Monday, 8 December 2014

Saint Lucia .. tropical island paradise

View of the Pitons from the air
For me, the best thing about a relatively long flight is approaching my destination in daylight and being able to see it from the air. I happened to be sitting on the left hand side of the aircraft in a window seat and watched as we circumnavigated the whole island before landing .. so beautiful and impressive with it's lush green rainforests covering the terra firma right down to the sea!

Arriving there early afternoon meant that even with our 75 minute road transfer from the south of the island to the other end, we still had plenty of time to see the first sunset and enjoy a beach side dinner.

Windjammer Landing
Our resort Windjammer Landing on the north west of the island was well spread out with villas nestled into the hillside from the beach level upwards .. accessed by stairs, walkways and roads. A shuttle service is available 24/7 for people who didn't want to walk (read climb) the hills and of course much needed if your villa was situated at the top. That would be some work out! I enjoyed the daily exertion although I have to confess that the villa was only about a third of the way up .. quite doable even though I was gasping for breath on my first attempt! It got better as the week went on and I looked forward to finding different paths to take. There was always something to notice .. colorful blooms, hummingbirds, large caterpillars, geckos .. and as dusk descended the call of the tree frogs filled the air. A mesmerizing sound to lull you to sleep every night.

The resort has just undergone an expansion .. the beach has been enlarged, new palm trees planted and there is a new spa complex which was still under construction while we were there but nearing completion. There is plenty of room to be in your own space on the beach .. never crowded or noisy .. a simple paradise to wile away the hours. There's also plenty to do if you want it .. sailing, windsurfing, snorkeling and diving .. there are qualified instructors on hand and not expensive.

Quiet end of the beach
Most days were about relaxing .. a complete shut down from London life and work. There's no regimented sunbed layout, instead you pick up a towel from the hut and go where you want.  There are also pools on various levels and we had one a few steps from our villa where we would swim before breakfast - what a great way to start the day!

Mid week we opted for a day out and took the 'Endless Summer' catamaran cruise down the west side of the island to see the Pitons. It was great value for money as the cost of US$110 per person included the boat trip, transfers and entrance fees, all drinks including beer and rum, plus a delicious buffet lunch at the Fond Doux Estate, a working cocoa plantation. 
Part of the plantation

Diamond Falls

I hadn't planned on getting wet before lunch but once I saw Diamond Falls it looked so fresh and inviting! Walking into the gorgeous cool spring water and standing under the waterfall was a first for me and an exhilarating experience. Also opting to see the sulphurous, bubbling pools in the caldera (instead of the mud baths) was an olfactory experience to say the least! 

Bean polishing
We also had a demonstration of cocoa bean polishing in a large caldron - more of an extreme workout for the person concerned - the smell that emanated was gorgeous and chocolaty - and I think his feet were clean going in!

Lunch was served in a gorgeous covered exterior setting surrounded by tropical fruit trees such as mango, pawpaw and cashew nut and the many species of birds flying freely around the rainforest canopy. My new food experience - green banana pie! Savoury not sweet and very moorish!

Marigot Bay
The return trip up the coast was equally entertaining .. we stopped to snorkel and swim off the side of the boat in Anse Cochon and pulled into Marigot Bay (the filming location of Dr. Doolittle) just to have a look. The music was cranked up on the last leg - some people danced until we docked - and an extremely enjoyable day was had by all .. I highly recommend it as a 'must do'!

Although we mostly had all our meals on site - there are 5 restaurants which are all good - we decided to treat ourselves and eat out nearby about 15 minutes drive away in the area of Rodney Bay. We lucked out as we had an amazing meal at The Palms at the luxury resort The Landings which was quiet and beautiful.  I had my favorite .. Cajun style Mahi-mahi .. all the fish and vegetables are fresh and their menu changes to suit what they can get. That seems to be true for the whole island .. a lot of fruit and vegetables grow there and there is an abundance of fish to be had, also goat and beef. Banana trees seem to grow wild .. it was so nice to eat fresh bananas and tropical fruits knowing that they hadn't been transported in huge containers before reaching our shores.

There are of course many other things to do on the island if you have the time or inclination and you can also take day trips by air or sea to Martinique and Antigua for some more Caribbean experience.

So, Saint Lucia is finally ticked off my bucket list although I loved it so much I'm definitely going to have to go back!


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