Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia

Jan 6th - 11th, 2022

The beautiful island nation of Saint Lucia will forever have a very special place in my life as a traveler, because it just became the 100th country I have visited in my lifetime. I feel incredibly grateful and privileged to have been able to do this. And it makes me particularly happy that I was able to share this milestone with Lara, my best friend and favorite travel companion over the last 28 years, who flew in from New York to join me here in Saint Lucia.

St Lucia has a population of around 165,000. The largest city and capital is Castries. There is a small airport in Castries, which is only used for inter-Caribbean island flights (including my flight on a prop plane from Barbados). The much larger international Henarowa airport is located on the southern end of the island. However, almost all of the resorts are dotted along the north-west coast, so you have to plan for at least an hour and a half drive from the airport to the your hotel in St Lucia.

We stayed at a beautiful resort, called The BodyHoliday. It's an all inclusive adults only resort which is very much focused on wellness and health. If you wanted you could spend your whole day in spa treatments, exercise, yoga or mediation classes. But you could also just lie on the beautiful secluded beach all day and have someone bring you drinks, whenever you raise the little flag next to your beach chair.

The resort had its own short hiking path, from which we saw this spectacular sunset on our evening walk before dinner.

St Lucia has quite a violent colonial history, as it changed hands 14 times between France and Britain. The French were the first Europeans to settle on the island in the early 1600s. The British first conquered it in 1663, and fighting and change of control continued for the next 150 years, until the British crown finally took over for good in 1814. St Lucia only became an independent state in 1979.

St Lucia's landscape is much more varied and mountainous than Antigua or Barbados, owing to the fact that the island's origin is volcanic. We got to enjoy the dramatic landscape on a two hour drive to the most recognizable landmark of St Lucia, the famous Pitons. Grand Piton and Petit Piton are two steep volcanic spires, that jot out of the water and reach a height of over 700 meters. The whole area around the Pitons was awarded the UNESCO World Heritage title in 2004. Our driver stopped several times for us to marvel at some stunning views, like this one.

We had decided to climb Grand Piton, the higher but slightly less steep of the two. However, this turned out to be quite a bit harder than we had bargained for. Our driver handed us over to a local mountain guide at the entrance to the park, and the hike started gentle enough through virgin forest. But soon enough the trail steepened considerably, and eventually consisted only of very steep slippery steps, which we had to scramble up using feet and hands. Even though it took only about 1.5 hours to get to the top, it was very exhausting. Going down was even harder on the knees and a bit precarious because it was quite slippery. Unfortunately you don't even get great views from the top because the summit is covered in trees. The absolute best view comes at the half-way point of the trail:

The next day we had a private boat trip booked, that would take us along the west coast down to the Pitons again, but in a much faster and more comfortable way than driving and hiking. We stopped for an hour of snorkeling at Sugar Beach in Piton Bay, which is right between the two spires. It was a gorgeous day and we had beautiful views of the Pitons, while enjoying a beer on the boat.

On the way back we took a short detour into Marigot Bay, which is where the billionaires have their villas. We also passed a natural rock bridge, and saw a couple of local guys standing on top of it. They jump into the water whenever tourists come by and then swim up to the boat to ask for a tip.

I also had a chance to take some beautiful footage with the drone, from the boat and on my final morning from a hill near the resort.

Saint Lucia was my last stop in the Caribbean. I had a direct flight from here to Miami, and decided to spend three days there before going back to New York. I had been to Florida many times before, but never to Miami. I didn't see enough to do a separate blog post about Miami, but here are a couple of pictures I took of downtown Miami and the huge and beautiful beach at Miami Beach.

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