Pigeon Island National Landmark
Pigeon Island is truly one of Saint Lucia’s most interesting and beautiful sites that everyone, especially children, will enjoy. Steeped in the island’s history visitors are also afforded breathtaking panoramic views in every direction which, of course, provided the strategic advantage that those who occupied the island in the past were after. In the early 1550s the infamous pirate, Jamb de Bois (meaning ‘wooden leg’, which he actually had) used Pigeon Island to ambush passing Spanish ships heavy with gold from South America.
In the 1700s the British established a military installation on the island which was active in the many skirmishes they had with France. It was from the adjacent bay that Admiral Rodney set sail in 1782 and destroyed the French Fleet in the Battle of the Saintes. Today numerous ruins are there to be explored. Consider it a must to walk to the fort atop one of the hills to see the cannons and other ruins and the spectacular views of much of Saint Lucia and the island of Martinique to the north. It’s also worth the modest climb up the even higher Signal Hill for the views it affords as well. Visit Pigeon Island on a clear day if possible to take full advantage.
It must be noted that Pigeon Island was a separate isle until 1972 when the causeway connecting it to the mainland was completed using the material dredged during the construction of the Rodney Bay Marina and inner harbour. All of this interesting information and more can be enjoyed at the Pigeon Island museum. Also, on some days you will find Pigeon Island to be a great place to watch the local surfers riding the waves on the north side of the causeway. There is a restaurant available for lunch or a refreshing drink after strolling the grounds. The cost to enter Pigeon Island is a modest US$5.
Morne Fortune is the imposing mountain which looms over Castries on the south side of the city. ‘The Morne’, as it is locally known, is rich with history and sites of interest that are particularly a lure to visitors who wish to experience the island’s cultural past off the beaten tourist path, as it were. The most enjoyable way to go up the Morne is to follow Bridge Street out of the south end of town; the road snakes back and forth as you climb. As you approach the top there is an overlook that provides a truly magnificent view of the city and the northwest coast. Cruise passengers will find no better photo opportunity to get a picture of their ship moored below.
Just past the overlook you come to Government House, which was the seat of British rule in the past. The building, which is the official residence of the Governor General, is an excellent example of Victorian architecture. Visits to Government House are by appointment only.
The Morne played a pivotal role in the island’s history during the 18th and 19th centuries due to its strategic position overlooking Castries Harbour. The French first established a military presence on the Morne in the mid-18th century beginning the series of skirmishes with the British that took place over the next several decades. During the French Revolution near the end of the century, however, the British claimed the Morne for their own and established numerous fortifications, gun emplacements and other military buildings, which can still be seen scattered about the mountain.
Sitting atop the Morne is Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, named after Saint Lucia’s first Nobel Laureate, who is buried on the grounds. Many of the old military buildings were restored and are part of the very scenic campus.
The historic town of Soufriere
Diamond Mineral Baths and Soufriere Estate
Located just southeast of the town of Soufriere, the Diamond Mineral Baths were built in 1786 but were almost completely destroyed during the local political turmoil that occurred in Saint Lucia after the French Revolution. Finally fully restored by the current owner, the baths, along with the adjacent botanical gardens, are one of the island’s most popular attractions. As the Diamond River, which flows out of the Sulphur Springs volcano, makes it’s way to the mineral baths, there are no fewer than six waterfalls, the most attractive of which is the lower falls located by the mineral baths. The water, heated by the volcano and other hot springs along the way, is considered very therapeutic by locals and foreigners alike. Elsewhere on the Soufriére Estate a finely restored sugar mill is found.
Stonefield Estate, located just south of Soufriere along the West Coast Road, was the location of a lime oil processing facility during the early 1900s. The oil was produced in two ways, by abrasion of the peels and by crushing and boiling what was left. The old building and machinery are still on the estate, which is now a small resort. Not long ago an important Amerindian rock carving was found on the estate as well.
Picturesque Soufriére is the oldest town on the island. While many of the historical treasures that once existed were lost to fire over the centuries much of the southern part of town still features beautiful old French architecture. The historic town square and Catholic Church are popular sites for visitors as well.
Morne Coubaril Estate
Morne Coubaril Estate, located just south of Soufriere, is today both a working estate and an historical attraction. Guests are treated to authentic demonstrations showing the production of cassava, cocoa and various products made from coconuts.
The Maria Islands were declared a Nature Reserve in 1982 by the Government of Saint Lucia in recognition of their special function as a wildlife habitat and their unique flora and fauna. There are over eighty (80) plant species found on Maria Islands. The island is home five endemic reptile species such as the world’s rarest snake – the Kouwés snake (Saint Lucia Racer), The Saint Lucia whiptail (Zandouli, The Worm Snake (non-poisonous), the Pygmy and Rock geckos as well as several species of cacti and undisturbed tropical plants on the vertical cliffs.
The islands are set about one half mile from Pointe Sable on the South East coast of Saint Lucia. Maria Major is 10.1 hectares and its little sister Maria Minor is 1.6 hectares. The islands are also a major nesting site for migratory birds which travel thousands of miles from the west coast of Africa to nest annually.
Fond d’Or Nature Reserve & Historical Park
Located just north of the east coast town of Dennery Fond d’Or has plenty to see besides the spectacular rugged coastline and beach it is known for. Rich in Amerindian and early European history there it is an important island archaeological site with plenty of ruins to explore. Hiking trails amid the flora and fauna also can be enjoyed as well.