This was my second time in St. Lucia and for this time I wanted a more personal experience. I wanted to see more of St. Lucia besides just one beach. So I hopped onto TripAdvisor and looked up tours offering full day excursion, for a reasonable price, touring all the major sites. Also I had to go on a tour that went to the Pitons, St. Lucias’ most famous landmark.
With the help of my brother and his boyfriend, we choose Real St. Lucia Tours, that offered a base price of around $60 for a custom private tour of St. Lucia. We got our own experienced driver, in our own personal car, so we were able to dictate all the sites we wanted to go to. More expensive, yes, but so worth it.
Anse-La-Raye to Canaries
After getting some gas real quick, we headed south along the western coast towards the first major city, Anse-La-Raye. Near Anse-La-Raye in the middle of nowhere, we made a road side stop at a stall selling local St. Lucian goods. The weather was rainy but at least it was warm and comfortable enough wearing a tank-top. I bought some coconut rum, bbq banana sauce, and some local spices.
The further the trip went along the more relaxed our driver became. He blasted rap music and talked about his daily life on St. Lucia. It was fun to relax and not be with other tourists. Our driver then took us to nearby Marigot Bay, which is the site of a number of battles between the French and British navies and used for the setting for the Dr. Doolittle books. It was one of those, out-of-the-way stops ,that a normal tour wouldn’t offer.
Crossing into Anse-La-Raye all the residents were relaxing, enjoying Christmas Day. All of the shops were closed and people were hanging on their porches, cooking food, and drinking. Continuing further south from Anse-La-Raye, we climbed back up some mountains and weaved through the lush, green country side. On the other side of the mountains we stopped to take pictures of the famous Pitons and luckily the rain stopped for a bit.
We then descended down the mountain to the next small fishing village called Canaries. We toured the city and then continued south towards the Piton Mountains and our first tourist stop, Diamond Botanical Gardens.
Diamond Botanical Gardens
This was the first stop where we had to pay money to get in and it was not included in the price of the tour. We beat all the tours from the cruise ship and the rest of the island but yet again it was down pouring and the gardens were all outside. It was warm enough to not feel too cold from the rain but we had our expensive camera’s out and didn’t want them to get damaged.
So we kind of hopped in the gardens from one palm tree or building to the next, snapping photos along the way. We were suppose to stop and do some sort of bath that would help us relax but that was also outside and wouldn’t be fun in the rain. So we skipped that and headed straight to the main attraction, the waterfall. It was gorgeous but for $7, I don’t know, didn’t seem too worth it. The grounds and flowers were beautiful though.
Tet Paul Nature Trail and the Pitons
Our guide then took us to the Tet Paul Nature Trail just across from the Pitons and near the Botanical Gardens. This was another 10 dollars to enter the trail but we were the only people there and we got our personal guide. We were apprehensive at first but soon realized that this was the best part of our entire day because we got amazing views of the Pitons, St. Lucias’ premiere attraction.
And we couldn’t have asked for a better time to hike. The sun had just come out again, we were warming up and the sun was drying us from the down pour earlier in the gardens. The tour guide spoke of the different types of trees, plants and what St. Lucia can actually grow. It turns out to be a lot from bananas to pineapples to coconuts. Many of the plants can be used for medicinal purposes as well.
But the last part of the tour is worth the entire day. On a sunny day you will be able to see both Petit Piton and Gros Piton (little and big Piton). We were very lucky to not have any more rain while hiking and to experience some of the best weather all day. Also a rainbow decided to come out, putting the cherry on the already delicious cake. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
Volcano and Mud Baths
Up next was the volcano and mud baths and to be honest, all of us were a little apprehensive about doing this one. It didn’t seem that appealing but I was still curious and it was only 5 dollars to do the mud bath. We decided to skip the volcano tour because we still were able to see it from the road. It smelled really bad and the tour was like 12 dollars. In my opinion it was good enough to see the steam coming out and smell it. Nobody can see the lava anyways.
The mud baths were interesting. It’s like one of those excursions that you don’t know how you ended up doing it in the first place but you’re still doing it. The whole area smells like rotten eggs due to the sulfur, the baths are caked with mud and a lot of tourists. But it was fun and a very unique experience that I probably won’t get to do for a long time. Note: the baths were extremely hot!
The Restaurant and Return to the Ship
We decided to skip the waterfall where tourist can bath in. The mud bath was so busy that we figured it would be also busy at the waterfall and not really something we can enjoy on our own. Plus we were all hungry! Our driver had picked out a restaurant as we descended from Anse-La-Raye into Canaries. The restaurant overlooks Anse-La-Raye and the dramatic Pitons. On a clear day it’s absolutely breath-taking.
Our guide gave us the option to eat a buffet style that costed $15 or just have a quick $5 meal. We were hungry but we felt weird paying an extra $15 dollars for food so we opted for the cheaper meal and then just ate when we got back to the ship. I think our guide was part of trying to get us to spend money there but sorry we had already spent a lot of money on getting into the other sites!
The drive back was quiet, no more rap music or even talking, but honestly I was okay with that. The day was pretty intense for a 7 hour tour of this wonderful island. St. Lucia has always exceeded my expectations and after this last visit now sits at the top of my list for Caribbean countries everybody should visit. I will be back again, I’m sure!
images by: shawnvoyage