Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Fri January 15 2016

Opinion Home | Far-Sighted Field Notes

  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | January 15, 2016 9:00 PM ET

    How To Bike and Hike Your Way Through St. Lucia

    How To Bike and Hike Your Way Through St. Lucia

    All photos by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

    The eastern Caribbean island of St. Lucia is known for its diverse beauty. It’s not just pristine beaches and tropical flowers, there are also mountains, volcanoes and rainforests that make for an exceptional travel experience. Believe it or not, the best way to view all these natural wonders is not lounging on the beach or gazing through a tour bus window. This is an island that offers many opportunities to dive into the landscape. Whether you love hiking through steep terrain or biking through lush scenery, St.Lucia has you covered.

    READ MORE: 5 Most Romantic St. Lucia Resorts For Couples

    Hiking Through Gardens and Volcanoes

    I discovered St. Lucia’s surprising number of hiking options when I was visiting Soufriere, on the southern portion of the island.  As the home of the landmark twin peak Piton mountains, as well as the world’s only drive-through volcano, Soufriere boasts the most spectacular landscape on the island.

    I started with a visit to Tet Paul Nature Trail, which offers an easy hike through native vegetation as well as close-up views of  the Pitons.  Our guide lead us through fruit trees, including guava, soursop and lemon, and pointed out plants used as herbal medicine. The trail rises into steep inclines at almost half way, with steps carved into stones and wooden stairs leading to a lookout, aptly dubbed “Stairway To Heaven.” Resist any cheesy thoughts about that name and be aware that the view at the top of those stairs is indeed heavenly. 

    At the top of the platform, at about 2,000 feet above sea level, the Pitons loom from the sea in a sensational scene that’s so close that there’s an Instagram hashtag, #TouchthePitons to collect all of the images of travelers doing poses that look like they’re touching the tip of the mountains.

    After enjoying a 360-degree view of the island, we hiked to a rustic hut called Kaye Cassav or Cassava Hut and watched a demonstration of how the island’s original Amerindian settlers pounded and ground cassava into flour for a range of traditional dishes. The Tet Paul trail takes about 45 minutes and it’s a great warm up to the nearb La Soufriere Volcano.

    Although it’s billed as the world’s only drive-in volcano, you actually only drive through part of La Soufriere.

    Most of the experience is about walking around substratum rock, sulfur deposits and odoriferous clouds of volcanic steam. As the guide ushered me into the volcano, the scent of rotten eggs grew stronger and the walk grew more rugged. Although there are lots of bubbling pools, La Soufriere is dormant with just a flimsy fence between visitors and the steaming center where a guide infamously fell in, years ago. The guide pointed all this out as well as the hot springs and mud baths below the volcano. If you pass up dipping into the baths, the walk takes about 30 minutes, which is enough time to prime your muscles for a bike ride.

    Biking Through The Jungle

    I love bike riding but I wasn’t quite prepared for the vistas or the strenuous trails of Anse Mamin Plantation. Anse Mamin is a 600-acre estate with an incredible private beach and a tangle of tropical rainforest. I strolled the beach and figured that the excursion would be a leisurely ride through some manicured fields.

    Not quite.

    I hopped on the Bike St. Lucia mountain bike and followed the guide down the “novice” path.  As I rolled up and down hills and around heavy vegetation, I realized that this really was a jungle. There were bumps, gullies, crazy plants hanging overhead and trees growing in the most unnecessary places.

    READ MORE: The Cuisine of St. Lucia

    By the time we arrived in the middle of the jungle, I was covered in sweat and less cocky about my biking skills. Luckily, at that point there were several plantation ruins to investigate, allowing me to leave my bike and rest my legs. I climbed through the remains of 18th century structures and relaxed under a light breeze.  Although there are eight miles of trails on Anse Mamin, I only attempted one or two. After heading back, the guide topped off our ride by whipping out a machete and slicing opening a coconut for fresh coconut water. It was a refreshing end to an active St. Lucia itinerary.

More St. Lucia


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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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