PERSONAL JOURNEYS

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A Memorable Place

Caribbean dream comes true on St. Lucia

By Melisa Hayes

SPECIAL TO THE SUN

My husband and I recently honeymooned at an all- inclusive resort on the island of St. Lucia. We knew we wanted to go to the Caribbean, and after much research, we decided on St. Lucia because of its many offerings.

We wanted to explore an island that had beautiful beaches, and also waterfalls, mountains and coral reefs.

Flying to the island, we were struck by the hilly topography, including the Grand Piton mountains, which rose up into the clouds. The contrast of the lush, green hills amid the blue water was quite a sight.

Homes were built into the side of the hills, allowing the residents spectacular views of the ocean.

Our resort was a five-minute drive from the airport, and on our arrival we were warmly greeted and offered cool napkins to soothe us and cold beverages to refresh us. After we checked in, the first thing we did was run to the beach and jump in the warm water.

In addition to beaches, the island also has a rain forest, a volcano, rolling hills and mountains, and acres of banana trees. Bananas are the island's No. 1 export. After touring one of the many plantations, a local farmer allowed us to sample his fresh pineapple, banana, coconut and mango for $1. Later, we washed off the sticky juices in a swimming hole created by one of the island's many waterfalls.

We continued on to a small fishing village named Anse La Raye. School had just let out for the day, and children in crisp uniforms walked up and down the dirt roads of the village.

We took a moment to rest in a cool, quiet church, and our tour guide informed us that 90 percent of the island's residents are Roman Catholic, which explained the many churches we saw as we traveled along the island's twisting roads.

Although our stay on St. Lucia was during the rainy season, the brief outbursts of warm rain did not bother us. In fact, we discovered that the rainy season can be the most wonderful time to visit, as evidenced by the colorful, tropical flowers in bloom everywhere.

The landscape was also complemented by the wildlife we saw -- snowy white egrets, spotted island ponies, geckoes and almost translucent sand crabs.

When we thought of the Caribbean, we always pictured a lush, tropical island. St. Lucia was everything we had imagined it would be. It was a sad day when we had to fly home, but we consoled ourselves with the thought that we would be back someday to celebrate our anniversary.

Melisa Hayes lives in Nottingham, Md.

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