Destination: St. Lucia
Those expecting sprawling white sand beaches will be disappointed on St. Lucia, which is more about small coves and short stretches of sand than endless expanses (and its vast marine life makes it a better place to snorkel and scuba dive than to lounge on land). All beaches on the island are open to the public, but some are easier to get to than others. If you want to get to secluded Anse Lavoutte, for example, you’ll need a four-wheel-drive vehicle. The mile-long Reduit Beach, in northwest Rodney Bay, is the island’s largest but it gets quite crowded, since it’s easily accessible and flanked by massive resorts. Most of the high-end properties have their own beaches; the striking one at Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain is a lovely spot to while away an afternoon, that is, if you can successfully maneuver the terrible road leading there (one of the supposed reasons for its abysmal state it is that the owners don’t want their heavenly stretch of beach overrun by nonguests, a tactic apparently used by many resorts).
Scuba St. Lucia
The best scuba diving and snorkeling are found along the southwest coast, and many serious divers base themselves at nearby hotels like Jade Mountain and Ladera. Scuba St. Lucia, a PADI-certified dive center, owned by the Anse Chastanet but its courses and equipment rental are also available to nonguests. Anse Chastanet’s reef, part of the Pitons’ UNESCO World Heritage site and a protected marine park, is covered in soft coral and barrel sponges. Its plateau area suddenly falls away from about 20 to 140 feet, making it attractive to both scuba divers and snorkel aficionados. More than 150 fish species populate the reef, including parrot fish, needlefish and peacock flounders. The center offers diving courses for all levels, like seminars on digital underwater photography.
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