ST. LUCIA CRUISES

St. Lucia (pronounced Loo -sha) changed hands often during the colonial period, being British seven times and French seven times. Today, though, it’s an independent state that’s become one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean, with top-of-the-line resorts.

The capital, Castries, boasts a lovely hill-ringed harbor that’s really an extinct volcanic crater. Most cruise ships arrive at Pointe Seraphine, within walking distance of the center of Castries. Some smaller lines anchor off other sites around the island, such as Rodney Bay to the north or Soufriere to the south.

Because of the difficult terrain, shore excursions are the best means of seeing this beautiful island in a day or less. Snorkeling excursions to St. Lucia’s offshore marine reserve are also recommended. top draw Originally a separate island, Pigeon Island now a national park (www.slunatrust.org ) was British admiral Rodney’s naval base in 1782, when he defeated the French fleet to win St. Lucia. A few bits of the fort remain including a mess hall that’s now a pub but mostly it’s an ideal spot for picnics and nature walks, with a view that stretches all the way to Martinique.

Iconic sight Soufriere, a fishing port and St. Lucia’s second-largest settlement, is dominated by the Pitons, two sharply pointed volcanic peaks that rise right from the sea. Cloaked in green vegetation, with waves crashing around their bases, they’ve become the symbol of St. Lucia. bonus Near the town of Soufriere lies the famous drive-in volcano, La Soufriere, a rocky lunar landscape of bubbling mud and craters seething with fuming sulfur. top beach St. Lucia is famous for its beaches, and just north of Soufriere is a beach connoisseur’s delight, Anse Chastanet, a gorgeous expanse of white sand at the foothills of lush mountains. This is a fantastic spot for snorkeling, with coral reefs starting only a little way offshore.

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