Exploring Saint Lucia

08 December 2013

Exploring Saint Lucia

Rising like an emerald tooth from the flat Caribbean Sea, St Lucia definitely grabs your attention. Glossed over as some sort of glam honeymoon spot, this mountainous island has much more to offer then just posh digs.

Who says the Caribbean is all about lying on the beach? If that’s all you do in St Lucia you’re missing out. The rainforest-choked interior is made for hiking; a canopy of green covers the island like a haze. Rolling hills grow to form volcanic mountains and reach to the sky. The iconic Pitons rise from the waves to the clouds like pyramids of volcanic stone. This isn’t some glammed-up, theme-park holiday spot – St Lucia has a pulse. Your senses are bombarded with the sights, smells and sounds of an island that’s truly alive

The ARC team work very close with the Saint Lucia Tourist Board and share an office inside Rodney Bay Marina throughout the ARC's stay in Saint Lucia. Please don't hesitate to pop in and ask about any of the many activities available whilst in Saint Lucia. 

Rodney Bay Marina & Village

Rodney Bay Marina’s permanent establishments are diverse to be sure, yet are more or less European, and there are some changes for 2013. Elena’s café specializes in Italian coffee and gelato, and also offers a full menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner items. Elena herself is often on hand personally serving her customers. A new pizza oven has finally opened, which occupies a new waterside gazebo adjacent to the café, and it’s a popular spot for lunch.

Next door, is the new sushi restaurant called Rituals, which should certainly be popular this year. It’s neighbour Café Ole serves up a wide range of quality food and drink. Around the corner, the popular Bread Basket offers some westernized local flavours. H2O, the popular bar next to the swimming pool, is undergoing renovation, but the pool remains open and has been a popular spot for ARC+ sailors ashore.

In the marina, the Boardwalk Bar is by far the most happening place in the evenings with it’s stylish layout and ideal location for cheering in arriving rally boats into Rodney Bay Marina. The nightly happy hour is popular with both locals and visitors alike.

Castries & A Classic Caribbean Market

Castries is a functioning Caribbean city and the island’s capital. A very nice harbour is situated to the East. At its terminus, cruising sailboats are often anchored a couple hundred feet from the shoreline, on which the main road runs. Across the road, the colourful market is a great place to soak up some local atmosphere, buy some gifts and pick up some local fresh fruit & veg from one of the many stalls.

Fresh coconuts are sold outside the market for a very reasonable price. “The tourists do not really know about coconuts,” the vendors say, so it is mostly locals who buy them. “Most refreshing drink on the island!” they say.

Along the streets surrounding the market space are several small pubs and food establishments, though most have only a few stools, if they have any place at all to sit down. Grabbing a bite of chicken from the grill with a side of banana salad while calypso music thumps out a heavy beat from the adjacent and enormous speakers is a Caribbean experience not to be missed.


Anse La Raye

The locals call it 'bay of the rays.' It's a fishing village south of Castries (St. Lucia's capital), a sleepy place on the beach, quite the opposite of the hustle and bustle of Rodney Bay marina.

The annual trip down to Anse La Raye village for the Friday fish fry won’t happen for another two weeks, but it’ll be one to look forward to. For the yachts offshore, it will mark a welcome change from the routine of life at sea.

The village itself is tucked in a horseshoe-shaped bay south of Castries, protected enough to anchor a yacht there, but much more comfortable to arrive by ferry. A swell typically runs into the bay, making for an exciting disembarkation from the ferry. Fishing nets line the pier and locals play guitar together on the streets. Local families with local grills set up along the main drag, which backs onto the beach, where colorful fishing boats are dragged up into the sand. The people there depend on fishing and farming for their livelihood, and the Friday night Fish Fry is a big part of their weekly income.

The Famous Pitons & the Saint Lucian Hinterland

“The countryside is so clean and appears totally un-spoilt” remarked one crewmember after they’d returned from a hire-car adventure of the island. St. Lucia’s mountainous interior provides ample opportunity for adventure. Perhaps more than any other Caribbean island, St. Lucia provides an amazing diversity of high-end luxury mixed with authentic culture, and the two blend seamlessly. One only has to know where to look.

Only one short block away from Rodney Bay Marina, for example, the village of Gros Islet has quaint local restaurants and beachside tiki bars. Every Friday, the village hosts a ‘Jump Up,’ a neighborhood block party that can get raucous late into the evening. If you are craving a Caribbean party after your Atlantic passage, The Gros Islet Jump Up Party is not one to miss.

Further north up the road a Sandals resort butts up against Pigeon Island, a national park crisscrossed with walking trails and wartime ruins. The park also includes one of the best restaurants in the area, Jam de Bois, a local beachside retreat offering atmosphere as good as the food, and at local prices. 


The Pitons, of course, are the island’s signature, and play host to the most exclusive resorts. The Pitons themselves, ‘Petit Piton’ (743m) and ‘Gros Piton (771m) are two volcanic plugs located within a World Heritage Site located near the southern town of Soufriere and are famous enough that the island has named it’s local beer after them. It’s possible to hike the Pitons – ironically, the larger of the two, Gros Piton, is actually the easier of the two to hike. The island maintains an ‘Interpretative Centre’ where guided hikes begin. Park Service guides are required whenever visitors climb the Gros Piton (in reality, it’s a ‘hike’ more than a climb, an no special skills or gear is required).

Further afield, small villages line steep dirt roads, and around nearly every corner a local roadside grill serves beer and local (strong) spiced rum alongside grilled plantains and homemade cassava bread. The back roads, clean houses, green scenery and friendly people give a clearer glimpse into the heart of the island nation. A peaceful, friendly truth emerges about the country that is hidden in the hubbub surrounding Castries bustling city and the excitement around the ARC programme at the marina. For those who make the effort to seek it, the experience leaves an indelible mark.