OVERVIEW OF THE ISLAND: We’ve been to many Caribbean islands but St. Lucia was so different than the rest. From the plane you can see that the island is covered with mountains of greenery. On our way to the resort (a 1 ½ hour drive) we drove through a lush rain forest. We passed many banana plantations and cows and goats wearing leashes on sides of the roads.
St. Lucia is 238 square miles and has a population of 170,000. The island became fully independent from Britain in 1979. There were so many tourists with British accents that we felt like we were on an island off England.
Although English is the official language, many locals speak French Creole. The currency is ECD (English Caribbean Dollars). 1 US dollar is equivalent to 2.50 ECD at this time.
OUR TOUR OF THE ISLAND: We decided to hire a driver to show us around the island instead of doing a group tour. Our driver, Trevor, showed us how beautiful the west side of the island is. We spent 7 hours experiencing the local culture and it was our best day on the island. Here is a peek at our drive:
ANSE-LA-RAYE: This picturesque fishing village is on a beautiful beach with boats perched on the golden sand. The people are so kind in this village and you can get a taste of what life is like on the island.
CANARIES: This is another gorgeous fishing village on the west side of the island. You can see the lush mountains surrounding this beautiful village. The buildings are vibrant colors and the view of the village from the mountains is stunning.
SOUFRIERE: This town is larger than the two above. It is where many of the tourist attractions are so it can get very busy when there are several cruise ships in port.
TORAILLE WATERFALL: Our mouths dropped open when we saw this waterfall for the first time. It cascades down the mountain surrounded by green plants and trees. Birds of paradise grow in bunches and you can hear the birds calling from the treetops. The water was not as cold as I thought it would be and when the girls and I stood under the water it pounded on our backs. It was such a unique experience. We only had about five minutes alone at this breathtaking piece of nature before the tour vans came in and ruined the quiet. Unfortunately, after the vans full of cruise ship passengers came it quickly lost its charm.
LA SOUFRIERE DRIVE-IN VOLCANO: As you approach the volcano you are overwhelmed with the smell of sulfur although you quickly get used to it. It was great that it included a guide because it turned out to be an educational opportunity for my girls. There is also a spot where you can do a mud bath but we opted not to do it because my daughters thought it was kind of creepy. It seemed to be a huge hit with lots of people and it was fun to watch them doing it. It was a definite tourist trap.
BOUNTY RUM DISTILLERY: The stop at this distillery reminded me of the aloe factory tour in Aruba, which seemed to come with every tour offered. It is more of a way to get people to buy their rum instead of teaching you how they make it. It was basically paying to go into a room with bottles of rum and a bunch of plastic cups for tasting. It was kind of a letdown (although the peanut butter rum was incredible!) There was no one there so you could pretty much drink as much as you wanted.
STREETS: I am not great when it comes to heights so at times the drive around the island was terrifying. You continuously go up and down mountains doing hairpin turns while a cliff is right next to you. However, because the views are so incredible, I did get lost in the moment and fall in love with the island enough to forget how scary the ride is. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing the Piton Mountains with your own eyes.