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Marigot Bay, St Lucia
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St Lucia
April 2014

Sugar Beach Soufrière Tet Paul Nature Trail Castries
Pitons, St Lucia

 

What better way to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary than in a gorgeous hotel on this beautiful island.

Sugar Beach

Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Sugar Beach

 

We flew in from Basel via London, arriving early and our car was waiting to take us to Sugar Beach, all very efficient.It was a nice drive along the coast, lots of tall palm trees, a beautiful blue sea. At the hotel we were met by our butler Curtley with a long, cool cocktail.

Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Sugar Beach and Gros Piton.

Sugar Beach stands just back from the shore in 12 acres of tropical gardens between the two iconic peaks of St. Lucia - Gros Piton and Petit Piton. It has a beautiful silver sand beach and several restaurants to choose from.

Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Sugar Beach and the edge of Petit Piton.
Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Early morning, Sugar Beach.

Sugar Beach, St Lucia

We had chosen to stay close to the beach and restaurants, without being actually on the beach, and were in Sugar Mill 07 which was on two levels. The entrance was through a gate festooned with flowering vines and a courtyard garden with a jacuzzi plunge pool.

Sugar Beach, St Lucia

The bedroom is all white with a huge four poster bed, a Nespresso machine, three different coffees to choose from, a bottle of rum, and a fridge with beers and soft drinks. The dressing room came with an iPad and a huge wardrobe, another room with a white claw-foot tub plus a shower room with double sinks and a large shower. Lots of space, light and airy, flowers everywhere.

Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Entrance to our villa.
Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Our courtyard garden.
Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Gros Piton 798m
Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Petit Piton 743m

Upstairs, via an outside staircase, is a large open-air terrace, part-roofed, with a ceiling fan and light, basket-weave chairs and table, deep sofa and two loungers. Pot plants and a view to the sea and Grand Piton - fabulous. On our first day we just relaxed here on the terrace with drinks, plantain chips and a dip.

Curtley had made a reservation for us at the Bayside restaurant and we went down to be seated at a table at the front of the restaurant overlooking the dark bay. Flaming torches on the beach were very atmospheric. I had a very good beef ragout bolognese, Andrew a not so good Margherita pizza, just a glass of wine each then an early night, tired after all the travelling.

Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Part of the view at breakfast, with the steep slope of Petit Piton on the right.

The following day started with a swim in the pool with the sun just coming over the mountain behind. It was Easter Sunday and there was a special extended Easter Sunday breakfast with a huge buffet as well as all the usual kinds of things.

Sugar Beach, St Lucia

We enjoyed an extremely leisurely breakfast: cranberry coulis in plain yogurt, excellent roast beef, curried lamb a bit unusual, smoked salmon, chocolate croissants, gorgeous fresh fruit, especially the pineapple and yellow watermelon. Fresh pineapple juice and two pots of coffee. At our table on the edge of the terrace overlooking the gardens and the sea for once we were prepared to take it easy and sat for an unprecedented hour and a half. Oh, and there were chocolate Easter eggs too!

Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Sugar Beach, St Lucia

We spent the rest of the day on the beach under a thatched canopy on loungers to avoid the fierce sun. Reading, swimming, cocktails, not doing very much. There were quite a few showers during the day but it was so warm no-one actually moved away. The red flag service works very well - just stick your flag in the sand and one of the many friendly employees comes to find out what they can do for you.

Over the course of the week that we stayed we alternated excursions with walks along the beach, snorkelling and complete relaxation. I can honestly say that we thoroughly enjoyed it, an absolutely perfect way to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.

Sugar Beach, St Lucia

The day itself was lovely. Everyone of the staff seemed to know it was our anniversary and we were constantly wished a Happy Anniversary! In the evening we had planned to have a cocktail in the bar before dinner but when we went back to the room there was a bottle of champagne and a plate of gorgeous fruit waiting for us. So we opened that and enjoyed it on our terrace.

Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Cocktails at the Cane Bar, Sugar Beach.
On the left: Hurricane - white and dark rum, Passion Fruit, orange, lime, Grenadine; on the right: Emeraude - coconut cream, mango, rum, curacao. A light meal here - deep fried mahi-mahi stuffed with crab meat and a sesame/ginger sauce - excellent.

We had a superb meal in the elegant Great Room. It is very reminiscent of a plantation house and we had a lovely table on the terrace. again everyone was obviously well aware that it was our anniversary, lots of happy wishes.

I had crab meat salad followed by red mullet with a glass of white Bordeaux. Andrew skipped the starter and had duck breast with black cherry and a couple of glasses of Brouilly. Fabulous melting chocolate pudding and Grand Marnier soufflé desserts, both served with coconut ice cream. Though we didn't want coffee we were served with petit fours anyway: two chocolate, one a tiny fruit tart and a Napoleon. And so to bed after a perfect day.

Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Costa Rica Sphinx caterpillar.
Sugar Beach, St Lucia

Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Sugar Beach, St Lucia

Sugar Beach, St Lucia
The strangely named Bananaquit in amongst the Thunbergia.

Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Beautiful papaya tree, loaded with fruit.

 

I absolutely loved the snorkelling. Not far off-shore there was a strip of underwater vegetation, quite low, which didn't look like seaweed, a bit frondy. There were lots of colourful Angel fish, from black or very dark blue to paler striped ones. Longer silvery striped fish, maybe 10-15cm, darting in and out, lots of sea urchins. One afternoon there was a dead sea urchin with a fish with brilliant blue fins nibbling at it.

Sugar Beach, St Lucia

After the first day there were no more showers and every day was gloriously sunny. Fortunately the shade on the beach was very effective.

We never tired of the magnificent view - who could!

Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Antillean Crested Hummingbird?
Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Dinner at Hotel Chocolat.
This is a lightly toasted herb bread served with a fantastic 65% chocolate and balsamic vinegar dip, a chocolate nib butter and a nut oil - also good but the chocolate dip was superb!

One evening we had dinner at the Hotel Chocolat, set 1,000 ft up in the hills in their cocoa plantation. Their lovely restaurant has a stunning view of Petit Piton (too dark to take photographs when we were there though) and every dish features chocolate in one form or another.

We began, naturally, with cocktails. Rum-based Chairman's Punch for Andrew, and a mango Bellini for me - both very good.

Sugar Beach, St Lucia

We shared a a chicken satay starter - gorgeous chicken, the dip made with cocoa nib could have had a stronger peanut taste for us. Andrew then had a really excellent confit of duck with bitter-sweet orange cacao sauce and white chocolate mash. Mine was a top quality tenderloin of Aberdeen Angus prime beef with a dark chocolate and port wine sauce, cacao nib spinach and chips.


Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Atlantic Breeze cocktail.

Slightly disappointing puddings. The Rabot Estate molten chocolate pudding was not as good as the one I'd had at Sugar Beach, and the coconut sorbet did not have much taste. Andrew had dark chocolate mousse served on thick shortbread with bitter dark chocolate ice cream which, though nice, was not outstanding. Rather odd that in a restaurant on a cocoa estate the chocolate desserts were a bit disappointing.

Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Barbecue on the beach at Bayside restaurant, Sugar Beach.

 

 

 

One evening Sugar Beach held a barbecue on the beach with a really impressive array of food.

As usual we started with a cocktail, these called Atlantic Breeze - rum, apricot brandy, lime juice, orange juice, and galliano - very good indeed!

Sugar Beach, St Lucia

Sugar Beach, St Lucia
My gorgeous mahi-mahi starter.

Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Sugar Beach, St Lucia

On to the food. I started with Japanese - raw mahi-mahi with a very strong wasabi, pickled ginger and soy-based Ponzu sauce then charcoal brazier grilled tuna and mahi-mahi - I think the mah-mahi was my favourite!

Sugar Beach, St Lucia
And my equally gorgeous desserts!

