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Connecting with Nature on the Island of St. Lucia

I understand the Caribbean’s undeniable allure. I’ve travelled to over 15 different Caribbean islands. The crystal-clear turquoise water and picturesque beaches are hard to resist. Each island has its own culture, cuisine, and topography. Yet more than any other island, St. Lucia’s Pitons are the unique natural feature that helps differentiate it from the others. Beckoned back to the Caribbean once again, I set off to see the Pitons and connect with nature on the island of St. Lucia.

Margotbay

The Pitons

Two mountainous volcanic spires rise tall from the depths of the Caribbean Sea called the Pitons. They are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site on St. Lucia’s western coast, covering approximately 7,190 acres near the town of Soufriere. The conservation region includes both land and sea areas, with coral reefs covering nearly 60% of the site’s marine area.

Petite Piton, at a height of 2,438 feet, is rarely climbed. The trail is incredibly steep, with dense tropicalvegetation. Climbers require special permission and a guide is highly recommended.

Reaching a height of 2,610 feet, Gros Piton is climbable. While the 4-hour round-trip hike is strenuous, inexperienced hikers can complete it with little or no risk. Hikers, on the other hand, have reported difficulty navigating the uneven terrain during the long, steep ascent in soaring temperatures.

Guides can help ensure hikers stay on the trail and point out rare plants, bird life, and rock formations. At the top climbers are rewarded with sweeping views of the Caribbean Ocean and St. Lucia’s 27-mile long, 14-mile-wide island mass.

Pitons St. Lucia

Catamaran Sailing Tour

I understand the Caribbean’s undeniable allure. I’ve travelled to over 15 different Caribbean islands. The crystal-clear turquoise water and picturesque beaches are hard to resist. Each island has its own culture, cuisine, and topography. Yet more than any other island, St. Lucia’s Pitons are the unique natural feature that helps differentiate it from the others. Beckoned back to the Caribbean once again, I set off to see the Pitons and connect with nature on the island of St. Lucia

The Pitons

Two mountainous volcanic spires rise tall from the depths of the Caribbean Sea called the Pitons. They are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site on St. Lucia’s western coast, covering approximately 7,190 acres near the town of Soufriere. The conservation region includes both land and sea areas, with coral reefs covering nearly 60% of the site’s marine area.

Petite Piton, at a height of 2,438 feet, is rarely climbed. The trail is incredibly steep, with dense tropical vegetation. Climbers require special permission and a guide is highly recommended.

Reaching a height of 2,610 feet, Gros Piton is climbable. While the 4-hour round-trip hike is strenuous, inexperienced hikers can complete it with little or no risk. Hikers, on the other hand, have reported difficulty navigating the uneven terrain during the long, steep ascent in soaring temperatures.

Guides can help ensure hikers stay on the trail and point out rare plants, bird life, and rock formations. At the top climbers are rewarded with sweeping views of the Caribbean Ocean and St. Lucia’s 27-mile long, 14-mile-wide island mass.

Pitons

Catamaran Sailing Tour

While I wanted to hike up Gros Piton, I was on the mend from a knee injury. Instead, I decided to see the Pitons in another way by joining a catamaran sailing tour.

After the group got settled on the boat, the catamaran meandered along the coast of St. Lucia. Sails billowed in the breeze as the rhythmic flap, like a lullaby, soothed me into relaxation. On the way to the Pitons, the catamaran rocked back and forth in the calm sea, passing through a lush jungle, hidden coves with crescent-shaped beaches, and small fishing villages.

About St. Lucia

The many streams that flow from the mountains contribute to St. Lucia’s lush green landscape. The fertile volcanic soil feeds cocoa plants as well as green figs, St. Lucia’s main crop (the local name for green bananas). Banana and coconut plantation tours and zip lining over the jungle canopy are available in the mountainous interior.

Green fig with salt fish, a spicy, hearty meal, is the national dish of St. Lucia. First served as rations to the island’s slaves, who were brought over from Africa by French and British colonists in the 19th century, and it is still a popular dish among locals today.

The island’s diverse blend of African and Indian cultural history as well as influences from the French and British due to their colonialist occupation over the island’s chequered past, all have contributed to St. Lucia’s cuisine.

The lively open-air local market in Castries, the island’s capital city, showcases an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables and boasts over 30 types of mangos. Breadfruit and yams, a contribution from theAfrican slaves, and colourful spices from the British, like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, are proudly on display. Women with baskets on their heads and brightly coloured attire add to the local culture of the market.

Although English is the official language, Kweyol, a French-derived creole language, is widely spoken. In October, the island celebrates its Creole heritage with demonstrations of traditional crafts, creole cooking, and music. At the yearly Carnival, calypso music and costumes add to a festive street party atmosphere.

St. Lucia

Marigot Bay

The catamaran tour made a stop in Marigot Bay, also called Hurricane Hole. Steep hillsides surround this small deep bay and protect the area from inclement weather. The area is lush and secluded. The only sounds were birdsong and the wind rustling through the trees.

French ships would sail deep into this dazzling bright blue bay and hide behind the sand spit to escape the British fleet. They would then lower their sails and tie palm fronds to their masts, blending the ships with the palm trees. The British, for their part, would sail right past the bay, unaware of the French hiding within.

Kayakers today paddle freely past the tall billowing palms and mangroves with their distinctive archingroots. Water taxis make it easy to visit the breezy bars and restaurants along the cove. Atop the mountain sits the village of Marigot, several resorts, and private residences. Marigot Bay is a hidden gem with an idyllic and peaceful vibe.

Marigot bay

Anse Cochon Bay

Conch fishermen and local vendors sold handmade trinkets from their kayaks in the secluded cove of Anse Cochon Bay, with its dark sand beach.

The calm water and adjacent reefs, which are part of the National Marine Reserve, made it a superb place to snorkel. I snorkelled out toward the bay’s end after the conch fisher directed me to a rocky outcropping.

Schools of silverfish darted in and out of the rocks. A local diver hand-speared the island’s speciality,fresh lobsters. Parrot fish and French angelfish scurried between the seagrass. Colourful corals, sponges, sea fans, and urchins covered the ocean’s bottom.

View St. Lucia

The Pitons in View!

The catamaran excursion continued along the west coast of St. Lucia. The Pitons peeking at the tops of their heads from around the bend, “There they are,” I exclaimed!

their heads from around the bend, “There they are,” I exclaimed! Coming into full view, a stunning site dominates the St. Lucia landscape. Rugged, verdant, two volcanic plugs jut up from the sea towards the blue sky. Staring up at these 2,000-foot-high mountainous volcanic landmarks is an unforgettable experience.

The volcano has been dormant since the 1700s, but hot springs rise from the ground and collect in nearby pools. Visitors can take a volcanic mud bath in the hot Sulphur Springs and then rinse off at nearby Sapphire Falls.

Unspoiled, St. Lucia offers a myriad of ways to connect with nature and opportunities to enjoy quiet moments. Whether you explore St. Lucia by land or sea, the dramatic natural wonders demonstrate that Mother Nature can dazzle even the most seasoned traveller.

Anse Cochon

Conclusion

In short, if you want to know more about St. Lucia, click on Boulevards and Byways.

However, if you want to know more about the culture of any country, look at our Blog.

Author: Sandy Ruyack from Boulevards and Byways.

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