Pristine sands, deep blue seas stretching towards a distant horizon and hours of glorious sunshine, the three ingredients which make holidays to St Lucia in the Caribbean so popular, not to mention extremely memorable. Visit once and as likely as not you’ll want to return to the island again and again. And I wouldn’t blame anyone for doing so because there’s another ingredient that should be added and that is the friendliness of the welcome! The people of the island are well known for their genuine warmth and openness. Little wonder then that St Lucia is such a magnet for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who holiday there from all over the world.
St Lucia forms part of the Lesser Antilles island chain which separates the eastern Caribbean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean. The Lesser Antilles is divided into three sub-groups, the Windward islands, the Leeward islands and the Leeward Antilles. St Lucia is part of the Windward islands. If windward and leeward vaguely remind you of the great days of the sailing ship then you’re in good company. For that’s exactly where the names come from, referring to the prevailing winds in this part of the world which generally blow from east to west. An approaching ship sailing towards the Americas would therefore have been upwind (windward), or downwind (leeward) if it was heading back home to Britain or Europe. You learn something new every day!
If you can drag yourself away from the beach for just a few hours you’ll quickly realise St Lucia has so much more to offer, not least the fabulous night life with its party hotspots and excellent restaurants. Then there’s the lush rainforests and mountainous terrain dominating the interior and if you get the chance, check out it’s volcanic heritage. You won’t be disappointed. The town of Soufriere in the south west boasts the only ‘drive-in’ volcano in the world. To the south of the town lies the island’s most famous landmarks, two volcanoes, Gros Piton and Petit Piton. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the volcanoes are in reality two gigantic volcanic plugs.
During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when Soufriere was the original capital, Britain and France fought for control of the island. Britain eventually proved triumphant following a protracted guerilla war and the island became a British colony. The capital was changed to Castries, the present capital.
Then, as now, Castries was an important harbour. Today, instead of the British Royal Navy ships of the past, cruise ships regularly dock to the north of the harbour, at Pointe Seraphine. The area is also a duty-free shopping centre. English is the official language so there are no barriers to communication on that score. Jump into one of the many local taxis for a quick and enjoyable tour of the capital.
If you’re into water sports then St Lucia has it all, windsurfing, sailing, para-sailing, water-skiing and more. Talk about spoilt for choice. Fancy trying your hand at a bit of scuba diving or snorkelling? No problem because many of the island’s hotels offer excellent facilities and equipment. And there are some great dive centres on the island, too.
Little wonder holidays to St Lucia are growing in popularity year after year as more and more people discover this perfect island paradise.