Avoiding touristy riff-raff on St. Lucia

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of December 11-17, 1997
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Avoiding touristy riff-raff on St. Lucia

Avoiding touristy riff-raff on St. Lucia
Question: Where can I go on St. Lucia that's off the beaten path? I'm looking for a less-touristy area, with numerous activities.

Calgary, Alberta

Adventure Adviser: The last I heard there is no camping allowed on St. Lucia, which means you will have to stay in a hotel, which means tourists.

The range is wide, however, from the bare bones Kimatrai Hotel (doubles, $45, 809-454-6328) five minutes from the beach in Vieux Fort, to the three-walled ocean-facing aeries with four-poster beds at the Ladera Resort (doubles, $200-$350, 800-841-4145) — or if you really want to splurge, the 49 louver-windowed cottages of the hillside Anse Chastenet ($290-$630, 758-459-7000) provide drop-dead views of the island's twin-peaked Pitons and plenty of space between you and the rest of the riff-raff combing the beach a few hundred feet below.

Must-do outdoor activities include climbing the 2,619-foot Gros Piton (a.k.a. Fat Peak), which takes about three hours to climb in the winter. Make sure you find a guide because there are occasional mudslides and wicked downpours that cause the trail to disappear before your eyes.

A less-vertical trail is the 9-mile Rain Forest Walk between the towns of Fond St. Jacques and Mahaut in the Edmund and Quilesse Forest Reserves, where you'll wind through giant ferns, towering philodendrons, and orchids. For more information on either of these hikes call the St. Lucia Forestry Department at 809-450-2231.

Windsurfers head over to Anse de Sables on the southern tip of the island. Here you'll find 25- to 35-mile-per-hour winds that course between Cape Moule-a-Chique and the Maria Islands Nature Reserve. Island Windsurfers rents boards for about $150 per week (800-936-3333).

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