P a r a d i s e F o u n d
St Lucia wasn't on my radar until my partner's cousin announced Vieux Fort St Lucia as the venue for his wedding. Following a little research I found St Lucia to be famous for some of the most stunning scenery and natural bounty in the region. As one of the UK's suppliers of Coconut Oil, Rum, Bananas & chocolate my intrigue grew as to what treasures may lie in wait for personal export. St Lucia's variety of rum is Legendary! Following an outstanding wedding experience my partner & I stayed for an extra week. If you're considering the Caribbean and can't decide where to book, St Lucia is an excellent choice. It's calmer than Jamaica, Less industrial than Trinidad & not as closely tied to the UK as Barbados.
In this iteration of the travel guides/reviews I'll cover The Coconut Bay Hotel & Spa, Anse Des Sables, Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens, Soufriere Sulphur Springs, Hotel Chocolat, Catamaran Boat Tours & Le Pitons.
T h e C o c o n u t B a y H o t e l a n d S p a
0 0 0 , V i e u x F o r t L i g h t h o u s e , S t . L u c i a , S t L u c i a
We arrived at Hewanorra airport, jumped in our transfer, left the airport & took what must have been the 1st Left along the highway & that was it. We'd arrived on the estate. I did think being this close to the airport may be an issue, but can safely say it wasn't. You'll notice planes taking off on occasion, but they're so far away you won't hear them anymore than you'd hear a plane traveling overhead back home. Which almost serves as a pinch reminding you to savor these moments as eventually it'll be you leaving paradise.
Enter the all-inclusive Coconut Bay Resort & Spa, with what must be the largest private beach you'll find at an all-inclusive resort within this price range. A pretty good kids club with a huge outdoor play area, popular cuisines on daily rotation i.e Italian, Pan-Asian, European & of course Caribbean Creole dishes. 7 unique bars, live music most evenings around a huge lobby area with excellent lounge seating for large groups, horse riding, water sports, an in-house market selling local artwork & handmade souvenirs, in-house coordinated island excursions and a small in-house shop selling everything from pharmaceutical goods to beach toys & snacks. At the time of writing the resort is undergoing a huge luxury villa expansion, chances are by the time you read this the expansion may be complete.
The architects of the existing building made the pragmatic choice to build all rooms sea facing, So providing they you're placed 2nd floor or higher, you'll have a blue sea horizon each morning you draw you curtains. It's worth noting the resort has two main apartment complexes. The Family friendly area, situated opposite the water park and family pools, & the the Harmony section of the resort. Harmony is a couples only retreat with it's own pool, jacuzzi & daybeds. If you have a young one eligible for the kids club then this works a treat for re-visiting your life pre-sprog. The Harmony beach front is an excellent environment for temporarily removing the weight of parenthood via the absence of noise & demand. Hence why my partner and I spent most of our time here.
The day beds here (above-right) are elevated above the shore & give you an infinity pool affect when you lean back or whilst hanging from a hammock. The apartment complex has a dated/classic white painted wooden facia, with the reception & dining area clearly the more modern newly built add-on. The grounds & amenities are extremely well kept & feel every bit as premium as advertised. We stayed on the top floor where rooms are marketed at a higher premium. They feature upgraded decor & the best views over the grounds facing the sea, with unobstructed views of the surrounding hillsides facing inland as you leave your room. You'll notice the more open feeling of these more expensive rooms over the comparatively smaller & tighter standard rooms below. A marginal difference i'd only opt for if disposable income isn't an issue. Otherwise, save the money for duty-free or additional treatments at the resort's outstanding spa.
I put the view from our balcony to work as I streamed the Formula One, smoked a cigar & read my standard pre-flight men's mag grab. The rooms at the far end of the family complex are so out of the way, you're in near silence & can easily loose an afternoon without keeping time. Which I did in splendid solitude.
