Car­ni­val Sail­ing's Wet and Wild Tour takes in all the sights and then some!

WET, WILD AND WON­DER­FUL!

Tropical Traveller Magazine - - TABLE OF CONTENTS -

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

lo­cal lunch!

Co­coa pro­duc­tion at Fond Doux . . .

Soaking in the sun­set with a real rum punch!

Choiseul's beaches are gor­geous!

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