A Travellerspoint blog

Saint Lucia

Dolphins and Soufriere

Despite leaving town early last night to avoid traffic, it didn't occur to me that there would be so much morning traffic. I had left what I thought was plenty of time to get from Gros Islet to Vigie Marina, but it ended up taking about an hour. I was late for the whale-watching boat. Fortunately for me, there were a few other people who were late due to traffic and the boat had not yet arrived across the bay at the cruise port to pick up the passengers from the cruise ship. One of the guys from the boat company was nice enough to drive us over there to catch the tour from that point. The boat left the bay and went out to find some whales. Obviously since this is looking for animals in the wild, there are no guarantees you'll see anything, but the brochure advertises that they see whales 85% of the time. I figured that even if we didn't it's still a nice boat ride. It was. The weather was gorgeous and the boat had beverages to keep us happy. We didn't end up seeing any whales, but we did end up finding some dolphins. The pod was swimming alongside the boat, jumping out of the water like they do at sea world, and just generally playing around by us. It was very cool to watch, and I even caught some video of them. It made the tour worth the money. Afterwards, I set off towards Soufriere (yes, there is also one here) to see the “world's only drive in volcano.” On the way, I passed signs for various sites, so I stopped at those. The first was Pink Plantation, which houses a fancy-looking restaurant and Wild Orchid art. The plantation house itself was very interesting and had nice gardens. The art at Wild Orchid was so beautiful I even bought a plate. I think if I had a home, I would have bought more and asked them to ship, but I didn't and didn't have room in my luggage. The next was Eudovic art studio, which was highly recommended in my Lonely Planet book. I can see why. The carvings themselves are amazing. Some look like items I've seen in the Hirshorn. The owner himself was on-site and was happy to show people how to care or their pieces.Further on the way, I saw a sign for a Rum factory tour. The guard at the gate let me in and told me where to go for the tour, but they weren't running tours that day. They basically just got me into a shop that has walls full of various kinds of rum. The drive didn't look that long, but because the roads went up and down the mountains and the ridges went in and out of the island, I really couldn't drive that fast. Also, the roads all have great gutters that I'm sure are fabulous in the rain, bt if you were to go over the edge of the road just a bit, you'd be majorly stuck. Keep in mind, I've been driving on the left side of the road in St. Kitts for so long that I got taken for a Brit twice by people who saw me drive. It took hours to get to Soufriere, and the volcano is a bit farther still. However, I was so starving by the time I got to Soufriere that I ate at the first place I saw. The Hummingbird Hotel has a nice restaurant with a great view of the Pitons, but the service was a bit slow. The town was a cute little town with a pretty-looking church and good prices on souvenirs. What wasn't attractive though was that there were a lot of townsfolk who would offer directions and then ask for payment. Usually, people in the caribbean are super-friendly and wouldn't really think of asking for money like that. Also, there is one area of town where the road out is poorly marked, so it's almost like they planned on doing this. I was a bit disenchanted with that whole situation. I made it out of town and continued to the sulfur springs and volcano. There isn't an entry fee, but you're supposed to get a guide and pay him, so I did. The site and guide were pretty worthless. Basically, the side of the volcano collapsed and so you can see right in where the steam still rises and you can smell the sulfur in the air. It's similar to Yellowstone or New Zealand, but much smaller in area. The only addition is that here there is a sulfur pool that you can go sit in (which I didn't as I've been in enough hot springs recently). The guide didn't really have much to say and the tour took less than 10 minutes. This is not worth the drive. If you wouldn't enjoy the drive for the drive itself, I can't recommend coming just for this. Fortunately, on the way back I saw a sign for Morne Coubaril Estate, an old plantation that is apparently still running in some manners. This was a much better and more fun thing to see than the volcano. The tour of the plantation goes through various areas and buildings where you get to see how various items are made. For example, they have a still-working mill that squeezes sugar cane and collects the juice. You can “play mule” and push the wheel to make yourself a cup of sugar cane juice. The guide showed me every step to making chocolate from what a raw cacao pod looks like, to how they dry the beans, to grinding them. At most of the steps, I got to sample what the product tasted like. There were also samples at the coconut station where we saw how they get the milk and meat and then use the husks for fuel. For anybody interested in history, food, or botany, this tour was a good one. However, as it had taken so long to get out that way, I headed back right after the tour as I didn't exactly want to miss my flight. Again, the view was gorgeous and the drive was long, made even longer because it was raining and the roads were getting a little slick. I had dinner at The Wharf, which is a nice restaurant a bit north of Castries. It has a great view of the ocean and it was very calming to sit there and listen to the sounds of the waves. I was also impressed with their banana ketchup. I flew to St. Vincent and was picked up at the airport by a guy from the hotel. I really don't know why I got the deal I got on the hotel, but this is easily the fanciest place I've stayed all trip.

