Disclaimer: This review is going to be a bit of a memory stretch, but since it was requested by my childhood BFF (scanned prom picture below), I enthusiastically agreed and will supplement the post with some more recent web info.
Russ and I spent a week in St. Lucia before we were married as part of a Group Study Exchange program through Rotary International. It was a month-long trip to the Southern Caribbean that included one week in each of the following islands: Saint Lucia, Grenada, Barbados, and Trinidad & Tobago. Here is a pretty accurate description of the program from Rotary’s website:
“For four to six weeks, team members experience the host country’s culture and institutions, observe how their vocations are practiced abroad, develop personal and professional relationships, and exchange ideas.
In a typical four-week tour, applicants participate in five full days of vocational visits, 15 to 20 club presentations, 10 to 15 formal visits and social events, two to three days at the district conference, three to four hours per day of cultural and site tours, and three to four hours per day of free time with host families.
For each team member, the Foundation provides the most economical round-trip airline ticket between the home and host countries. Rotarians in the host area provide for meals, lodging, and group travel within their district.”
Rotary still has the Group Study Exchange program and it is a fantastic opportunity to spend a month in another country (or countries depending on the Rotary district) living with a host family. If you meet the program requirements and can arrange for a month away from work, you should apply! Even though you live with host families, I wouldn’t describe our experience as living with an ‘average’ Caribbean family. In many countries outside the U.S., it is seen as a prestigious honor to be a Rotarian so our host families were generally well-off and lived in beautiful homes. We were basically spoiled for a month.
The first and probably prettiest island that we visited as part of our trip was St. Lucia. It is a mountainous island with a rainforest in the interior. The most recognizable feature of the island are the Piton mountains, which rise impressively out of the sea.
During our week long stay, our hosts made sure we saw as much of the island as possible. We went to Pigeon Island National Park, explored the drive-in volcano and Sulphur Springs, sailed on a catamaran, went on a rainforest hike, and toured a cocoa plantation. I also visited a few construction sites as part of my professional exchange because I was a project engineer at the time, and ran everyday on the somewhat terrifying roads. On more than one occasion I was startled by cows that were tethered by the side of the road to graze in random places. While Russ was spoiled by servants that doted over him all week, he did get the short end of the stick when it came to running. He was staying high in the hills and was frequently chased by dogs on his runs. I’ll take cows over dogs any day.
My favorite activities on the island included the catamaran day trip and the rainforest hike. I think the southwestern part of the island near the Pitons is the most picturesque.
Since my friend will be staying near Soufriere and her trip will only be for a few days to celebrate their 10th anniversary (sans kids), I don’t think there will be too many activities on the agenda. Here are some of the things I would put on the list for consideration, along with lazy days at the beach and romantic dinners out.
If you are planning a trip to St. Lucia with kids, the Castaway Tour sounds like a great option with plenty of activities for everyone.
Mariah – there’s also the Nature Segway tour if Jason has always dreamed of being a mall cop?
My friend was smart to schedule her trip for May. High season runs from December – April and hurricane season is June – November. May is the perfect time to go since prices are generally lower, the weather is likely to be good, and the tourist attractions won’t be as crowded.
Has anyone been to St. Lucia more recently? If so, please post your suggestions in the comments.