St. Lucia: June 2013

Gallery

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We were there to celebrate two years of marriage. Anniversary, honeymoon…what’s the difference? Sandals goes all out if you’re celebrating with them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A little note to say Happy Honeymoon…or anniversary. Whatever.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Oh ya. Champagne. These flowers were all over the room. In the bathroom, too. It was so pretty!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As Sandals Select Members, we get handwritten notes and other little perks. Great program!

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The beginning of the first hike is along the water’s edge. It’s beautiful. St. Lucia has the best of both worlds: mountains AND beach. Who says you have to choose??

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love historical sites. There was a small, old graveyard that had been wrecked by hurricanes, etc. This tombstone belonged to a woman who was a doctor and a lawyer. I love knowing that there have always been strong, ambitious women.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fort Rodney. We are headed to the lookout at the top. It’s a short hike, and well worth it once you see the views.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hubby climbing the ladder to the top of the lookout. It was REALLY windy, which was a little unnerving getting up that ladder.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was some sort of jail or ammo room…we aren’t sure which.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If it was a jail at least the prisoners had nice views.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That’s Signal Point…our next destination. You can see it from inside the jail…or whatever.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hubby said this was his favorite view. 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Canon with some markings.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On the way to Signal Point we stopped to check out this old barricade of sorts. The soldiers would use the walls as protection as they fought. Oh, and I am goofing off.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pistol on a rock. There’s always time for CrossFit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I can’t get over the beauty in St. Lucia. It is what postcards are made of.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Part of the hike to Signal Point. This hike was a little more treacherous. Switchbacks and rocky.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We could see our resort from the top. Isn’t it neat how the sea on the left is rough and the sea on the right is calm?

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The famous Pitons. Petit Piton on the left, Gros Piton on the right. This was out first sight of them since we arrived…and we were excited to hike them a few days later.

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here is the bat cave. No really. And at this point our guide explained that St. Lucia is a female island. How do you know? Well, it has two peaks and…this…

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At the volcano where the sulfur springs are located. See the steam coming out of the volcano?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The mineral water for the mud bath. It’s black because of the sulfur and minerals. They give you a sandy scrub to put on your body and then you rinse off in this water. It’s HOT water.

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then it was back to the speed boat to head back to the resort.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our group had two speed boats and we raced back to the resort. SO MUCH FUN!

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is the beginning of the trail up the mountain. It’s rocky…and this is the easiest part. For real.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here we are a quarter of the way up.

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

HUGE steps. It was like being on a big stairmaster…for hours. But SO worth it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The rocks were often covered in algae. And our guide was 19 and barefoot…trekking up this mountain as if it were flat and simple.

Eventually I had to put my camera away so that I could climb with hands and feet as the trail got steeper.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here we are at the half-way point. This is the only view of Petit Piton from the trail on Gros Piton.

We asked about hiking Petit Piton and our guide told us that its trail is unmarked and very treacherous…basically straight up the mountain.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And here we are at the top!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The view from the top. We hung out here for a bit enjoying the view.

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In the rain on the way down.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our view at lunch after our hike. Petit Piton.

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hubby trying the local brew.  He usually seeks out the local brew wherever we go.  He likes micro brews.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This sticker was on the speed boat. It made me laugh.

To see more of our travel adventures, go to the Travel tab at the top or click here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s