We are just back from a week in St. Lucia at the Windjammer Resort. We were staying with friends who have a time share there and this is our second time (pays to have friends with vacation properties!)
This year was a bit of a last minute thing for us so we scrambled to get a cheap flight/flights. Last time we flew direct out of Toronto with AC and this time we flew Delta - TO to Atlanta - Atlanta to St. Lucia. I would definitely recommend a direct flight. We use the helicopter service with St. Lucia Helicopters and if it is affordable this is the way to go if you are staying in the northern part of the island. Ten minutes and you are there!
We don't use the 'all inclusive' service we pay as you go at Windjammer. I realize this isn't for everyone but the villas have complete kitchens and we aren't ones to always want to go out for meals. Also, the Windjammer has a small 'tuck' shop. It is stocked with alcohol (beer, liquor and some good wines), fresh baked bread, some produce, excellent cheeses, meats, eggs, dairy, dry goods, condiments etc.
Our first day was spent in Rodney Bay getting supplies at the newer GL supermarket. We have been to the Super J before. The GL might have a bit more selection but I think it was a bit pricier. Either way they are just across the street from each other and easy to get to by taxi. (approx. $25 each way) While in Rodney Bay we had lunch at Ti Banane. The curried goat was excellent. The rest of the day was spent at the villa's infinity pool sipping concoctions made in the villas blender. We are all about keeping costs down!
Day two we went to the rain forest for zip lining with Tree Top Tours. We have done this one before (our friends have done the other one with the tram before but think this one is better). There are 12 zip lines all through the canopy. The bus trip in itself is interesting. You pass through small communities, drive by the Gov. Gens. residence and you get to see the Atlantic (east coast). There had been a lot of rain the night before and the rivers were really raging. There was even some wash out on the road which made the trip even more exciting! The tour guide is full of interesting and funny things about St. Lucia. The cost is $100 per person. I think this is expensive but well worth it. Once back to the resort, you guessed it, back into the pool. We had dinner down at the beach restaurant and it was very good.
Day three was spent lazing around with books and swimming. We are very much beach people and avid snorkelers but we never made it to the beach this year. Anyone who knows us can't believe this. That is how relaxing this place can be if you want to just lay back. We figured we had everything we needed to enjoy ourselves in the villa. Also, on that day we were visited by some of the gardeners that we had met on our walks. They brought us coconuts to enjoy. I had never had this type of coconut. We've always had the type with the meat. These ones are full of coconut water and a fleshy lining. We would pour the liquid into jugs and eat the lining. They refer to the coconut palms as the 'tree of life' on St. Lucia. Apparently, there are all sorts of medicinal properties in them. I don't if it is true or not but we would drink the chilled liquid everyday and it was great! That night we ordered room service (honestly we are not anti social we were just being really lazy!). We ordered the Embers burger (fresh beef patty with bacon and cheese). Awesome!
Day four. This is the one we had really been looking forward to. As a treat for our friends (and ourselves) we had pre- booked a sail boat with MysticMan Tours. A boat picks you up at the Windjammer dock (9 am sharp) and takes you out to your own 43ft sailboat. The boat was beautiful (can be seen on MysticMan's web page - Everready was the name of the boat). Captain Nigel and First Mate Bradley sailed us down the west coast for the day. The boat has a canopy and is very comfortable. There is a bathroom on board. The boat is stocked with beer, rum punch, water and lots of soft drinks. Nigel and Bradley are a wealth of information and very friendly. Our friends even got to take over sailing/steering for a bit! Along the coast there are some great rock formations, fishing villages and some deserted beaches to see. We sailed to a marine preserve in the morning for some snorkeling. We then carried on to Soufriere for lunch at a local restaurant. This is all included in the cost. The restaurant is on the water with big open windows. It was great to watch all the comings and goings on the water front. Lunch was a choice of fish or chicken and it came with lots of local sides - rice, lentils, bread fruit, plantain and coleslaw. We were served fresh lemonade but alcoholic drinks were extra. After lunch we could have explored the town (and wish we had had time) but we were anxious to set sail again for the Pitons. I have to say coming at them from the water was pretty cool. We anchored facing Jalousie Beach and got back in the water for more snorkeling. The snorkeling in St. Lucia is ok but we have snorkeled extensively in the Caribbean and there are definitely better islands out there. Having said that, there is still lots to see. We did see some barrel sponges (?) that we hadn't seen before. Tonnes of fish and lots of healthy corals. Another thing to note is the colour of the water. It was ink blue. Again, we have been to lots of islands but we have never seen water quite this colour. Sadly, our time was up and we had to head back up to the north. If you take this trip, be sure to look out for the white and brown boobies. We took along some binoculars. We hit a squall of rain on the way back but Nigel and Bradley handled it no problem! Back to the villa for dinner and lights out early.
Day five was another lazy day on the deck. There is nothing quite like floating in the pool and looking out over the sea and vegetation. That evening we booked a taxi and guide (the guide isn't necessary but we really liked ours) to the 'Jump Up' in Anse la Raye. It is a big fish fry/party on the main street in Anse la Raye. The town itself has about 12 thousand people and it is really pretty. The houses are side by side and they look like small fishing cottages. The main street is pedestrianized for the party. There are about 5-10 food vendors. I have never seen so much seafood and fish at one time in my life! Huge lobsters, steamed snapper, stuffed crabs, fried mahi mahi, mussels, the list goes on. You pick what types of fish you want and that comes with sides. I can't remember all of the sides but one does stand out. It is banana salad. Our guide Andre said it is one of their national dishes. It tastes like potatoe salad. It was delicious. I would go back for that alone. Once you have your food you join others at picnic tables covered in the St. Lucian plaid. Google it - very pretty and it adds to the festive atmosphere. The music is Caribbean and apparently about 4 different dj's take turns. We went around 8 and stayed until 11. We were told that the real party doesn't start until around 11 and goes all night. We would have never made it! It reminded me of a really great wedding. The type where little kids are dancing around (everyone shares in keeping an eye on them) teenagers are a bit shy but still having a great time and the oldest people seem to be out dancing everyone else. If you go, be on the look out for some pretty serious games of dominoes along the street. Before we went, I had read on TA that someone didn't enjoy it because of all the feral dogs. There are lots of dogs around but you shouldn't let it spoil your time. Yes, they were skinnier than dogs we have at home but they weren't crying or injured - there was lots of tail waging - so I figure they aren't doing too badly. Once back in the villa, we went for a late night swim. That is another thing about island nights - star gazing!
Our last full day was spent pretty much the same way - lazing about. Keep in mind, there really is as much or as little to do on the island as you want - we were just looking to unwind! That night we went into Castries (the capitol - approximately 60 000 people) for dinner. We had read much about the 'Coal Pot' so decided to try it. It is another of the many really interesting restaurants on the island. This one sits right at the water's edge - literally. My husband could have kicked off his sandals and put his feet in the water. The food and atmosphere are excellent. We were well taken care of without anyone being too pushy. It was a great way to end our holiday.
So, would we return to the Windjammer even if we didn't have really generous friends? Absolutely. We aren't really resort people (we have stayed at resorts but we tend to rent private properties). Windjammer lets you do both. I'm sure there are lots of other really nice places to stay on the Island we just haven't been to any of them. The great thing about St. Lucia is that it has so much to offer all sorts of people. Adventure seekers, nature lovers, food connoisseurs, beach worshipers even sloths like us!