We realize that, to many, our life looks like a non-stop vacation. We know we are incredibly lucky to be able to live our dream, and we appreciate every day of it. But, the truth is, it is also everyday living. I cook and clean and shop and take care of the dogs just like I did in Florida; some of those chores (think shopping) are a lot harder than they were back then. John is constantly planning for the next leg, maintaining the boat, driving, and checking weather. So, every now and then, just as in a house, a vacation is a welcome thing. I found my vacation spot here in St. Lucia.
We arrived in St. Lucia on Friday, June 17th. We chose to stay in Marigot Bay as we knew there would be several days of heavy seas and the marina here is a true hurricane hole, meaning there is excellent protection from wind and waves. It is also the most beautiful bay on St. Lucia, and, according to James Michener, the most beautiful bay in the Caribbean. Dr. Doolittle, starring Rex Harrison, was filmed here, and Eddie Murphy, who remade the movie, was anxious to visit on his yacht to see the original setting. Countless stars have boated to the marina and its adjoining resort, and I understand why they come here.
Everything about the marina and the Capella Resort here is flawless. The people who work here ask you your name when you meet them and then they remember it. They are friendly and will go to any extreme to make sure your every wish is granted. Not a day goes by without the staff stopping by to ask if everything is ok and if we need anything. Kirby has made great friends here, too, especially with one gentleman named Darien. They meet every day for a friendly talk and pet session.
Capella Resort, Marigot Bay, St. Lucia
After arriving, I made a stop to the little gourmet supermarket that is just steps from our boat and did a quick re-provisioning before leaving in search of the pool. Thankfully, all of the amenities available to the hotel guests are also open to the marina guests, and I was thrilled to be able to use the pool. What I didn’t expect was that there are two pools, both absolutely gorgeous. For the whole week we spent here I made good use of them both! One is for adults only and is a little cooler than the main pool, which is much larger and features a swim up bar as well as a shallow pool that has floats in it. Such decisions! Either choice was a great one. As soon as I arrive at a pool each day a friendly staff member brings me an ice bucket with a water bottle. About every hour someone comes by with a complimentary small drink or an appetizer or fruit skewer. One day was a little cooler and I found an incredible hot tub, complete with a hot water waterfall. I made it my goal to not miss a day at the pool and, in fact, I will be spending my last afternoon there again as soon as this post is complete!
Father’s Day, on the 19th, came and I offered to treat John to a dinner at the restaurant at the resort. Truly, it was one of the most memorable meals we have ever had anywhere. We ate outside, under the stars, surrounded by scenery that was so beautiful it was difficult to imagine it was real. Palm trees swayed, the breeze blew, the water sparkled, and the boats in the bay were calmly at rest. But, if that wasn’t enough, the meal was spectacular. A special Father’s Day menu included homemade bread, seafood soup, salad, floats (a kind of bread that tasted similar to a less sweet raised donut), boneless beef ribs, pork tenderloin, grilled chicken breast, an assortment of Creole sauces to put on the meat, ground provisions (you might remember that they can include any root vegetable or other vegetables), and pumpkin pie with cinnamon whipped cream. When trying the floats, our waitress told us how she likes to make them on Sunday mornings and serve them with cocoa tea. Of course, we had never heard of cocoa tea, so, after our meal, she asked the kitchen to brew us a pot full to bring back to the boat and to drink the next morning. It was a perfect night, and the tea the next day was amazing too!
Because we knew we would be here a few days, we wanted to see more of St. Lucia. I checked Trip Advisor and looked for a private tour. The taxi tours in the islands seem to be the best way to get to see a lot and to do what you want, especially because of the roads here and the driving on the left. We found Real St. Lucia Tours to be highly recommended, so I contacted them and arranged a tour for John, me, and Craig from La Sirena.
Casteries, St. Lucia
We met Jamal at 8:30 on Tuesday morning right at the marina, and off we went for a day that was absolutely perfect. The company had sent us a list of places tourists often like to visit, so I had taken some time to research the sights. The three of us agreed to a list and we were ready to start out. First we went north and stopped at an overlook to see Castries, which is where the cruise ships arrive. Jamal told us that in low season, which is now, only a few ships come each week, but in high season, three or four ships arrive each day. It is hard to imagine what this peaceful island is like during the high season!
