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Just back from St. Lucia

Old Feb 24th, 2010, 06:23 AM
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Just back from St. Lucia

We had a great time even though Delta cancelled our flight out of Logan. We went standby but missed our connection and spent our first night in Atlanta!
This turned out to be a very active vacation. Arriving a day late meant that we missed our boat trip (on the Brig Unicorn ) but we did everything else as planned.

What we did
We went horse riding with Trims and enjoyed the ride on the beach but the ride to and from wasn't very exciting; no views and it was all downhill to the beach and then uphill on the return. I found out that I definitely prefer riding on level ground! We went on the first ride of the day at 8.30am and I recommend this as it was just the 3 of us with a guide. The next ride had 25 riders with several guides so do go before the cruise shippers!

Zip lining. We went with Rainforest aerial tours; www.rfat.com
My DD really enjoyed the zip lining and this was our first experience. Our guide, Peterson was excellent, very knowledgeable about the flora of the rainforest and I loved the aerial tram ride up to the ziplines. I was surprised to find that zip lining seemed tame to me. I didn't find it thrilling and I'm not usually a thrill seeker but after the first 2 or 3 zips I was ready to quit... NOT an option! So, ho, hum it was a bit of a chore being hooked onto the lines to whizz along a few feet and then be unhooked. There wasn't time to really look at the view and there wasn't a great deal to see other than trees between the zip line platforms. Overall we had fun but I probably won't do this again.

Snorkeling/swimming/beach
These are my favourite activities and coming from frozen Massachusetts it was that much more wonderful to get to St. Lucia. Weather was perfect apart from we could have done with a few more clouds and more shade as the sun was strong.
Best snorkeling we found was at Anse Cochon and Anse Chastanet. We only did snorkeling from the shore as we'd missed our boat trip and couldn't reshedule. Overall the snorkeling was fairly good and the water was very clear especially at Anse cochon.
The beaches we went to were mostly black sand and it does tend to look a little dirty and the sand wasn't powder soft but the water temperature was wonderful and we mainly stuck to the calmer west coast beaches. Cotton Bay on the Atlantic side looked a little rough from our horse ride.

Diamond Falls, botanical garden and mineral baths.
We went on a Sunday and the place was open 10 til 3. We arrived just after it had opened and were met by guides but decided to just tour by ourselves which worked out quite well as we experienced the spiel of a few guides as we soaked in the mineral baths. The waterfall is pretty and a short walk through the gardens. The ginger torch lilies were gorgeous and the garden as a whole is small but nicely maintained. The mineral baths are outside with a small inside private bath. We chose the outside pools and there are 3 each about the same size and about 4 or 5 ft deep. The water was warm and relaxing and several guides came by exclaiming how much younger we looked while we were soaking. Apparently my DH had lost years ..'Hey, that man was 95 when he came in and look at him now!" (My DH is approaching 50).

More later...
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 06:43 AM
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Looking forward to the rest of your report. I appreciate your honest with regard to the zip line experience. I've often wondered if that would be something I'd enjoy. Where did you stay?
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 09:26 AM
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Looking forward to the rest of the report, too, including where you stayed and where you dined!
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 09:32 AM
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Hi cm, we split our stay between an apartment in Cas en Bas near Rodney Bay and La Haut Plantation in Soufriere.

Here are links to the places we stayed
http://www.vrbo.com/219260

http://www.lahaut.com/

We loved the apartment with the small plunge pool. It had a very comfortable bed too. We arrived to a 6 pack of Pitons in the fridge and fresh flowers in the living room and bedroom. The owners were great to deal with and we'd definitely stay here again.

La Haut has stunning views and grounds but our room had noisy plumbing and the walls between the rooms in the main building are very thin. IF I stayed here again I'd definitely stay in a different room.

Food next..
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 10:08 AM
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Hi ej,

I was typing when you posted. Here are our favourite food places..in order of preference...

Ti Kaye Village.. we had two lunches here and both were very good. The fresh local juice (grapefruit one day, tamarind the other ) was excellent and I had 'the catch of the day' which was mahi mahi and very good.
We loved the view from the restaurant and enjoyed using the hotel pool especially as we had the place to ourselves (a big perk considering we weren't even hotel guests).

When we saw that the catamarans had left the bay we hiked down the 165 steps to the beach and snorkeled. The beach bar at the bottom of the steps makes good cocktails too

We had such a perfect day here that we decided to repeat it when we 'moved' from the Rodney Bay area to Soufriere.

