Scintillating and seductive, St Lucia
Generally part of Windward Islands charter, either at the start or the conclusion, the volcanic island of St Lucia is worthy of a closer encounter. In fact, the experts at Luxury Charter Group, having recently been there recommend you linger longer and discover the magic of this pleasant jewel of the Caribbean.
This lush, tropical island, between Martinique and St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia could be considered two islands in one: Rodney Bay in the north offers a myriad of options for visitors amid a beautiful bay, while in the south, Soufrière is at the heart of a gorgeous region of old plantations, hidden beaches and the geologic peaks known as the Pitons.
Rodney Bay Village is replete with delights: its pleasant horse-shoe-shaped lagoon palm-fringed beach, a variety of restaurants, plenty of on-water and land-based activities and a marina abounding in a colourful history filled with pirates and trade.
At night, there is something for every taste, such as Bay Walk Mall, night clubs and Treasure Bay Casino.
For the charter guest, the bays and beaches of St Lucia will dazzle from any approach but especially by yacht tender. Reduit (pronounced red-wee) is acclaimed as the island's finest beach, offering safe and tranquil waters for whatever watersports you wish, or simply soaking up the ambience, and house specialty, at Spinnakers Restaurant & Beach Bar, famous for its St Lucian Bouillabaisse, Veal Parmigiana, Fillet au Poivre or Lobster Thermidore.
The dark-sand beach of Anse Cochon on the mid-west coast is best accessed by your charter yacht. Situated in front of Ti Kaye Resort & Spa, its calm water and reefs are part of the National Marine Reserve and offer superb swimming, diving, and snorkelling. Refuel and rehydrate at Ti Manje beachfront Restaurant, known for its homemade burgers with local chips, baguettes and the Catch of the Day fresh from the reef.
Plantation Beach on the north east coast, Choc Beach and Vigie Beach near Castries and Laborie Beach in the south all have their unique charms and hospitality, scenery and superb cuisine on tap.
Close to Rodney Bay, Babonneau is a pristine wilderness rich in native flora and fauna, such as the gem-coloured hummingbirds and St Lucian parrot. If you're up for adrenaline-fuelled adventure, try a zipline dash through the rainforest canopy, guaranteed to fill your lungs with pure oxygen and send your pulse racing.
Cruising south, you may visit Castries which has duty-free shopping and a busy port. Further south, the real St Lucia unveils her natural bounty: the tiny fishing villages of Anse La Raye and Canaries, banana plantations, steep mountains and verdant rainforests.
Soufrière is the original capital of the island and retains its French colonial character, overlayed by the other cultures attracted to the idyllically climate, lifestyle and largesse of St Lucia.
Just south of Soufrière, the Pitons enjoy UNESCO World Heritage status. Gros Piton and Petit Piton are two giant volcanic plugs and they are a magnet for hikers and nature lovers, either on foot, ATV or the thrilling ziplines!
You can climb the 2,600-feet to the top of Gros Piton, starting from the village of Fond Gens Libre (Valley of the Free People). Residents can be relied on as tour guides for visitors intent on reaching the Piton's summit and their narrative of the area's history adds an authentic dimension to the experience.
Drop anchor at Sugar Beach in between the majestic Pitons for a breathtaking backdrop while you dine or enjoy watersports in the vicinity. Alternatively, lunch at Ladera Resort, high on the saddle between the Pitons, offers views from on high that are as succulent as the menu.
Ladera is the only resort in St Lucia located on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, overlooking the Pitons and the Caribbean Sea, actually within the Soufriere Volcano. Dasheene restaurant is proud to serve up an award-winning menu that focuses on fresh native ingredients from island farmers. Chef Nigel's stylish interpretations of traditional St Lucian dishes include sweet potato and coconut soup, Caribbean lamb salad, roast conch with pickled vegetables served in a yam basket, Cajun Creole vegetable bakes, jerk poulet sausage and plantain gratin with coconut rum sauce.
Also worth a visit is the geothermally active Sulphur Springs, located within the caldera of the dormant Qualibou volcano, and there are several rainforest trails in the area with spectacular views, abundant wildlife and waterfalls such as the Enbas Saut Falls.
Only the welcoming manner of Lt Lucia's people and their fascinating blend of cultures can outshine the island's natural wonders, and dining is a pastime the locals excel in, whether a casual beachside snack or five-star fare.
Many of the old estates welcome visitors, such as the Fond Doux Estate, Rabot Estate and Soufrière Estate, also known as Diamond Estate, which boasts a botanical garden, sulphur baths and Diamond Falls.
Highly recommended is a Creole lunch at the Morren Coubaril Estate, an 18th-century estate, off the Vieux Fort road, north of Sulphur Springs. This well-preserved property offers a great insight into the plantation economy that dominated St Lucia for close to a century.
For the hardcore watersports lovers and those who would like to learn, at the end of the runway at Hewanorra International Airport, Sandy Beach, right on the southern tip of St Lucia, the experts and instructors gather for great for kitesurfing and windsurfing in the reliable easterly gusts this part of the Caribbean is known for.
To make sure next charter escape includes St Lucia, ask the charter experts at Luxury Charter Group
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