Then the meat - pork, beef, ribs with very good Dauphinoise potato. An excellent selection of desserts from which I chose a fabulous chocolate tart, lemon tart, chocolate/apricot mousse. Andrew started with grilled mahi-mahi and kingfish (going back for more of the mah-mahi!), with a spicy tomato sauce. Then suckling pig with the gorgeous gratin potatoes. For dessert freshly made crepes with rum and the chocolate/apricot mousse. Really excellent from start to finish.

We sat for a while on the beach by the bonfire before going to bed, an atmospherically lit yacht floating in the bay.

 

 

 

Soufrière

Sugar Beach, St Lucia
Fresh coconuts.
Soufriere, St Lucia

Named for the sulphurous volcanic smell, Soufrière is close to the only remaining evidence of volcanic activity on this island, a collapsed caldera with sulphurous vents. The island was actually created by volcanic activity - the Pitons are both volcanic plugs.

Soufriere, St Lucia
Bananas and manioc, a starch staple.
Soufriere, St Lucia

 

St Lucia has seen many cultures established here, from the Arawak Indians around 200 AD who called it Louanalao, meaning "Island of the Iguanas" and the Carib Indians around 800 AD who called it Hewanorra, to colonialist settlers of the 17th century. Dutch, French and English all vied to control the island, eventually the French gave in to the Brits in 1814 and the island became a British colony.1 St Lucia became independent in 1979.

Soufriere, St Lucia
Mangoes

Soufrière was the original French capital.

We didn't visit the sulphur vents, having seen several impressive examples elsewhere - Italy and Bolivia spring to mind. We wanted just to wander the town and visit the Saturday market. It's quite a short trip by water taxi - absolutely the best way to get around is on the water - and Soufrière is quite small so we found a couple of hours was ample to explore.

Soufriere, St Lucia
Petit Piton
Soufriere, St Lucia
Soufriere, St Lucia
Traditional coal pots.
Hot coals in the top, ash drops through and can be raked out from the bottom, cooking pots placed on the hot coals.

The market is colourful but small. We walked through the town, its main square in front of the church.

Soufriere, St Lucia

A plaque tells how the town square was the site for execution by guillotine under French rule in 1795. It was also a place for punishment of runaway slaves. After emancipation it served as an auction place and market for goods seized as a result of defaulting payment of rent or taxes. Since the 1920s, though, it has become an area for relaxation and socialising.

Soufriere, St Lucia
Soufriere, St Lucia
Zaka's Art Café
Soufriere, St Lucia
Soufriere, St Lucia

We came across Zaka's, which Andrew remembered was the place to go for its colourful masks and fresh coffee. We went in and the lady was sorting fresh coffee beans which had been roasted.

Soufriere, St Lucia
Zaka's Art Café

So we had freshly ground coffee then wandered back to the boat landing to see the hotel launch, Sugar Daddy, coming in to pick us up - great service.

Soufriere, St Lucia
Soufriere, St Lucia
Soufriere, St Lucia
Soufriere, St Lucia
Beautifully made traditional lobster traps.
Soufriere, St Lucia
Soufrière is not a big place.
Soufriere, St Lucia

Soufriere, St Lucia
Sugar Daddy, the Sugar Beach launch, arriving to pick us up.

 

Soufriere, St Lucia
Soufriere, St Lucia
Soufriere, St Lucia
Rounding Petit Piton on the way back to Sugar Beach.
Soufriere, St Lucia

 

 

Tet Paul Nature Trail

Tet Paul Nature Trail, St Lucia

At 9 o'clock one morning we were taken up to the Tet Paul Nature trail, on a road which was very steep and winding and not in the greatest condition.

We had a guide to take us around the trail, explaining all about lots of different plants: crab claw and lobster claw heliconias, a magnificent red torch ginger flower in too much shade to get a good photo, anise, pineapple, bay leaves from which the bay rum after shave is made, a very spiny trunk that nothing can climb.

