Checking into St Lucia was quick and easy – lots of paperwork as with most customs/immigration processes, but nothing too onerous and the people on-hand were helpful with the confusing bits (and lending me a pen). Customs, immigration, and the dock office are all in one place on the marina complex which makes life simple. No problem with us being at anchor – there’s a dinghy dock in the marina where dinghies can be left for no charge (and garbage dropped for £1.50 a bag or so).
The Market Place in the marina has a decent selection of non-fresh food along with a couple of fresh things. Notably, it has excellent cheddar cheese – we went twice on our first day in the area, the second time just for the cheese. Masseys has an excellent selection of many things. Not cheap, but only a 10-minute walk down the road.
Gregory the boat fruit seller popped by on our first morning in the area. 20 Euros (he takes euros!!!) bought us a trug full of varied fruits and veg – bananas and cucumber were quickly devoured, and the rest looked good. Comparing what we bought with what was on offer at Masseys a day or two later, we figured the price and quality to be equivalent – I’m sure we could find fruit cheaper in Castries or Gros Islet, but having it delivered to the boat entertains the children! So, we got most of our fruit and veg from Gregory, introducing the kids to some things they’ve not had before as well as our normal staples. He’s cool – no idea why the “boat boys” get bad press in reviews, on this experience.
While we were anchored here, we mainly swam. Arthur probably averaged about six swims a day – regardless of whether the wind was 10 knots or 25 – and can now comfortably manage to swim from one stern to the other in any conditions that we let him in the water in. Theo is getting stronger and stronger with his noodle, and we discovered he can tread water for at least 15 seconds or so when he dropped his noodle and waited for Charlotte to rescue him. Hector wasn’t a fan of swimming off the back of the boat (probably because we were not entirely confident); but LOVED swimming off the beach! He crawls himself into the sea then sits around splashing, and is enjoying being taken deeper by us to play around. Good stuff.
Following our Atlantic crossing, we also had a few boat-jobs to do. The engine was fixed, much more easily than I thought it would be – fortunately the remainder of the bolt that had snapped off was loose enough for the drill bit to turn it, so I didn’t have to drill all the way through. Charlotte repaired the sail, after doing a little research on how – she added a patch on one side which looks as solid as any of the stitching on the sail, and neatened the other side with sail tape. Looks great and feels strong. Much washing was done.
And we did a little touristing: Barre D’Isle trail was perhaps my highlight. It’s about 2k from where it is marked on either google maps or the paper maps we encountered (right at the top of the hill on the main highway). Following google maps’ directions from Rodney Bay is much more fun than following the two highways, as long as you are confident driving on fairly steep inclines on narrow/twisting roads with 2’ deep gulleys at the side. The trail itself is about a half-hour walk each way if you are fit adults (at a guess), and gives views of both the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea coasts. We saw a hummingbird, innumerable insect species, and lots of cool trees; but didn’t see the resident parrot. Given plenty of rest stops for Theo (who managed all but 100m or so of “recovery carries” of the trail), snack breaks, insect examinations, and a long tree-climbing session at the end it took us about 2 hours!
Soufriere mud baths was Theo’s favourite thing about the island – we frequented the cooler two of the four pools, which were fine for the kids. Hector loved the warm water. Arthur loved how dark it was – he was sliding down the chute between the two pools. Theo enjoyed getting mudded-up; he did it twice. Facilities are basic as reviews you’ll find on tripadvisor etc. state but seriously, who cares? You are visiting mud baths and the outdoor temperature is in the mid/high 20s centigrade – do you really need indoor showers?
The diamond waterfall and botanical gardens, which we visited straight after the mud baths, were beautiful. Lots of well-labelled plant and tree species. Many lizards to watch (lizard watching at the little bar helped us avoid a major tantrum). There’s plenty of shade on the paths, the gardens are well maintained, basically just a nice place to visit!
We also went to Pigeon Island (a short dinghy ride from where we anchored), but made the mistake of leaving the boat at 11 or so rather than earlier in the morning. As a result, it was fairly warm by the time we got there. After running around the ruins-which-used-to-be an officers’ kitchen when the British garrisoned St Lucia, Theo was so tired he spent the next hour or so asleep in the baby-wrap on my back. We had lunch at Jambe de Bois (named after a pirate, as we discovered while reading our guide book waiting for lunch) which was delicious, spent a while on the beach, then the kids were too exhausted to explore further so we went back to the boat. Well worth a visit, though – lots of open space which locals use for picnics, decent historical signage and it’s pretty cool to, in the space of a short walk across the island, see both the Caribbean Sea (flat calm) and the Atlantic (not).