St. Lucia, Caribbean

10 04 2011

3rd April 2011

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St. Lucia is the second largest of the four islands in the Windward group, with its famous Pitons, old volcanic spines rising sheer out of the sea.   With its volcanic aspect, dense forest and wonderful coves and bays, St.Lucia is among the leaders in the Caribbean. 

As is our normal practice now, we were among the first off the boat and met up with a local named Baptist selling minibus tours   We had some idea of where we wanted to go thanks to Holiday Which? which featured this lovely island in March 2008.  After a few minutes there were ten of us who agreed the price and the route.  We had a brilliant day covering the main hi-lights of this beautiful island.

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We drove along twisty hilly roads to Marigot Bay, stopping to sample some unusual local fruits and rum and to take photos of the famous Pitons.  A quick stop was made at a banana plantation and we saw how they form and learnt how a crop of fruit will only take 9 months from the planting of a small plant to harvesting fruit. 

Our route took us through the little fishing towns of Anse le Ray and Canaries where brightly painted wooden buildings jostled with each other.  Driving through the rain forest reminded us of parts of New Zealand earlier in our tour.  Thick lush vegetation, tall trees and shade from the strong sun.   This was followed by a visit to the “drive-in” volcano north of Soufriere with its sulphur springs  Thousands of years ago the volcano imploded and the top dropped down inside leaving a huge crater.  We stopped to pick up a volcano guide and then drove right into the crater.  There was a very strong smell of sulphur as we exited the minibus.  We were able to take photos of pools of bubbly steamy sulphur as we listened to the guide with her historical and technical talk.

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Our next stop on this busy tour was to the Botanical Gardens and Diamond Falls.  The gardens were full of colourful exotic plants and trees.  At the end of the walk we came to the falls, some 30ft high which are fed from the nearby sulphur springs.  The colour of the water changes depending on the chemical content at the time.

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Then it was back in the minibus and the short drive to Soufriere which stands at the head of a deep bay and is over-shadowed by the twin peaks of the Pitons.  The town has according to the travel books has a strong French influence, but we found mainly West Indian – brightly coloured basic wooden houses and shops squeezed in together.   We were able to explore this little town and its waterfront for a while, although finding nothing to spend our dollars on.

On our return trip, Baptist stopped at a local bakery and bought some very hot local bread and cheese for us all which was quite delicious.

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It was a good tour taking just over 6 hours in all, giving us a good feel of this lovely island.  In Castries where Aurora was berthed we made a quick visit to the local market selling local vegetables and fruit spices, etc. as well as the usual cane and wood souvenirs but we did not make any purchases, instead headed back towards Aurora, a bar and a few very welcome cold beers.



One response

15 04 2011

Thanks for the namecheck for Holiday Which. Glad you found it of some use. Your review takes me back. It was the favourite of the Caribbean islands I visited, even though Castries was flooded at the time.

Thanks for sharing your ‘diary’ and photos with us for the past 3 months – it’s been a blast! I guess you must be back in Blighty now, so welcome home, and I look forward to seeing the full video!!! when I come to visit next (probably end of May). J

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