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We were cruising Saint Lucia via our own sailboat, but there are charter bases in Saint Lucia. The Dream Yacht Charters itinerary includes going down to the nearby St. Vincent, but I think there’s plenty to see and do on Saint Lucia itself.
We arrived in Saint Lucia at 3 pm on Saturday the 23rd, and David went off to clear in. Unfortunately, this time we had to pay a larger fee for clearing in on the weekend – $100 EC.
We anchored in the bay, on the south side of the channel, near the Bay Gardens resort. Unfortunately, the water was very cloudy, so bad that we couldn’t check the anchor. It became apparent to us that we also had a large rock interfering with our chain – bad enough to give us a sharp tug with an audible noise every once and a while. We decided Sunday morning to move over to the north side of the channel, off Gros Inlet. It ended up not being a great place either – clubs and bars play loud music Thursday through Sunday. Like, music loud enough it’s as if we are playing music. No wonder boats are anchored together in the very north side of the bay by the park.
We used two main dinghy docks; one is the marina dock and the other is the dock right at Tapas restaurant. At the Tapas dock, there’s always some guys hanging out there. I think they “help” you tie up in exchange for tips. But they weren’t pushy. Most of the time we didn’t need help, but sometimes the dock is really crowded and they’ll help you by pushing the other dinghies around. The dock is a short walk to the Bay Walk mall.
One really awesome thing about Rodney Bay is the cruising community. There is a net on channel 68, at 8:30 am Monday through Saturday. It’s very well organized. The format was:
- Security and safety
- Arrivals and departures
- Social events
- Treasures of the bilge
- Open forum
While it was a fairly quite net, there were people contributing a little bit, and we learned a lot about social events and local concerns of the cruisers – like safety and the noise.
Rodney Bay seems to be restaurant central. We were advised that Big Chef has the best steaks you can find in the Carib. David and I dressed up and went over for a date night. We had drinks at Tapas – owned by the same people – where I had a delicious mango mojito. As we were sipping our drinks and using the Internet, a gentleman approached us who needed a ride to his boat on the mooring. Never one to turn down a deposit into the boat karma bank, we agreed, and thus we met Patrick, who generously bought us another round before David took him to his boat.
Dinner at Big Chef was fantastic – David enjoyed a filet with Roquefort and I loved my ribeye. Even if you wanted to cook them at home, these nice cuts of beef are hard (if not impossible) to find in stores here.
Tuesday morning I ran to the Massy Stores Gourmet grocery store for one more big provisioning run. Massy is a short walk away from the dinghy dock near Big Chef. I also bought some fruit from Gregory, who comes by in his little boat every morning.
In the afternoon, I met my friend Madeline, who came in from the airport to the marina to come to stay with us for 8 days. Madeline has been one of my best friends since kindergarten. She’s been a whirl wind traveler for the past few weeks, and she flew to us from Dubai (via an overnight in Miami). Understandably, she was tired, so we had an early dinner and went to bed. Madeline also brought us quite a few things for the boat and personal items – including a DRONE!!
Madeline slept well….and until 10 am! We headed in and David dropped us for the ladies’ luncheon. It was awesome! There were twenty-five woman, most of them cruisers. We had drinks at the Bay Gardens Resort Bar, and then ate at Hi-Tide. While we didn’t get to meet everyone, we met a few other ladies from the Kemah area and talked to a lot of women who have been cruising for a long time. After lunch arrived, we did all take turns standing up and introducing ourselves.
After lunch we were welcome to use the pool area – hot tub included. About a dozen ladies stayed to swim and chat. We went back and forth – hot tub until we sweated, then back to the cold pool. It was a nice break from saltwater swimming!
David picked us up at 4 pm to head back to the boat. We got rained on, and settled back into comfort on Starry Horizons.
