Lushan Country Life

This amazing excursion is one of the best St Lucia Tours that you will ever experience, quite simply because of it’s authenticity.

Saint Lucia Travel Guide

St Lucia Travel Guide - things to do

First Impressions

Before going to St Lucia I wasn’t sure what to expect beyond sun, sand and sea. So when I arrived on the island to be greeted by lush greenery made up of mountains, exotic palm trees, banana plantations and rough coastlines exposed to the ocean, I realised I had wildly underestimated this place.

 

Why go to St Lucia?

It’s diverse and mind-blowing landscape! I also firmly believe everyone needs to experience the energy of the Caribbean at least once in their lifetime. Dancing is a huge part of the culture and you’re guaranteed to go home with an extra skip in your step.

I have a hard time believing some people don’t leave their resort when they come to this island, but it happens. Don’t be part of the statistic, get out and see as much of it as you can. It’s a small island, only 27 miles long and 14 miles wide which means you’ll be able to cover a lot in just a few days. Though due to its uneven terrain it takes longer than it would typically take to get from A to B.

Having fun in Marigot Bay, St Lucia

 

What can I do there?

You can be as adventurous or lazy as your heart’s content, whether you’re hiking the Pitons, zip lining through the rainforest, mud-bathing, snorkelling in the ocean or sipping cocktails under the sun.

Saint Lucia is also ideal if you and your companion like doing different things. If you’re the outdoorsy type and your partner prefers to relax on the beach I’m sure you’ll both be able to leave each other for a few hours to do your own thing. And for the love birds, you can take comfort in knowing the island is only small so you’re never far apart from each other.

 

How Do I Get Around?

There are several ways to suit your preferences and budget.

  • Hire a car
  • Use the bus
  • Take day trips from your hotel
  • Hire a guide and taxi

Since I was by myself I decided to hire a guide a couple of times and also join a few excursions that ran from my hotel. I loved the intimacy of hiring a guide because he made suggestions, told me about local customs and answered any questions I had about St Lucia.

Had I been with a friend my preference would have been to hire a car because I love the freedom of pulling up to get a closer look at anything that catches my eye. Hiring a car is also the best way to get off the beaten track and expand your scope for photo opportunities, especially with all the colourful houses which are synonymous with the Caribbean landscape.

Colourful town of Canaries in St Lucia

The public bus service looked very interesting. Instead of designated bus stops, most people just flagged down buses like taxis. This makes things easier in some ways but less so in others i.e. not having a bus timetable on hand.

 

 

 

What Money is Used?

Everywhere accepts US Dollar or East Caribbean Dollar (EC) so I took a mixture of both. Doing this worked well because some of the smaller places in Castries market advertised their goods in the local currency, whilst others showed both prices and some only showed US Dollar. By taking both currencies it means you’ll be well prepared.
 

What Language is Spoken?

The official language is English, but I heard locals speak a French based creole referred to as Patois. It developed when the island was colonised by the French so it’s very interesting to hear as it weaves the tapestry of St Lucia’s layered history.

A surprising thing for me is that everyone understood me perfectly. This might not sound like a big deal but I have a broad Yorkshire accent that even English people have difficulty understanding when I travel beyond the region of Yorkshire. As a result, being in St Lucia felt, in some small way, like being at home.

Eat and Drink

When you’re in Rome do what the Romans do and drink Rum! I’m not a big drinker but it would be a cardinal sin not to try the island’s most famous drink. The most popular brand is Bounty followed by Chairman’s Reserve. If you really want to know more you can go on a tour of a distillery. Beer drinkers should try Piton, the local St Lucian beer named after the island’s most iconic landmark and brewed in Vieux Fort.

Non alcoholic beverages offer a range of refreshing fruit juice like mango, lime and grapefruit. Coconut is obviously a standard drink on the island but for something different and unique why not try cocoa tea? With it being neither sweet nor savoury, I can’t say I loved it but I didn’t hate it either! I will definitely try it again if I have the chance before I rule it out.

Cassava Bread from Plas Kassav in St Lucia

One thing I did love was the Cassava bread, it’s nothing like ordinary bread and you can choose a variety of flavours. Never again will I underestimate something that looks so humble! My guide and I were driving on a long road with loads of potholes when he pointed to a small wooden building selling it and suggested I give it a try (FYI – the place is called Plas Kassav). If you ever get the chance I recommend banana and coconut flavour. It’s scrummy! The lady said it was made of cassava, water, banana, sugar, coconut and a variety of spices like nutmeg and I’m sure I detected cinnamon.

Seafood in St Lucia

Surrounded by the sea it comes as no surprise when I say the seafood is incredibly fresh and delicious. I tried Mahi-Mahi for the first time, it’s a white fish which has a meat-like firmness with a mild and slightly sweet taste and is found in the region. I recommend it!

