Travel

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Escape to the dreamy beaches of St. Lucia

John Regan writes about year-round sunshine, warm tropical waters and abundant coconut trees...

John Regan

Published 24/04/2014|13:42

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The pool at sunset at The Coconut Bay Resort

Located in the West Indies, St Lucia has a colourful history, having been first colonised by the French and then claimed by the British.

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The island then changed hands 14 times in total, as the French and British continued to invade and claim it as their own, before finally gaining independence in 1979.

I figured that any place worth fighting about for centuries had to be worth a visit.

Our hotel – the Coconut Bay Resort & Spa – was just 10 minutes from the airport, so perfect after a long flight. From collecting our luggage at the carousel to lying on the beach in less than 30 minutes – perfect. A real hotel of two halves, the Coconut Bay is divided into two sections – a family area and an adults-only section. Each has its own beach, as well as pools and bars. While residents of the adults-only ‘Harmony' section are free to use the entire area, children are forbidden from entering ‘Harmony'. This makes the hotel an excellent choice for both family holidays, and romantic couples' retreats.

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The hotel has a choice of four restaurants for dinner, from the fantastic buffet to the delicious creole themed Calabash restaurant, where there is a dress code (no shorts or flip-flops basically) and where reservations are required.

There is also an Oriental restaurant and an outdoor spot serving Italian food.

For daytime dining, the buffet is open for breakfast and lunch, and there is a poolside grill serving burgers, hot wings and gorgeous fried chicken sandwiches all day.

For those who aren't into sunbathing, or who want to burn off some of the free cocktails, the resort offers a range of sports. Football, cricket, tennis, basketball and beach volleyball are organised daily. There are also fantastic outdoor yoga classes in the mornings as well as hikes to the nearby town of Vieux Fort as well as the nearby Quarry Hill which gives excellent views of the Island and the nearby Maria Islands nature reserve.

There are also kayaks available if you want to explore the coastline, and the area is also excellent for kite surfing. And for the children (and the big children) there are two waterslides and a lazy river on the premises.

 

As a volcanic island, St Lucia is very hilly, and our initial plan to explore the island by bicycle quickly went out the window when we saw the Tour de France style climbs around us. The main road through the island, said to have been built by Irish workers, is nicknamed the Rollercoaster because of its many dips and twists. In fact the airport is located on the only flat stretch of land on the entire island.

While our hotel was located on the south-east of the island, we did get a chance to explore a little. Among the highlights of our trip was a Zipline Adventure at Morne Coubaril Estate. This was a fantastic way to explore the rainforest, as our guides pointed out the local sights as well as plants, trees and birds. There were nine ziplines in total, each about 20 metres above ground and about 150m long. The feeling of flying through the trees was fantastic fun, and the trip was so good we considered doing it a second time.

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However, there were too many other things to do, and only a week to get it all in. We also visited the drive-in volcano, which is overdue for an eruption. We took a dip in the hot springs and covered ourselves in the volcanic mud, which is supposed to do wonders for the skin. We visited the fishing town of Soufriere with its brightly coloured buildings and even had a massage in an oceanfront cabana at the hotel Spa, which was another highlight.

St Lucia's most famous tourist attractions are the world famous Pitons – a UNESCO world heritage site. These are two volcanic towers that jut out of the ocean on St Lucia's western coastline. The smaller one can be climbed without any ropes or specialist equipment, but it takes about four hours so we satisfied ourselves with the views from the road!

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There are times when you just want to relax and chill out. While I love bustling city breaks and adrenaline-filled ski holidays, sometimes you just can't beat an island paradise. With year-round sunshine, warm tropical waters, abundant coconut trees and warm, friendly people, St Lucia certainly fits the bill. And the hammocks are amazing!

 

FACTFILE:

 

St Lucia is one of the most southerly of the West Indies. Its closest neighbours are St Vincent, Martinique and Barbados.

The local currency is the East Caribbean Dollar, but the US Dollar is accepted everywhere.

There are no direct flights from Dublin but flight time from London is approximately nine hours.

One week in October at the Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa (all inclusive) in a Deluxe Garden Splash Room costs from €2299pps with www.travelmood.ie

Call 01-4331032 or drop into their offices at 18-19 Duke Street Dublin 2.

 

 

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