This is a long post, but it’s a good one filled with pictures!
When we went to Zion, I kept telling hubby how much my dad would love it there. We were planning to take a trip to Vegas to celebrate our many milestone birthdays (mom turning 60, older brother turning 40, younger brother turning 21, and my 30th – yes, we kids are each nine years apart), and we thought we would go ahead and include a trip to Zion (since it’s only 3 hours from Vegas) so that they could experience it. However, it is entirely too difficult planning a trip with so many schedules involved, and the flights went up in price so we decided to postpone (booooo!) until Aug/Sept 2014…stay tuned!
Because we were planning a vacation for later in the year (and looking forward to it) we decided we would plan something else to get away for a bit.
On a whim, I wound up looking at the Sandals resorts in St. Lucia. After our first experience at Sandals in Jamaica, I was looking forward to going back to a Sandals resort. And my mind was made up when I read all about how St. Lucia is a good destination for adventure-seekers. After browsing the Sandals Resorts on the island we chose the Sandals Grande St. Lucian for a few reasons, but the biggest reason was that it is on the north side of the island within walking distance to Pigeon Island; and we wanted to hike there.
We decided that we would make a trip to St. Lucia in a few short weeks from the day we decided we would go…we had to go before hurricane season was in full-swing. Planning mode promptly began!
To plan/prepare for this trip we:
- Researched the weather.
- Researched popular attractions, adventures, and things to do (trip advisor, etc.).
- Packed most of our hiking stuff that we got for our trip to Zion the year prior plus a few bathing suits for the swim-up bars. 🙂
In addition to planning to hike Pigeon Island and doing the usual included watersports, we planned two excursions after seeing the list of many that are available from the resort: (1) an all-day trip involving a speed boat, snorkeling, a mud bath in the sulfur springs of a volcano, a waterfall, and lunch and (2) hiking up Gros Piton.
We hiked Pigeon Island National Park, then we flipped a sailboat.
Did you know that the French and British fought over St. Lucia 14 times?! Pigeon Island has two peaks and is a historic site with numerous forts used during the fights over the island.
We hiked from the resort to the park entrance (just a few steps down the beach). Then, we hiked up to Fort Rodney. The wind was whipping which made getting up the ladder to the top an interesting experience. Once at the top, the view speaks for itself.
Then we hiked down from the fort and over to Signal Hill where you can see Martinique on a clear day. This hike was a little more strenuous with switchbacks and loose rocks. But, again, once we reached the top the views were amazing. We could not see Martinique, however, because it was a little too cloudy.
We were hot after our quick adventure to Pigeon Island, and since we were passing the watersports area we decided to take a Hobie Cat out. We did this in Jamaica and it was great fun. What we didn’t know about Rodney Bay in St. Lucia was that the winds are somewhat unpredictable which makes sailing interesting, to say the least. I do not have pictures of this part of our adventure because I (luckily) opted not to bring the camera that would have likely ended up at the bottom of the ocean.
The wind would pick up, die down, and come back from another direction. Before we knew it we were moving swiftly through the water, changing sides as the wind dictated…and stopping when the wind quit. Long story short, we ended up flipping the damn thing when the wind came from behind us. As usual with these things it happened in slow motion and before I could do anything I wound up in the water under the sail of the boat. Thank goodness for the life vests!
So, there I was, bobbing in the water attempting to swim back to the boat that was now drifting away with my husband on it. I started to panic when I realized I was actually in the middle of the ocean.
[cue visions of JAWS]
We argued about whether or not he should jump off and come to me, but I insisted he stay with the boat. (I have no idea why.) Hubby tried to assure me that all was ok (he is always the calm in my storm) as he tried to flip the boat back over.
To get an idea of how far off shore we were…look at the picture above with the view of the resort from Signal Point. See where the border of the picture is? The edge of the picture? Ya, we were PAST THAT.
We could still see the resort, so I kept wondering why their lifeguards weren’t coming out at this point. What seemed like hours later, a jet skier picked me up. Then (finally) the speed boat from the resort came out. I got off the jet ski, thanked the guy on it, and hopped on the boat with the lifeguard. As he helped hubby try to flip the Hobie back over I knew what his next question would be…and there it was…
“Do you want to get back on the boat with your husband, or do you want me to take you back to shore?”
