The small island of the Caribbean called St. Lucia was my destination at the end of 2006. This island was largely influenced by both the English and the French during their struggle to get control of the New World. On the other hand, the local Caribbean colour is still very much alive despite the huge impact of tourism. In the recent years St. Lucia has rapidly become a trendy tourism destination for cruise ships and honeymooners. Most hotels and visitor facilities are orientated towards that.

All that is in the north, close to Castries, the capital of the island. Once you go south, small fishing villages and sprawling banana plantations welcome the traveller. That was exactly what I was after. I spent two days in the north, in Gros Islet, and visited an outpoint castle that was changing hands almost every year from the French to the English and vice versa. After that I stayed at Soufriere, a small fishing village and the base for diving in the area. My accommodation was a small guest house on the cliff, overlooking a marvellous natural harbour and bay. The lovely Mrs Wallington was an old lady that went to church every day and always took care of all the poor people that regularly stopped by the guest house. She was a figure out of an old southern fairy tale because she always had her old style hat and veil, even when she was formally dressed. Her husband, that had passed away many years ago, was an old sailor and had told her all about the outside world. So she had her own opinion about what is going on in the world and she was willing to talk to you about it for ages.

One experience that I will always remember is my New Year’s night dive. We got into the water half an hour before swimming all the way out, to the middle of the harbour. Before we got underwater, we watched hundreds of fireworks that were kindled by the cruise ship for the New Year’s celebrations.

The inland, although small, had many cascades and a tropical rainforest where you could trek and cool down during the hottest hours of the day. In other words, St. Lucia is a small tropical paradise with a few things to see and do but it’s a place that gives you the chance to relax. If you add the underwater heaven to that, it’s definitely a destination you shouldn’t miss.

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