We had planned on leaving Rodney Bay Thursday afternoon, but in the morning we discovered we had a problem with one of the pumps for our water maker. Madeline and I went to snorkel at the Pigeon Island Park. We were able to tie the dinghy up to the dock and we didn’t have to pay to snorkel. The snorkeling was better than I thought it would be. The water where Starry Horizons was anchored was very cloudy, but on the very north side of the bay, it was clear. We saw one moray, and a ton of small fish! Incredibly large schools of small silver fish flowed over the seabed and coral, weaving and spinning around us.
We had plans to meet one of Madeline’s friends who lives in St Lucia, Sara, for lunch. We ran a quick errand in the marina (trash for $5 EC) and on our way, we were stopped by a couple, Eduardo and Raquel, and Renato from Ipanema. Eduardo and Raquel have been following our blog and watching our videos! They are considering a Helia and had chartered Ipanema for vacation. Always exciting to meet people who’ve been keeping up with us! And check out Ipanema’s website, they are on an excellent adventure themselves.
Back to the boat, we were still working on a solution to the water maker so David and I made a trip back to the marina for wifi and shopping. There’s a large Island Water World in Rodney Bay Marina.
Once David had the parts we needed and it was clear we weren’t going anywhere that night, Madeline and I settled in with dark & stormies to enjoy the sunset and the view while David worked on the water maker. Don’t worry, we rewarded David with a beer when he finished his work.
Friday we upped anchor and left for a sail down to Marigot Bay – 8 miles. We left just after a Gunboat – Flow. We hadn’t met the crew, but we admired the view of Flow – and caught up to her! Of course, that was only possible because she was motoring.
We arrived in Marigot Bay, Saint Lucia around 10:30 on Friday morning. The channel into Marigot is narrow, but the left (north) has space for anchoring and the right (south) has mooring balls. The lagoon itself is well protected and although our book says there is room to anchor, it’s really filled with moorings. The anchorage was shallow (we read as little as 4.5 feet!).
We relaxed for a bit on board Starry Horizons, had lunch, and then headed ashore to do a hike up to the lookout. We docked the dinghy at the Oasis dock (first on the left after the beach). Some guys there advised us where to tie up. When we told them we were doing the lookout hike they told us we should take a guide and we’d “never” find it ourselves. Of course, you can pay them to take you!
Thankfully I was dubious and they didn’t push it. We did have to ask the resort staff twice for directions to the entrance of the hike (for free) but once we found the start in the back of the resort (labeled Billy Goat Trail) it was very easy to follow. After about 20 minutes of hiking we reached a “breather station” and a few minutes after that we came to a fork in the trail. To the left was the Lookout and to the right was the Meditation Deck and Mango Beach Club. We headed left and after about 10 minutes found ourselves at the top of the hill overlooking the lagoon.
The view over Marigot was gorgeous, but vegetation obscured the view over the sea. It was very worth the hike! We went back to the fork and took the right time to the meditation deck. It was an additional 10 minutes, but the path was much steeper, including Jo Jo’s steps. The view was about the same, so not worth the extra effort, unless you are doing it for a) the extra effort, like us, or b) to actually meditate.
We headed back down to Oasis and quenched our thirst at the Dolittle bar, aptly named because Marigot Bay was the setting for some of the scenes of the 1967 movie Dr Dolittle. David had felt that the winds at the top of the hike were too high to fly his new drone for the first time, so he went to launch it off the dock while Madeline and I played some pool.
We capped the day off with an afternoon of swimming for Madeline and I.
Saturday morning Madeline and I went snorkeling around the north shore of the Marigot channel.
For lunch we went ashore to Chateau Maygo, where Madeline and I left David to the internet and we walked around the shopping areas. Marigot is tiny and cute, with a very calm lagoon. The only downside is the party boats that come through. I think most of the time they don’t even stop, they just come into the lagoon, do a loop around the moorings, and head back out. That night Madeline and I swam again and read on the bow. Marigot Bay is beautiful, and my favorite place in St Lucia.
