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Our Activities Day by Day / Dinner / Accommodations

Tue 20
Wed 21
Thu 22
Fri 23
Sat 24
Sun 25
Mon 26
Tue 27
Wed 28
Thu 29
En route to St. Lucia
Couples Massage
Dolphin & Whale Watching
Sunset Cruise
Exploring Pigeon Island Park
Soufriere Adventure Cruise
Island Tour with Clem
Rain Forest Gondola Sky Ride
Snorkeling
En route Home
Barefoot by the Sea
Toscanini's
Street Party
Barefoot by the Sea
Gordon's
Candle Light Dinner on the Beach
Beach BBQ
Dinner at Kimonos - Regency
Gordon's

Prime Minister One Bedroom Beachfront Luxury Suite

Prime Minister One Bedroom Beachfront Luxury Suite
Prime Minister One Bedroom Beachfront Luxury Suite
Prime Minister One Bedroom Beachfront Luxury Suite
Prime Minister One Bedroom Beachfront Luxury Suite
Prime Minister One Bedroom Beachfront Luxury Suite
Ultra Luxury Beach Rondoval Suite
Ultra Luxury Beach Rondoval Suite
Ultra Luxury Beach Rondoval Suite
Home Sweet Home!

The Fun Stuff!

All of the above activities were booked simply by telling our personal butlers to "do it". Nothing more needed to be done, they told us where and when we needed to be places. If towels were needed, they had them handy. On our Island Tour with Clem, they had a cooler of drinks (pop/water) for us. If you were staying in the Concierge suites, you'd be going to the tour desk and arranging these trips yourself as well as running down towels, coolers, etc.

Sandals frequently offers spa credits as part of the "sale" when you book. We had $250 in spa credits and we used them all on a couples massage. Which to me was very relaxing and soothing. That was what we did full day one on the resort. Besides walking around in a daze pinching ourselves and asking ... "are we REALLY here?!?"

I do have one note of advice on side tours featured on Sandals web site or at the resort. These tours are NOT operated by Sandals, so if you are expecting couples only during your tour, you'll be disappointed. We never had any trouble with kids on any tour, just be aware that you will encounter families, children, and singles on potentially any tour off the resort.

Piton MountainsDolphin & Whale Watching Cruise ... Make That Flying Fish Watching Cruise Dolphin and Whale Watching Cruise Pictures

Our first side tour was the Dolphin and Whale Watching Cruise. Except we never saw any dolphins or whales and this does happen roughly 15% of the time. We did see a bunch of flying fish, which were about the size of large dragonflies. This cruise is roughly a half-day boat ride in a big ocean-going cutter (45' or so fishing boat) and you spend the time looking for dolphins and whales. On the way back, they take you to lunch at Marigot Bay (very picturesque!) and then back to the resort. This trip starts early, so you actually might have to set an alarm!

We would try this again as it would be neat to see either some dolphins or whales. Ironically, the day before the same boat and crew hit the mother lode and saw all sorts of whales and dolphins. It happens.

Street PartyThe Street Party Street Party Pictures

What is very common in the islands is a street party. Bands, dancing in the streets, vendors cooking fresh food and plenty to drink. There are street parties in several villages on Friday and Saturday in St. Lucia, however they are anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour plus away from the resort - and that's one way. Sandals try's to imitate the street party atmosphere in their parking lot - having never been to one, I have no comparison, but the one at the resort was fun. TONS of fresh cooking food on a variety of grills - and the guys cooking on one grill were so outrageous in their dancing they were entertainment all by themselves.

There were stilt dancers, a local band that was REALLY good, plus other island dancers made it a very fun night. The band was really good and claimed to have the #1 hit in St. Lucia - I actually do believe them based on the number of times we heard the song they played live for us on other tours and at other locations.

Sunset Party Cruise Sunset Party Cruise Pictures

The sunset from the boatCall this an evening on a large ocean going catamaran, watching the sun go down while a lot of people drink a lot...

The sunset from out on the water was very pretty and the evening cruise back in delightful; however I don't think either one of us were overly thrilled with this tour.

We did sort of see the "green flash" as the sun crosses the horizon, but didn't manage to get it on digital camera. We should have had the camera in video mode... We probably wouldn't do this trip again as you can easily get a nice sunset from the resort.

If a party on a boat is for you - this isn't a bad experience and we did have a pleasant evening cruise on the water.

