Special Guest Contributor:: Darrin Gleeman of New York City and West Indies Travel Expert
When more travel was by ship, the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles were named because attention to the wind’s patterns was essential for travel. The trans-Atlantic current and winds took ships right between the Windward and the Leeward Islands, hitting the Windward Islands first. Most islands in the Windward category are part of the Commonwealth of Nations: Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, the Grenadines, and Grenada. Martinique is the only island governed by the French.
Saint Lucia, West Indies
Within the West Indies, one of the most popular Windward Island travel destinations is Saint Lucia. This island is sometimes referred to as the Helen of the West Indies because the government control switched between the British and French so many times, it has been compared to Helen of Troy. St. Lucia is an island that offers something for everyone – water activities, nightlife, beautiful beaches, resorts, spas, golf, and a rainforest. The rainforest adds a unique addition to the typical West Indies island vacation. St. Lucia offers hiking routes that are both non-strenuous and more advanced. On these hikes, you can expect to see rare birds and plants. St. Lucia is celebrated because of its largely unspoiled wilderness and the feeling of exotic adventure that permeates the island.
This island is a great choice for most any type of traveler; it has even won awards as the best wedding and honeymoon destination as well as a leading Caribbean spa resort destination. Additionally, St. Lucia’s hotel Ladera was recently voted the “Best of the Best” by Conde Nast Travelers in a worldwide comparison of hotels.
Saint Lucia Travel
Saint Lucia travelers will find that getting to the island is easier than some of the smaller islands in the West Indies, such as St. Barts. St. Lucia has two airports, and several major airlines as well as a few smaller airlines that offer a variety of flights to this destination. The length of travel is fairly minimal; from Miami to St. Lucia, it is only a 3 1/2 hour flight. Once you reach the island, if you desire to see some of the other nearby West Indies ports, a flight leaves twice daily to the islands of St. Martin, Dominica, and Guadeloupe. Frequent St. Lucia traveler Darrin Gleeman reminds visitors to “save enough cash from your trip to pay your departure tax [it is currently $26 per adult and $13 per child]. The last thing you need is to miss your flight home because you are looking for a bank.” Usually larger commercial airlines build this fee into your ticket price, but double check before you leave.
Saint Lucia Cruises
If you book a Saint Lucia cruise, then this island will most likely just be one of the beautiful Caribbean islands that you visit. Typically cruise ships anchor at Pointe Seraphine or La Place Carenage due to the deep water available. Once you dock, there are many fun, short activities that you can plan for your St. Lucia cruise excursion. For instance, you can plan a round of golf, go hiking in the rainforest, dine out, or go shopping. Additionally, there are many tour companies available for both walking and driving tours. Our St. Barts friend, Darrin Gleeman recommends that you find a driving tour of beautiful Soufrière to view the breathtaking Piton ocean-side mountains.
Saint Lucia Art and Saint Lucia Furniture
In Saint Lucia, art and furniture shopping can be a great part of any vacation. Saint Lucia boasts many local artists and a few furniture makers. Plenty of Caribbean-style furniture made from hard woods like mahogany and wicker can be found on the island as well as some Saint Lucia furniture made from teak. Most art galleries focus on paintings and sculpture – including indigenous wood sculpture – from artists living on Saint Lucia and on other islands in the Caribbean. As an art enthusiast, Gleeman comments, “Saint Lucia art galleries are a treat because there is such a range of Caribbean art. You have galleries that are very modern as well as galleries that carry more traditional collections. St. Lucia art shoppers can also find authentic antique maps – often dating back 100 years.”