship that is featured in the recent Pirates of the Caribbean movie sits in Rodney Bay and is another popular photo opportunity.

Coastal Attractions

The north coast is known for high-end properties and nightlife but the south coast is closer to the natural attractions.

Tours to the healing Sulphur Springs, the Moule à Chique cliffs and the Pitons are the most popular.

Wind and kite surfing is best on the southeast coast, while day trips take history buffs to the tiny fishing village of Labourie, with its church built of stone and cinderblock for hurricane protection; the crafts town of Choiseul; and Soufrière, which looks much the same today as it did 250 years ago.

Almond Smugglers Cove Resort

Almond Smugglers Cove is located few minutes away from the northwest coast, on the property formerly known as Cap St Lucia. It is the largest resort on the island, spreading over some sixty acres that overlook St. Lucian Bay.

Five villages with one-story villas painted in tropical rainbow hues are named after local regions such as Anse La Raye, Canaries, Dennery, Soufrière and Babonneau.

Although the property is all-inclusive the meals are more like à la carte dining. The Saturday Caribbean Beach Party is worthwhile for the homemade desserts like a scrumptious almond banana mousse. The tastiest pasta and pizza this side of Rome can be had at Trattoria and the Creole menu at Café Enid’s tempts with its offerings of a creamy callaloo and crab soup and a divinely decadent almond-crusted wedge of brie.

When the sun sets, the action moves indoors to Tommy’s Rum Shoppe and sizzles till the wee hours with karaoke and glasses of Ti-Punch that blend St. Lucian honey and rum with a splash of lime. Ask for it, as it’s not on the printed menu. “Anything with rum is an aphrodisiac,” says bartender Chester Francoise, with a shy twinkle in one eye.

Coconut Bay Resort and Spa

The first thing you’ll appreciate about the all-inclusive Coconut Bay Resort and Spa on the southeast coast is that it takes less than fifteen minutes to get there from the Hewanorra International Airport.

Formerly Club Med St Lucia, the property stood empty for two years following the events of 9/11 and re-opened two years ago. Rooms were refurbished and enlarged although the bathrooms are still shower-only (a throwback to the Club Med days).

The extensive landscaping of the resort preserved the endless rows of soaring coconut palms that stand guard over the Atlantic Ocean and its newly constructed Water Park is the largest in St. Lucia.

Annual Food and Rum Festival

One local event to mark on your calendar is the Annual Food and Rum Festival, which will be held from November 1st to 4th.



For More Info:

St. Lucia Tourist Board
Tel: 1-888-4-STLUCIA




Almond Smugglers Cove Resort
Website: www.almondresorts.com

Coconut Bay Resort and Spa
Website: www.coconutbayresortandspa.com

Tour Operators

Rain Forest Sky Rides
Website: www.rfat.com

Barefoot Holidays
Website: www.barefootholidays.com

C & M Tours
Website: www.cmtouring.com

Solar Tours
Website: www.solartoursandtravel.com