Traveling from Costa Rica to St. Lucia was not a direct journey. I flew from San Jose, Costa Rica to Charlotte, South Carolina in the US where I had an overnight layover. Going through US customs, I handed my passport to the customs officer. He smiled and said “welcome back”, I returned the smile and thanked him. I have to admit I have had some of the most pleasant experiences with US custom officers. I spent the night at one of the hotels by the airport that thankfully had a 24 hour bus shuttle to and from the airport. The next morning I woke up and headed back to the airport to catch my flight to St. Lucia.
Arriving at Hewanorra International airport is always an experience. You fly past the Pitons and make a quick decent into the airport. Once you land you walk to the terminal from you airplane and head through customs. The lines can be long, especially during the peak seasons (End of December to April). I was lucky to be flying during the less crowded season so I made it through fairly quickly. As I approached the officer I was prepared to state where I was staying, who I was staying with, why I was visiting St. Lucia etc. The many questions I have been asked during my previous visits. I handed my passport over to the officer, he looked at the form I filled out, stamped my passport and said “welcome back”. With a huge smile on my face I thanked him and headed towards the exit. I could not believe that I had been welcomed back by two custom officers from two different countries within twenty four hours. Yes, I should not be so surprised by the US welcome since I do hold a US passport now that I am a citizen (I am originally from the Czech Republic), but to have gotten such a greeting from a St. Lucian customs officer was quite a shock. I flipped through my passport and realized that most of my stamps from recent travels are from St. Lucia or should I say, my third home country now =o)
Over the past three years my mom has been living on the beautiful island of St. Lucia and I have used this as an opportunity to visit the island as much as possible. My first time to the island was during a cruise I took with my mom to celebrate my twenty first birthday in 2013. Since then I have visited five more times, one of the stays was for a month during my Christmas break from University. Each visit has been different and unique. I know the good places to shop, I am one a first name basis with the guy who sells spices in the Castries market as well as the owner of two famous restaurants on the island and now am welcomed back by the customs officer. I’m almost a St. Lucian citizen right?!
I’ve shared past visits on my blog and created a list of things to do and see while on the island:
- Collecting shells on Reduit Beach
- Hiking Pigeon Island
- Swimming between the two pitons at Sugar Beach resort
- Hiking Gros Piton
- Visiting Marigot Bay
- Hiking along the Atlantic side
- Dinner at the Naked Fisherman
- Hiking along the Atlantic side to a private beach with palm trees
- Massage at Cap Maison Resort
- Dinner at The Cliff restaurant at Cap Maison
- Tet Paul Nature Trail
- Lunch at Fond Doux Plantation Resort
- Bathing in the Sulphur springs and mud baths
- Shopping at Castries market
An Afternoon in Marigot Bay (this post is from my most recent trip to St. Lucia)
- Eating a snack at Doolittle’s
- Swimming in the blue waters
- Relaxing under the palm trees
During this trip we ventured to the southern part of the island for a day. Much of the population lives on the northern part of the island and the south is not as commercialized. The former capital Soufriere is in the south, many of the five star resorts are scattered around the area and it’s where you can find the island’s national landmark, the Pitons. Having already seen much of the island I wanted to visit somewhere I hadn’t been and so we went to the Diamond Botanical Gardens just outside of Soufriere.
We arrived at the gardens and headed into the lush green forest. All around us native St. Lucian plants were blooming and showing off their vibrant colors. As I walked through the gardens I realized this may be one of the only botanical gardens I have visited that are all completely outside. Usually when I visit a botanical garden the plants are in a greenhouse. But it only makes sense as these plants are all native to St. Lucia and the climate doesn’t drastically change. The path leads you to Diamond Waterfall, a tranquil spot tucked away in the back of the gardens. Take your time as you walk through the gardens because there are so many new plants to discover. We were lucky to have gotten there early so we had most of the gardens to ourselves. Just as we were leaving a bus full of tourists pulled up. I’ve mentioned this in the past as a tip for visiting tourist hotspots while traveling. It’s worth it to get up earlier and make it to the spot before there are loads of tourists.
One of my favorite lunch spots on the whole island is Waterfront De Belle View Creole Restaurant & Bar in Soufriere. They serve the best fish cakes in the world! You can also order various dishes from the local cuisine. My mom had the national dish: green fig and salt fish. The green fig refers to the green bananas on the plate. They are boiled with water and salt when they are green and unripe. You can eat them peeled or with the skin on. The salt fish is traditionally salted cod but you may get a different fish based on the catch of the day. I ordered the curried chicken with the usual sides: rice, mac & cheese, salad, plantain, taro, beans and salad. As you enjoy your meal you can look out towards the harbor and Caribbean sea.
After lunch we headed to a secret beach at the base of the petit piton. I don’t want to give away the location so that it doesn’t lose it’s charm and privacy but you can ask a local and they may be able to help you find it =o) We swam in the cool Caribbean water and enjoyed a bottle of the local beer, Piton. It’s one of my favorite beers and is best served chilled on the beaches of St. Lucia and preferably while swimming under one of the pitons.
Over the past three years I have fallen in love with the culture, people and nature of St. Lucia. Unlike many of the Caribbean islands that are drier and desert like, St. Lucia is lush with greenery. There is so much to do on the island and various activities that can keep you busy. Whether you like to hike, indulge in a mud bath at the base of a volcano or simply enjoy a beer while floating in the Caribbean Sea. The island has welcomed me back (as does the customs officer now) each time by showing off its beauty and magic. I will forever be grateful to my mom for letting me stay with her each time and for the friends I have made on the island that have become family. I am already looking forward to my next adventure to this tropical paradise, whenever it may be.
x the Adventurer