Sunday we picked up and headed to Soufrière. The winds were so light on the way down we just motored.
In Soufrière, a boat guy approached us to “help” with our mooring. Soufrière is part of the Soufrière Marine Management Association (SMMA), and they do not allow anchoring. Moorings are available for $20 a night. We are definitely not in Portsmouth anymore. Here there are “boat guys”. They meet you about a mile out and ask if you are looking for a mooring. They will then “help” you with your mooring – expecting a tip.
I have a few reservations about this. Both times the guy was in the way more than helping – and let’s face it, we know how to pick up a mooring. We ended up just asking him to drop the mooring so we could pick it up ourselves. Another argument for the boat guys is that it might make your boat more secure while you are gone. I consider this like paying off the mob. The winning argument was that it’s only a few dollars to us. They ask you if you want any tours or taxis, and then you never see them again.
Anyway, our mooring was on the far north side near the bat cave. It was rolly, but we were right next to the snorkeling area and only a short dinghy ride to town, with a beautiful view of the Pitons. Madeline and I decided snorkeling was the top of the list, so we were off to snorkel from Starry Horizons and along the coast to the west of us.
Monday we popped into the dinghy and stopped quickly to check out the bat caves. The “cave” is really just a tall, deep vertical crack in the cliffs. But we were pretty amazed by the prolific activity inside the crack. We could hear the chirping of the bats and see them flitting about the cave.
We spent a day in the town of Soufrière visiting the Botanical Gardens, having a local lunch, and hiking to the Pitons viewpoint.
When we got back to the boat from the Botanical Gardens, we noticed that the latch on our starboard side engine room was up. Now, we couldn’t find anything amiss – nothing was obviously stolen or broken and everything looked fine in our engine room, but since we board our dinghy from that side, it would have been pretty obvious to us if we had left the latch up ourselves. So we aren’t really sure, but it is possible someone was on our boat. Fortunately, we always lock up and move everything inside, but since we knew the more southern parts of St Lucia have a reputation, we were extra careful.
Tuesday morning we moved over to a mooring between the Pitons, also known as Anse a la Pitons, or Sugar Beach. Our boat guy helped us arrange a taxi to the Tete Paul hike.
In the afternoon Madeline and I took the dinghy to Sugar Beach’s dock, tied up, and hopped overboard to snorkel the reef. The coral was quite good, and there were many large snapper and parrot fish. After swimming, Madeline and I sat on the dock to dry off and then walked through the Sugar Beach Resort (a Viceroy Property). The grounds were really stunning, and even though we obviously weren’t guests, all the staff we encountered were incredibly nice. They helped us arrange a taxi for Madeline the next day. If David and I hadn’t just had a date night, Sugar Beach would have been a wonderful place for a romantic dinner.
Wednesday sadly came and we had to say goodbye to Madeline. As her flight wasn’t until 3:30, we got a fit in some lazy swimming in the morning with our pool noodles. After we dropped Madeline off, David and I left for Rodney Bay – that’s right, we backtracked. Our primary reason? Let it Be was in Rodney Bay, and we were anxious to see Frank and Mary Grace one last time before we left this side of the world. We also got to meet their son Hunter. We met at LIB at 6 pm for pre-dinner drinks, and then, like the Texans we are, we went to Big Chef for steaks! After dinner, we went back to LIB to hang out and chat – keeping us up and going until 11!
This morning LIB left to head south at 7 am, so David and I were ready. We got the drone and our camera out, and got to take some great pictures of our friends and give them one last wave before they are off.
While we are both going south; they are spending the next few weeks in St Vincent and the Grenadines, while we are passing over SVG and headed to Grenada. Hopefully someday Frank and Mary Grace will come to visit us on SH – a nice Pacific sailing vacation without having to bring LIB over.
David and I are working on projects and errands, and then we will refuel here in Rodney Bay and head out for an overnight sail to Carricou, Grenada.
Thanks for reading!