Atlantic Coast Road
In going from Castries to Hewanorra Airport at Vieux Fort, travelers have the choice of two branches of a road which circles the southern half of St Lucia. The eastern branch along the Atlantic ocean is the wider, smoother and faster route and offers the more rugged vistas.Those staying in Castries, and are going to the airport for an early afternoon flight, should allot extra travel time to stop at some of the sites along this road.
The Fregate Island on the Atlantic coast is the site of a nesting colony of Frigate and other birds. To protect this diminishing species, no visitors are allowed on the mangrove islands, but birds may be viewed from a trail along the shore or by boat. Several years ago the very large Frigate birds were uncountable, but now they number about 35. Fees collected from visitors go toward conservation work.Those who obtain a permit may use a three-mile coastal trail. It is in three one-mile segments touching the road four times so walkers can take any or all of the sections. The northern section offers cliff and beach scenery. The middle section has dense vegetation with opportunities to see abundant bird life, opossums and agoutis. The southern section provides the best views of Fregete Island.This nature reserve has 12 nesting pairs of the white breasted thrasher, an extremely rare species which attracts bird watchers from around the world. Also present are the St Lucia Oriole, the red-billed tropic bird, red herons and great white herons. With luck one may also see nonpoisonous boas. Poisonous snakes, specifically the Fer de Lance, have not been seen in St Lucia for years and the species is considered endangered if not totally extirpated from the island.
As the largest gardens in St Lucia, Mamiku Gardens is where visitors can find a quiet corner to sit among the flowers, away from any other tourists.The gardens are built around the hilltop ruins of the Baron Micoud Estate House dating from 1766. Baron Micoud was a French army colonel and former Governor of St Lucia. The Baron deeded his land to his wife as he was afraid the British would confiscate it. The land then became known as Madame de Micoud's, which was corrupted to Ma Micoud and finally to Mamiku, its current name.By 1796 the mansion had been taken by the British and used as a military post under General Sir John Moore. The Troops themselves were French Royalist who sided with the British. It was overrun by former slaves during the battle of the Brigands and burned to the ground. The French-Creole Captain of this post took his own life rather than face the disgrace of the defeat. The house is now the site of archeological excavations.The gardens contain a wide range of tropical plants, orchids, herbs, plus several secluded secret gardens. The rest of the estate is a banana plantation also cultivating passion fruit and mangoes.
La Tille Falls
La Tille Falls are set in a rustic 10 acre natural garden on the east coast near Micoud. Those wanting to do some walking can take the path upstream to a 100-year-old dam and the ruins of a sugar mill on the Fromaisse Estate. Those who swim in the pond behind the dam often swing on vines Tarzan-style before dropping into the water.
Vieux Fort, St Lucia
Vieux Fort is the second largest port on the island and also the site of Hewanorra airport. The tourist sites are the lighthouse on the hill overlooking the town and the off-shore Maria Islands.
Hewanorra International Airport
Hewanorra is a native word meaning "where the Iguanas are found". Just north of Vieux Fort, it is one of the few flat places on St Lucia. The east-west runway aligns with the prevailing winds from the east. Consequently, those sitting at windows on the left side of the plane usually get good views of the Pitons. Being on the left side for takeoff also presents views of the island, but not as spectacular as during landings.The airport has duty-free shops, car rental facilities and a national tourist office.Do not confuse this airport with George Charles Airport in Castries where small planes from other islands sometimes land. Visitors can take a helicopter between the two airports.
Maria Islands Nature Reserve
Maria Island is the habitat of two endemic reptiles, the colorful St Lucia whiptail lizard with a blue tail, and the rare, small Kouwes snake.The Maria Islands Nature Reserve, which includes a coral reef, is managed by the St Lucia National Trust.