Lastly, every Friday the coastal village of Anse La Raye has a fête called the Friday-Night Fish Fry which is a fantastic way to come together with locals over dance and food of the fishy variety.

Fishermen in St Lucia

 

Where to Stay

There are a lot of resorts in St Lucia, but you also have hotels, guest houses and hostels. If you’re staying in a resort it can be easy to forget about what’s going on outside. To get the most out of your experience head outside of your resort and occasionally eat where the locals might go, buy souvenirs from the markets and talk to the people.

Castries Market in St Lucia

I stayed at St James’s Club Morgan Bay which is a very nice resort and spa but I also went out everyday to explore the island. Quite frankly, if you go to St Lucia without seeing the Pitons, you haven’t been to St Lucia.

The best thing about St James’s was the view from my balcony. My jaw dropped to the floor the first time I clapped eyes on it.

St James's Club Morgan Bay in St Lucia

 
The food at the restaurants were also very good, especially at Morgan’s Pier, and the staff were really friendly and professional throughout my stay.

St James's Club Morgan Bay, restaurant in St Lucia

Dinner at Morgan’s Pier

St Lucia local people

Hotel staff being a willing model for me!

How to get there

I flew with Thomas Cook Airlines from Manchester and you can also fly from Scotland which is really convenient for people living in the north of England.

Hewanorra is the international airport located south of the island. Rodney bay and Castries are located in the North so you will have to get a taxi unless you’re picking up a car hire from the airport. Getting to Rodney Bay, the area that supports most of the hotels, restaurants and bars, will take approximately 1h 30m due to the winding roads. You shouldn’t expect to pay more than 100 US Dollars for a taxi to Rodney Bay.

If you’re travelling solo ask a driver if you can join a group to split the cost, I did this and paid 40 US Dollars. Many hotels are located nearby each other so definitely use this to your advantage when negotiating a taxi. All in all, I found taxi drivers to be very fair and hassle free in St Lucia.

 

What Not to Miss

  • The Pitons
  • Sulphur Springs and Mud Baths
  • Marigot Bay and Gros Isle
  • Canaries
  • Castries

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Are you tempted to go to St Lucia? Or have you been already?

The Caribbean Island of Grenada

Located off the coast of Venezuela, the “Island of Spice” Grenada is a tropical land of sun, fun, and tasty food just waiting to be explored. There is so much to see and do on this island paradise it can be hard to know where to start, so we have put together a few suggestions so you can make the most of your visit to Grenada.

 

Making the Most of Your Visit to Grenada - Seven Sister’s Falls

 

Seven Sister’s Falls

While the trek is somewhat arduous for the uninitiated hiker, the refreshing cool water and views at the trail’s end are worth the extra effort. There is a small entry charge to the falls ($5) and hiking boots are a must. Local trail guides can be found very easily, but most visitors do not find this necessary. It is advisable to wear waterproof shoes while swimming, as the pools are bordered by rocks and could be uncomfortable for bare feet. Other waterfalls you may enjoy are Royal Mount Carmel Waterfalls, Concord Falls, and Annandale Falls.

 

Making the Most of Your Visit to Grenada - Seven Sister’s Falls - Grand Anse Beach

 

Grand Anse Beach

This south coast beach is incredibly scenic and it consistently makes lists of the world’s best beaches, so don’t miss out on Grand Anse on your trip to Grenada.  Though it can be crowded at times, this beach offers an array of amenities and nearby restaurants to choose from. Sandy Island Beach on Carriacou Island is another popular choice for swimming, as are Bathways Beach and Levera Beach at Levera National Park.

 

Making the Most of Your Visit to Grenada - Seven Sister’s Falls - Scuba or Snorkel

 

Snorkeling & Scuba Diving

There are plenty of places to go snorkeling in Grenada. Moliniere Bay, near St. George’s, features a unique group of underwater sculptures that were created by a local artist. Scuba diving is also offered at the site and is recommended for getting up close to the underwater statues. Should fish be more to your taste than artwork, ScubaTech Grenada organizes both scuba diving and snorkeling trips from the Calabash Hotel on L’Anse Aux Epines Beach.

 

Making the Most of Your Visit to Grenada - Seven Sister’s Falls - Belmont Estate

 

Belmont Estate

If you get tired of water-related activities, you might want to amuse yourself by learning how chocolate is made. Belmont Estate features a hands-on, comprehensive tour that will leave chocolate lovers delighted. Tours cost $4, but visitors are permitted to walk around and observe the place for free. Those taking the tour will benefit from the knowledgeable guides and receive a bar of chocolate at the end of their visit.

 

Making the Most of Your Visit to Grenada - Seven Sister’s Falls - Views of Grenada

 

Fort Fredrick and Fort George

For beautiful panoramic views of the island, the 1700s era Fort Fredrick is a destination not to be missed. Part of the fort currently functions as a weather station, but a small museum located on the premises is staffed with guides, who can answer any questions you might have.