Gees Bonne Mange in Soufriere. This is just down the road from La Haut. We arrived just after sunset as we'd been waiting for a green flash on the beach in front of the Hummingbird resort.
Gees has great views of Soufriere and killer margaritas.
We were given a basket of a local appetizer which were like small savoury doughnuts and for our 3 main courses we chose the ribs, the chicken with mango curry sauce and pasta with cream sauce.

My chicken was delicious and was served with rice, mashed potato, and local vegetables. I shared some chicken with my DD but she refused to share her pasta as it was so good!
My DH said the ribs were good too but the guava sauce was a little too sweet for him.

We shared some cheesecake for dessert which we were told was lemon topped with strawberry but tasted of vanilla topped with cherry! It was good anyway

In Castries we found a vegan restaurant away from the centre (a few locals thought we were lost as we'd ventured away from the regular touristy part!) called "Food of 7 where you will never taste death" ... I kid you not!
I had the lunch special and loved it .. various local veg and beans. My DH and DD sipped their fresh local juice and ate chicken and fries at another local place in downtown Castries!

We also had lunch at Anse Chastenet and spent an afternoon snorkeling there. Lunch was good but a little pricey. My DH complained that his burger was $16 and came WITHOUT fries, ha! My Chicken roti was really good!

We enjoyed coffee at Rituals in Rodney Bay a few times. It looks like a Starbucks doppelganger and the lattes were good.

Waterfront Creole restaurant in Soufriere is on the bay front and we had lunch here before going to the airport. We all liked the plantain and sweet potato chips we ordered to start with and I had Kingfish with local veg and ground provisions (that's what the menu said!). I didn't recognise some of the starches but the waitress pointed out the dasheen (ugh!)and something else similar to cassava that grows wild locally.

Apart from these places we ate mainly at local roti places and ate breakfast at our apartment and at La Haut.
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Old Feb 26th, 2010, 06:09 AM
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Few Questions What was your flight cancelled out of Logan Weather? Also did you book most of your excursions before you left? Thanks for the report sounds like a great trip!
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Old Feb 26th, 2010, 07:28 AM
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Hi myshell, our flight out of Logan was cancelled due to expected snow in Atlanta which frustratingly never happened!
There's only one Delta flight per day to St. Lucia from Atlanta so our standby flight arrived 30 mins too late but if we'd waited in Boston till the next day we'd probably been further delayed as the weather worsened!

No, we didn't book any excursions before we left but I did research the times/ days the excursions were on and I also checked the cruise ship schedule and planned around that. Busy excursions when there were fewer cruise ships in port .. or go early!
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Old Mar 15th, 2010, 04:01 PM
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We loved St Lucia. Usually stayed between the Pitons at the Jalousie (when it was a hilton) and Ladera. First visit was at the hyatt, now a Sandals resort.

Your apartment looked great. I'm going to keep that in mind for a return visit. Loved your adventure ideas. Thanks for the info.
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 09:34 AM
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You're welcome starrs,
I would have liked to have fitted in a boat trip or at least to have taken a water taxi (I remember one of your quotes from the Caribbean guide mentioning them!).
Ahh, well another trip I guess!
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 09:09 AM
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Hello, s-cat. Thanks for your informative ideas. My wife and i are planning on going to St. Lucia the middle or end of August. Time is running short so we need to finalize our plans soon. Unfortunately, the Cas En Bas vacation rental is booked... any other ideas of where to stay in the north?

Or any ideas for a last minute anniversary vacation? Your trip reviews are awesome! I am living vicariously thru you
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 09:24 AM
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Ah, sassy_cat! I forgot about that quote

Water taxis from the Hilton Jalousie beach were one of the best parts of the trips there. The same driver would recognize us and greet us! Sometimes his son would be with him (if school was out). He'd take us to the straw market and stop at Marigot Bay for lunch. He knew great snorkel spots. Would whisk us over to the black sand beaches at AC for the day. Heaven!

I'll tell a little story. When we were at Anse Chastanet I saw a wooden carving I liked. The seller/carver really wanted me to buy it, but I told him I didn't bring enough money with me that day to buy it. He told me his girlfriend was a vendor at the Hilton beach and I could pay her. I say "no". He said I could leave the money at the Hilton taxi stand and they would get it to him. I said "no". I just couldn't believe he would let me walk off with this carving without paying for it.

