A week-long trip with my two sisters, where we explored this small Caribbean island with inviting beaches, colourful houses, and windy roads.
The weather was warm (between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius) and humid so we went to the beach every day. We went to many different beaches, including: Anse L'Ivrogne, Anse Chastanet, Anse Mamin, Anse Jambon, Anse Cochon, and Pigeon Island. The temperature in St Lucia is quite similar all year-round, but they have 3 seasons: the wet season, the dry season, and the hurricane season. We visited in February, during the dry season.
We drove around the whole island several times (it's about 60km from North to South) and saw several towns, such as: Soufriere, Laborie, Vieux Fort, Anse La Raye, and Dennery. The roads were steep and windy, often with large potholes. The maximum speed limit on the island is 40 miles/hour - but that didn't stop most people from going faster. People often ride on the back of pick up trucks either sitting or standing. The locals are used to driving at night with ALL of their lights on (front lights, fog lights, and high beam which they never turn off) but their brake lights don't always work. Taxis and public buses (all of them were vans which fit about a dozen people, instead of huge buses) are the most reckless drivers, dangerously overtaking with low visibility to then stop a few metres in front and drop off / pick up passengers!
The towns and villages are scattered throughout the hills, and most houses are painted in bright colours. There are people on the side of the road at all times of day waiting for the bus, walking along the road, or just hanging out with their friends. People are very interactive and often waved at us or approached us for a chat. There were also many animals scattered about: dogs, goats, chickens, cows, horses.
St Lucians proudly display their flag and its colours (black, white, gold, and blue) EVERYWHERE, including lamp posts, buntings, trees, buildings, and cars. Friday 22nd of February 2019, whilst we were there, was the 40th anniversary of St Lucia's independence from the British, so it was difficult to tell how many of the flags were displayed just for the occasion instead of year-round.
Rum is very popular on the island, as is their local beer - called Piton after the two iconic peaks on the south-west of the island. Local cuisine usually includes a stew (fish, beef, lamb, chicken) with rice, fried plantain, mashed potato or breadfruit, and veggies. We had never eaten plantain before and found it delicious; it is similar to a banana but is fried before eating and can also be used to make crisps. St Lucia used to export lots of bananas, but now there are fewer plantations on the island. One of the typical products that they make from the fruit is banana ketchup! It is sold at most tourist shops, but it is much cheaper to buy it from the supermarket. The island's main source of income used to be agriculture but now it's tourism.
We stayed in a small cottage in Balenbouche Estate, on the south-west of the island, near the town of Laborie. Our beds had a net hanging from the ceiling, which was very useful to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes whilst sleeping. The cottage had a nice porch with swings, where we spent several hours relaxing. The sounds of the environment were very pleasant (birds, crickets, wind, rain, the waves crashing nearby) and we had bold birds visiting us every morning; they clearly wanted to share our breakfast. There were a couple of beaches within the estate, just a few minutes walk from our cottage. The estate used to be a sugar plantation; remains of the old sugar mill can still be seen, although they are overgrown with vegetation and a giant tree.
One of the days, we hiked the Gros Piton starting at 600ft above sea level and reached the summit at 2600ft above sea level. The round trip took us 4h 30min and our legs hurt for several days afterwards! Our local guide told us that he can hike up in just 40min and down in 18min!
We also went windsurfing, zip lining, and snorkelling. It was an adventure-packed week but we also had time to rest and relax.