Colonial House of St. Marks
On the Island Splendor Tour, we went to a house named St. Marks (not a church). St. Marks is a big old house full of bulky furniture but with a great view of the harbor and Castries. Our driver backed UP the steep driveway. Then three other buses came and parked in front of us.
We had a guide from the house to show us through, and they had the groups choreographed so that they could be showing three or four groups through the house at once The living room has colorful carpets and furniture with striped upholstery, family photos and a piano (photo 5). There were portraits of the wealthy merchant owner of St. Marks and his wife who lived in St. Marks until the mid 20th century. The dining room had a large table with crystal swans as a centerpiece (photo 2), and cabinets filled with crystal and china (photo 3).
A colorful painting of a St. Lucian Parrot called a "Jacquot" was painted by Christopher Cox in 2009. He is a well known wildlife artist in St Lucia and was commissioned by one of the owners of St Mark's to do a painting of St Lucia's national bird. URL for other of his photos below
They had refreshments and souvenirs for sale on the porches. After the tour of the house I used the bathroom and climbed back on the bus. The other buses had to move out of the driveway before we could leave. If you go on your own, be prepared for the steep driveway.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
We recently visited St. Lucia on a cruise and booked an island tour with Cosol St. Lucia Tours. It was an all-day tour that was a great value. Cosol himself drove our van and right from the start, he made it a fun and interesting tour. There was an amazing breakfast of local foods and a blue bus full of sodas, water, spiced rum punch, and beer that followed us around our tour.
Like many other Caribbean communities, there is a lot of unemployment and the standard of living could be improved. Cosol puts a lot of people to work so it was an added bonus to the tour that we knew we were supporting the local economy.Related to:
- Water Sports
- Family Travel
Get Pampered at the Spa
One thing that both my husband and I look forward to on vacation is a trip to the Spa. I love getting pampered in particular when on vacation and the stress of work can't ruin my feeling of bliss. Our resort in St. Lucia had a Spa on site; the Red Lane Spa which is their sandals/Beaches brand Spa.
We have visited their spas in other locations before and this one had the same high quality products and staff that made our spa treatments very enjoyable.
Son of Man Tours
While in St. Lucia we booked a local tour through the Son of Man Tour Company. The hotel was selling a similiar pricier package; but I wanted to have a tour by the locals(and quite honestly I wanted to pay the locals not the hotel).
The Tour was their "Land and Sea" Tour. It began with the tour guides picking us up via boat to explore the coastline which is truly beautiful with the Pitons rising up into the sky. Along the way the guide told us the local history and pointed out the various coastal towns and points of interest.
During our tour we stopped in Marigot Bay, Soufrière and Jalousie beach. Marigot Bay was a more posh area with homes of the celebrities such as Mick Jagger. Soufrière was a quaint town full of locals selling wares, cute shops and historic buildings.
We travelled into the jungle and went to the Qualibou Volcano for a volcanic mud bath and a dip in the Sulphur springs before heading out for a chilly dip in the Torialle waterfall. The Sulphur Springs were incredibly hot...almost too hot to bear. The mud was nice but next to impossible to completely wash off in public. The waterfall was amazing although very cold compared to the hot air temperature. We had a refershing swim and meander around the waterfall. After our waterfall experience it was off for a local Caribbean lunch and some shopping.
After our bellies were full and we got our retail therapy it was back on the boat to Jalousie beach for snorkeling. I was pretty pooped so I just lounged on the beach at this point. After the snorkeling excursion we did a free swim in the open water with the majority of the people on our tour jumping off the boat into the water. This really was alot of fun. I had a great time bobbing up and down in the water. Local children were jumping off an nearby rock arch and having the same grand time and we were.
The day ended with us being dropped off on the beach of our resort. It really was an amazing time with some incredible local guys who kept the music pumping, the Rum Punch Flowing and the stories going.
Tour the Island
My wife and I stayed in Soufriere, but wanted to see more of the island like the town of Casteries and the rum distillery. We decided to hire a driver for the day to take us around. Pretty much any taxi driver will do this for you, but we called several and the best rate we got was from King Nigel. For $140 US, he picked us up at our hotel, Anse Chasnet, and took us to Casteries and back. We started off at 10:30 am on a rainy day. We were bummed, but the King said "Don't worry, Mon. It won't be raining where we are going. And by the way, I need to pick up my son and girlfriend on the way so he can get to school." I'm not kidding. Anyway, King Nigel picked us up with a 6-pack of Pitons (the national beer of St. Lucia), and our adventure began. He took us through several small fishing villages along the way which were quaint and interesting. If I had more time, I would have liked to have walked around these towns. Nonetheless, we made it to the rum distillery (it wasn't raining), took a tour, and sampled 21 rums (not kidding). We loved the "Nuts and Rum". It tasted like peanut butter. We bought 2 bottles. KIng Nigel acted as our personal photographer as we toured the distillery too.