Fort George is also quite scenic. However, this destination is not completely restored and is not recommended for those who are handicapped, as accessing some places would prove too difficult. The stairs are also quite steep. Visitors should be aware that this fort is still in use as home to the Royal Grenada Police Force, so some areas may be off-limits to visitors.

 

grenada-hikingMaking the Most of Your Visit to Grenada - Gardens

 

Local Botanical Gardens

Laura’s Herb and Spice Garden is located in Perdmontemps, near St. George’s, and provides visitors with an overview of the varieties of herbs and spices grown locally in Grenada. Inadequate signage may make the garden difficult to find, but once there, the extensive tours make up for these discrepancies. Laura’s Garden gift shop sells a variety of spices for guests to take home.

Another place that is also worth a visit is the Jessamine Eden Botanic Garden, which is also located near St. George’s. This garden includes over 60 acres of plant life and an assortment of honey bees. Staff members are quite well-versed in the ins and outs of beekeeping and are readily available to answer visitor’s questions.

 

What is your favorite place to go when you’re in Grenada?

Welcome to the Caribbean

The Caribbean is the name given to the island chains tucked into the eastern coast of Central America surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and bounded by the Atlantic. This swoosh of islands arcs up from Trinidad and Tobago off the coast of Venezuela to the western tip of Cuba close to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. In the north the Bahamas chain extends up to the Florida coast. In all there are around 700 islands scattered over two and half million kilometers of ocean. Of the thirty island territories, thirteen are independent nation states and seventeen are overseas territories in French, British, Dutch and American control.

The result is an intensely diverse set of cultures with each island group possessing its own unique flavor and history.

 

CaribMap

 

This ethnic and cosmopolitan mix is the result of a long, complex and bloody history. The Italian explorer Columbus was the first European visitor in 1492. Employed by the Spanish king he claimed islands for the Spanish. The native peoples of the islands, Caribs, Arawaks and Taino resisted but were brutally subjugated in a policy which amounted to genocide.

By the 1600s the British, French and Dutch started a land grab employing sailor mercenaries, the famed Pirates of the Caribbean, to battle it out for possession.

 

Seven Sister’s Falls - Grand Anse Beach

 

The lush tropical climate with abundant sunshine and rainfall means that cotton, sugar and coffee grows well. From the 16th century slaves were imported from West Africa to work in the plantations set up by colonial governments. Chinese and Indian laborers were later brought to work the fields, farms and mines adding the Caribbean melting pot. Agriculture is still a large part of Caribbean economies but increasingly tourism is key to their survival as European trade protection for their produce has been removed.

 

Puerto Rico Beach

 

The physical beauty and diversity of the islands has attracted tourists for decades. Refreshing trade winds keep the tropical temperatures pleasant and sunny most of the year. Hurricanes however are a possibility in August and September (though there are safer islands during Hurricane Season). There is a wet season from January through to June which sees a decline in visitor numbers and prices. Traditionally the Caribbean has been holiday ground of wealthy Americans and Europeans wintering over. However, since the 1980s there has been a boom in resorts and in tourist numbers. The big five in order of visitor popularity are the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Jamaica, Bahamas and Puerto Rico.

 

The Safest Caribbean Islands to visit during Hurricane Season - La Torgua @malexrosales

 

Year round summer mean it is a sought after beach destination. Long offshore reaches of white sand reflect the sunlight through shallow crystal waters creating the famed turquoise water. Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Bermudan beaches always feature on best beach lists but visitors on any of the islands are spoiled for choice. Luxury to budget, the accommodation choices are all there. Resorts are often segmented to target specific groups – family friendly themed resorts for parents, adult only for young singles, low key for retirees and honeymooners and eco-lodges for nature lovers.

Travelers seeking solitude, away from the tourist throng have it a bit harder but currently some of the less known islands such as Dominica, Guana Island and St Peters Island in the British Virgin Islands and Petit St Vincent in the Grenadines are still remote enough to ensure tranquility.

 

Fun in the Sun in Aruba - Things to do in Aruba Itinerary - Turtles on Eagle Beach

 

Many of the islands have extensive high biodiversity reef systems. Splashing around with a snorkel surrounded by multi colored reef fish to serious deep scuba dives, again all the options are covered. Belize, south of Mexico, has the second longest barrier reef in the world with series of atolls, cayes and the famous Blue Hole. There are spectacular vertical wall drop offs of vivid corals in West Caicos. Puerto Rico’s extensive continental shelf makes it a popular dive location with exciting variety.

