Last week we traveled with the kids to St. Lucia for a week of vacation. Ours was not by any means a comprehensive trip; but I shot some glorious photos. Would you like see exotic St. Lucia?
Family Travel: St. Lucia
Here it is — a larger island in the Eastern Caribbean chain of islands. St. Lucia is a 3.5 hour flight from Miami.
We stayed in Marigot Bay on the West side of the island. Launch boats at the marina will take you over to any one of the restaurants or resorts located around the perimeter of the bay: J.B’s, Rainforest Hideaway (a gorgeous ambiance for dinner where you can watch the tarpon feed), Doolittles, or the Marigot Bay Discovery Resort are all here.
This is the view looking out to the ocean from the dock of the Marigot Bay Resort. Those waving palm trees in the distance are part of Doolittles Resort – named after The Doctor Doolittle Movie which filmed in this location in 1967.
This is the view looking back into Marigot Bay from the ocean. The bay is great for stand up paddleboarding.
We met people from all over the world here during our stay, including a couple from Switzerland who are taking five years to circumnavigate the world with their two young daughters. It seems St. Lucia attracts more adventurous tourists because there is so much to do here.
Doolittles – has a weathered tropical ambiance, pool tables, and the owner is a total
The Discovery Resort has a swim up pool bar, spa, and a tropical chic decor.
We hired a driver to take us sightseeing for the day. It’s so easy – they are waiting to take you anywhere you want to go right at the launch area on the docks at Marigot Bay. I recommend doing this this as they drive on the left, hardly any roads are marked, and so many are treacherously steep and winding.
The first thing you notice on the drive is banana trees everywhere. The blue bags over the banana clutch keeps the birds from disrupting the pollination of the bananas until they are ready to be harvested.
There are several fishing villages along the coast. This week they were catching mahi-mahi and yelllowfin tuna.
Most St. Lucian dogs roam about freely and travel along the streets. This little puppy I found sleeping under the fish scaling table on the beach in the fishing village of Canaries.
Roadside stands sell locally spiced rums and condiments.
That’s a cashew tree growing along the roadside. The nut is inside the brown seed pod at the bottom of the cashew fruit – called a cashew apple – which you can also eat. The pod contains the same caustic oils found in poison oak, ivy, and mangoes that can cause itchy burns on the skin, so harvesting is difficult and labor-intensive. Each fruit only bears one nut – that’s why they’re so expensive.
Ah, here is where we discovered that we love cassava bread. Plas Kassav is on the way to the Pitons, so we stopped by to sample.
Cassava is a tropical root. It has to be dug, peeled, grated, mixed and so on. So many steps are involved in making the bread that I lost count. Plas Kassav had lots of flavors to sample (warm) and we did, but I think our group was in agreement that the ginger was the best.The owner is a Canadian transplant who indulged all of my millions of questions and showed me the actual cassava root.
A roadside view framed by mangoes, which grow absolutely everywhere.
Me and the family.
Approaching the town of Soufriere with the two famous volcanic cones called ‘Pitons’ in the distance.
The two Pitons – named (Gros and Petit) are a UNESCO World heritage site.
We toured the Diamond Botanical Gardens nearby the Pitons. I’m a plant nerd and just loved it here. This is what nutmeg looks like from the tree.
This is the wildly showy pink torch ginger. The locals call it the fingernail flower because the petals look like fake Lee press-on nails. If you touch the petals they will turn brown almost immediately.
What do you think a ‘sexy pink’ heliconia looks like?
Answer: skinny flamingoes
These heliconias towered over us at about 10+ feet tall.
At the waterfall. The water from the hot volcano is milky white from the sulfur and minerals.
We stopped at a local (non-tourist) place at the waterfront in Soufriere for a lunch of mahi mahi, dasheen (taro), rice, and beans.
Nearby the botanical gardens is the volcano. This is what’s left of the crater which still spews sulfuric gasses that stink like rotten eggs. it’s hard to tell from this photo but those pools of water are boiling.
A short walk down the hill of the volcano are the mud and soaking baths. The water is jacuzzi temperature and the mineral-rich mud and waters are said to take 10 years off your age, so you know I’m game! The grey hot water is not exactly inviting, but I put my big girl pants on and we all slathered the mud all over ourselves. It was a very cool experience, especially because it started pouring rain on us while we were in there.
Tet Paul – I will never forget this place! This is a nature walk that ends up on a volcanic plateau located right between the two Pitons.
Tet Paul welcome center.
First thing we did was pick up a cacao fruit that has fallen from a tree. Our guide gave it a quick whack on a rock to break open the fruit and and inside is the sweet raw cacao fruit.
You pull out a section and pop it into your mouth. It’s sweet, but doesn’t taste like chocolate. You suck on the seed and then spit the seed out. “It’s kind of epic,” as Harrison said.
Have you ever smelled a FRESH bay leaf? This straggly little tree smalls like heaven on earth when you crush the leaf in your hand. I’m now obsessed and must find one locally to grow in my back yard in South Florida.
There is a commune adjacent to the Tet Paul trail. They live completely off the land, and you can hear their cows lowing and see their goats tied here an there, mowing the hillside. Eventually the walk takes you along their gardens, which completely cover the top of this plateau. Yes, that’s a rosemary bush behind this man, who, by the way is the fittest human being I have ever laid eyes on.
In the garden below: a lime tree in the foreground, pineapples, papayas, and chives.
The ocean breezes, elevation, sun on my face, and grandiose view of the Pitons combined in this moment and moved something within me. Yes, it did, really!
I now know what people mean when they say they were profoundly affected by nature. This place, in my mind, is the Garden of Eden.
Ooh, look, another cashew nut!
See how I grabbed the shell? This is how I found out the hard way that the cashew pod, that I’m holding right here is full of the toxic acid that is poison ivy. Cashews must be completely roasted in order to avoid the rash or even total anaphylactic shock if you are, like me, sensitive. This is why my hands and neck are covered in what looks like poison ivy this week.
Below: the garden grows pineapples, bananas, sugarcane, with a seedling table on the far left.
Our final ascent to the grand view of the Pitons. They call it stairway to heaven.
I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this place.
Or maybe it was the toxin from the cashew nut that was just making it’s way into my bloodstream?
Another day, we decided to visit the Pitons by boat.
Approaching the town of Soufriere’s volcanic cliffs, we noticed a local teen waving frantically to us. Can you see him there? He was telling us he was going to jump.
He landed with a splash, and then asked us for some dollars for show he put on. Really?
Nestled between the Pitons is the famous Sugar Beach resort.
This place is swanky and has such a cool vibe. I don’t have photos because we tied off the boat on a mooring and snorkeled along the Piton to the left, where they have it roped off. There is so much good diving and snorkeling in St. Lucia, especially one called Superman’s Flight - in which underwater currents sweep you along.
Check out Sugar Beach’s website for photos that do this place justice.
I can only describe in words: we came ashore from snorkeling to the resort’s beach bar area. I drip dried myself in a comfortable and elegant british colonial deeply padded chair on the deck, shaded by sea grape trees, looking out toward the water, eclipsed completely by the massive side of the Piton to my right while sipping the most delicious margarita (rocks, no salt) made with fresh lime juice. Ahhhh.
See that nice French family lounging on the couch on that deck? My chair is just to the left, and I hope to find myself in that same spot again some day.