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St Lucia
St Lucia
In the sun
St Lucia
The locals

St Lucia

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Caribbean Sea covers 1.6 million square kilometres of tropical sea and islands populated by people of every background. Explorers, pirates, shipwrecked sailors, Africans, Chinese, East Indians, French, Spanish, British, Dutch and Danish have all had part in the amazingly diverse Caribbean countries, their people, culture, history and sights.

St Lucia is one of the special islands and is largely unspoiled. It has beautiful and secluded beaches, mountainous terrain, shady tree ferns and lush rainforests. It has quiet inlets and colourful fishing villages. Castries, St Lucia's capital, is on a natural harbour formed from an extinct volcanic crater, and while it is modern, reflects its British and French colonial heritage with buildings from the period.

Between Castries and the island's northern tip is where you find most resorts, sprinkled along a string of white beaches with a backdrop of greenery and banana plantations forming a patchwork.

St Lucia's main thoroughfare runs around its perimeter and is a memorable drive. Although the roads are rustic, you will discover some of the island's history, romance and intrigue. You can actually drive into Mount Soufriére, a dormant volcano with gurgling hot mud pools.

As you would expect, the landscape is rocky and lunar-like, but be warned, the air is full of sulphurous fumes – they are reputed to have medicinal properties, but the smell is far from pleasant to most people.

The island has two symmetrical pointy peaks called pitons – Gros Piton and Petit Piton – and it is possible to hike up their steep sides, but it is by no means an easy thing to do.

Another adventure is a 4WD trek off the beaten track tour to enjoy the unspoiled nature of the island.

The Diamond Botanical Gardens and Waterfall were built at Diamond in 1784 on the instructions of France's King Louis XVI and were enjoyed by Napoleon's Josephine while she lived there.

Anst Chastanet may not be the most up-market resort on the island, but it is the most mentioned and patronised. Visitors love the warmth of the staff and the generously sized accommodations.

Besides, it is St Lucia's main dive resort, and has plenty of other activities to offer as they work hand-in-hand with all local operators.

It is just over 3km north of Soufriére on a steep, green hill. There are 103 steps leading to it, but they do provide vehicles for those who would prefer to ride.

The main building has a bar and dining area in island style. Guest villas on the beach are like West Indian plantation houses and octagonal and gazebo-like villas are further up the hill.

Accommodation is generous in size with furniture crafted from local wood. They are all surrounded by coffee trees, coconut palms, hibiscus, mango, papaya, breadfruit, grapefruit and banana plants.

The Pitons Bar and Restaurant is a wind-cooled terrace with the feel of a treehouse in the jungle. Its other restaurant, Trou at Diable, is right on the beach. Meals are beautifully presented and feature local cuisine. Barbecues are also very popular.

Locals are a mix of African, European and indigenous Indians. They enjoy a high standard of education and a low crime rate.

Location

St Lucia is in the West Indies.

Cost

Flight Centre has seven night packages to St Lucia including return airfares, all meals, beverages and twin share accommodation starting at $5149 per person plus tax.

Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

More information

Caribbean Destinations
291 Auburn Road
Hawthorn, 3122
Phone : (61) 3 9813 5258
Fax : (61) 3 9813 5247
www.caribbeanislands.com.au
mardi@caribbeanislands.com.au

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