Carnival Sailing's Wet and Wild Tour takes in all the sights and then some!
WET, WILD AND WONDERFUL!
Sailing, swimming, snorkeling, hiking, driving in a very cool buggy, visiting an old plantation for great local food, enjoying the Saint Lucian sunset with a rum punch boat party – if that sounds like your ideal tour then you’re in luck! Carnival Sailing’s Wet & Wild is an all day experience like no other on the island.
And fear not, it sounds like a heavy schedule but the folks in charge make it day of seamless fun at sea and on land with their friendly, efficient service and professional guidance. After hopping onboard one of Carnival’s four spacious catamarans at Vigie Cove in Castries and a comprehensive safety brief from captain and crew, we set sail for Soufriere on a blustery, bright morning.
Sailing south for an hour and a half, the comfortable cat passes coastal landmarks and fishing villages until in the distance, the pointed peaks of the magnificent Pitons come into view. As always, there is a flurry of excitement and rush for cameras as the iconic vista unfolds in front of the appreciative audience. The relaxed ambiance onboard picks up as the catamaran pulls into Soufriere bay and ties up at the town’s main jetty.
Lined up along the road at Soufriere seafront we spied a long, green snake of sturdy Island Buggies, which were to provide the land transportation, and a good bit of the "wild" in the Wet and Wild tour. The cool convoy of two- and four-seater off road buggies have become a regular fixture on the roads of Saint Lucia over the past two years, and Island Buggies are certainly excellent at what they do.
Which—at least at first—is to put nervous drivers' minds at ease with a thorough safety and driving briefing, before leading their buggy train out into the wilds. As much fun as these guys have guiding visitors to some of the island's hidden pleasures, they are at all times professional, courteous and with an eagle eye on the safety of their group.
Indicators identified, stick shift rediscovered and pilot-style seatbelt clunk-clicked, it's a tad slow and nervous as we wind through the sleepy streets of Soufriere, but as the drivers find their groove, there's no better way to really see Saint Lucia from the road.
Winding up the base of Petit Piton and the first stop on our buggy tour is Tet Paul, where a tight ballet of three-point-turns allows the green snake to park neatly along the country road. A short and brisk hike to a magnificent viewpoint takes the breath away with its panorama of Soufriere and the Caribbean Sea.
Venturing south, guides Nicholas and Chubby flank the convoy at either end, and we reach the gently rolling hills above Choiseul—stopping on the way for a photo-op which features an unusual angle of Gros Piton on the left side of the road, and the far off cliffs of Moule à Chique on the right. The great thing about the Island Buggies team is that they know where all the best memories can be captured on camera, and they're pretty handy at getting the money shot!
The countryside around the southwest is not always on tour itineraries, and it is a refreshingly pastoral part of the island, where the people stop for a look at the
enthusiastic visitors in their little green contraptions, and wave us on with a smile. One of the nicest things about Wet and Wild is getting to see that side of Saint Lucia, and as we wind into the village of Choiseul cameras and GoPros are clicking away at the tiny, vivid houses, some ancient and some brand new. We crawl close but respectfully quiet past the open doors of Choiseul's stylishly traditional church, and out of the village towards the ocean.
Another of the Island Buggies' team tricks is to educate their visitors along the way, and after parking under the trees on an empty beach with iridescent jade seascape and a sky full of fluffy white clouds, Chubby the botanist grabs a handful of leaves and plays the "what in the world is this?" game—we won't breathe a word, of course. Enjoying yet more photo ops—including an artistically perched lump of silvery driftwood on the sand—it's time to hop (or squeeze or scrabble or whatever you settle on as your own buggy-mounting method) aboard and drive back towards Soufriere, and lunch!
And lunch just has to be local on this tour, so we follow the leader to the gates of the Fond Doux Plantation and Resort, where we are welcomed by the friendly staff into a shady courtyard full of tropical flowers and dehydrating cocoa beans. The rustic restaurant with its market chairs and wooden tables is surrounded by rainforest plants and blooms, and the buffet is extensive and delicious. A welcome rum punch or local juice is followed by some of the best Lucian lunch you can find.
They don't call Soufriere the breadbasket of the island for nothing, so count on there being a changing menu as seasonal produce and ingredients feature highly. Rice and ground provisions, chicken and fish, beef and macaroni pie, salad and coleslaw - they keep it real at Fond Doux and everyone cleared their plates to prove it.
Outside for the next leg of our odyssey, and the thoughtful guides had turned around every single buggy thereby avoiding another set of manoevering shenanigans—no pressure, no problem, that's how they roll! In fact it's their motto, and as we set off for the drive-in volcano and mudbath there is renewed appreciation from the happy convoy.
Stepping into the boiling water at the base of Saint Lucia's uniquely accessible bubbling caldera takes a lot of guts, and a big deep breath, but the grey, mineral-laden water does miraculous things to the skin, including opening the pores for the next step of the mudbath. Out of the chest high pool and under the bridge to where Chubby is waiting with buckets of gloopy grey mud, full of sulphur and other luxuriant ingredients, for you to slather all over yourself and your posse until it looks like a strange swamp-creature invasion.
Rinsing off (but not too much), it's a quick wrap up in a towel and a five minute drive to the final step of this wondrous natural spa treatment—La Toraille, and a dip in the icy pool beneath its power-washing waterfall, or indeed right under the crashing waters if you're hard enough. It's a wet and wild end to the land leg of the tour, but just the right time to stretch out in the sun and have a swim in the sea.
Around four o'clock the by now experienced buggy convoy draws up at the jetty, and the glowing participants head back to Carnival Sailing's glistening catamaran for a quick sail south to Sugar Beach, which sits dramatically between the Pitons and welcomes some of the world's most famous names. Snorkel gear is available and the deep green waters are full of marine life and colour. Back on board and it's time to dry off and grab a rum punch from the party team onboard Carnival.
Sailing up the west coast of Saint Lucia towards sunset is a wonderful experience, and one of the other great aspects of Wet and Wild—after a fun-filled day of sigh-seeing and activities, it's time to relax, enjoy the party atmosphere, get a few sunset selfies and dance to the music as the catamaran makes its way back to Vigie Cove, stopping only in reverence to the setting sun in hopes of catching the elusive green flash.
Ours was a beautiful and golden, but alas a sneaky cloud on the horizon robed us of our green flash moment, as tonally poetic an end to the day as that would have been. Instead, we sailed on in the cool evening breeze as the light began to fade, and agreed that it was indeed Wet and Wild, but all in all it was absolutely wonderful!
Check out www.carnivalsailing.com for more information.
that's how we roll!" "No pressure, no problem—
and a well-deserved
Cocoa production at Fond Doux . . .
Soaking in the sunset with a real rum punch!
Choiseul's beaches are gorgeous!