Dolphin

Dolphin


Pink Plantation

Pink Plantation


Eudovic Art

Eudovic Art


Volcano

Volcano


working sugar mill

working sugar mill

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Saint Lucia Comments (0)

St. Lucia

Late last night, I arrived in St. Lucia. The guide in Dominica had recommended that I get a car, so I did. I took it to the hotel (Tropical Breeze in Gros Islet). I had a little issue getting there, but there were plenty of people still out who were happy to give me directions. For such a small guest house, I was surprised how many people knew exactly where it was. When I got there, I had a little issue getting in. They didn't realize my flight was so late at night, so they had already gone to bed. Fortunately, there was somebody sitting next door who was able to help me get in and woke the owners. I got settled and we decided to finish checking me in in the morning.

The room itself was a single room, just big enough for a bed and dresser. The bathroom was a shared room, although I was only sharing it with one other person. There was also a large shared kitchen and living room area. It would be a great place to stay for a long trip in that you have space and would be able to save a lot of money cooking for yourself. The downstairs is also a common space where the owners made breakfast for many of the guests and the guests were chatting with each other in the mornings. Overall, the hotel seems like a very friendly place where it would be easy to make friends and get travel tips.

It was nice having a car as the roads were pretty good and it was nice to get out for a drive, but I got off to a late start because I went for breakfast at Rituals Diner in Rodney Bay. It has most of the same kinds of stuff that Rituals Cafe has (and is owned by the same company), but has diner decor, including old juke boxes that played 60s tunes. The food was average and the service was Caribbean-speed, but it satisfied my hunger. I started "being a tourist" at the north end of the island, where there are all sorts of signs directing you to "The Cap." I thought it would be a tourist attraction with all the signs, but it turns out to be a rich-people gated community. The gate guard let me in, showed me where to take a picture of Martinique from, and made me turn right around.

Next, I headed to Pigeon Island, which is actually no longer an Island as they have filled in the way over so that it is more of a peninsula. The area is a national park with a low entrance fee, and it is very much worth it. There are some very nice paths to walk along, so it makes for a good park. There are a ton of really great picnic sites. There are some good-looking beach areas that I didn't try. It has some historic sites that were nice to explore. Historic is a relative term here, some of the sites were only from the late 1900s, but they were already in ruins. Those didn't impress me so much, but Fort Rodney had some cannons and a great view. There were also barracks and other reminders of the former-island's former military use. In theory, there was a museum, but I think it was closed when I was there.

Next, I headed to Rodney Bay Marina, which was (as expected) full of boats. There are a few cute little restaurants overlooking the water or the pier area, and so I had lunch at Cafe Ole, which is one of them. The juice had good flavor, but could have been less gritty and the sandwich I got there really hit the spot.

After lunch, I went nearby for a segway tour because I had never ridden a segway before. The tour started out with some segway practice for all of us. The guides showed us how to make them go, stop, and turn. We got to practice for a while in the parking lot across the street. once we had mastered the basics, the tour headed off to a nearby wooded area. The tour itself didn't take very long. We went up a hill and saw some decent viewpoints where we got some reasonable pictures of nearby areas. We did stop at a couple of bunkers that were left over from past wars. There really wasn't too much to see in the area that we were in. The “highlight” was a fish pond where we were able to feed the fish. At the end, we got some fresh local fruits and headed back down the hill. I have to say that if you're looking to see the island, I can't recommend this tour. If you're looking to learn to use a segway, I can recommend this though as by the end we were all able to go very fast up and down inclines and make relatively sharp turns.

I had a little more time before dark to go explore. I headed towards Castries, but got sidetracked by a sign for a heritage house. The house is up a hill hidden away, but has a nice view of the city. Inside, there are several displays about various people who were important in St. Lucia history. If you're looking for that sort of thing, it's worth a few minutes, but if you're not really into history, there's not anything else at the site.

Downtown Castries, I saw the central park square and the church on the square. I was driving around to see some other things, but the traffic picked up so I left. I really didn't want to deal with traffic on my vacation.

Because everything else was closed, I ended up having dinner at the Chinese restaurant at the Rodney Bay Mall. It was ok, but nothing special. The rest of the evening, I was at my room trying to get some things done- like plans for the rest of the trip- but the internet was pretty spotty and so it took a lot longer than it should have.

Pigeon Island ruins

Pigeon Island ruins


Fort Rodney

Fort Rodney


view from Segway tour

view from Segway tour


fish pond

fish pond


park downtown Castries

park downtown Castries

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Saint Lucia Comments (0)

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