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Photography:
Laura Hunt


St. Lucia 
A Second Honeymoon in the Caribbean

Johanna Kaestner

St. Lucia Picture Gallery

A long time ago, in the first or second year of our marriage, we read an article about Santa Lucia in a travel magazine. It was instant love, and we dreamed about a vacation on this beautiful island. The years passed, the kids came along, and there was always something else we wanted to do or visit, so the island destination was forgotten. Santa Lucia came up again when Valerie Barnhart, a Caribbean specialist from Just Honeymoons, recommended the island and Ladera, a small resort, for our 30th anniversary.

It is a long trip from the Pacific Northwest. Late at night, a small Japanese bus, the typical local taxi, picked us up from the tiny airport at Castries. A newlywed couple from Denver, who also had booked the Ladera Resort, rode with us. The distance is only about 27 miles, yet the road is so steep and windy, filled with potholes and uneven pavement, that it took the driver well over an hour to deliver us safely to our destination. We asked many questions about the island while we drove through the warm and lush tropical night accompanied by a concert of frogs and crickets. It was almost 2 am when we fell into our large comfortable bed, protected from bugs and the rest of the world by a white and fluffy mosquito net.

Ladera, among the ten most romantic spots according to Caribbean Hideaways, is a small, somewhat rustic resort. Attuned to nature, it is the first property in St. Lucia that met the strict ecological requirements to earn the Green Globe 21 certification. Situated on a ridge about 1000' above the ocean, it is surrounded by the same prodigal flora as the adjacent Botanical Garden: bougainvillea, birds of paradise, and flamingo plants make for colorful splashes in the profuse vegetation.

Each of the 19 spacious, airy suites and six villas has an open wall to the west side with a spectacular view of the ocean framed by the two sugar-cone-shaped pitons, the landmark volcanic peaks of the island. The breeze from the trade winds make it several degrees cooler than accommodations at sea level. Since there is no direct access to the ocean, guests can take advantage of free transportation to the beach of the Jalousie Hilton Resort, just below. The other beach Ladera's patrons can go to belongs to the Resort Anse Chastanet. This is probably the most beautiful natural beach on the whole island, with it's fine dark sand and large rustling palms providing protection from strong sun. Anse Castanet also hosts one of the island's scuba diving centers.

A wonderful asset of Ladera is its award-winning, two-story Dasheene Restaurant. It has open walls and a fantastic view. We made friends with the chef,

Orlando Satchell, who is famous for combining local fresh produce, meats, and fish with creative flavorful cooking and attractive presentation. We had several excellent dinners there, choosing mostly from the daily specials. I was astonished by the extensive selection of excellent international wines, which were paired expertly with the dinners.

Everybody seemed very friendly and helpful, and everything you asked for will be done. Maybe not quite as fast as you expect. The first day I asked a waitress a couple of times too often for a coffee refill, but I learned quickly, adapting to the warm climate, the smiling people and their pace.

We explored the island in a small Jeep we rented in Soufrière, a picturesque town close to Ladera. The rugged, narrow, winding roads make driving on the island quite time consuming. Driving on the left side of these roads adds to the difficulty. The countryside is dominated by banana plantations, as the crop is a major contributor to Santa Lucia's economy. Women and men offer their fruit and vegetables in small stalls, on tables, or even on a cloth spread next to the street. They carry their loads on their heads and move in a slow, swaying walk that looks so elegant. We saw many children in school uniforms and heard on the radio how proud Santa Lucia is of its public education system.

My favorite town was the lively Laborie in the south. The houses huddle around a long beach shaded by coconut palms. Nets were dried and mended there and the day's catch was brought in by a group of fisherman and divided. Other boats pulled up high on the beach waited for the next outing. Two of the elegant frigate birds flew over the ocean looking for their own special catch. Reached only after navigating the many potholes on the narrow roads Laborie is largely bypassed by tourism and has managed to keep its original charm.

My favorite place is the National Historic Park on Pigeon Island to the north. In the Interpretative Center we learned about its eventful past, had lunch in the Captain's Cellar, and sunbathed on one of its sandy beaches.

Did our trip fulfill our dreams of so many years? Absolutely! The friendly people, the warm lush climate, and the cooling winds were very relaxing. Being together with each other, reading a good book under the rustling coconut palms, swimming and snorkeling in the warm ocean, exploring the island, and talking to the locals, gave us a vacation we will never forget.

Facts:
  • Santa Lucia is a favorite island for honeymoons and destination weddings, since it is easy to get a marriage license there.
  • The island is a famous spot for scuba diving and snorkeling.
  • Everything you need to know about the island you will find at the official St. Lucia website (see below).




  • Important web sites:



    Santa Lucia Tourist Board

    Ladera Resort

    Just Honeymoons


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