It has been called the next “It” island of intrigue. It is where Jake proposed to Vienna on the 2010 “The Bachelor” finale. It is where George Foreman owns a home and where Oprah Winfrey is a regular visitor who claims this lush Caribbean Island is one of the top “must see” places of a lifetime. It is called St. Lucia, a 238 square mile island in the West Indies with its gigantic palms, white sandy beaches, mountain vistas and picture postcard tropical environs –hidden jewel of the Eastern Caribbean.
From the time one steps onto this tranquil island of soft adventure, one is quick to recognize that there is something distinctively magical about this place. With a recently estimated population of over 160,000, the island is made up of predominantly indigenous people of African and mixed African-European descent. And while the official spoken language is English, 95% of the population also speaks Creole French (colloquially known as “patwah”).
St. Lucia clearly has the many facets of a crown jewel. The island boasts of a myriad of lively year-round festivals focusing on food, wine, music, mangos and fun. Its native flowers draw visitors from around the world. And if the island’s most famous landmark, the twin Pitons (also seen on the island’s logo) do not grab one’s attention, the fine dining experiences (especially the Friday night street party and fish fry at Gros Islet), shopping at Castries market, dense rain forests, or the once-active drive-in volcano known as Mount Soufrière where people today enjoy relaxing in the bubbly sulphur springs to shed the cares of this world, assuredly will.
Visiting St. Lucia for any number of reasons from carnival to the island’s world renowned St. Lucia Jazz Festival, which draws hosts of visitors and musicians to the island in early May, will allow anyone to catch a glimpse of the personal warmth and unencumbered hospitality for which the locals are best noted. Upon their arrival, guests may expect to be greeted with a fresh cool towel along with the island’s signature tropical drink. Guests may also expect to be finely pampered throughout their stay. Be it relaxing at the world-class Rainforest Spa at The Jalousie Plantation, superb fine dining at The Rendezvous Boutique Hotel or any number of other choices, guests will experience consummate good will.
St. Lucia is also extensively noted for its mangoes. St. Lucians enjoy instructing visitors on how to select and eat this fruit along with sharing the history of how they were first cultivated on the island. Local lore purports that while mangoes are grown worldwide, growers on St. Lucia cultivate over 100 varietals with varying flavors, shapes and textures. One of the most popular is the Julie mango noted for its burnished orange flesh and succulent flavor. While some locals suggest that the mango be peeled like a banana, others insist that it be cut in half with a knife while avoiding the huge inside pit. The fact is there is not one single way to enjoy this island delicacy any more than there is one way to enjoy the abundance of bananas, coconuts, guavas, papayas, passion fruit, or pineapples the island has to offer.
Whether you’re a lover of good music, a connoisseur of fine food, a head over heels romantic, or one who craves outdoor adventure, St. Lucia has it all! It is best recommended that a stay be long enough to experience the entire island, and a local tour guide will surely be glad to help with that. It is likely that while visiting, one will run into a famous celebrity or two. However, do not expect St. Lucians to give up any details on their stay as these conscientious hosts can keep one’s anonymity to a fault and will protect the privacy of those who visit – that includes you.
When planning a visit to St. Lucia, see your travel agent, call St. Lucia Tourist Board, or visit www.stlucia.org.