“WE CALL THIS LIQUID SUNSHINE,” our cab driver said with a chuckle, peering up at the sky.
A sudden torrential downpour had interrupted the glorious sunshine and pounded furiously against the car for a moment before the scorching sun broke through again.
These downpours are common here on St. Lucia – and they’re just a small part of what makes this island paradise so special.
My wife Charlotte and I were heading to Sulfur Springs, the ONLY drive-in volcano in the world, located in Soufriere (French for sulphur) on the island’s west coast.
Our 80 minute taxi ride took us through the bustling capital of Castries and the colorful fishing village of Anse La Raye before weaving past the lush Piton Mountains and straight through the dormant volcano sitting in the crust of a collapsed crater.
People travel from all over the island to take a dip in the bubbling pools, famed for their skin-rejuvenating properties – no matter what the smell of eggs might suggest.
Stripped down to our bathing suits, we were given two buckets of fresh, steaming volcanic mud—one dark and one light—and encouraged to get creative.
We unleashed our inner artists by using each other’s bodies as a canvas. And we could get as messy as we wanted, knowing our mudslinging antics would soon be washed away in the soothing hot springs and Toraille waterfall nearby.
If mud baths and bubbling springs aren’t relaxation enough for you, there are many more soothing rituals to hold on to at Bay Gardens Beach Resort and Spa in Rodney Bay.
Located on the golden sands of Reduit Beach to the north, the resort’s La Mer Spa offers a serene respite from the heat of the sun.
We treated ourselves to a couples massage, which didn’t disappoint, but those looking to really power up the boat can opt for a three-hour Island Bliss package, which includes a massage, body scrub, and facial, followed by a manicure and pedicure , contains.
The resort is also home to Splash Island Water Park — an inflatable open-water obstacle course with swings, slides, a trampoline, and a climbing wall — think TV show Wipeout.
Two minutes into the challenge I gasped and was fished out by my giggling wife. . . Anyway, Wipeout, this felt more like SAS: Who Dares Wins!
When you’ve had enough fun, head to Hi Tide Restaurant overlooking the beach, which serves traditional fare like mahi-mahi fish, goat curry, sweet potatoes, and salted mashed bananas—much more delicious than it sounds.
It’s a great place to enjoy the idyllic sunset while sipping a Lucian Mudslide, a succulent banana milkshake that soon became a firm favourite.
For foodies, there are plenty more experiences elsewhere on the island to get the taste buds going.
Towered by the Piton Mountains, Chocolat’s Rabot Hotel features 25 private eco-lodges and a stylish restaurant and bar.
Set in the rainforest of a Unesco World Heritage Site, the Rabot estate is also home to St. Lucia’s oldest working cocoa farm and Project Chocolat – an immersive tree-to-bar experience that takes you behind the chocolate-making process from growing the cocoa beans to the bars that become sold in stores today.
As we walked through the rainforest canopy, we gazed at the impressive reddish, orange, and green pods dangling from the branches above us.
Then we got to sample the wares, channeling our inner Willy Wonkas to create our own chocolate bars. Although grinding cocoa nibs, cocoa butter, and powdered sugar in a piping-hot pestle required some elbow grease.
Then it was off to the cocoa-based street food market, which served up treats like cocoa barbecue wings, chocolate puree, and chicken roti. With bellies full of chocolatey treats, we made our way to Pigeon Island, a national landmark.
Now connected to the mainland, it’s home to secluded beaches, incredible views of Rodney Bay and some fascinating historic walking trails.
Here, history buffs can marvel at the remains of impressive forts, including Fort Rodney, built in 1778 when the British and French fought each other.
For those not so interested in history, the island is also a great spot for snuba – a mix of diving and snorkeling. Rather than being strapped to your back, the air tank is placed on a raft with long hoses attached to your breathing apparatus.
The marine life here is stunning and our instructor Lydelle helped us identify the various tropical fish, from the Spotted Drum and Queen Parrotfish to the Blue Tang, which children would recognize as Dory from Finding Nemo.
There’s plenty more wildlife to see on land too, so we ended our trip on a rainforest hike in the Babonneau region. Our intrepid group of six was led up the Jacquot Trail (named after the Jacquot parrot) where we hiked through a tangled mass of green trees.
Birds flew overhead as our guide delved into the details of the island’s flora and fauna.
With beautiful scenery, delicious food and plenty of adventure, it’s not hard to see why St. Lucia has stolen the hearts of young and old, families and honeymooners alike.
https://www.thesun.ie/travel/8564902/st-lucia-trip-worlds-only-drive-in-volcano/ Drive to St. Lucia and take a trip to the ONLY drive-in volcano in the world