Well, I didn’t want to leave my husband on the boat in the ocean by himself and I didn’t want to end up back in the ocean either. So, I got back on the damn Hobie. That’s love, folks. Love.
I proceeded to curse at hubby telling him to get us back to shore, threatening him that I did not want to be back in the ocean. After a few more “episodes” of wind, then no wind, then wind from another direction…we were finally back to shore at the resort.
Later we found out that we were “those people” on that day. Yep, lots of people were watching us from shore. It’s common to discuss your day with the other people at the resort and on this day I summarized it by saying “we hiked Pigeon Island and then we flipped a sailboat.” Their response: “Oh that was you?!?” ~sigh~ “Yes.”
Simon Says: Speed boat, snorkeling in an aquarium, mud bath in a volcano, and a waterfall.
Simon is a pretty cool guy, and we were glad to give him our business. You can see my review of this tour on TripAdvisor. It was great to see so much of the island and have so many experiences wrapped up into one adventure.
We took the speed boat from the resort to the south side of the island (Soufriere). Along the way, the guides would stop and tell us about each piece of the island, its culture, and its history.
We even saw a slot canyon that we wanted to rappel down until we realized there were THOUSANDS of bats in it. Uh, no thanks, I’ll pass on that one.
We stopped at one bay to go snorkeling. I have been snorkeling in the keys before and it is beautiful, and perhaps I just haven’t been to the right places in the keys, but I have never seen anything like what we saw in St. Lucia. It was like being in an aquarium.
We saw Gar fish, Angel fish, Dori fish (technical term there), Nemo (another technical term), and thousands of other kinds of fish that you normally only see in fish tanks at doctor’s offices. It was amazing.
Next, we did the same mud bath in a volcano that was made famous by The Bachelor. I was only luke-warm about the idea of getting into the black sulfur water but we did it. The mud that they give you really does soften your skin, and if you have calluses (thank you CrossFit) it smooths them.
They fed us local homemade food, and then we were off to Toraille Waterfall. I had never seen a waterfall that big. We got in the COLD water (holy moly it was cold!) to stand under the falls.
Then it was back to the speed boat to head back to the resort.
It was a full day with tons of richly St. Lucia experiences, and we loved it.
Hiking Gros Piton
When you see pictures of St. Lucia, they usually feature the Pitons – the two famous volcanic plugs. They are famous for their hikes and, naturally, we added this to our list for our trip. The smaller one, Petit Piton, is 2461 feet (739 m). The larger peak, Gros Piton, stands at 2619 feet (786 m).
We hiked all 2619 feet of Gros Piton. It is a four-hour hike, roundtrip, with steep inclines and loose rock. After hiking Angel’s Landing at Zion, we thought this would be something we could handle…after all, we made it through the most famously strenuous hike at Zion! They send you up with three guides – one to lead, one to bring up the back, and one to bring folks back when they quit about a quarter of the way up – which happens frequently. It starts out mild and you wonder what makes this hike so famously torturous and treacherous. Our guides told us that the higher you go the harder it gets.
A few people in our group turned around at this point. I admired their willingness to admit that they weren’t equipped for the hike – some of them did not even bring water for this four-hour hike.
Our guides were right…the hike got harder and harder. More rocks, slippery algae-covered rocks, switchbacks, and altitude. Altitude is one thing that we, as Floridians, have to adjust to wherever we hike. It’s pretty crazy how it can kick your ass and make you feel entirely out of shape – even if you workout, climb, and hike regularly. We just don’t “see” altitude until we are traveling…and usually hiking in it.
Eventually I had to put my camera away so that I could climb with hands and feet as the trail got steeper.
We asked about hiking Petit Piton and our guide told us that its trail is unmarked and very treacherous…basically straight up the mountain.
It rained a good rainforest-type rain most of the hike down. A good, warm, soaking rain that (somehow) cooled you in the heat and humidity. The trail became very slippery making it unsafe to take pictures.
I feel like I say this about everything we do, but this hike was awesome! What an experience! Sure, it was an early start (6:30am) after a late night at the bar with our new friends, and as a result hubby may have still been intoxicated/hungover for the first half of the hike on the way up…but we took away some great memories.
To see more of our travel adventures, go to the Travel tab at the top or click here.