“Take a look on the left,” boomed the Delta pilot as we approached
“You’ve got me. Who’s got you?” I mumbled, surprising my seatmates, honeymooners Amber and Andy Utt from
The mesmerizing island was a world away from the Windy City of Chicago where my husband and I honeymooned four decades ago. Poorer than church mice, we had commandeered my grandmother’s apartment while she visited my parents in
We thought it was glorious. We fixed our first breakfasts together as man and wife, fed the squirrels in
Years earlier, my parents had been more ambitious. Their four-year engagement spanning the Great Depression had one advantage – the ability to sock away a few dollars each month toward a cruise through the
Prohibition was in full force and nearly everyone in tiny
Today’s honeymooners start off on better financial footing and fly to exotic locales that boggle my frugal mindset. But who am I to say it’s not worth the splurge for two people to begin their new lives in an island paradise where dreams are made? After my brief visit, I understand why it has become known as honeymoon nirvana.
Located just 13 degrees north of the equator,
St. Lucia truly has it all – the white sand beaches famous throughout the West Indies, mountains to scale, hotels that make the word “posh” seem plebian, fabulous four and five-star restaurants and a lively native night scene. But Mother Nature is the star. She’s kissed the water with blues that artists envy, decorated a lush rain forest with exotic flowers and rare birds, left a volcano hissing but not spewing lava, and created waterfalls and peaks that dazzle.
Travel writers and lovers agree. World Travel Awards voted St. Lucia the “World’s Best Wedding and Honeymoon Destination” in 2002, 2003 and 2004 and two of the island’s resorts – Ladera and Anse Chastanet – have received plaudits from Conde Naste Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Caribbean Travel and Life and A&E Television. In 2000,
Atlantans Angel and David Touwsma – owners of the Limetree Gifts — are serial St. Lucian visitors. And when David decided to pop the question, he knew he wanted it to be from the top of Gros Piton, a climb they had wanted to make on a prior visit.
“For her birthday, I surprised Angel with a cruise aboard the Golden Princess but she had no clue I was going to propose,” he says.
Prior to their arrival, David had secretly arranged for a water taxi and a guide to take them up the mountain (an island requirement). Angel was delighted. But the couple quickly discovered that the two and a half hour climb is not designed for the faint of heart. “It was strenuous, even for me and I’m a climber,” David says. “Angel was really struggling.”
Two-thirds up the mountain, the couple found themselves scrambling on their hands and knees. “At one point, Angel said, ‘I don’t think I can do this anymore,’” reports David. “I turned to her and said, ‘Okay, let’s quit.’”
“I’m no quitter,” she retorted, resuming her ascent.
Once they reached the summit, David led his bride-to-be to the northern side where the view of Petit Piton is the most spectacular. He asked the guide to take their picture together, then bent down on one knee and proposed. “What you see in the picture is the real deal,” he says. “It’s not a reenactment.”
Needless to say, the descent, though difficult on the knees, went much faster than the climb. The couple married a year later and Angel jokes, “He made me wait six years and climb a mountain before he proposed.”
Our St. Lucian adventure began the moment we stepped into our van at
Nearly an hour later, the white-knuckle drive ended at our destination — Jalousie Plantation, a luxury resort nestled on 325 acres of tropical forest between the volcanic spires of the Pitons. Well-appointed villas tucked into the hillside make for spectacular views at dawn and sunset and afford privacy without compromising the convenience of the beach, dock, pool, spa and restaurants below.
Our first day began with a guided hike through the Barre de L’isle Trail within the St. Lucia Rain Forest Preserve that occupies 19,000 acres (13 percent) of the island and has 30 miles of trails for hiking and birding. Our personable and knowledgeable guide, Philip Smith, pointed out exotic trees and plants, warned of snakes and creepy-crawlies and identified a myriad of birds. Spotting a bird in flight, he excitedly told us we were seeing the elusive and endangered St. Lucian parrot (Amazona Versicolor) that is found no where else in the world.
The rain forest was surreal, a picture post card of dense greenery punctuated with exotic wild orchids and neon orange and blue birds of paradise. Tired but happy after hike, I was pleased we hadn’t tackled the 566-step climb to the
Famished and soggy after a light rain, we headed for lunch at Anse Chastanet, a resort known for its diverse outdoor activities and amazingly luxurious accommodations. Recuperation came quickly following mango daiquiris and a fresh fish feast and we plunged into the ocean for snorkeling just off shore. A magical undersea world appeared instantly. Oddly, I was consumed with guilt as I tried to identify a few of the 175 species familiar to St. Lucians. Had I just eaten one of their brothers for lunch?
Excellent scuba diving is accessible off the coral reefs that slope from 20 to 145 feet from the Anse Chastanet’s coastline along with yachting, kayaking, windsurfing and fishing. For the truly hardy, mountain biking provides the ultimate challenge along an ocean-side trail that leads from Anse Chastanet through the mountains to the fishing
On the Atlantic coastline, horse lovers can ride bareback through the surf along the Cas en Bas beach led by guides from the International Riding Stables. A new aerial tramway over 1,200 acres of rain forest canopy and mountains offers unforgettable views.
One of my favorite experiences was a trip to
For St. Lucians who strive to keep tradition alive, cassava bread remains a staple. The lengthy process begins by grating the roots of the cassava plant, then squeezing out the juice and rolling, then patting the pulp into flat loaves. They are baked atop macambou leaves placed in an enormous iron pot over an open flame. The result is delicious – a cross between cornbread and crackers.
On the Posh Side
In 2006, Ladera, Conde Nast Traveler received "Best Hotel in the
Le Sport at The Body Holiday provides multiple sporting options and an opulent hilltop spa. Discovery at
I can’t help but wonder “what might have been” if Phil and I had honeymooned in