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6 Facts to know about St. Lucia
St. Lucia, like the other islands of the Lesser Antilles, is of volcanic formation. According to a study by the Seismic Research Unit of the University of the West Indies, many milllion years ago, it was a series of submarine volcanoes, that eventually formed topographic features and rose from the water, becoming the beautiful island that it is today.
St. Lucia is possibly the only small island with 2 airports. George F.L Charles Airport is a domestic airport in the city of Castries, serving the regional market , as well as connecting flights from San Juan by American Eagle. Hewanorra International Airport is the international airport located in the south of the island, and an hour’s drive from the city of Castries. Visitors flying into Hewanorra International Airport, also have the option of getting into the city in a mere 15 minutes by using the helicopter airport shuttle, (www.stluciahelicopters.com) which provides a scenic aerial view on the way to the George F.L Charles Airport in Castries.
Sulphur Springs Volcano
The island has the only drive-in volcano in the world….the Sulphur Springs has many hot springs, mud pools and fumaroles, and is a major tourist attraction in the town of Soufriere. Guided tours are conducted daily, with visitors staying a safe distance on a viewing platform. Previously, it was possible to get much closer to the open calderas, that is until one day a Guide was jumping on the edge of an open caldera to express a point, and fell in and was severely burnt. The Caldera has since been named after the Guide, and is called Gabriel's Caldera. The hot springs that flow from the volcano are thought to contain healing properties for ailments such as arthritis, acne and other skin blemishes, and many come to bathe in the hot springs and to have a free mud scrub. The waters of the hot springs are black, and this is said to be caused by a chemical reaction between the sulphur and iron. Additionally, there are other warm sulphuric pools for bathing, located a short way from the geothermal fields. A strong smell of sulphur is continuously emitted into the atmosphere...a smell very much like rotten eggs.
(As I am about to publish this post, I learn that there has been a volcanic eruption in Chile. However, there is no fear of such happening in St. Lucia as the Sulphur Springs is a dormant volcano, and it is believed that the last minor steam explosion from the Sulphur Springs occurred in about 1766.)
The Pitons, Soufriere
The second biggest attraction in Soufriere is the Pitons, which Oprah noted as a place worth visiting in an issue of O Magazine. The Pitons are twin peaks rising from the sea and are said to be remnants of 2 dacitic lava domes that formed 200-300 thousand years ago. Gros Piton is 2619 ft (771 metres) and Piton Piton is 2461 ft (743 metres). Gros Piton is the only one authorized for climbing by the government, and has 148 plant species and 27 bird species (5 of them endemic). The Pitons Management Area is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the Pitons appear to be lying side by side, Gros Piton is in the town of Soufriere and Piton Piton is in the village of Choiseul. They are linked by the Piton Ridge.
The town of Soufriere is located on the southwest end of the island, but does not appear on the Map below, which suggests that it may be a very old map as it only shows the first town and does not show the capital city of Castries or any towns or villages.
St. Lucia has also produced 2 Nobel Laureates. Yes, from this little island of 180,000, came the 1979 winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, in the person of Sir Arthur Lewis whose credentials include, Honorary Fellow of London School of Economics and Weizman Institute, Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, James Madison Professor of Political Economy at Princeton University, and President of the Caribbean Development Bank. He was the author of “The Theory of Economic Growth ” and “The Agony of the Eight ”. The Award was made in recognition of his “pioneering research into economic development research with particular consideration of the problems of developing countries”.
In 1992, St. Lucian born poet, Hon. Derek Walcott, OBE,OCC, won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his Epic Poem, “Omeros”. In 2011, he won the T.S. Elliot prize for his poem “White Egrets”. His credentials include an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Essex, chair at Boston University until 2007, distinguished scholar-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and in 2010, Professor of Poetry at the University of Essex.
Coincidentally both Sir Arthur Lewis and Hon Derek Walcott were born on January 23, fifteen years apart. On a lighter note, it is quite possible that persons born on January 23, have a special Nobel Laureate gene.
St. Lucia Jazz
St. Lucia Jazz is considered one of the best music festivals in the world.
Currently in its 20th year, St. Lucia Jazz comprises of a mix of acoustical jazz, new age jazz, fusion, and rythmn and blues, thus providing enjoyment for a very varied audience. There are two main outdoor events, held in the beautiful setting of Pigeon Point National Park, and other side events which are both indoor and outdoor.
Performers have ranged from the new comers like Trey Songz and John Legend who performed this year, and others who performed earlier in their careers like Rihanna, Darius Rucker, El Debarge (who has just made a comeback to the music scene). My favourite performers were Kenny G, Patti Labelle, Luther Vandross, among others. Gladys Knight, Ashford and Simpson, Santanna, Wyclef Jean, Wynton Marsalis, Preservation Jazz Band, Chaka Khan, Keith Sweat, Earl Klugh and a host of other top entertainers have graced the stage at the St. Lucia Jazz over the past 20 years.
The festival takes place in early-mid May and is a week filled with lots of fringe activities throughout the island. There is Jazz on the Square, Jazz on the Pier, Teatime Jazz, Jazz on the Beach, Jazz on the Grill, and so you get the idea. These performances are all free of charge.
Poem Reading By Hon. Derek Walcott, Nobel Laureate for Literature, 1992
Map of St. Lucia
- St. Lucia Helicopters
- www.stlucia.org is the official portal for Saint Lucia Tourist Board. Find out about traveling to an
St. Lucia - the official portal to this exotic Caribbean Island. From watersports and soft adventure to romantic getaways, tours and attractions. Tour the undiscovered and unspoiled Island with our interactive map and video gallery.
Nobelprize.org, Official web site of the Nobel Foundation