Only country in the world named after a woman
One more island, and another country before a last one in this trip. Moving on from Antigua onto the exotic Saint Lucia, docking at its capital city Castries. The only country in the world named after a woman; pulled back and forth for 14 times between the French who were the first to settle in the island and the British; it became permanently a British Oversee Territory until 1979 when it gained full independence. The Queen of England, Elizabeth II, however, is still the head of the state as Saint Lucia is part of the Commonwealth Nations.
Among its key sights in such a small land, nature and landscapes are somehow unique. The incredible rain forests, such exuberant vegetation and truly paradise beaches all around, but something unique adding to the excitement, it is one of the few islands in the world that contains a drive-in volcano. This is self-described by the word, you can be driven right there to the very edge of the boiling water springs, but do not expect any height, instead a rather hilly area at the backdrop of Soufriere with marvellous views towards the colonial city, the coast and the world famous Pitons Mountains.
Both cities of Castries and Soufriere, the “largest” in the island yet tiny when compared to normal standards of size and population are straightforward to visit. It’s merely an hour or so and you have completed all the nice colonial buildings around, hence when planning your time be mindful of this, while sticking to the limitations if you’ve come on a cruise which generally gives you from the morning around 8.00am until 18.00pm. That’s well enough to actually enjoy the best sights in the island which are along the west coast and in between Castries and Soufriere and the Pitons, some 40 kilometres apart from each other.
Although distances do not see too large, it is in the other hand the only exception in the entire trip where the time driving in between has been longest. The roads are quite complicated, very narrow, continuously bending, hill and mountains up and down. To be on the secure side, consider hour and a half between Castries and Soufriere.
For more information about Castries and Saint Lucia itself check Wikipedia site. Saint Lucia currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in Saint Lucia
- Fort Rodney At the north of the island in what is called the Pigeon Island. Built by the British in 1808 at an advantage point overlooking most of the coast of the island, and French Martinique at just 40km away.
- Castries The capital city of the island-country, and main port of arrival for cruises. The main square Derek Walcott is where most of the sights are such as the Courthouse, Cathedral and Library.
- Soufriere The second largest city in the country, along the west coast, some 40 kilometres south of Castries. It contains lots of nice French colonial architecture. Here is where the Empress of France Josephine Bonaparte was born.
- Sulphur Springs The world’s only drive in volcano, (a collapsed volcano). Located at the southwest side of the island, near Soufriere from where it takes its name in French. It’s so accessible that cars drop you off right by the edge meters away from the boiling water springs.
- The Pitons These twin peaks are the landmark of Saint Lucia. Listed as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO, offer the most beautiful view of the island and its nature. From Soufriere or the Sulphur Springs you will have constant view to these.
Hewanorra International Airport is located at the opposite side of the capital city, at the very south of the island 50 kilometres apart. It provides direct flights to the Caribbean states, North America, Canada, France and the UK. A secondary smaller airport lies within walking distance of Castries itself, but has only charter flights.
The main cruise terminal is by the main harbour, directly accessible to the city centre on foot at just few minutes’ walk. All the city’s sights are withing minutes’ distance to each others.
As for the land transportation in the island itself, there are public buses (small vans) covering most of the corners especially between Castries and the south, linking majority of the villages and beaches along the western coast such as Ciceron, Anse, Canaries and Soufriere. The best option however would be to get a driver to be with you for the entire day, as it can stop anywhere you wish. Totally worth it believe me, the amount of spectacular viewing points along the way are truly awesome. As an idea of what cost to expect, set aside around $US 30 per person if you are 2 people, and around $US 25 per person or even a bit less if your negotiation skills are good if you are 4 people.
Since this was a cruise holidays and we slept always on-board, there is little I can say about accommodation here in Saint Lucia other than the usual, checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engine such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms, Ebookers or TUI. In any case this is a paradise destination with amazing beaches at the north, west and south, and so are the up-scale luxurious hotels and resorts. Finding your desired choice won’t be difficult, however it won’t come cheap nor even within a medium range.