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One of my highlight trips of 2017 was going to St Lucia! After a direct flight of over 4000 miles over 8 hours from London to Gatwick, I landed at Hewanorra airport in the south of the island. Brilliant, except for the fact that my stay at The Yard was located in Gros Islet, home of the well known Friday Night Fish Fry. So, after a windy, steep and vertigo-inducing car ride, I finally arrived at my destination.
The Yard reminded me a lot of the Box Park back home in Shoreditch London as it is a multi-purpose venue made out of disused shipping containers and houses both lodging and space for hire for weekly classes. The containers are housed in the grounds of Star Publishing and also contain a café / events area as well as a bookstore. The café served locally prepared food, and my hosts were gracious enough to have food waiting for me (as well as a bottle of Piton beer).
After catching up on a night’s sleep and trying to beat away jet lag, I took a short car trip to the very north of the island and visited Marjorie Restaurant at Plantation Beach, a popular spot equally known for its reasonably priced and tasty meals as well as the rocket booster outside which fell to earth, landing in St. Lucia in the 90’s. Outside of the restaurant, the beach was mainly being used by people taking part in water sports including kitesurfing, wakeboarding, and windsurfing in the vast clear blue waters.
Visiting the Pigeon Point
I then headed towards Pigeon Point, a National park and living museum set on a 44-acre reserve. Entry to the reserve costs EC$10 and boasts two beaches, military ruins, and an opportunity to have a panoramic view of the northwest of the island. The site itself is a focal point to the many times St. Lucia was battled over by French and British rule, and showcases a history reaching as far back to its Carib inhabitants, Jambe de Bois the pirate, and the Battle of the Saints in 1782.
The island was made accessible to the mainland by a manmade causeway being built in 1972, and since then it has not only become a popular tourist attraction, but also a highly important place of culture for the people of St. Lucia. I decided to head as far up the Fort as my fear of heights would allow, and was met with absolutely breath-taking views of the coastline, as well as being able to see the island of Martinique in the background.
During my gentle climb back down, the heavens opened in a manner so familiar in the tropics, so that by the time I reached “Jambe de Bois” restaurant, I was completely drenched and starving! I decided to opt for a rum punch and a lamb roti, both of which were delicious and freshly prepared.
Fun activities to do on the Island
My next few days were spent doing a mixture of adjusting to Island time as well as ticking off a few key things on my list of things to experience; The Pitons, Diamond Falls, and a visit to Castries Market.
First on my list as I headed down the Island was to visit the market. Castries Market is beautifully bright and loud. It hosts up to 300 stall holders who sell everything from fresh food, local products, and craft items. Although some of the goods on sale become a bit repetitive, it is well worth a visit as there are a lot of gems on offer.
After the market, I would also recommend taking a stroll through Derek Walcott Square to gather yourself after the hustle and bustle. In 1993 the square changed its name from “Columbus Square” to the name of the Saint Lucian Nobel laureate Sir Derek Walcott recognition for his outstanding contributions as both a poet and a playwright. His poem “Love after Love”, is a beautiful reminder of self-love and the healing process after the demise of a relationship;
“The time will come
when with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.”
Walcott sadly passed away in March of 2017, and his loss was felt by the entire island. His funeral was held at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. It is one of the largest churches in the Caribbean and houses spectacular murals and stained glass windows.
Relaxing things to do in St Lucia
Following on from this peaceful break. I grabbed a bite to eat at Gooble off Jeremie Street. I opted for the oxtail soup, not realizing that the portion sizes would be so large. So after my food coma receded I headed towards the Diamond Falls in Soufriere. I enjoyed a relaxing stroll through a path in the botanical gardens, which had lush vegetation, flowering blooms and scented bushes leading to the famous Diamond Waterfall.
The water in the area is known for being heavily rich in minerals which have derived from the nearby volcano. High in Sulphur, Copper Sulphate, magnesium, and iron, not only does the appearance of the waterfall seem to change color, but it is also known for it’s healing properties.
I decided to try out one of the private bathing areas to have my own mini swimming pool filled with this volcanic water. I’m not sure if it was the naturally warmed water or the high levels of minerals but I can definitely say that I my skin felt smoother and I felt a lot more relaxed after about 20 minutes immersed in the water.
A trip to the famous Pitons
My final stop was to see the iconic Piton mountains from a look out point. The Pitons are extremely popular with hikers, both as individuals and as group excursions, and the high of the tallest peak is over 770 meters. Unfortunately I know my fitness levels so I opted to get in as many picture opportunities whilst enjoying one of the ever many consistently beautiful St. Lucian sunsets.