For our first day in St. Lucia we decided to catch the shuttle down to Anse Chastenet (pronounced "aunts chasanay") beach to lounge about and enjoy some snorkeling. The shuttle picked us up at 9:30am after we enjoyed a quick continental breakfast at Dasheene. The ride to the beach took us down a small winding road for about 5 minutes to the town of Soufriere. After a short ride through a very cramped and narrow downtown area, we were dropped of at the marina. Soufriere's marina is really just a single dock and fueling station. From here a water taxi took us about 10 minutes up the coast and dropped us off at the beach. The sand at Anse Chastenet is black, but this wasn't an issue this day as it was cloudy and a bit drizzly. Luckily, even when its raining the weather is warm enough to enjoy. We lounged on the beach for a while, snorkeled in the marine reserve and enjoyed a drink with a fair amount of rum.
While snorkeling, Wendy was introduced to a the "trumpet" fish. (More on the trumpet fish.) The trumpet can be up to 2ft long. The way Wendy started flapping her way out of there, you might have thought it was 20ft long. The marine reserve is a small buoyed off area with a fair amount of coral and a random array of fish. It's proxmity to the Anse Chastenet resort makes it a nice snorkeling option.
In the afternoon we took the "Soufriere Experience" tour. This tour visits the natural sulphur springs, diamond waterfall and botanical gardens as well as the Toraille waterfall and gardens. The sulphur springs are part of an active, drive-through volcano. We saw a natural hot water spring (where some locals actually bathe) as well as boiling sulphur and mud pots.
The whole place reeks of sulphur, escaping out of the earth through the boiling pots of mud.
After the drive in volcano we visited the Toraille waterfall and gardens. You can actually get underneath this waterfall and we did. We joined a couple of locals with our guide and played around under the waterfall. It had been raining recently so the water was coming off the cliff at a pretty good clip. If you stood directly under it, it beat you to death. I was dumb enough to do just this and got a pretty good laugh out of the locals....
After the waterfall we were led through the gardens around it by our guide who pointed out all the local flora. One in particular was interesting, its a fern that when you touch it folds up. It's very similar to the Venus Flytrap except that its not carnivorous. After this, we were driven to the Diamond waterfall and gardens. This waterfall requires a short hike through a very beautiful botanical garden. This waterfall is much larger than Toraille, meaning no swimming. Apparently it was used in a scene in the movie Superman II.
You'll notice that we're a little wet... that's not from the waterfall. It was still a little rainy off and on while we hiked to waterfall. It would rain quite intensely for about 10 minutes, clear up, then rain again. After we checked out the waterfall, we walked around the gardens for awhile just enjoying the local flowers and plants. The entire gardens were built and dedicated to the original owner by his daughter.
The funny thing about taxi drivers on the island is that it takes so long to get from place to place that the drivers just wait for you instead of coming back or having to call another driver to pick you up. So our driver waited in the taxi at each stop while we walked around. What was great on this particular tour was that because it was a little rainy there weren't many people out. So we had the taxi and most of the sites completely to ourselves. The diamond waterfall was our last stop on the tour, so we headed back to Ladera to enjoy an excellent dinner.
The restaurant and bar are much like the rest of the resort in that they only have a roof and one or two walls. The entire place is open to the air, jungle and incredible views. The restaurant is relatively well known on the island and the chef is something of an international celebrity (the degree of which varies depending on how many women are around when you talk to him). The food during our entire stay was unwaveringly amazing. It was as good as any food I'd had at any restaurant in my life. What made it unique was the chef's blend of Caribbean spices with what seemed to me like California themed cuisine.
Another night with our friends the tree frogs and and the largest grasshopper I've ever seen and we were ready for another day in paradise.