Less than ten minutes after leaving the airport on St. Lucia, I was pulling up to the Coconut Bay Resort. Within fifteen I headed to the beach, cocktail in hand.
From volcanic peaks to working fishing villages, St. Lucia has an abundance of activities, but it's also a great place to relax -- your choice. Even a hard-working travel editor needs some down time between adventures. St. Lucia and Coconut Bay fit the bill.
De Fish, Mon
Near Coconut Bay is one of the quaintest villages to be found anywhere in the Caribbean, Soufriere. This gem is the second largest settlement on the island and still a fishing village; its island decay is charming.
In the harbor small crafts paced and circled and large vessels become a high diving board for the local kids. On the streets proud roosters prowled and French Creole could be heard around the stands selling local produce. Small shops served the locals and luxuries are not to be found.
The stunning Marigot Bay with its glazed white beaches and swaying palm trees could be another pretentious beauty mark of the Caribbean, fortunately it isn’t. It’s true that there are classic yachts docked and luxurious lodgings to be found there but the feeling is pure St. Lucia.
That feeling is amped up at the Restaurant de Paletuvier where I attacked fresh fish served with spicy Creole sauces. Deep fried balls of crab made me declare amnesty to a wee bit high cholesterol intake. Sugar birds land at empty nearby tables to serenade those lingering over a cappuccino, gathering strength for a snorkel stop on the return to Soufriere.
My wife once described snorkeling as laying on the world’s best water bed. Anse Chastenet makes for one great bedroom! This reserve located on the left of the bay provides visual delight, schools of fish pass effortlessly. Coral in a wide range of colors completes the picture. If snorkeling isn’t your thing the sandy beach will be and it is stunning.
As if I was in a Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland) daze I heard the sounds of a string quartet penetrate beneath the surface. On the cliff above the quartet was playing for a wedding. St Lucia is a great place to wed and this couple picked a premier spot. All too soon it was time to head back to Soufriere for a cold Caribe beer.
Heaven and Hell
On an island filled with diversity I decided to pick two extremes both located near Soufriere. Stop number one was the Diamond Botanical Gardens located on what was once an old estate. The estate was called the Soufiere Estate and was built by the French in 1713. The estate was used for cultivating cocoa and sugar until 1785 when the mineral waters were commissioned for French troops and baths were built.
On the flip side of lush is the burning bubbling sulphur water of Sulphur Springs Park, a drive-in volcano. While the last major volcanic eruption on St Lucia occurred about 40,000 years ago, in 1780 the island spit up and continues today to vent sulphur, and the heated pools are above boiling temps.
The colors around the 24 boiling pots are multiple due to the deposits of iron, copper oxide, magnesium and many other minerals. Further below the caldera are springs with therapeutic water values comparative to the springs of Onzendaki in Japan and Prezzuoli in Italy.
It’s a Bird; it’s a Plane it’s…
From my perch about 40 feet from the rainforest floor everything seemed small except for the platform that lay downhill that looked tiny. As soon as I pushed off, Sani’s instructions ran through my head, “One gloved hand behind the pulley and one on the harness.”
Read more GoNOMAD stories about ziplining.
After a few days of looking out to sea, I discovered that not all islands begin and end at the water's edge; St Lucia is a prime example of that. Kayaking, mountain biking and nature hiking all have their place on the island. Get a lunch packed at the Coconut Bay and head out for multiple adventures.
Put the Wallet Away
After my daily dose of adventure, I returned nightly to the Coconut Bay Resort for a few ultra cold Piton beers and a dip in the freeform pool. Nightly a festive atmosphere took hold and happy smiley faces joined together for great food and lively entertainment. Yet solitude and privacy could easily be found on the property.
From my balcony the sound of the ocean swirled with the sounds of a local band playing at the jump up or local feast. The moon shone bright and the breeze was heavenly as I planned my next day’s adventure. I never thought relaxing could be so active.
Day adventures can be arranged at the concierge desk at Coconut Bay or by contacting St. Lucia Palms Services (758) 458-0908. The zip line Canopy Tour is priced at about $75 and well worth the cost.
For an overview of all St Lucia offers go to the tourism site at StLucia.org.
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