There’s only so far a Jeep can take you, even along the roads less travelled in St. Lucia. The funky thing about the Land & Sea Safari is its deft combination of both approaches, following up its land-leg with a bout of seafaring sightseeing. On the version of the tour that I took, arranged through St. James’s Club Morgan Bay, the sea leg saw us board the hotel’s bespoke catamaran, the Calypso Cat, and power-out to some of the harder-to-reach spots on St. Lucia.
The Sea Safari is an apt counterpart to the tour’s Jeep Safari. Where the latter has the ability to show you the classic views that have become synonymous with St. Lucia, the former offers new, unprecedented perspectives on the island’s distinctive anatomy. The pick-up point at the Soufrière harbour was overlooked by the tall, emerald vigil of Gros Piton (the taller of the siblings), and offered a lesser-seen perspective looking up from its base. As we were boarding the boat it occurred to me that most photographs of the Pitons are taken from elevation, and seeing it with an upturned face gave a real sense of the size and scale of the Caribbean’s most distinctive landmark. The signature triangles of the Pitons are emblazoned in black and yellow on St. Lucia’s flag, so actually standing in their shadow gave a proper insight into the colossal presence the Pitons exert over the island.
The entire Sea Safari was peppered with sheer coastal vistas, incorporating the hard, white walls of the shoreline cliffs to the red-roof dots of seaside villages. Each little snapshot that passed the catamaran was a choice glimpse at St. Lucia’s hard-to-reach backroads that come with their own breed of sequestered island charm. Just sitting back in the sea breeze and watching the coast slip by was a wonderful experience in its own right.
The Bat Cave
As the catamaran pulled out of the harbour and the Pitons regressed to more familiar proportions, we briefly stopped by a large fissure in an oceanic cliff just outside of Soufrière. It seemed completely unassuming at first, but as the catamaran pulled up towards the fissure an unmistakable chirring fluttered from the darkness. Closer still and we could see countless tiny wings brushing against the inner rock face. This split in the rock was home to an enormous colony of fruit bats, biding their time until the twilight hours set them free. What struck me here wasn’t the visual impressiveness of the rock, but the small, silhouetted murmurs that hinted at life beneath the surface. It was an unexpected landmark on the tour, but oddly spectacular none-the-less in its ability to show how nature can hide itself in plain sight.
Snorkelling at Anse Cochon
With the Pitons now firmly out of sight our journey northwards took us onto the beach at Anse Cochon, renowned for its stunning snorkelling. Regardless of whether or not you want to get wet, the beachfront here is incredibly peaceful, and it feels like you’ve arrived on a deserted island. Fish of every conceivable colour flitter through the glassy shallows and sea urchins peek from between the seabed rocks. Above the waves the deep yellow sand of Anse Cochon created a soft orange glow over the bay. The crew of the Calypso Cat even served their home made rum punch, lovingly titled “Happy Juice”, to keep everything mellow as we blissed-out on the seafront.
The Rich and The Famous
As the sun began to dip behind the peaks of the mainland we pulled into Marigot Bay for the final stop of the Land & Sea Safari. Renowned as the Caribbean hideaway for the rich and famous, Marigot Bay is actually a bay-within-a-bay, where a lazy outer seafront gives way to a tighter yacht-dotted bay and steep, verdant coastlines. Most of the houses push out form the incline of the bay, and include properties owned at various times by the likes of Jackie Chan and Mike Tyson. The sun was starting to dip below the horizon as we toured Marigot Bay, and the backlit masts and palms of the harbour offered a elegant, modern counterpart to the distinctly primordial shadows of Gros Piton that started the Sea Safari. Old and new; natural and man-made: both sides of St. Lucia beautifully offset each other over the course of the Land & Sea Safari.
If there’s one thought to take away when it comes to a Land & Sea Safari, it’s this: the sense of completeness that comes from exploring the island from top to bottom, wet and dry, in the capable hands of experienced guides. If you want to experience St. Lucia in all its glory, and uncover a few secrets along the way, then you totally need to get yourself on a Land & Sea Safari.