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S T. L U C I A
It seems like everywhere you turn, there’s some romantic rendezvous on St. Lucia. Down by the beach, bronze-skinned lovers embrace after leaving footprints along the water’s edge. Others hold hands as they snorkel over the vibrant scenery on a nearby reef. But it’s the pair of spiked mountain tops thrusting upward from the sapphire sea that serves as a constant reminder that the beauty of St. Lucia is perhaps best shared by two.
Beneath these emerald peaks, the seascape merges with colorful coral gardens before ultimately sloping off to the deep abyss. Dozens of sites fringe the base of these peaks like presents under a Christmas tree. Each popular dive is just a short boat
ride away from the hotels in the Soufriere area. For those staying in the Rodney Bay area, the beautiful scenery on this side of the island is about an hour away by taxi. Wetsuit-clad couples also hold hands as they drift over the striking marine habitats surrounding the Pitons, which abound with life-some of which exhibit their own romantic antics. French Angelfish and Banded Butterflyfish fin side by side, weaving gracefully through a healthy crop of sponges, corals and seafans. It’s a familiar sight most anywhere on St. Lucia, but much more common at sites named Grand Caille and Fairyland. Coral Gardens is a meeting place for clans of trumpetfish, a species known to periodically perform a snout dance amongst the cover of a soft coral hideout.
Yet, there are still scores of other critters that prowl solo much of the time. Spotted Moray Eels and Caribbean Spiny Lobsters take refuge within available crevices at Anse Chastanet Reef. During night dives, keep your eyes peeled for an octopus or two. A lone frogfish awaits dinner at the base of an orange sponge at Grand Caille. At Fairyland, you never know when a resident school of Horse-Eye Jacks or a turtle might appear out of the blue. These animals can propel themselves into the oncoming current without much effort at all. Sometimes the nourishing flow is nonexistent, other times the reef has to be viewed during a swift fly-by.
Above the waterline, the mountain scenery is rich with plant and bird life. Varieties of flower blossoms permeate the air with every twist of the narrow winding roads. Bird songs constantly echo through the forest. If you’re lucky you’ll hear the call of the
rare St. Lucia parrot.
A must do on any sightseeing agenda is visiting Soufriere Estate on the outskirts of Soufriere. This 2,000-acre property is home to Diamond Waterfall, mineral baths and botanical gardens. It’s one of this island’s many photo ops where, even if you forget to pack a camera, a mental snapshot of the surrounding beauty will stay with you and your loved one forever.
Gingers, orchids, spices and fruits grow on both sides of the pathway leading up to the famous falls. Although this multicolored waterfall, stain-streaked by mineral deposits, is considered the highlight of the tour, halfway up the slope is a series of concrete bathing pools filled to the brim with steaming mineral water. King Louis the XVI of France acclaimed these curative baths and constructed the pool in 1785 to appease his troops, which occupied the island at the time. Today, it mostly accommodates couples who come to soak in these natural hot tubs. Unfortunately, skinny-dipping isn’t allowed.
The French colonized St. Lucia in 1650. During the next century and a half, its possession exchanged hands with the British over a dozen times before it was handed over to England for good in 1814. The island gained independence in 1979, but, to this day, remains a member of the British Commonwealth. Despite the island’s history of upheaval, King Louis’ baths, and several landmarks in Soufriere, have been preserved. Billowing steam and boiling pools of mud take center stage at another scenic stop known as the drive-in volcano. The seven-acre crater looks like a lunar landscape and air surrounding it fumes with sulfur vapors. Although visitors were once allowed to walk right up to the rim of this geothermal wonder, safety concerns now restrict access and the volcano must be viewed from a nearby catwalk.
To cool down, drive up to one of the trailheads leading through St. Lucia’s vast rain forest. Nature preserves such as Edmund Reserve and Barr del’Isle Forest Reserve are wonderful places to cross paths with all sorts of wild and exotic flora and fauna. After an entire week’s worth of romance on the beach, in the sea and in the spa, couples will surely arrive home feeling refreshed and regenerated-just the ticket for anyone trying to escape a hectic life for awhile. So, whether you and your significant other are newfound lovers searching for that passionate getaway or perhaps a lifelong couple hoping to rekindle romance, be sure to journey to this tropical gem, because there’s no doubt in my mind that St. Lucia is a lover’s paradise.
Cooled by gentile trades breezing down the lush mountainside, Anse Chastanet’s 49 guestrooms are neatly nestled in a forest of poinciana, palm and red gommier trees overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Each unit is roomy, romantic and airy with louvered windows permitting perfect cross ventilation. As a whole, the resort harmonizes with the surrounding vegetation, yet each unit touts a private balcony view of the stately Pitons, azure Anse Chastanet (Chastanet Bay) or colorful rain forest. A pair of fine restaurants complements the romantic atmosphere at Anse Chastanet. The Pitons Restaurant has a bird’s eye view of the Pitons and features a changing menu of gourmet cuisine characterized by a distinctive Caribbean, Mediterranean and French flare. Candlelit buffet dinners at the beachside Trou Au Diable often conclude with a moonlit stroll along the waterfront. An onsite mini spa promotes his and her massages, facials, wraps and scrubs. And if you’re looking for a place to get hitched, wedding ceremonies are another of Anse Chastanet’s specialties. For reservations, call (888) GO-LUCIA (465-8242); (758) 459-7000; Fax (758) 459-7700; e-mail: email@example.com; web site: www.ansechastanet.com.