There are many magical things to see and enjoy for ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) participants and other sailors arriving in the Caribbean this winter, with St. Lucia being the perfect starting point. The island is known for its tropical “Rainforest”, some 1,880 feet above sea level; this vision of green encompasses over 19,000 acres with 29 miles of hiking trails where excellent guides lead you to scenic locales.
St. Lucia’s delicious produce is sold at outdoor markets, ideal for provisioning. You will also want to purchase local crafts such as hand-woven baskets, seed necklaces and other indigenous crafts woven from climbing foot palms and a local hanging root called “aralie”. The taxi drivers of St. Lucia are knowledgeable and gracious—use them when planning your inland trips.
Blessed by an abundance of water, green foliage and mountains, waterfall settings are picture postcard perfect. On my last cruise to this lovely island I decided to hire a guide and visit two waterfalls in southern St. Lucia. A knowledgeable Rasta guide first took me to the Toraille Waterfall and Botanical Gardens located just outside of Soufriere. Nothing had prepared me for the exquisite beauty of the next few hours. Casilda and Joseph Hyppolyce own this superb piece of property, which has been in their family for generations and is a National Heritage Site. A matriarchal inheritance, the waterfall actually passed down through Paulina Diddery, who married Joseph’s father.
Joseph had worked at a waterfall site in Guyana; when he returned to St. Lucia he noticed the inland falls on his family’s land, not seen from the road. After much expense and excavation the family built trails with the help of Theodore Porspere and his brother, who now maintain the gardens. The result is a work of natural beauty featuring winding pathways and a splendid array of flowering plants native to the island. The sounds of cascading streams lend soothing tones as you near the waterfall. I had worn my swimsuit under my clothing and enjoyed a delightful and refreshing dip, even better than I had imagined.
The Piton Waterfall is comprised of three separate pools that vary in water temperature from hot to tepid and is most healing for the body. Owned by the Sylvester Family, it offers a lovely hike followed by an herbal swim that will leave you feeling refreshed and rested. I enjoyed my visit with one of the Sylvester brothers who told me the history of the falls. Fifty years ago the family would go to the falls every weekend for picnics and swimming—most enjoyable family outings. When the tourist trade started really developing in the Pitons, Euratius Sylvester decided to turn the falls into a National Heritage Site and began developing the area. He built pools at the bottom of the falls and channeled water into them – these pools naturally maintain themselves, each at a different temperature, which is delightful for bathing. I began in the hot pool and worked my way to the waterfall itself, which is the coldest. My guide then took me back to our boat where I had the best afternoon nap in years.
So put the southern waterfalls on your St. Lucia agenda – you’ll be glad you did.