St Lucia – The Bridges’ Visit

A highlight in St Lucia was the visit by my sister & her gorgeous family – flying out to join us for a couple of weeks. Emma & Jon, with our nephews Oliver & Jacob, stayed with us on the boat for a week, then moved to the five star, air-conditioned, fully inclusive Windjammer Landings for a week. Which was pretty much both ends of the scale in terms of luxury!

Their arrival was perfectly timed with the huge Mercury Festival – the islands biggest beach party – in Rodney Bay – so  it was pretty full-on when they arrived in the marina to come aboard. Most boats were pumping out constant reggae, and with hundreds of people arriving from Martinique there was a truly cosmopolitan, Caribbean vibe.

After a night alongside, we anchored in Rodney Bay for a gentle introduction to boat life, snorkelling off the beach, kayaking, the ‘Splat-a-Lot’ inflatable, and Spinnakers Bar. There is one particular rock just off the southern end of the beach which is teaming with life. A multitude of fish, including an octopus, anemones, and cuttlefish scurry around, all within the depth of an adult standing up. Oliver was particularly taken with the snorkelling – brilliant skills from a boy who  we can never usually tempt into the water.

We made our first & only long and, luckily, glorious sail with the Bridges from Rodney Bay to Soufriere and the Pitons. Having already recce’d the Marine Park buoys by the Bat Cave on the northern side of the Soufriere Bay, we stopped in a truly awesome snorkelling location. This (up to now) is probably the best place I have ever snorkelled. Crystal clear water gives way to a large bustling underwater habitat; you are looking down on a vast crowded city with its occupants just going about their daily business. This time, as we eventually got out of the water, we had another visitor – a turtle! Despite launching from the boat on several occasions to swim alongside him, he only reappeared once all the humans were back aboard – laughing at our attempts to swim with him.

This was a lunch stop only – Soufriere is not a place that you want to stay overnight as a sole yacht. This was made pretty clear to us by the Marine Park Rangers the first time we passed by – they directed us to another location on the Southern side of the bay already busy with other yachts. Before leaving, Chris took the gang for a dinghy drive-by of the Bat Cave. It’s a huge vertical fissure in the rock, not accessible by boat or human, but jammed full of our nocturnal friends, who you can just see flitting around in the entrance way and constantly emitting their high pitched cries, the location is also given away by the noxious smell of guano as you approach!

We overnighted between the two famous St Lucian Pitons in Piton Bay. In a race with a Cat to get to our chosen mooring buoy, at the southern end by a small beach, and area of grassland, we lost. To be fair they had just sailed eight hours from St Vincent, rather than just popped round the corner so they deserved it! We tied to the next buoy, which was fairly close to them; before realising it was actually ridiculously close. The fenders came out briefly to avoid collision and then we moved further up. An early morning adventure took the form of a hike with the kids at the bottom of the Grand Piton.

This is the location of the million fish. The snorkelling is fairly good anyway with clear water, but there are also huge, vast schools of fish that navigate in the shallows of the bay. When the kids first shouted us over, we dismissed it as their usual high pitched squawking about everything they see that is remotely interesting underwater. I went to have a look, and couldn’t write comprehend how many fish there were in this amazing school. It was probably 10 metres wide, with small mackerel sized fish pretty much nose to tail, and it went on for ever. Coming up and explaining to the others, I estimated hundred of thousands if not a million or more fish. Jon got in the water to snorkel and also came back astounded. He hadn’t believed me, when people say there are a million, you know it’s an exaggeration… but not this time!

A short hop, and Anse Cochon was our next stop. As usual the paddle board sellers arrived, but with fresh meat in terms of the Bridges Clan, they went away with US dollars in their pockets & we added more conch & turtles to the collections. The plan had been to stop in the lovely  Ti Kaye restaurant for dinner, but we hadn’t realised it was a ‘no children’ zone. They very kindly offered us a take away, but we opted for another home cooked meal courtesy of me & the two ring hob.

It was now time to give Em & Jon a taste of the luxury their exciting & experience-led holiday had so far lacked. We took a buoy in Marigot Bay and were soon sipping cocktails in the delightful swim up bar at the hotel Cappella. This proved popular! A lazy day by the pool with supper at Chalet Mygo revitalised everyone enough for the following day’s hire car adventure & exploration of the island.

The eight-seater hire car was probably on its last legs. The front seat air-conditioning was opening the windows, and given how extremely hilly and steep the ‘main’ road is in St Lucia, at times we thought we’d have to get out & push. After an interesting hour of travel, replacing the ‘yellow car game’ we usually play, (shout when you see a yellow car), for the ‘goat game’, we arrived to sample the delights of the Soufriere volcano & sulphur springs –  and I think that pungent sulphur smell may very well be with me forever.

After daubing ourselves in the mud to make us ‘ten years younger’  (which would make the kids disappear – so fairly tempting?), we found Soufriere’s most secret hideaway, The Mango Tree restaurant. Keen for a proper meal rather than a grab & go from a shack, we passed by their sign on our way back into Soufriere. This is a little gem that we need to shout about! Overlooking the Pitons, and our anchorage of previous nights, it is a stunning little restaurant with a swimming pool and gorgeous food. It’s also fairly pricey, however that is definitely offset by the very friendly staff, beautiful surroundings, a spectacular view, amazing food, and happy kids playing in the pool.

Eventually dragging ourselves away from the lovely Mango Tree, we just had time to find a waterfall to swim in. Heading to the botanical gardens which has a waterfall – another popular spot on the tourist trail – we were told by a local seller that actually there was a better & cheaper waterfall to go to where we could actually swim in the pool. So we ended up at the lovely Toraille Waterfall, it was 3EC$ each to get in (about £1) and we were the only people there. The cold water definitely cooled us down & it was a great fun to swim & duck under the cascade of freezing water!

Our return to Marigot Bay saw us dine in the highly recommended Rainforest Hideaway, just meters from where we anchored the boat! The food was amazing and the giant crab on the loose running around the restaurant was certainly an interesting highlight. Apparently he’s called Brian, and was swiftly chased back to his hiding place with a large broom!

Our return to Rodney Bay saw one more’Splat-a-lot’ visit for the kids and some snorkelling before the Bridges left in a water taxi to their more sumptuous next destination. Luckily we spoke to the management and managed to anchor off the beach at Windjammer Landings to also partake in the five-star luxury!

The Windjammer Landings was therefore the location for Syrena for the next week. Joining the Bridges we had our own mini-holiday whilst using the facilities and joining them for the occasional dinner & a fair few bar happy hours! Chilling by the pool, enjoying the watersports including wake-boarding and having a go at Snuba were all highlights, as well as spending a lovely week with our friends.  We were very sad to see them leave, we’ll have to try & encourage them back later on in our adventure.

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Windjammer Landing
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Sunset over the beach at Windjammer Landings
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