A n s e D e s S a b l es
The Resort's beach faces the Atlantic Ocean. This makes the water a little choppy but also gives you the chance to watch the sun rise from the sea. Anyone who hasn't seen such a spectacle should do so with a pair of UV sunglasses. I rose at 4.30am, made my way to the beach and laid back on a sun lounger the hotel leave out probably for this reason. I felt completely removed watching a dark sea tumbling over itself as far out as the horizon could stretch with a greyish blue sky overhead. Ears & mind soothed by rhythmic waves creeping & retreating against the shore. Then it starts. You don't know where across the horizon the sun will rise but as it does you can't help be think you've seen the sun countless time across your life, but never like this! The whole experience happens in slow motion. An entire horizon turned from grey to blue, then orange and yellow followed by a burst of light and heat that creeps from the soles of your feet to your eyes.
Such an awesome place to witness & marvel at the power of nature & astrological physics. When you consider the distance between yourself and the horizon, then the earth's atmosphere and past that, the gulf of space & time between your eyes and the sun itself, then consider by an infinite amount of variables you happen to be at the exact place in our solar system to view all the above at a safe distance & temperature in an environment perfectly suited to your naked skin. You can't help but feel we must be the luckiest species in existence to be alive, sentient & understanding of what's in front of you.
I like sunrises...
Walk 50 yards to your right and you end up at this point, the entrance to the pool areas of the complex. Then its a short 2 min walk to the hotel buffet area for a cup of tea or hot chocolate before wondering back to the room for a quick nap, then up again for breakfast.
D i a m o n d F a l l s B o t a n i c a l G a r d e n s
S o u f r i e r e E s t a t e , S o u f r i e r e
You have noticed I have a thing for the outdoors, fauna & foliage. I've grown up in London but a part of the capital that's rich in outdoor spaces, so I spent a large part of my childhood mucking about in parks. My Dad is also an avid Gardner so we had a amazing colourful Garden, would have to make weekly trips to the local garden center & my room with fill with smell of freshly cut grass every Sunday morning. All warranting a trip the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens to spy some tropical horticulture.
The Gardens offer stunning examples! All surrounded by meandering murky grey streams rich in sulphur. I wasn't able to capture it all. Doing so would've taken away from the experience itself, but I captured a few highlights.
Thankfully the amount of sulphur present is enough to colour the water without offending your nose.
The same can't be said for the sulphur Springs!
Some of these plants were used by native spiritualists for their hallucinogenic properties to invoke a trance like state for the purpose of, "ahem", communing with spirits & gods/getting high.. Some for poisons, others for dermatological benefits we use in popular commercial products back home. Despite how harmless they all seem, you wouldn't believe what comes from such innocent looking plants. Heisenburg fans take note.
Old Skool Tech
S o u f r i e r e S u l p h u r S p r i n g s
Locals say if you want to take 12 years off the clock, go bathe in sulphuric mud! This place was beautiful on approach, until the sulphur creeps up & slaps you across ya chevy chase. Nose pegs at the ready.
There's a helicopter tour of the Volcano or there's just the Mud Bath. The dormant volcano is swamped with holiday makers looking to take a few years off, & why not? Be advised, wear swimwear, sandals & pack a towel you don't care for plus a bag to carry it all. Perhaps even a change of clothes. The residual mud & scent of sulphur on you will stain and ruin the fabric of any vehicle you travel in if you're not prepared.
Get ready for a very hot bath! the spring heated pre-mud pool is a tad burny when you 1st enter. Don't worry! As with any hot bath your body will soon acclimatise to the temperature. Then its a short wade over to the entrance of the mud deposits. You don't sit down by the way. It's a standing experience. You're given a bucketful of the good stuff and left to lather yourself from head to toe. Your partner can do your back etc. Then you find a nice spot to perch & just chill till it hardens and sets. The attendees on site will paint you with a black variety of mud in all kinds of tribal patterns. How long you chill is up to you, but the longer the better.