After the tour, he took us to enjoy a lunch the locals enjoy. It was cheap and delicious. Just make sure you buy Nigel's lunch too. And you might buy someone else's lunch like we did. His name was Nigel, too.
We went to Casteries and to the Farmer's Market. Interesting to visit, but we were so happy that we stayed in Soufriere instead of Casteries. It was just too touristy since all of the cruise ships port there.
The King then took us back to Soufriere. On the way back, we stopped at a place where they make and sell kavala bread that was delicious. When we got back to Soufriere, King took us on a quick walking tour of the town.
We really enjoyed our time with King Nigel and recommend that you use his services if you want to get around the island. Apparently, he has friends in every town. We also hired him to take us to the airport for our departure.
I have wanted to do a zip line and have never managed to find one that I could get to the top without walking or climbing that much. There are several zip lines in St. Lucia, and I did the rain forest tram next to one.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Jungle and Rain Forest
I didn't get a chance to visit Soufriere because it was too far away from the cruise ship dock. I only got to see it from the water. The town was founded by the French and was at one time the capitol. Over the years, Soufrière has had to deal with hurricanes (1780, 1817, 1831, 1898 and 1980), a major fire in 1955 and an earthquake in 1991. Because of these events, the town has been rebuilt several times. Soufrière is located within the caldera of the dormant Qualibou volcano and the area is geothermally active. Marketed as a drive-through volcano, there are numerous hot springs and fumaroles just like there are in Yellowstone which is also in the caldera of a large volcano. This makes for a smell of sulfur in many places.Related to:
- Jungle and Rain Forest
- National/State Park
Anse-La-Raye is a little fishing community located along the western side of the island about half way between Castries and Soufriere. By this time, I decided I had enough and did not get out of the bus. Had I but known, there was a cemetery around the corner where I could have taken photos. Records show the first church being put there in the mid 1700s. As it was, I took photos of the chickens running around and the various people including a guy with a boa constrictor that wanted money but I don't know if it was to hold the snake or what. It's a fairly old town with many of the buildings being over a hundred years old. Most of the people got of the bus and went shoppingRelated to:
- Historical Travel
I wasn't sure I would be able to do the tour all the way from Castries to Soufriere so I could see the Pitons (which I did not get to see on my first visit, but I thought I could see them better from the sea anyway. So although I would miss the geothermal field with sulphurous fumeroles and hot springs, I would have a view of the Pitons.
The Pitons are the remains of two volcano "plugs" (what is left when the sides of a volcano are eroded down to the hardened lava) rising side by side from the sea (770 m and 743 m high respectively), linked by the Piton Mitan ridge. The two are Gros Piton and Petit Piton. They are a World Heritage Site. The description on the site web page says
The Pitons predominate over the St Lucian landscape, being visible from virtually every part of the island and providing a distinctive landmark for seafarers.The combination of the Pitons against the backdrop of green tropical vegetation and a varying topography combined with a marine foreground gives the area its superlative beauty.Related to:
- National/State Park
Rain Forest Tram
We got to the Rainforest Tram about 10. There were bathrooms there which we were encouraged to use (we were not to flush TP in the toilet - use a waste basket). There were leaf impressions in the concrete, and we saw the equipment for doing the zip line there.
The trams hold 8 plus the guide, but they only put 6 in ours - possibly because I was with the very fat girls (who were only about 20 or 30) and the fat man. We were probably between us equal to two extra people. St. Lucia's tram is the newest one. The trip was very similar to the one we had in Dominica, but was interesting none-the-less. I had my umbrella with me in case of rain, but didn't need it.
There was a beautiful garden at the bottom of the tram. At the beginning of the trip we saw the pipeline that used to take water down to the city, and also the walking path that went up the hill to where the zip line took off.
We saw Norfolk pines, and strangler figs, ferns, magnolias and bromiliads. I think we saw more actual flowers on this trip, plus 3 or 4 hummingbirds and a hawk and a couple of other kinds of birds. We also saw a cascade waterfall.