At the end of the day our water taxi returned for us. As we were climbing in, I heard a shout, saw Sunshine Biscuit (his name) running toward us, the carving was wrapped in fabric, and he insisted I take it. I did I paid his girlfriend for it when we got "home". On the way back, the driver sheepishly said "I carve too". I asked to see some of his carvings. He showed me a very small (and less refined) carving. Of course I bought it. He was such a dear man. I had Sunshine Biscuit sign the back of the mahagony carving but wish I'd asked the same of the water taxi driver. I'm ashamed to say I've forgotten his name. I often wonder if he would recognize me if I were to return. I'm sure his son has grown so much I wouldn't recognize him!
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 10:03 AM
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Ahh, happy memories!

Sometimes I think it would be nice to revisit certain places for the same reasons but maybe I like the rose coloured memories too much

St. Lucia has so may cruise ships visiting nowadays (sometimes over 8000 passengers a day!). I do think some of the locals have become jaded with tourists.


mjsharief, you're going at a good time as I think cruise ship season is OCT through May! Try VRBO for a rental .. that's where we found ours.
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 10:07 AM
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sassy, what's your favorite beach location (other than St Lucia)? I'd like to add one to my Dreaming Wish List. (ready for this economy to recover!)
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 12:24 PM
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starrs, Anguilla is my all time favourite island for beaches as it has perfect white sand, beautiful turquoise blue water and isn't crowded plus it has a distinct friendly island vibe.

Hawaii, Vieques and Greek islands can be runners up!
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 01:45 PM
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Okay. Moving Anguilla to my list. Greece is already there.
I've been to Hawaii and don't know Vieques. Time for research.
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 03:07 PM
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Ha, I read that incorrectly at first... I thought you typed 'moving to Anguilla is on my list!'

I'd quite like to move there myself!
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Old Oct 15th, 2010, 08:18 AM
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Hi sassy-
I'm enjoyed reading all about your stay. I checked out the links you posted about where you stayed and now I'm all a-flutter. You have tried to help me decide where to stay, but I had never heard of these places before. How do those resorts compare to Jalouise or Anse Chastanet? Are they close to the water or suitable resorts for a wedding? The rooms looked nice but it's really hard to tell a lot from just the pics they post.
Are you vegan? My daughter and members of the groom's family are so I was very interested in the vegan restaurant you found. Is that close to Jal or Anse Chas?
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Old Oct 15th, 2010, 08:48 AM
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Hi frettingmom,
I wouldn't call La Haut Plantation a resort. It's near Soufriere and is an old plantation house converted into hotel rooms.
The pros... The views are wonderful, the pool is lovely and the hotel has a traditional island feel.
The rooms on the top floor are very nice but I wouldn't stay in one of the ground floor rooms again because you can hear every footstep upstairs plus the plumbing noises.
I imagine it is quite a bit cheaper than Jalousie and AC.
We had the breakfast included in our room rate and the service was on island time (incredibly slow) a couple sat next to us almost missed their tour while waiting 40 minutes for their breakfast.
It's no where near the beach which we found OK for 2 nights as we had a car and visited Anse Chastanet but I don't think it would be ideal for you.

The vegan restaurant we loved was in Castries. Not near any of the resorts you mentioned but the capital of St. Lucia and well worth a visit.. wander around the market.
The vegan place was very much a local restaurant and off the beaten track. We were stopped a couple of times as we wandered away from the centre of Castries and asked if we were lost or needed directions so we might well have been the first tourists to stumble upon the place. It was a cheap lunch and I'm not vegan but love vegetables especially some of the local ones.
Ask for it by name if you get to Castries the fresh local fruit juices were excellent!
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Old Oct 15th, 2010, 08:40 PM
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Thanks again! You're a wealth of information. How many times do you visit the Caribbean a year? You need to write a travel guide!!!!
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Old Oct 16th, 2010, 06:30 AM
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Hi frettingmom, I'm glad to be of help but I'd rather read a really good travel guide than write a poor one.
I don't visit the Caribbean as often as I'd like... maybe one or two trips a year if I'm lucky but I love the islands.

I recommend you continue your research.. read up as much as you can on this site, use the search function, read Tripadvisor, etc and borrow guide books from the library before buying the one you like best.
You can then change your screen name to Caribbeanmom

Do let us know where you decide to stay and post a trip report after the trip.
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