Soufriere

Is­land Road Trip

Tropical Traveller Magazine - - BYLAND -

IS­LAND ROAD TRIP – OFF THE BEATEN TRACK IN SOUFRIERE

There’s noth­ing like two veteran tourists to find a few au­then­tic lo­cal gems off the beaten track in Saint Lu­cia’s sul­phurous and spec­tac­u­lar heart, the be­witch­ing town of Soufriere.

Saint Lu­cia’s for­mer cap­i­tal’s is nes­tled in an emer­ald green bay, sur­rounded by steep, lushly ver­dant moun­tains and flanked by the vol­canic mag­nif­i­cence of Petit Pi­ton, which rarely seems to leave the view as you make your way around Soufriere’s charm­ing but hold-your-breath nar­row streets.

Hun­dreds of thou­sands of vis­i­tors make their way to Soufriere by land and sea, from ho­tels and cruise ships, ar­riv­ing on yachts and stay­ing in some of the most ex­quis­ite re­sort prop­er­ties in the world. The Drive-In Vol­cano and Di­a­mond Falls are well known and loved, as are many of the area’s iconic tourist attractions, but what if you’re a free­lancer, a bit in­de­pen­dent and out for an au­then­tic lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ence? TT knows that more and more vis­i­tors want to take their time, make their own itin­er­ary and get to know Saint Lu­cia on their terms, so we sent a cou­ple of scouts on a foray into the bread­bas­ket of the is­land to un­cover a few de­li­cious finds.

GET­TING THERE

Driv­ing is the best way to see all the sights and get to know the is­land in­ti­mately, but it’s not with­out its chal­lenges so choose a re­li­able, rec­om­mended company and a car you’re com­fort­able driv­ing. Cool Breeze is an ex­cel­lent rental ser­vice with of­fices in strate­gic lo­ca­tions is­land­wide, and a roster of com­fort­able, re­li­able ve­hi­cles in a va­ri­ety of price ranges and knowl­edge­able staff to help you get off to a good start. Sign­ing up is su­per- ef­fi­cient, and the of­fice at JQ Rod­ney Bay Mall is con­ve­nient for ho­tels in the north – in just min­utes TT was out the door and load­ing up an im­pres­sive Dodge Cal­i­bre which was a great car for the road trip down south.

If a bone- shak­ing adren­a­line rush is your pre­ferred method of ar­rival in Soufriere, or any­where else on the west coast in­deed, there’s no­body bet­ter to get you to the jetty in ex­hil­a­rat­ing style than with Cap­tain Jerome on his wa­ter taxi, Is­rael King. Bounc­ing over the waves is not for the nau­seous, but if an ad­ven­ture is on your itin­er­ary, Jerome can take you to any one of his se­cret coves and caved around the coast. At Soufriere, Is­rael King dis­em­barks at the main jetty, just steps from the main streets of the town.

THE TARZAN OF SOUFRIERE

Zi­plin­ing is a lot of fun, and the Hotwires zi­pline is a great way to spend to spend a cou­ple of hours in Soufriere. Lo­cated at the Morne Coubaril Es­tate, the eight plat­form course through rain­for­est and bam­boo is not too stren­u­ous for be­gin­ners, and the Pi­ton views make for a real photo op­por­tu­nity. Our guides were Dal­ton and Emery, who has been with the op­er­a­tion since day one and seems about as com­fort­able hang­ing from a wire as he does on the ground: he’s also very knowl­edge­able about the for­est, the es­tate his­tory and the town of Soufriere which spreads out be­low the sixth plat­form, point­ing out in­ter­est­ing fea­tures and land­marks. Har­nesses and hel­mets are pro­vided and fit­ted by the guides, the safety brief is com­pre­hen­sive and sim­ple, so all you have to do is “sit down and zip” – oh, and scream­ing is op­tional but rec­om­mended.

Watch out for Emery’s highly en­ter­tain­ing trick- zip­ping which we don’t sug­gest you try at home un­less you’re a pro­fes­sional like he is, but then we didn’t name him the Tarzan of Soufriere for noth­ing! And if all that fly­ing through the trees leaves you with an ap­petite, the rus­tic restau­rant at Morne Coubaril serves up a freshly squeezed juice and sat­is­fy­ing lo­cal buf­fet lunch.

LO­CAL LIM­ING

Lim­ing is the Lu­cian term for kick­ing back, re­lax­ing and en­joy­ing a lit­tle R& R with friends: usu­ally with a few drinks and some de­li­cious home-cooked food. A short walk along Soufriere’s or­na­men­tal water­front park, there’s a right turn and a colour­ful boat im­me­di­ately jumps out from the wall above a lively restau­rant frontage – this is Skip­pers, and you read right! A nau­ti­cal theme is car­ried from the net­ted glass buoys and bar­rel ta­bles to the fresh seafood and lo­cal favourites that crowd the menu at ridicu­lous prices. The beers are cold, the con­ver­sa­tion is loud and wel­com­ing, and chef Kelly is a real lo­cal, de­spite mov­ing from the UK four and a half years ago.

OVERNIGHT STAY

One of the most spec­tac­u­lar views on the is­land is from the La Haut Re­sort, which perches on the hill­side above the town and har­bour be­low, with the awe- in­spir­ing Petit Pi­ton in full view from all an­gles. The ac­com­mo­da­tions are spa­cious and cool, and the Cashew rooms feel par­tic­u­larly se­cluded in their gar­den set­ting with co­conut palms fring­ing the panorama. The folks at La Haut are re­ally won­der­ful, wel­com­ing, help­ful and full of lo­cal knowl­edge – the food is fresh, lo­cally- sourced and de­li­ciously cooked for break­fast, lunch and din­ner. The bar and restau­rant ar­eas are sim­ply spec­tac­u­lar, with a glit­ter­ing panorama of Soufriere, the Pi­tons and the Caribbean sea, so it’s a won­der­ful place to en­joy a lo­cal juice or a naugh­tily strong rum punch.

After laz­ing and gaz­ing by the La Haut pool, take the fam­ily- run re­sort’s plan­ta­tion walk­ing tour for more sur­prises, in­clud­ing old orig­i­nal cane pro­duc­tion equip­ment and a work­ing press (sans don­key but you’re wel­come to give it a push), lush herb gar­dens and veg­etable beds, fruit trees like mango, orange and cashew and even a tiny co­coa pro­duc­tion are in­ge­niously hid­den un­der the re­cep­tion build­ing to keep the beans pro­tected when it rains. It takes only half an hour or so, but what you learn about the his­tory of the prop­erty is re­mark­able.

The Pi­tons from La

Haut RE­sort

Soufriere town cen­tre bus­tles with ac­tiv­ity.

Photo by Leo Evans

Zip­ping on Hotwires

Photo by Leo Evans

Soufriere Church is in the cen­tre of town

Morne Coubaril Es­tate has a

his­tor­i­cal tour

Iconic view of the is­land's

orig­i­nal cap­i­tal

La Haut's tour in­cludes a

work­ing cane press

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.