Ft. Rodney - Pigeon IslandPigeon Island National Park Pigeon Island National Park Pictures

The cheapest activity we did on the island and one of the better events as well. It costs $5 US each to get in to the park, then you're free to hike to your heart's content. This park contains numerous old British ruins from colonial times as well as some signs telling you what you're looking at.

The view from Ft. Rodney on top is about a 300 degree panorama that is just absolutely out of this world. This gorgeous scenery is worth the time it takes to hike to the top. We spent most of the morning in the park and had a blast.

The entrance to the park is literally right outside the boundaries of the Sandals Grande. A short walk and you're there.

Soufriere Adventure Cruise Soufriere Adventure Cruise Pictures

Diamond FallsThis was an all day boat and bus trip. You go by large ocean going catamaran to the town of Soufriere (means sulfur in the air...), which is literally in the cone of a very large ancient volcano. You then go by bus to the hot springs and you can actually drive into the cone itself. You have the option of getting in the hot springs - which are HOT. We had our suits on, but there was no way we could put more than a foot in that water.

You go to the botanical gardens (awesome!) and see Diamond Falls, which is a warm-water waterfall coming out of the hot springs.

Then it's to a local restaurant for lunch and back to the boat and on to Anse Cochon (a national marine preserve) for some snorkeling. This is the first time I've ever snorkeled in these waters and all I have to say is it's amazing!!!!

This tour is one we'd consider repeating on a return visit to St. Lucia.

Island Tour with Clem Island Tour with Clem Pictures

Meet ClemThis tour is not on the Sandals web site nor heavily advertised. Our travel agent (Jim Bengtson) told us about this trip and said it was one of the best things he'd done while visiting St. Lucia. Which is a pretty strong endorsement, considering he's been down there a few times. Gabriel Clemet (he goes by "Clem") is one of the drivers for one of the companies the Sandals Grande uses for transportation. He does private tours on the side and you get him, a Toyota bus, and most of the day.

Clem takes you places and explains things very thoroughly. He showed us St. Lucia fruits and nuts and berries, like the breadfruit, Cashew, and Coffee. He gave us a very detailed explanation at a banana plantation about how bananas are grown and harvested and you'll never ever let a banana go bad after hearing how a banana makes it to market!

Toraille FallsWe drove down the coast through several small fishing villages and through Soufriere to the other waterfall Toraille. We both thought this waterfall was far more beautiful than the Diamond Falls we'd seen on an earlier tour. Toraille is a cold waterfall coming straight out of the rain forest.

Then it was lunch at the Ladera Resort, with it's three wall (really - the wall seaward is open) construction. This resort is nestled between the majestic Piton mountains and is a small intimate resort, far from the beach.

We also stopped at an old coffee plantation and took the tour there.

Clem is an encyclopedia of knowledge about St. Lucia and it's people. He was also one of the most courteous young men we've met and a very gentle driver, unlike a lot of the other drivers we rode with on the island. We talked a variety of subjects from life on St. Lucia, its governmental system (British), it's languages, to even how houses get built and how much they cost. As my wife is a teacher, she was interested in their educational system and Clem pointed out schools and colleges throughout the day.

A note on the fishing villages - if you haven't seen poverty conditions before, this trip will be an eye-opener to the average westerner. Much of the construction is old and wooden, some dating to colonial times. Homes are often kept in the families for generations and do not have running water or sewers; there are places to collect water that is piped in from a reservoir in the rain forest. The "houses" are extremely small, some houses are the size of a couple of office cubical's and some homes are in quite poor repair.

The life of a fisherman isn't easy and it's very dangerous. In fact, Clem told us his dad was a fisherman and he went out to sea in 1985 and never came back. We saw the boats they took out to sea, essentially a large motorized skiff with one or two outboard motors and fishing nets. Clem told us these boats go out as far as 100 miles! I personally wouldn't go a mile out to sea myself in a boat that size, let alone the other 99 miles! You also see the fisherman selling their catch, fresh in ice boxes in the streets of the towns.

We almost didn't do this tour as my wife thought it might be lame being all day in a car. After the third time Jim said "you MUST do this tour", she gave in. It wasn't at all lame as we saw a lot sights and learned a lot about the St. Lucia away from the resorts. This tour lasts 7-8 hours and costs $180 US cash. You can reach Clem at this email address (clem_taxi683@hotmail.com) or by phone (1-758-484-3620). We had this tour all set up via email before we ever left the United States.