 

Making the Most of Your Visit to Grenada - Seven Sister’s Falls

 

The richness of the marine environment is matched by that on land. Up to 40% of Caribbean islands are in tropical forests and often with reserve status. These are abundant with stunning plant species and animal life. Bright tropical flowers attract iridescent hummingbirds and butterflies while parrots flock in the canopy above. Trinidad and Tobago have extensive tracts of Virgin forest with eco-lodge options for tourists who want to hike and explore. Dominica is the acknowledged nature reserve champion with numerous rivers and waterfalls and the world heritage Trois Pitons National Park. The Cayman Islands, the Bahamas and St Croix in the US Virgin Islands are also popular destinations for hikers.

 

Spending Time in Paradise; Your Bahamas Itinerary - Bahamas Beaches - Source @21078769@N00

 

In recent years more people have been traveling to the Caribbean to experience the rich culture and history. Its colonial legacy has given the area a unique ethnic mix with no two islands the same. French Martinique has the euro as its main currency and its towns such as Saint Pierre are tropical French provincial towns. The cuisine is a tasty mix of Afro-Gallic influences. The Dutch have old town settlements on St Eustatius, Bonaire and Curacao. While the British influence is still strong in Jamaica.

 

The Safest Caribbean Islands to visit during Hurricane Season - Trinidad

 

The lack of development in this region has preserved many of the old towns founded in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Spanish who were the dominant colonial power founded the oldest, Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic whose old quarter is untouched. Old San Juan in Puerto Rico is another fascinating glimpse into the colonial past. Cuba with its communist rule has kept much of the old town of Havana in a unique time warp fascinating to visitors.

 

Crop Over Festival - 55186945@N06

 

The memory of slavery and the plantation system is also kept alive in some of the old estates still production such as Betty’s Hope Estate sugar plantation in Antigua. The African and European blend has produced the extraordinary music, dance and cuisine the Caribbean is famous for. The spirit, resilience of the Caribbean people, born out of a history of brutal oppression is most flamboyantly evident in the annual Carnivals.

Carnival was originally the slave cultures take on their master’s Lent observance firmly taking hold after slavery was abolished, Carnival is part of island life. There is Junkanoo in the Bahamas, Vincy Mass on St Vincents and the Grenadines and many more.

The vibrant people, powerful rhythms, beautiful beaches and mountains make the Caribbean a completely special destination.

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Finding the Caribbean Island for You

Dive deep into the glittering, turquoise waters, venture up high into the brightest of skies on a cable car, sip colorful cocktails on cotton white sands, or dance to the sound of steel drums; the Caribbean has it all. Choosing a single destination might be a challenge, but a Caribbean cruise will check several destinations off of your bucket list in one go. Here are a few ports of call you certainly don’t want to miss out on.

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Classic Caribbean offerings

The full tropical treatment awaits you on the beach-fringed south coast of Barbados. Doze under the Caribbean rays come morning, take to the waves with an afternoon of water sports, then round off your day with a taste of freshly caught seafood by sunset — Dover Beach, St Lawrence is just the place to do it all. Fancy mixing it up a little, hit the St Lawrence Gap where you can shop ‘til you drop by day, and move to the rhythms of its rum shacks and nightclubs by night. It’s certainly jam packed with things that will entertain!

 

Colors and culture in Cuba

If you liked the beats of St Lawrence, then Havana is sure to impress. The Annual carnival brings the seafront to life (if it wasn’t already lively enough!) with salsa dancers and parades. It’s a spectacle that shouldn’t be missed off your list. Aside from the carnival, there’s rarely a moment of silence, whether it’s the strumming of guitars by beaches and in bars, or the cool hustle and bustle of tourists. As if that wasn’t enough culture to soak in, there’s stunning artwork to be seen in nearby Jaimanitas. So if it’s a place bursting with energy and color that you’re looking for, then call by Cuba on your cruise.

 

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Straying away from the sands

With unspoiled beaches by the plenty, the Dominican Republic has the Caribbean experience down to a tee. But venture away from the beaches in Puerto Plata and you can take a cable car up Mount Isabel del Torres, where you’ll witness spectacular scenery that strays from the white washed sands and bright blue skies. Or, venture to Península de Samaná on the southeast of the island for an afternoon of whale watching. The Cascada El Limón waterfall is the perfect spot to refresh yourself after soaking up the sun, so take a dip in those cool crashing waters, but don’t spend too long, as the Dominican Republic has activities galore waiting for you.

 

Go all out glamorous

The British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas are two stops that you’ll be sure to ask the Captain for if the high life is your thing. Take a yacht ride over the waves, or sip fancy cocktails at the trendiest of parties, you’ll be feeling glam in no time. So pack the oversized shades and click your heels, the high class Caribbean experience awaits.

The Caribbean Islands have everything you’d want from a holiday, and more! So choose from the best destination Caribbean cruises and you’ll make memories a plenty. Which Caribbean experience will you have?