Monday, May 20, 2013

Postcards From St. Lucia: Views From Above

My fantastic travel agent, Jen, told me there are only two ways onto St. Lucia by air.  One, where normal people fly into (that's us), is the Hewanorra International Airport, at the very southernmost part of the island.  The other one - for movie stars and important political people (not us) - is the Vigie Airport, just ten short minutes from our resort in Castries.  The shuttle transfer from the southern airport to our resort is a windy, mountainous drive of 1 1/2 hours, we were told.

I would like to gleefully proclaim here that we beat the system and landed in the "movie star/ important political people" airport, and how we got there was just awesome.

The husband/lover/travel buddy was concerned that he would experience motion sickness with our road transfer from the airport to our resort.  Having had a similar situation last year in Jamaica, he did not want a repeat.  So, we booked a helicopter flightseeing tour from the southern airport to the northern one, which also included a private car transfer afterwards for the ten minute ride to our resort.

We felt that every penny we spent on this helicopter ride was quite worth it, for we were able to get an overall look at the island and its features that could never be matched with ground transportation alone.  The pictures you will see today are views from the air, taken during our flight from south to north.

It was a European helicopter, with seating for 4 in the back seat and for the pilot and another 2 in the front.  I was seated in the back, conveniently right next to the window.  Our carry-on luggage was stowed in the small compartment where the door is open in the back.

My son informed me that those gray tubes you see are inflatable in case of a water landing.  There were six pairs of headphones so that we could hear the pilot's commentary.

St. Lucia is a mountainous, tropical island, and many acres of rainforest occupy the center of the island.

While we were flying over the rainforest, the pilot informed us that parrots and snakes live in abundance in the rainforest, especially boa constrictors.  I was glad I was seeing this area from the air.

Predictably, one of the first things that caught my eye was the presence of palm trees and tropical vegetation.

I also took notice of the colorful variety of homes.  Many of them were simply shacks on stilts built into the sides of the hills.

It was easily evident that there is quite a lot of poverty in St. Lucia.

In the distance we could see St. Lucia's Piton Mountains, both the Gros Piton and the Petit Piton.  The Pitons are located near the town of Soufriere, and are very popular with sightseers, photographers, and hikers.  The Gros Piton is the second tallest mountain in St. Lucia, rising to a height of about 2600 feet, and, in spite of its larger size, is the easiest of the two Pitons to climb.  Many excursions take hikers on a trek to the top, however, in this tropical climate that effort seems to me more like a pile of work than a vacation.

Along with the views of mountains and rainforests, there were lovely looks at the ocean surrounding the island, and many bays where marine life is abundant.  We enjoyed two different excursions down the west coast to snorkel in one of those beautiful bays.

Although we thoroughly enjoyed our helicopter tour of the island, at the end of the week we took the ground transfer back to the airport in the south.  The ride required 1 1/2 hours of traveling time on windy, hilly roads to drive approximately 23 miles to the airport.  It gave us a good close up look at many of the tiny villages outside of the main cities.

Tomorrow I'll be sharing photos from Sandals Halcyon Beach, "Postcards From St. Lucia:  Our Resort."  Such a lovely place.

1 comment:

  1. That looks simply magnificent:) I love islands, they always seem peaceful and isolated!