Clem and his tour are HIGHLY recommended if you really want to see and learn about the island and it's people. The other beauty of this trip is that you can work with him to see sights you haven't seen before. So a repeat tour might be called for on a future trip.

The Beach BBQ

We spent all day with Clem on the taxi tour, came back to our new accommodations which were impressive, and then went to the beach BBQ. Here, the chefs at Sandals had set up a huge buffet on the beach - a different band was providing live entertainment. The food was impressively good - particularly the grilled Mahi-Mahi they had, which again was extremely good. Our new room at the resort had its own private patio, plunge pool, and hot tub, so we ate dinner, then spent a good chunk of the evening in the pool and hot tub listening to wonderful live entertainment. This just is a hard way to live, is it not?

Rain Forest Gondola Sky Ride Rain Forest Gondola Sky Ride Pictures

On top of the world - Rain ForestThis tour was a last-minute addition as we were trying to get on a glass-bottom boat that had since gone out of business. St. Lucia has a large amount of rain forest and this gondola ride goes about a mile and a half into the forest. You start at the ground and go through all five canopy layers of the forest until finally you're on top of the trees.

Our guide was nicknamed "Vision" - he was your typical young Caribbean black man, spoke with a slight French accent, and had a bag full of dreadlocks. First appearances, however can be deceiving.

We got on the gondola and headed up. I figured we'd get the canned "presentation" and that'd be it. Much to my astonishment, this young man was a wealth of knowledge of the rain forest. He explained the canopy layers, how things work together in the forests, the strangling Fichus trees, even the latin names of the species we were seeing. Talk about deceiving first appearances!!! It was like sitting in a botany or plant sciences class at the college level for the better part of an hour. Then he led us through the forest on a short nature hike, again explaining what we were seeing very thoroughly.

While we probably wouldn't repeat this trip as we've "done that", we'd highly recommend this tour as an educational opportunity to learn about a very integral part of the island of St. Lucia.

Snorkeling

This activity at the resort was one of the two most fun things we did on the resort. If you haven't snorkeled before, you will want to as it's absolutely amazing! You also want to head right down to the water activities center as soon as you get there and get signed up for a trip as they can't take a lot of people out at one time and the list fills up fast. Were we to visit St. Lucia or another Sandals resort again, the water activities center would be one of our first destinations once we get to the resort. Particularly if you want to snorkel more than once.

My wife, the non-swimmer and afraid to put her face in the water, actually tried snorkeling. She was so enthralled by what she was seeing in that amazing clear water that she was never scared and really didn't want to get out of the ocean! Plus in salt water you're naturally buoyant and with a vest, you're never in any danger of getting your head under water unintentionally.

Diving is also included at Sandals - if you dive, get on the list fast as the dive list fills up just as quick as the snorkeling list.

Hobie Cats - Most Fun Thing on Two Hulls! (not on schedule - but done three times!)

This fun little boat is a Hobie Cat "Wave" Catamaran Sailboat. Hobie Cat Wave

Sandals has a fleet of them and all you have to do is sign one out and off you go. We went sailing three times while we were there and loved every minute of it.

I'd sailed as a kid and have a large mono hull sailboat (Snipe Class). However, this boat is large, rather cumbersome to prepare for sailing (a 90 lb solid aluminum dagger board explains part of it...) and equally cumbersome to take down and back on the trailer. Due to it's size and weight, a considerable wind is required to even get boat moving at pace beyond "fast walk".

The cats, by comparison go together in a snap and you're on the water.

They were a piece of cake to sail, really got moving quite fast in light to moderate wind, and we had a whole large turquoise blue bay to play in under a beautiful Caribbean sun. What more could one ask for? We liked sailing these boats so much, we're going to get rid of my old boat and look into acquiring one of these water toys to play with at home.

Update September 2010

We stumbled into a "steal of a deal" on a used Hobie Cat "Getaway", which is the big sister of the "Wave". (16' vs. 13'; carries up to 6 instead of a cozy 2)

We managed to acquire this boat in time for Labor Day weekend, however there was way too much wind that weekend. The following weekend we got the boat out on a large local lake and just had a blast.

Unfortunately sailing season is pretty much over for the fall unless you're hardcore in a wet suit (we're not...), so next summer looks fun!

We still have to figure out what to do with the other boat...

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Trip Date: July 20 - 29, 2010