Floating like an emerald tear-drop between the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea is the island nation of St Lucia. At 27-miles long and 14-miles wide, it’s one of the second largest of the Windward Islands. Named in honour of St Lucy of Syracuse by early French colonists, you may be surprised to learn that this is the only country on the planet named after a woman.
But then again, it will all make perfect senseonce you feel the warm embrace of St Lucia’s beaches, forests and mountains. St. Lucia has long been a place of shelter: her surrounding maze of hidden coves and bays providing safe har bours throughout the ages. For centuries the original Arawaks and Caribs made their homes around the island’s northern bays, In the 1550s, the notorious buccaneer, Peg Leg Le Clerc, became the first European to settle here. From his hilltop hideaway on Pigeon Island, he and his fellow swashbucklerswould swoop on passing Spanish galleons. After the pirates came the plantations, and the bittersweet years of sugar and slavery.
Between the 17th and 19th centuries, St Lucia was pulled back and forth fourteen times between the French and British, before finally gaining her independence in 1979.While the British brought their rule of law, the French blessed the island with a sense of style that mixed perfectly with the Carib and African cultures. For, just like a woman, St Lucia has always been a place of creation .Right in the heart of the capital, Castries, the main square pays tribute to two of the island’s Nobel Prize winning sons.
Relax in the shade of the 400 year-old monkey pod tree, and take in the soft pastels of the surrounding streets. Just across from the park, visit the basilica, filled with murals that blend the colours and traditions of Africa, the Caribbean and the West. At the Central Market, taste the fruits of this island’s rich, volcanic soil. Enjoy some real St Lucian home cooking. Then spend some time seeing crafts, lovingly made by local hands. An easy mile to the south, the creation story continues, at Eudovik’s Art Studio. Watch as master carvers transform tree roots from deep in the forest into sensual works of art, a true collaboration between Mother Nature and man.
On the south-west coast, the town of Soufriere is cradled by some of the island’s greatest natural treasures. There’s a relaxed style here too, along the waterfront and streets of this sleepy French colonial town. St Lucia, is a place that can take your breath away, and breathe new life into your soul. Which is why the island is a favourite with honeymooners and lovers of all ages. Take a short boat ride from Soufriere to one of the island’s finest resort beaches, Anse Chastanet. Stay right by the sands, which are caressed by the warm Caribbean Ocean. Or stay high on the hill, where the islands iconic peaks of Petit and Gros Piton feel so close, you can almost reach out and touch them.
Nestled between these two volcanic spires, is one of the west coast’s most secluded hideaways. At Sugar Beach, fine sands, crystal waters and some of the island’s sweetest views await. St Lucia is a place of rejuvenation too. Not far from Soufriere, take a soak at Sulphur Springs and coat your body in healing mud that comes from deep within the Earth. When it’s time to cool down, take the Tet Paul Nature Trail, into the high country. From here, look down upon an island of possibilities, for this is a place of endless mystery too. Shelter, creativity, beauty, rejuvenation and mystery; these are the things that make this island so easy to love. So come and feel the embrace of one of the world’s greatest islands: St Lucia.