English | Dutch
St Lucia: friendly beach paradise with a green heart
Kingstown (St. Vincent), March 23rd 2015

After a rather boring visit to Barbados, we hope that St Lucia will be a more inspirational destination. The island in the heart of the Lesser Antilles is like all Caribbean islands a real beach destination, but the travel books also promise us beautiful landscapes and lush jungle.

The small island nation of St Lucia was colonized during the last centuries by the French and the English, who were repeatedly taking the island away from each other. Until the middle of the twentieth century sugar was the main export product. Thereafter, bananas took over that roll. In 1979, St Lucia became independent from England, although until this day they remain part of the Commonwealth. This may have been the reason that the bananas from St Lucia were favored in the trade agreements with Europe, compared to South American bananas. The World Trade Organization has put a halt to this in 1997, after which St Lucia could no longer compete with the much larger South American banana plantations. Luckily, the mountainous island was not completely deforested for this lost industry. With the combination of a blue sea and dense jungle, St Lucia has a lot to offer to tourists. Today, tourism is the main source of income of this nation.

The famous 'pistons' near Soufriere

During the seven days that we spent at St Lucia, we have come to know the island as a friendly and beautiful destination. The main attraction of the island are the two "pitons"; two mountain peaks that rise as two huge saw teeth out of the sea, near the town of Soufriere. Busloads of cruise boat tourists are brought here via the beautiful road from Castries to Soufriere and the views will not disappoint them. We have used our stay in Soufriere also to make some walks in the area, including the Enbas Saut Waterfalls Trail. This walk in the Edmund Forest Reserve takes you through beautiful jungle where the endemic St Lucia parrot still shows itself regularly. For birders this is a good area as we saw all five endemic bird species of the island within a few hours. The trail consists of many steps and is beautifully made and maintained. We have not seen any other hikers. Even the ticket office was unmanned.

Although St Lucia is a real tourist destination, it is easy to get in touch with ordinary St Lucians. During our walks, we are often approached by people who want to explain what vegetables they are growing or what herbs they were drying. People are fond of discussions, which are called "reasoning". Wherever you are, in a minivan or a simple restaurant, everywhere you hear heated discussions, but usually with a cheerful undertone. Corruption of politicians is a favorite topic, as well as the cricket world cup and all the gossip that seem to belong to an island. A man assures us that you can trust nobody on St Lucia with your deepest feelings. Before you know it, you'll hear the magnified story buzzing around over the island.

In terms of facilities, St Lucia well equipped for individual tourists. There are small guest houses and shared minibuses cross the island to take you from one place to another for reasonable prices. Besides the expensive tourist restaurants there are small eateries where local people eat their meals. Lunch is usually extensive and may consist of rice, macaroni pie, green fig salad with salted fish, green lentils and chicken curry. Dinner often includes snacks like fries with chicken or pork barbecue.

Fresh fish is brought in by local fishermen in Gros Islet

If you happen to be on a Friday on the island, you can spend the evening in typical Caribbean fashion while enjoying beer, rum and barbecue meals. Friday is the night to go out and this is the day that huge music boxes are stacked on many street corners to fill the streets with deafening music. When there is enough alcohol consumed, the dancing starts. Gros Islet is a village famous for its Friday night parties, but at the beginning of the evening, most partygoers are tourists who are brought in from their resort to roam around under the supervision of a guide. This creates an interesting mix of swinging St Lucians and the somewhat stiffer tourists who also try to shake their hips. All in all a great place to watch people enjoying themselves and also a good place for us to end our visit to St Lucia.

Colonial buildings in Soufriere
Rainforest is still present in Edmund Forest Reserve
The picturesque bay of Soufriere
Street food in Gros Islet
Open air vegetable market in St. Lucia's capital town Castries

Go back to home pageGo to Articles sectionGo to Columns sectionGo to Photos sectionGo to countries sectionGo to weblog sectionGo to about us