Exploring St Lucia

As difficult as it was to tear myself away from Sandals Grande St. Lucian, I decided to spend my one free day exploring the island. Per government regulations, only certified operators are allowed to conduct tours, and there are some restrictions in place to promote guest safety. As part of my service, I advise my clients on which tour is best for them, and make all of the necessary arrangements.

All of the tours I recommend can be booked as private excursions. I signed up for the Private Soufriere Sightseeing and Waterfall Excursion. Not one to be deterred by a torrential downpour, I was armed with a rain jacket and a positive attitude.

Like other Caribbean islands, St. Lucia was once ruled by European colonial powers. What makes St. Lucia unique is that before its independence in 1979, control of the island changed hands a whopping fourteen times between the British and the French. Some of that influence still lingers, from the architecture to the Creole (broken French) spoken by the locals.

Morne Fortune

Our first stop was the overlook at Morne Fortuné Layby for a stunning view of Castries. I love the colorful buildings dotting the landscape, which is quite common throughout the Caribbean.

We drove past the Government House, to the summit of a ridge called Morne Fortuné, or Hill of Good Luck. Originally constructed as a fort by the French, this is the site of many bloody battles between the British and the French. Many of the original buildings have fallen into disrepair, or have disappeared completely. Only four buildings of French origin remain. Among them, three guard cells, which are pictured above. Today, much of the property is home to the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College. Buried on the grounds is local author Sir Derek Walcott, who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992.

Marigot Bay

Next up was the scenic overlook for Marigot Bay, considered the most picturesque cove on the island. The rain, gray skies, and mist didn’t deliver the promised magnificent view, but I could easily imagine it as pictured below.

Photo Credit: Richard F. Ebert, 2020

Anse La Ray and Canaries

We drove through two fishing villages: Anse La Ray and Canaries. The populations are rather small at 1,250 and 1,900 respectively. The theme song from Cheers ran through my mind; …where everybody knows your name. Residents were going about their daily business as usual. At one of the overlooks at Anse La Ray, despite the rain, children were playing along the shore with their laughter rising up the ridge.

Anse La Ray was the first fishing village in St. Lucia and home to the Fryday Night Fish Fiesta – a weekly street party where you can enjoy freshly caught and cooked seafood. Canaries was once dominated by sugarcane plantations. When that industry failed, the population shrank, with remaining residents turned to fishing. Poverty is evident in both villages. Nevertheless, it is easy to observe the work ethic of St. Lucians. And I will always remember the sound of children laughing in the rain.

Soufrière

The Pitons

Typically, the first image that comes to mind when you think of St Lucia, is of the majestic Pitons that dominate the landscape in the west.

 Soufrière with the Pitons in the background

They are twin volcanic spires – Gros Piton 2,530′ and Petit Piton 2,438′ – linked by the Piton Mitan Ridge, and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In person, they are beyond beautiful. I quite literally gasped when I saw them!

Sulphur Springs and the Mud Baths at Sulphur Springs

As we neared Soufrière, the skies began to clear. {Cue heavenly choir of angels!} Once in Soufrière, I was able to visit the drive-in volcano: a collapsed volcanic crater which last erupted in the mid 1700s. It is here that you visit Sulphur Springs and the Mud Baths at Sulphur Springs, which are said to have healing properties.

I read that you would smell the distinct rotten-egg Sulphur smell long before you arrived at the springs. This is not an exaggeration. On this particularly windy day, even with a mask on, the smell was so wretched I could stomach very little of it.

The smell was moderately better by the mud baths. This multi-step process – said to have healing properties – is enjoyed by visitors and locals alike:

  1. Enter the first pool, which is fed directly by the volcano. Here the water is warmest, which opens the pores. (Subsequent pools are fed by the first and get progressively cooler.)
  2. Step out and generously apply mud to the body. Pose for copious amounts of photos.
  3. Enter the next pool for an initial rinse. Minerals from the mud are absorbed into the pores.
  4. Continue to rinse in subsequent pools. In the last pool, the cool water closes the pores, sealing the minerals in.

I don’t know the exact science behind it, but this wouldn’t be the first natural phenomenon said to have healing properties. Think about the Acqua di Fiuggi in Italy, the Dead Sea in Israeal and Jordan, or the Healing Forests in Japan. I did purchase a mud bath face mask that should make me look 12 years younger. Stay tuned. 😉

Toraille Waterfall

Our final stop was Toraille Waterfall. It plunges 50 feet into a cooling pool, which is a regular stop after the mud baths. It is surrounded by the most lush vegetation. Without a crowd, the sound of the water was especially peaceful.

The tour was approximately five hours long and I enjoyed it immensely. An added bonus of the private tour is that it moved at my pace, giving me the flexibility to spend as much or as little time (I’m looking at you Sulphur Springs) in a place as I wanted.

This brings my St. Lucian adventure to a close. Please leave any questions in the comments. I’m happy to answer them.

St Lucia and Sandals Grande St. Lucian / Exploring St Lucia

As a full-service travel agent, I would love to be of assistance to you. I am passionate about what I do and pour that energy into crafting perfectly planned itineraries for you. Email ebony@classictravelconnection.com to learn more.

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