Travel Consultant and experienced scuba diver Anna Williams spent a week in the popular Caribbean honeymoon destination, St Lucia. She was pleasantly surprised by both the diving and the topside opportunities in this relaxing paradise.
In September, I flew into Hewanaorra airport in the far south of St Lucia in what should have been the middle of the wet, windy, even stormy “hurricane season”. The visibility from the plane window was superb as we cruised down the leeward side of the island, giving us a prime view of the famous Piton peaks. An intense, undulating green, dotted with colourful villages, contrasted against a deep turquoise sea and bright blue sky, set the scene for a vibrant week.
In terms of land area - even tiny Cozumel is bigger! You can drive the length of St Lucia in under two hours, taking in both windward and leeward sides. Having lived in Tobago, it almost felt like coming home – the strong Carib and Arawak history, along with African and colonial influences set against a lush, floral backdrop. In St Lucia, the unique French influence stands this nation apart; it’s apparent in the place names, the language and the exciting French Creole Heritage Month in October.
I was looking forward to diving – not having been in the Caribbean since moving to the Asia Pacific region, and was anticipating a very different aquatic experience.
All the diving is situated along the leeward side of the island, so is sheltered, mostly calm, and the water, thanks to the occasional current, is crystal clear with great visibility. There really is something for all snorkellers and divers – from shore diving for beginners and night dives, to dramatic walls, swift currents, and shallow plateaus home to an abundance of vivid reef fish, healthy hard and soft coral, eel and crab, to the elusive frogfish and scorpionfish, as well as turtles. There are even a few wrecks to explore, and almost all dive sites are above 30 metres.
To the north (out of Rodney Bay with Dive St Lucia) you’ll get the chance of rays and larger fish as the Caribbean gives way to the Atlantic. Dive sites here are mere minutes by boat and, all at around 10-18 metres, vary between wreck, wall, boulder and grass. There's enough to see here for several days’ diving. If you wish to stay in the lively far North of the island, with its choice of budget accommodation, you needn’t miss out on great diving. The dive operator is based out of Rodney Bay, makes regular trips southward to the main dive sites.
Further south, towered over by the iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Pitons – two volcanic summits emerging over 750 metres from the sea – are a multitude of underwater sites. Here the walls of the Pitons plunge over 400 metres into the depths, but again the dives are all available to recreational divers.
There are colourful dive sites at Anse Chastenet, Keyhole Pinnacles, Superman’s Flight (named after a scene in the film), Piton Wall and Coral Gardens, and you can find myriad lobster, crab, fans, barrel sponge, feather star, eel, spotted boxfish and other reef species. Thanks to a concerted effort to reduce the number of invasive lionfish, alongside a comprehensive coral rewilding project, the reefs here are vibrant and full of life. On one of the dives, I was happy to hang motionless watching a vivid mass of striped yellow and black sergeant majors busily nibbling reef algae: by far the largest group I’ve ever come across!
After your morning dives, there are a plethora of topside adventures to be had, easily accessible from any of the accommodation choices. I experienced an exciting ATV ride into the hills, taking in an abandoned sugar mill. I ambled on a guided nature walk discovering indigenous flora and fauna, ventured by mountain bike into the jungle and made my very own chocolate bar (the strenuous way in a mortar and pestle – the only time we had some cooling rain in the entire week! Check out the Chocolate festival in December!).
You could also explore the coast by sea kayak, swim in waterfalls, indulge yourself in volcanic mud baths, get pampered at the many spas, learn about rum distilling and sample the many flavours, try out St Lucian cooking with its spices, or combine your scuba visit with the October Creole Heritage Month, and even climb The Pitons for an incredible view if you’re feeling athletic (and like waking up early). And I haven’t even mentioned the volcanic beaches! Worthy of TV’s “The Bachelor” and “Married at First Sight”, the scope for romantic relaxation is high on St Lucia’s list of things to enjoy.
I experienced a total of seven dives during my week in St Lucia and was not only pleasantly surprised by the variety of sites and marine life, but also left feeling that there was much, much more to see and do, both under and overwater.
The choice of accommodation ranges from budget-friendly to ‘the sky’s-the-limit’ all in luxury, and everything in between. With affordable year-round, 9-hour direct flights from London with British Airways, you could have breakfast at Gatwick and be sipping a rum cocktail (from a freshly-lopped coconut) on a Caribbean beach at sunset. In the words of the St Lucia Tourist Board: “Let her inspire you”. She most certainly will.
To find out more about diving in St Lucia you can speak to our expert team today!