The guide told us about a poisonous tree where if you put a bit of it in the water, the fish would itch so bad that they'd jump out of the water. But after you had caught your fish it would stay in the water and kill the aquatic life. He also showed us a flower that started out yellow, was orange when it was ready to be pollinated and turned red after it had been pollinated.
We started to hear shrieks, which at first I thought was monkeys or something, but it turned out to be the folks doing the zip line. They were close to the tram. I would have liked to do this, but I didn't think I could walk to the top
After we got to the top, we had lovely views out over the island on the way down. When we got back to the base station, they offered us a rum punch or fruit punch or water.
Rainforest Adventures offers daily bus transfer from popular St. Lucia hotel areas. Transfer cost details are included within your confirmation email after reservations are made. There is a 10% discount for on-line reservations
Closed Monday and Saturday
Tour is $62 for adults booked direct with them and includes:
Entrance to Park
Aerial Tram Gondola Ride
Expert Naturalist Guide (1 per 8 persons)
Guided Walking Tour / Fern Trail
Tour time: 10:00 am. For the optional tail walking/hiking shoes mandatory (no high heels, sandals or flip flops).Related to:
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Mystic Man Tours
Mystic Man tours provided us with the best day of our Caribbean cruise! They met us at the ship dock and took us right out to one of their catamarans. Our tour went over to the Pitons and included two stops. The first one was at the beach to the gorgeous resort, Anse Chastanet . Folks were either brought to the snorkeling area or the beach via a dinghy. Some of us (me) simply jumped over board and swam to shore. After soaking up the sun on the ride over, it was like heaven to hit the gorgeous water! Our second stop, after a delicious lunch that was delivered to a via a speed boat, was at another beach directly beneath the Gros Piton.
The catamaran was fully stocked with enough beer, rum punch, and music to keep our group of 20 satisfied and happy. Nigel and Bradley couldn't be friendlier and they really know how to run a smooth tour.
The views around St. Lucia are breath-taking. Getting to see them with such wonderful tour guides just enhanced them.
Want to see more photos of our wonderful tour? Check out my travelogue!Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
- Water Sports
Exodus Boat Charters
So, on the beaches of Saint Lucia, any licensed person can hawk goods of all various sorts. In this case it was Jeremiah selling us a boat charter, lunch, tour, and snorkeling. We were skeptical at first but we talked to another couple who had done the same tour and the review was riveting.
What was included:
30 minute high speed ride (new boat) down the western coast of the island.
1 hour of snorkeling at a preserved reef. AMAZING.
Tour of the sulphur springs (smelly but very much worth it.)
Lunch at a local restaurant. (hand downs best creole food I have ever eaten)
It cost about 100 bucks/pp. Worth every penny. Vincent was the captain and very professional. He personally gave us a lift into town the day before. During our ride, a women broke her beer bottle. It was very choppy water. During the incident she cut her finger slightly. Vincent stopped the boat, immediately got the first-aid kit, and bandaged her up. It wasn't a bad cut but he handled it very well. The entire excursion remains my most favoritest memory from Saint Lucia.
Along the tour we saw the Pitons, Souferie, a famous spot from the Pirates movie, a bat cave, and of course, the stunning views of the island from a boat!
Rodney Bay is a calm stretch of water and beach just ten minutes from Castries. The Bay is named for Admiral George Rodney. He sailed the British Navy out of Gros Islet Bay in 1780 and defeated the French fleet. The Bay is surrounded by many resorts such as the Sandals Grande St. Lucia Property which is quite nice. The Marina on the Bay is very large and full of every type of sailing vessel from small boats to luxurious yachts. A ferry runs across the bay to the marina as well as Pigeon Island.
The Church of the Assumption
The Church of the Assumption is one of the many Catholic Churches on the island(The island is mostly Roman Catholic). This church is in the town of Soufrière and definitely stands out evne from the water.
The Bat Cave
The Bat Cave was one of our stops during our Son of Man Tour. They pulled the boat up to a large cliff that had a crack doen the middle. Inside this large crack were hundreds maybe thousands of small bats. We could hear them before we could see them; they were so loud. Several people on the boat freaked out but my wife loved it (she loves bats..strange). It was definitely an interesting and off the beaten path sort of thing.
Saint Lucia Hotels
If you are looking for an elegant resort with spectacular views of the Caribbean and the island, the...more
100 Anse Chastanet Rd, PO Box 7000, Soufriere, Caribbean
Good for: Solo
Rodney Bay Gros Islet St Lucia Rodney Bay Gros Isl
Good for: Solo
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