Tet Paul Nature Trail, St Lucia

 

Tet Paul Nature Trail, St Lucia
Lobster Claw - Heliconia Rostrata.
Tet Paul Nature Trail, St Lucia
Papaya

The highest peak on the island, Mt Gimie, was covered in cloud, but we had a good view of Gros Piton and a spectacular view of Petit Piton with Sugar Beach at its base.

Tet Paul Nature Trail, St Lucia
Crab claw heliconia.

We could also see the villas belonging to Vladimir Ashkenazy, the Russian pianist, and Lord Glenconnor, who had a vision to create an island paradise here, as he had on Mustique, and laid the groundwork for the eventual creation of Sugar Beach.

Tet Paul Nature Trail, St Lucia
Tet Paul Nature Trail, St Lucia
Noni fruit - apparently it tastes bitter but is supposed to have medicinal properties.
Tet Paul Nature Trail, St Lucia
Tet Paul Nature Trail, St Lucia
Tet Paul Nature Trail, St Lucia
Cashew tree.

 

Tet Paul Nature Trail, St Lucia
Pineapple
Tet Paul Nature Trail, St Lucia
Petit Piton
Tet Paul Nature Trail, St Lucia
Tet Paul Nature Trail, St Lucia
Gros Piton
Tet Paul Nature Trail, St Lucia
Sugar Beach bay between the Pitons.
Tet Paul Nature Trail, St Lucia
Traditional family home.
Tet Paul Nature Trail, St Lucia

At the end of the tour we were shown a traditional family home, little more than a three room wooden hut, which could often house a family of up to ten. Cooking was done outside on an open fire.

Tet Paul Nature Trail, St Lucia
Inside the family home. I don't suppose there's much call for insulation in a tropical climate.
Tet Paul Nature Trail, St Lucia
Banana plantation.
The blue bags protect the fruit.

 

It was a pleasant way to spend an hour or so, interesting and with some stunning views.

 

Tet Paul Nature Trail, St Lucia
Banana plantation.

 

We returned to Sugar Beach via a banana plantation near the volcano where the smell of sulphur was very strong!

 

Castries

St Lucia

 

One morning we took a water taxi up to Castries which stopped at various points along the way.

St Lucia
This cleft in the cliff is full of roosting bats.
St Lucia
St Lucia

Fabulous views of the Pitons from the boat which went further out to sea than on the trip to Soufrière. It was quite bumpy and we got a bit wet but it was good fun.

St Lucia
St Lucia
St Lucia
The Pitons.
St Lucia
Castries, St Lucia
Nutmeg with mace still wrapped around.
Castries, St Lucia
Castries, St Lucia
Bananas still in the blue plastic bags that protect them when they are growing.
Castries, St Lucia

Castries is the capital of St Lucia, set on a sheltered bay on the north west coast. It has busy colourful markets which we had a good look around.

Castries, St Lucia
These colourful huts are all selling food.
Castries, St Lucia
Castries, St Lucia
Castries, St Lucia
Castries, St Lucia
Castries, St Lucia
Castries, St Lucia
Castries, St Lucia
Castries, St Lucia
Castries, St Lucia
Castries, St Lucia

 

We searched for and eventually found JJ's Caribbean Cocktails where we had excellent jerk chicken and fries and Piton beers. There we met Anthony from Preston, a very dapper elderly man, self-professed millionaire from his 40 years in England for which he obviously has great affection, now settled back in the place of his birth.

Then back to Sugar Beach via a good look round beautiful Marigot Bay, just south of Castries.

Castries, St Lucia
Castries, St Lucia
Castries, St Lucia
Marigot Bay, St Lucia
In Marigot Bay.
Castries, St Lucia
Marigot Bay, St Lucia
Marigot Bay, St Lucia
Marigot Bay, St Lucia
Pitons, St Lucia

Superb views of the Pitons as we arrived back at Sugar Beach for an afternoon of snorkelling, reading and cool drinks.

Pitons, St Lucia

 

References

  1. Saint Lucia History and Culture