Caribbean islands are blessed with natural beauty, but when it comes to spectacular settings you can’t beat St Lucia, writes Peter Woodman.
There’s no shortage of impressive beaches and stunning scenery in the Caribbean, famous for its warm waters and laid-back way of life. But for spectacular views and awe-inducing landscapes St Lucia has the upper hand.
Covered by a thick blanket of rainforest, with jagged mountains rising from the ocean, it’s a unique proposition for even the most seasoned Caribbean traveller. Mountains abound and you can visit sulphur springs in a volcano at Soufriere.
What’s more, the majority of hotels and restaurants on the island have been carefully positioned to capitalise on the wealth of great views on offer. It was my intention to sample as many as possible on a recent visit to the island.
We were heading for St James Club at Morgan Bay, just north of the capital. With rooms perched over a lovely bay, the hotel has recently been taken over by the Elite Island Resorts hotel group and given a spruce up.
The resort is spread out, but golf-style buggies are on hand to get you to your rooms if the step-climbing becomes too arduous. We had a suite with flower-strewn hedges outside and west-facing views of the beach and sea.
The next day, we drove a few miles up the coast to Rodney Bay. A number of posh resort hotels have sprung up in this area, along with shopping malls to entice the cruise passenger market.
Afterwards, we travelled up to Pigeon Island, a rock promontory that is actually no longer an island as it is joined to the mainland by a causeway.
It is a lovely spot with clear, turquoise-coloured water and swaying palm trees.
Those looking for a little local colour can visit the nearby fishing village of Gros Islet. On Friday evenings, holidaymakers turn up to join in the “jump-up”, where roads are closed and stalls sell seafood. Music plays and everyone parties.
Half-way through the trip we had a holiday within a holiday. We had been invited by British-born Michael Thom and his Italian wife Maria to sample C’est La Vie - an exclusive retreat the couple have created in secluded grounds at Trouya Pointe on the north-west coast.
Given our own butler, we lapped up the luxury of a stay which included the Thoms hosting us for dinner. As well as the attentive butlers to wait on them, guests get a pool in the grounds and plenty of peace and quiet.
But possibly one of the most scenic restaurants in the world is Dasheene, part of the Ladera resort, high up near the town of Soufriere.
The food was pretty good but the view was something else - overlooking two towering volcanic peaks - the Pitons.
Next day, we travelled to another island beauty spot - Marigot Bay. Just a little south from Castries, the bay is a protected cove immensely popular with visitors.
There was still one more lovely location to see. It was at Cap Maison and was another of those St Lucia specialities - a secluded resort in a beauty spot.
With so many trails and viewpoints to explore, it’s fair to say St Lucia never disappoints.