When you think of St Lucia, chances are your mind will be filled with images of palm-fringed beaches, lush rainforest, and a never-ending vista of the bright blue Caribbean Sea.
While this isn’t an incorrect view – as a Caribbean island, of course St Lucia does have its fair share of beaches and beautiful views – there’s also a wealth of fascinating things to see and do in St Lucia, so you shouldn’t feel obliged to spend your entire vacation lying on the beach sipping cocktails!
Saint Lucia is rich in history and culture. Kwéyòl – the traditional Creole language of the St Lucian people – is widely spoken throughout the island, and indeed visitors and residents can take classes in this fascinating language at the Folk Research Centre.
The island, in the 18th and 19th centuries, changed hands between the French and British many times, which caused St Lucia to earn its nickname, The Helen of the West Indies; as, like the famous lady whose beauty is said to have caused the Trojan wars, St Lucia’s beauty caused her to be fought over.
If you’re visiting St Lucia and would like to get a taste of the island’s history and culture, here are a few attractions you won’t want to miss.
Balenbouche is a site of historic and cultural importance in St Lucia. The estate was once a French-owned plantation and water-powered sugar cane factory, where sugar and rum were produced until the early 20th century. The area around Balenbouche was inhabited by indigenous Amerindians from Central America from about 500AD to the mid-17th century, when the Europeans arrived. Balenbouche has over the past few decades been transformed into eco-friendly holiday accommodation and remains a family-run business and organic farm.
The Balenbouche Estate covers 75 acres and there are several walking trails through the grounds. Trails include one which takes you to the old sugar mill, while another takes you past some beautiful Amerindian carvings. Some of these trails require a guide, so it’s worth contacting Balenbouche before you visit, to check whether a guide is available.
Choiseul Arts and Craft Center
The Choiseul Arts and Craft Center is the focal point of arts and crafts in the Choiseul area of St Lucia, if not of the island itself. So many of Choiseul’s residents are involved in one way or another with the Arts and Craft Center (which is owned and operated by St Lucia’s Ministry of Education), the Center is now an integral part of life for many local families.
At this attraction you’ll find all sorts of craft products to buy, including pottery, grass weavings, dolls, framed photos, coconut and wood carvings, and much more. When you buy goods at the Center you directly support the community and the craft culture for which it is famous.
Pon George (The Devil’s Bridge)
Take a walk across Pon George – The Devil’s Bridge – and bear in mind the local legends about this little landmark.
The bridge spans a 200ft-deep canyon in the River Doree district of Choiseul. Due to its mysterious ‘history’, many locals even today will not cross the bridge, because it is said that if you try, you will disappear.
According to local legend, the bridge was many times rebuilt because with each rebuilding, the bridge kept deteriorating at a rapid rate – the work of the Devil, said the local people.
Eventually a villager entered a pact with the Devil that a new bridge would be built, and would be kept safe from deterioration, but in exchange for this the Devil wanted the first living soul that crossed the new bridge. So the villager walked to the new bridge with his dog, and sent the animal ahead to cross to the other side of the canyon. The Devil took the dog’s soul and the bridge’s safety was assured, but the Devil was furious to have been tricked in this way. Still, reasoned the old villager: the Devil hadn’t specified a human soul, just a living soul, so the deal had been kept fair and square. And the Devil couldn’t argue with that!
If you’d like to visit any of these, or St Lucia’s other attractions, during your stay at Marigot Beach Club and Dive Resort, please talk to our front desk team who can help to arrange taxis or water taxis to take you to your destination.