We had the tremendous pleasure of staying at the beutiful volcanic island of St. Lucia as our last trip, before Mama Nellie entered her third trimester with our second baby. The unique volcanic geography of St. Lucia provided some of the most romantic and scenic views reminiscent of some our favorite islands in Hawaii. There were some things I definitely would have changed which would have made this trip with the baby a much more pleasurable experience, which I will get into further in the review, but overall I have to say that St. Lucia is definitely not an island that should only be left as a cruise port-of-call. There is definitely plenty of beauty to explore on this island (If you can stand to bear the treacherous driving conditions that is).
First off, if you’re flying into St. Lucia from an international flight then you will be arriving at the Vieux Fort Airport which is in the southern most tip of the island. Many of the popular resorts located in Castries and Gros Islet are a good two hour ride in one of the most treacherous driving conditions you will ever experience. A taxi from the Vieux Fort Airport to one of the resorts in the North End can run around $80USD each way. And while the taxi drivers may seem to drive like speeding crazed psychos at times, take into account that they make these trips almost every day and are actually very proficient at this type of driving condition.
You’re probably wondering why almost every Tripadvisor review complains at how bad the driving conditions are in St. Lucia. Well, after spending almost half of our trip driving four hours a day round trip, I’m pretty sure I have a definitive idea at why driving in St. Lucia stinks. First off, coming from the U.S., driving on the left side of the road just feels wrong. Although, I’ve driven on the left side of the road in other countries, so that was not the worst of it. The roads in St. Lucia seem to be narrower than what I am used to and because of the mountainous geography of St. Lucia there are a high number of twists, hairpin turns and blind spots that are just begging for an accident. There is also only one lane on the main road that goes around the entire island and there is no real traffic regulation so be prepared to dodge vehicles just stopping in the middle of the road, locals driving way too fast, tourists driving way too slow and people and animals trying to cross the street. There are also numerous land slides that completely wipe away existing roads so prepare for detours and two-way traffic turning into single lane traffic. And that basically sums up the driving conditions in St. Lucia.
While looking for a resort in St. Lucia we were originally looking for a place close to a strip of restaurants and with plenty of shopping just walking distance away. After much research we learned that the Rodney Bay area is exactly that, with two shopping centers and numerous restaurants just steps from the beach resorts, so we made our base at the Bay Gardens Beach Resort in Rodney Bay.
The Bay Gardens Beach Resort is ideally located on the main strip of Rodney Bay
Entrance to the beach from the pool
We ventured out for dinner most nights to the nearby restaurants and walked back to the resort after dinner. The beach at Rodney Bay was beautiful with plenty of water sports available right on the beach. Although if you are looking for a beach with a more natural feel, lined with palm trees, then you’re better off staying in Soufriere.
Beautiful Beach at Rodney Bay. Non motorized waterspouts were free to Bay Gardens guests. We had a lot of fun on the standing boards and kayaks.
Sunset at Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
If we were to do this trip over again I would definitely have stayed in Soufriere. We fell in love with Soufriere and ended up making the two hour, one way drive for at least half of our trip. Never mind the proximity of shopping and restaurants; almost all of St. Lucia’s natural beauty and wonders are located in Soufriere. The waterfalls, natural gardens, coral reefs, hot springs, volcanoes and mountains and the pristine palm lined beaches are all located in Soufriere.
Diamond Falls is a short 20 minute walk inside the Diamond Botanical Gardens (you can’t swim in these falls)
The secret cave in Anse Chastanet. Just look for the spitting water to the left.
Anse Chastanet reef had some of the best snorkeling from the beach on the entire island
Many of the mountain resorts in Soufriere have panoramic views and free shuttles down to the beach. If you have a car, there are plenty of different restaurants you can drive to. Most importantly, Soufriere was just a 30-40 minute ride from the airport. I know I’m starting to sound like a salesperson for Soufriere but I seriously, thoroughly enjoyed it more than the North End.
The view of the majestic Pitons from Dasheene Restaurant at Ladera Resort
Although, I have to say, hiking up Pigeon Island was one of the highlights of our trip in St. Lucia, the remainder of Rodney Bay and Gros Islet is a bit “rougher” than Soufriere. If you want to know what I mean by “rougher” check out my Rodney Bay review on Tripadvisor.
The View from the top of the fort on Pigeon Island. The highest point on the hill in the center of the picture is where the photo below was taken. You can take a baby stroller up the bottom of this fort. At that point you can take turns climbing the fort which is about a 7 minute climb.
The view from the top of Pigeon Island. The path leading up here is definitely not stroller or baby friendly. Although if your spouse is patient enough an average person can climb up here and back to the bottom of the fort in about 30-40 minutes.
Beautiful ruins on Pigeon Island
Your admission to Pigeon Island includes a stay on their private beach. You won’t get bothered by aggressive hawkers on this peaceful beach. It was a perfect way to finish the day here on Pigeon Island.
One day I hope to return to this beautiful Island. Hopefully when my little Lana and her future sister is older we’ll be able to hike up the majestic Pitons. I’ll be counting the days till then.