When you booked your St Lucia holiday, no doubt your travel agent provided some useful information about the island. But we bet they didn’t tell you these five weird and wonderful facts about St Lucia…
Wherever you go on your holidays, it helps to know a little about the destination before you arrive.
When it comes to Saint Lucia, there are many helpful facts that will be provided by your tour operator – for example the currency, transport, bank opening hours and locations, and other ‘typical’ tourist information.
But what about the weird and wonderful facts that travel agents don’t often talk about?
We’ve put together a collection of our favourite ‘my travel agent didn’t tell me that’ facts about St Lucia, to help you get excited about your visit. From record-breaking reptiles to the strange eggy smell at Soufriere, here are five things about Saint Lucia that your travel agent probably neglected to mention…
1. Explosive origins
St Lucia is over 50 million years old. The earliest parts of the island – today called Pointe du Cap and Moule-a-Chique – were formed as a result of the movement of tectonic plates under the sea. Many millions of years – and several volcanic eruptions and earthquakes – later, Saint Lucia evolved into the size and shape we know today. The island’s western coastline was formed some 26 million years ago, along with many of St Lucia’s mountains.
2. Drive-through volcano
St Lucia is home to the world’s only drive-through volcano, which is at Soufriere and is one of the top tourist attractions on the island. The volcano is dormant – no rumblings have been heard since 1780. The very distinctive eggy smell at the volcano is caused by sulphur escaping from the depths of the Earth through fissures in the rocks. It is said that bathing in the mineral-rich springs close to the volcano are very good for the health, particularly the skin; you’ll often see visitors and locals plastering themselves in the grey mud before showering it off and reporting that their skin feels wonderfully smooth.
3. The Caribes
Until the arrival of Spanish invaders, St Lucia was mostly populated by the Caribes (as the Spanish called them), a fierce people who claimed to have killed off the Arawak population of the island centuries before, eating the men and taking the women as wives. The Caribes lived on St Lucia until the late 17th century, and there is still a small settlement of Caribes on Dominica even today. The Caribes were cunning as well as fierce – history tells us that they repeatedly played the British and French against each other during wars fought over ownership of the island.
4. Record-breaking wildlife
St Lucia is home to some of the world’s largest, smallest and rarest reptiles. St Lucia’s worm snake is the world’s smallest snake, according to the Guinness Book of Records. The world’s largest living reptile is the leatherback turtle, which nests on St Lucia’s beaches and weighs up to 1144kg. The world’s rarest snake is the St Lucian Racer, which if you’re extremely lucky you may see at Maria Islands Nature Reserve. This snake is so rare and elusive, it’s impossible to count how many are left in the wild. St Lucia is also home to its own unique parrot, known locally as the Jacquot. If you take a trip into the rainforest with an experienced guide, you may be lucky enough to spot one – though they are pretty rare these days.
5. A city on fire
The island’s capital, Castries, has been destroyed by fire at least once every century since the 17th century. Some fires destroyed as many as 40 blocks of the city. The biggest fires happened in 1796, 1813, 1919, 1927 and 1948. There were also large fires in 1951, 1959 and 1960. This is why there are so few old buildings left in Castries, and is also why Castries is one of the most modern cities in the Eastern Caribbean.