Discover your swing on a Caribbean gem in St. Lucia
St. Lucia may not be as large or as well-known as Jamaica or the Bahamas. But its beautiful landscape, wide array of activities, and burgeoning golf scene puts it in a class by itself for a truly unique getaway.
This lush island located in the eastern chain of the Caribbean islands is also a poised to become a legitimate golf destination.
Castries - the capital city of this eastern Caribbean paradise - is home to 50,000 of the 150,000 residents and is located on the northwest side of the island and just minutes from the Vigie Airport, one of two on the island. Travel to the northern tip of the island and you will come to the town of Cap Estate, home of St. Lucia Golf & Country Club.
St. Lucia Golf and Country Club is the only 18-hole course on the island and is set in the scenic rolling hills of Cap Estate on the northern tip of the island. The semi-private club welcomes the public and is located on the northern peninsula, offering panoramic views of both the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.
The par-71, plays to 6,829 yards from the tips and the par-5 546-yard first hole tests your swing from the opening tee shot. Its stiff course rating of 74.6 will surely keep you interested if you are looking to do more on vacation than get a tan and sip smoothies. It is also the only course on the island that offers a driving range, full-service pro shop and a golf academy to work out any last minute kinks in the swing before teeing it up.
The Sandals St. Lucia Golf and Resort is an all-inclusive golf alternative to St. Lucia Golf and Country Club. Sandals is a 210-acre resort that spares no detail. Among the amenities of the resort is the eastern Caribbean's largest pool, ten bars (including two swim-up), a half-mile long white sand beach and a 9-hole, par-33 golf course. And once you've booked a room, it's all included, so play round after round until your muscles ache and are ready for one of Sandals' five whirlpools. Those not staying at the resort are welcome to the course as well, and may play for a reasonable $30 for 9 holes and $45 for 18. You can choose to walk the beautiful landscape with a caddy for just $5.
On the Southwestern shore of the island in Sourfriere is the Jalousie Hilton resort, which also has a 9-hole par-3 course for those who are looking for just a taste of golf during their stay on the island. Guests not staying at the hotel can play the course with the purchase of a day pass to the resort for $75.
While St. Lucia Golf and Country Club is the island's only 18-hole course, it will soon have company. Jack Nicklaus will bring his first signature course to the eastern Caribbean islands. The $100 million dollar project was announced in September of 2002 and plans to begin construction on the 360-acre site will be sometime this year. With the addition of this new course, which will give the island two full-length 18-hole courses, St. Lucia expects to become a major golfing destination in the Caribbean.
Like most Caribbean islands, expect an abundance of seafood on the menu at most restaurants. Camilla's Restaurant and Bar is located in the heart of the town of Sourfriere and serves fresh lobster and other dishes in a creole sauce. Like many restaurants on the island, Camilla's offers a complimentary rum punch beverage. Many restaurants, such as Josephine's Restaurant and Papa Don's, offer patrons a free bottle of wine. If the free spirits don't work, eateries will often lure tourists in for dinner by means of live steel drum or reggae bands and generous happy hours.
St. Lucia's scenery is breathtaking, which is why most restaurants make a point to provide guests with a front row seat. Mango Tree Restaurant is set in the foothills of Castries and overlooks the island's capital. Eagles Inn also boasts seafood as good as the view of the neighboring harbor and sea.
As a British island, St. Lucia is a veritable hotbed for cricket. Most resorts offer cricket and games may break out in parks year-round. The island also has an abundance of yachting, diving, deep sea fishing, parasailing and jet skiing.
St. Lucia's golf ware are often overshadowed by its spectacular climate and terrain. The middle of the island is scarcely populated due to its mountain range and 19,000 acres of tropical rain forests spread throughout the island. St. Lucia also possesses the world's only "drive-in" volcano: the dormant Mt. Sourfriere, which also has naturally heated sulfur baths.
Within the rainforest itself are 29 miles of trails where visitors can take government-licensed, guided tours of the rare birds and plants that have called St. Lucia home for nearly two-thousand years. Among the wildlife in the rainforests is the national bird, the Amazona Versicolor, which thanks to recent government protection is off the endangered species list. A variety of tours, varying in rigor will take you through different regions of the rainforest.
Upon the arrival of nightfall, the island transforms into a festive scene of music and culture. Most bars and clubs have theme nights and on the weekend there is an abundance of live music on the island. On a Saturday night you can take in jazz at Windjammer and Reggae and Calypso at Anse Chastenet. Or, you could see a belly dancer at Razmataz or have good old fashioned country western music at Bigwood Club. It is also Karaoke night somewhere on the island five nights a week. Le Chalet Nightclub and Gaiety are among a handful of dance clubs on the island that offer a mature, yet fun atmosphere. Walk through the streets of Sourfriere or Castries on any given night and you will hear steel drums and reggae echoing off the mountains and out into the sea.