|Family Travel Files Ezine Family Vacations Resource
|St. Lucia: Soufrière South, Family Vacation Ideas - Beaches, Volcano Walks, and Zipling.
Off-the-beaten-path, delightfully green and relatively unspoiled, the island offers green-draped mountains, hidden valleys, banana plantations, a bubbling volcano, and miles of uncrowded beaches. Combining French and British heritage, the residents welcome visitors with a friendly Creole lilt. Safe, friendly and delightfully Caribbean, it is ideal for a family getaway.
St. Lucia is an island loaded with family vacation potential. Providing uncrowded beaches, soft ocean breezes and a welcoming atmosphere, St. Lucia embraces arts and music offering visitors a uniquely St. Lucian experience. As local guides explain St. Lucia was once known as "Island of the Iguanas" but should really be called “The Island of Bananas” because at least six different varieties grow on its soil. Feast from a variety of native dishes, maybe even pepper root stew. Other kid-friendly tropical tastes include: mangoes, papayas, pineapples, soursops, passion fruit, guavas, and coconuts. The national dish is Callaloo Soup, made from a leafy green similar to spinach and the earliest Amerindian cultural breads farina and cassava may still be found on menus. Bonus points: Enhancing a sense of place islanders often speak a French-Creole patois similar to that heard on Martinique although English is the official language.
Though our visit was short our discoveries were many and our not-to-be-missed vacation activity list follows.
Sail through the tree tops.
The brand new Adrena Line, one of the best canopy zip lines in the Caribbean, is not for the faint of heart. This exciting new addition to Rain Forest Adventure's St. Lucia attractions starts off with a short hike through the peaceful forest. This quickly turns into an adrenaline rush as participants scramble across Floating Stairs past Eagle's Claw, zip through the canopy from tree to tree with 18 platforms, swing from the Tarzan Swing onto Tarantula's Nest, then rappel down on the Boa Rappel to the terra firma. Bonus Points:
The company also offers a nighttime version of the tour for those looking for an extra thrill. (Rain Forest Adventure. Toll-free 1-866-SKY-TRAM (1-866-759-8726) or www.rainforestadventure.com/st_lucia_tours_excursions
See two mountains in view. From everywhere along the southeast coast the two signature mountains, Petit Piton and Gros Piton, may be seen in the distance. Sometimes they appear as giant green guardians of the sunrise and at other times, when shrouded in mist, they evoke mystery. Island legends abound about these two pinnacles making any trip to the island interesting. The two volcanic cones, Petit Piton and Gros Piton rise 2,421 ft. and 2,283 ft (738m and 696m) respectively and have become the very symbol of St. Lucia. For active families it is an option to climb Gros Piton accompanied by a knowledgeable guide with government permission. (St. Lucia Forest and Lands Department. 1 (758) 450-2231).
Drive through a volcano.
Volcanoes seem mysterious to almost everyone and so it is also true on St. Vincent, a neighboring island to St. Lucia. Mount Soufrière, shadowing the town of Soufrière, is known as the place with a “drive-in" volcano. It is possible to actually drive along the rocky landscape still bubbling mud and oozing the aroma of rotten eggs. If your nose can take the smell, walk along the trail between the steamy pools and sulfur springs tubes. There is a minimal entrance fee which includes the services of a guide, an obvious benefit with kids, who will want to know the answer to “What makes the pool water look so black?” (La Soufrière. www.tourism.gov.vc
Soak in the mud.
Not far from mysterious Mount Soufrière is a more interactive spot. Surrounded by lush tropical gardens, Diamond Waterfall is one of the geological attractions of the island. Like a scene from “Survivor” the water bubbles up from sulfur springs and like a diamond in the sunlight, the waterfall changes colors from yellow to black to green to gray throughout the day. The attraction for many is a chance to use the Diamond Mineral Baths. The original mineral baths were built for use by French soldiers. Today they provide visitors with tropical therapy and relaxation, like discovering a scenic island hot tub. If you are not on a tour, expect to pay a small entrance fee. Need to know:
Like hot tubs, these mineral baths are very warm and not suitable for young children or people with high blood pressure. (Diamond Mineral Baths, Diamond Botanical Gardens. (758) 459-7155 or diamondstlucia.com
Find the Secret Garden. Mamiku Gardens are the finest botanical gardens in St Lucia - truly an unforgettable natural experience. Located along the Castries Vieux Fort Highway (a.k.a. East Coast Highway) about mid-point between Castires and Vieux Fort, the 12-acre landscaped gardens and woodlands include: an archaeological site now under excavation; a Creole bush medicine garden; café and gift store as well as walking trails. The tropical pathways weave throughout the gardens allowing discoveries to be made by guests with or without a guide. The Woodland Path which leads to Grandpa's Old House is lined by endangered trees native to St. Lucia. In the opposite direction the The Cassé (small stream) pathway leads to the Secret Garden. Surrounding the gardens, Mamiku Estate is a working plantation producing bananas, tropical flowers and fruits. ((758) 452-8236 or 455-3729)
Enjoy a spa day.
Stay at Coconut Bay Resort and Spa and experience bliss by the sea. Located on the property, at the edge of the sea is the Kai Mer (French Creole for house by the sea). The tranquil facility provides guests with ocean view treatment rooms with private outdoor showers, relaxation lounge, 12-head Swiss hydro shower, two steam rooms and two sauna rooms. The spa offers an extensive selection of treatments, facials, massages and pedicures. Signature spa services include ocean front massages, Coconilla – a combination treatment, and a “choose your own aloe” experience. Bonus points:
Best news for families, teens are allowed. (Coconut Bay Resort and Spa. www.coconutbayresortandspa.com
About St. Lucia
Official documents: Most visitors are required to present a valid passport to enter St. Lucia, including U.S. citizens. Most visitors are required to present a valid passport to enter St. Lucia, including U.S. citizens.isas are not required for citizens of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, or other commonwealth countries. When it is time to leave St. Lucia, you will need to bring the immigration form or visa that you acquired when you reached the island. It is also important to note that you will be assessed a departure tax of $26(USD) as well as an airport development fee of $35(USD). These fees will be attached to the price of your plane ticket.
Currency: Official monetary unit is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$), which is pegged at EC$2.65 per U.S. dollar. Nearly all hotels, restaurants, and shops accept US dollars.
Need to know: Electricity-- St. Lucia runs on 220- to 230-volt AC (50 cycles), so bring an adapter if you plan to use U.S. appliances. Some hotels are wired for U.S. appliances. Ask when you book.
Books for the Trip
Ibis Stew? Oh,No!
The latest title by Trinidadian writer and television producer Joanne Johnson, tells of the transformation of Captain Bad and his bumbling crew. Once a poacher of the endangered national bird of Trinidad, the scarlet ibis, Captain Bad becomes, in the end, their protector. The book aims to encourage awareness and activism in children, not only regarding Trinidad's national bird, but endangered species everywhere. Books may be purchased and Joanne's work viewed at www.caribbeanchildren.com
The Scottish -Island Girl.
An exchange of cultures and a visit to see the protected giant leather back turtles helps Lizzy to love her new island home. Available with read-along CD (wholesale and retail) exclusively through caribbeanchildren.com
. Kids turn the page at the roll of the steel pan - when PANMAN© rolls his tenor! (5-8 years)
Content provided by FTF based on a site visit. Copyright 2006. Updated 2013.