The banana plantation
We soon stopped at a banana plantation. Bananas are an important crop for St. Lucia. Only tourism adds more to their economy. We learned that the blue plastic bags you see on the stalks keep birds and other animals from eating the produce before it is picked.
Small towns and villages line the coast. Beaches are black sand – a product of previous volcano eruptions.
Next we went through other small villages where the streets were busy with people going about their lives. Women walked with baskets or packages on their heads, there were little shops that were a flurry of activity, and women were gathered at the stream doing their laundry in the running, muddy water, just as they have for hundreds of years.
First sights of the Pitons with Soufriere in the foreground.
We began to get views of the famous Pitons, St. Lucia’s pride and joy. The two, Petit Piton and Gros Piton appear to be close together, both in pictures and in real life, but our guide, Jamal, insists that they are actually three miles apart. They rise out of the sea and they are incredibly beautiful.
Soufriere, St. LuciaA view of Petit Piton with Sugar Beach below. John and Craig at the top of the hike.The incredibly beautiful island of St. Lucia.Our guide for the hike.Sugar Beach – the sand is brought in from Trinidad as all of St. Lucia’s sand is black.Everywhere you turn there are beautiful views.
As we traveled to Soufriere, a town in the south of St. Lucia, we first passed through a rainforest, where Jamal told us houses were not built because of the boa constrictors that lived there. John was anxious to keep moving through that area. Our next stop was the Tet Paul Nature Hike. We were guided on short hike of about 45 minutes to “Paradise”, up the “Stairway to Heaven”, and then even higher. The highlight of the nature preserve, where all kinds of plants, fruits, and vegetables were grown, was the 360-degree view of the Pitons and the surrounding lands. To say it was breathtaking would be an understatement.
The bubbling, steaming volcano.
The Caribbean’s only drive in volcano was next on the list. Here smoke still spews and mud still boils from the mouth of a dormant volcano, much like the hot springs in Yellowstone. We enjoyed watching the action, but all chose to skip the mud and mineral baths that are part of the park.
In the botanical gardensDiamond Falls. Note the colors of the rocks behind the falls.
After leaving the volcano we moved on to the Botanical Gardens and the Diamond Waterfall. Here we walked a path through tropical gardens with every kind of plant or flower you can imagine. I always find it so interesting to see the plants that I grew in Florida growing wildly here, and I also love seeing the ones I did not grow. Cocoa trees, with their pods, nutmeg trees, breadfruit, cashew nut trees, and of course, mango and papaya trees are everywhere. As we walked along we came upon the beautiful Diamond Falls in a setting that almost shouldn’t be real. Here the water changes color depending on what volcano mineral is most prevalent that day, and during our visit, the water was white. The back of the falls takes on colors too, making them look more like a rainbow than a diamond.
Once again back in the van, Jamal took us to a Creole restaurant in Soufriere. This was a restaurant we would have never even seen, truly a local establishment. We wished we could find more like this on our own. John and Craig both had huge dinners with fresh caught tuna, salad, and vegetables, while I chose a chicken roti, a Creole specialty, and for the three of us our bill came to a total of $19 US.
On our way back to Marigot Bay, we had one more stop to make. A very nice lady runs a shop where she sells the sauces she makes as well as other homemade goods. Her shop also just happens to have a perfect view of Marigot Bay, perfect for photographing. John and I bought some spicy mango salsa and the most delicious hot sauce you have ever tasted and we were rewarded with free rum punch for our purchase. Rum is a big deal in the islands!!
Finally we went back to the marina and I had fallen in love with St. Lucia for good. Every day this week we have tried to get a project or two done, and I have finished my work in time for an afternoon at the pool. Tomorrow morning, however, very early, we will start again on our way south. We have a very nice weather window for the next few days and we expect to be in Grenada, our final goal and our most southerly stop on this trip, by Tuesday.
Here is where we are today, and where I will sadly say goodbye to St. Lucia tomorrow.