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Disappointed by St. Lucia

The first time I went to St. Lucia was 30 years ago, in 1980. The next time was four years later, in 1984. St. Lucia was a tropical paradise, and my favorite island. So I was looking forward to a return visit.

How much things have changed! When I was first there, there was one hotel on Reduit Beach in Rodney Bay – The St. Lucia Hotel. And that was it.

The second time there was still just one hotel, but the lagoon behind it had been surveyed and subdivided, with lots up for sale. I wished at the time that I could buy one.

Now Rodney bay has several beach resorts, plus countless restaurants, stores (department stores, hardware and building supplies, chandlers, tourist shops, supermarkets, everything you could want), a huge marina, a haul-out boatyard. Plus literally hundreds of boats – swelled of course by the 250 boats that had just arrived from Europe as part of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC).

Before our arrival in Rodney Bay we have visited Marigot Bay. This was the idyllic beautiful bay that was the setting for the old Rex Harrison film, Dr. Doolittle. I have an old photo I took of it back in 1980, with just one yacht anchored outside Doolittle Restaurant.

Now, of course, it has a large marina with a charter fleet and, again lots of restaurants and small shops.

We also rented a car and did a tour of the island. Again I was amazed by the amount it has been built up. The road from Rodney Bay to Castries is solid with buildings – and traffic jams. We did however manage to find our way inland to the small towns and villages that were still much as they had been. Though there was an amazing amount of traffic even inland.

Naturally we visited the ‘World’s only drive-in volcano’ – Soufriere sulphur springs. And had to pay a charge to have a guide who we didn’t need to look at the bubbling springs that were now surrounded by a fence. Charges were also in place for various waterfalls and other points of view. We didn’t bother with most of them.

The pitons were, of course, as grand as ever. Especially going up close to them in our dinghy. We tried to do some snorkeling in Anse Chastanet, but the water was rather turbid so visibility wasn’t too good. Just tide related I guess, but still a disappointment as I remember snorkeling there way back and being amazed by the underwater beauty.

Driving back from Soufriere was as bit anxiety provoking. The mountainous road quickly drank up the petrol (gas), but none was available in Anse La Ray. Nor in Canaries. We finally glided into Cul de Sac with the fuel light shinning bright.

We also took a taxi drive to Anse La Raye for Fish Friday. What fun! The whole town was given over to street vendors selling every variety of sea life to eat, including turtle, box fish. Fascinating. Plus they had a stage with some live music, including prize-winning calypso singer Herb Black, who was hilarious with his stories about a friend’s suspicious death in police custody – and about a ‘lady’ called Suzette!

St. Lucia is still a beautiful island, and the people are still very friendly, but if you are looking for a peaceful island paradise this is no longer it. You won’t get away from the tourists here.

So, as I said, overall this was a disappointment to me. St. Lucia is no longer my favorite island. Top contender for that title at the moment is still Bequia.

One Response to “Disappointed by St. Lucia”

  • Heidi and Elmer:

    We also remember St. Lucia as an idyllic island, where you were doing your Medical elective and we met Grandma Bianca and Franz. You were not there to meet us at the airport because you had fallen asleep on the beach! Do you remember when Franz cut his foot in front of his cabin and obtained free use of a hire car for the rest of the holiday? Except for Barbados, with lots of traffic from airport to cruise ship,we found all the islands we visited very peaceful. We were surprised at how few tourists we saw.

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