A must-do during your trip. I didn't dare take my camera or phone anywhere near the bath itself, but the attendants are happy to snap away for you if you trust them. The whole experience is quite tribal, & yes my skin did feel fresh & rejuvenated.
As if the St Lucia wasn't awesome enough, I learned the government places no restrictions on locals using the spring & mud baths whenever they choose. Our escort would himself visit the bath once a week. Some people he knew go there every other day as part of their weekly routine. For access to this kind of privilege in the UK you'll pay a premium. The same applies to the beaches. The public can enjoy the land freely as they should, unlike other parts of the Caribbean like Jamaica where sadly the population are banned from almost all the finest beaches now they've owned by foreign investment.
H o t e l C h o c o l a t
R a b o t E s t a t e , S o u f r i e r e
Perhaps more for the fairer sex, you can peak at where Hotel Chocolat devise ways to exploit the properties of Cacao. We only nosed at their top secret research facility, with it's men in white suits & Jurassic Park Jeeps. If you pay a visit to their website you can book a chocolate making session & tasting at the esteemed Boutique Boucan.
The Hotel is very high end. Celebrity high end, & ideal for a honeymoon destination that spares no expense. This hotel has unrivaled views of the Pitons & surrounding waters. Check the site for further information. Back to the Cacao fields, vast as they are, have no fences. I inquired as to why there's no apparent security surrounding such assets. Our guide said people just don't steel, so there's no need for fences. Admirable!
C a t a m a r a n T o u r s
P o r t o f L a b o r i e
Another box to tick when you visit the tropics is to rent a boat & take a trip out a swim spot and dip in bath warm waters. Of the various options in St Lucia we chose the island's west coast town & port of Laborie. Courtesy of the hotel excursion concierge, the trip comes with locally prepared food for you & your party with transport to & from the port. During which you'll see the timeless towns and some gorgeous churches that have stood since the island was colonised. The journey out to sea was a quite choppy but manageable, so be advised not to eat before you sail. Wait til you arrive at the swim point, then tuck in.
The swim is awesome, but for me, the best part of the trip ended up being the slow and contemplative journey back to port. Gazing forward towards a sea horizon, the pseudo swaying of your entire body & complete absence of civilisation, is one of the best forms of stress relief I've ever experienced. I now understand the allure of sailing, & if you've not had a similar experience i'm positive you you'll agree when you do. Finding clarity seams so much easier to find out at sea.
Note to self - Learn to Sail!
L e P i t o n s
M a l g r e t o u t e , J a l o u s l e
A stunning world heritage site, the Pitons are two volcanic plugs seen from any number of locations around the island's western coast. If you're into mountain climbing and hiking then you have yet another incentive to visit St Lucia.
You can imagine the epic viewpoints to be seen and snapped from the larger of the two Gros Piton.
S u m m a r y
St Lucia is a gem of an island. The people are keen ensure you enjoy your time in their back yard. The Caribbean Islands despite having clear ties to each other are all completely unique. Visit more than one across the region and you'll agree. As we traveled across the island we saw great examples of quintessential St Lucian homes, bright & colourful forming a landscape tapestry. Many of these homes elevated feet off the ground with pillars. Our guide stated this is for summer months, when the heat becomes stifling those elevated homes benefit from a cool breeze unencumbered by the ground whilst doubling as flood protection as well as the simplest solution to uneven ground owing to hilly terrain.
Regarding Coconut Bay, the resort provides excellent
t value for money & has more to offer than that mentioned above. Although I've not covered the spa the couple of treatments I did have were outstanding the layout is replenishing for the soul with a quaint garden oasis sat between treatment rooms. A week is enough if you cram everything in, so take two if you enjoy a slower pace. Also the northern region of the island features great shopping amenities for both souvenirs & name brand stores. I'd therefore implore anyone to visit as soon as an opportunity presents itself. If you're looking for Paradise then consider paradise found.
Thank You St Lucia
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