Tag Archives: zipline

St. Lucia: Small Island, Big Adventure

How many activities can one stuff into 5 days on an island only 3.5 times the size of Washington, DC? Well, I found enough on St Lucia to fill my plate, in fact there’s plenty more for super-sized appetites.

From Miami, connect directly to the Caribbean isle. All-inclusive resorts abound; my choice was Coconut Bay. You’ll arrive in time for a drink and a walk along the beach before dinner.

For starters, I decided to explore the island on an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV). Within a few minutes, I mastered the four-wheeled bike. I zoomed through grassy fields and up rocky ledges, peering at the Atlantic pounding the shore. I scooted onto sandy beaches where wild horses were grazing and then over to a banana plantation. Row after row of trees hung with bunches of green bananas. Having satisfied my taste buds, I returned my big-wheeled bouncing cycle.

For my entree, I spent the afternoon in one of the most glorious sites I’ve ever visited– Jalousie Beach. I snorkeled under the shadow of the pyramid-like Petite Piton, gazing up at its nearby twin, the Gros Piton. These famous mountains are St Lucia’s landmarks, rising like textbook drawings of volcanoes out of the sea. They blossom in lush foliage and are often shrouded in mist.

Scuba diving was an option, and St Lucia ranks with some of the world’s best. But the Caribbean shines so clear; you can see to great depths without the hassle of air tanks.

The next day I took the ultimate island challenge: a hike to the summit of Gros Piton, almost 3,000 feet. The trail of treacherous loose and moss covered rocks rises near vertical in places.  The UNESCO World Heritage site requires guides to safely lead groups through the climb.

View from hiking - half way up the Gros Piton
View from my hike - halfway up the Gros Piton

Stop at the halfway point. The view is as gorgeous as I imagine the Garden of Eden. Light crystals bounce off the water like shards of glass. The Pitons, in sharp contrast to the turquoise water, shine in ebony beauty. The arduous hike took five to six hours roundtrip. I returned to my hotel exhausted and aching, but wearing an “I Conquered” tee shirt.

On day four, I chose to kayak. Aah, tranquility is silently gliding by the mangroves in a sleek shell. The sapphire lake permitted clear visibility of the colorful tropical fish. My group stopped at Scorpion Island, and fortunately, we didn’t encounter any venomous arachnids. I did find a spectacular conch shell with a radiating fuchsia interior.

Returning once more to Coconut Bay, I rocketed down the water slides in their CocoLand Water Park, coming up with a big grin. To completely relax, I floated twice around the man-made Lazy River until massage time. Indulgence? You bet, but necessary! The Kai Mer Spa enveloped me in jasmine scents as my body soaked in the therapeutically applied oil.

On the last day I squeezed in my dessert: a morning excursion to the Tree Tops Zipline. Letting loose my inner child, I gleefully traversed the rainforest canopy over majestic rivers and plunging ravines. To soar like a parrot was an exhilarating way to end my island extravaganza.

Ziplining through the rainforest
Ziplining through the rainforest

By afternoon I boarded a plane and returned to Jacksonville at nightfall.

Some travelers vacation to escape life; others seek to engage the physical, mental or spiritual challenges. The tiny island of St Lucia offers a lavish banquet to satisfy both hungers. Her natural wonders are a menu in themselves. And, for those who want soup to nuts adventure, she offers a bountiful buffet of eco-friendly options. Fly away and feast on St Lucia.

Beach Resort & Spa: www.coconutbayresortandspa.com
Tree Top Adventures: www.adventuretourstlucia.com
ATV & kayaking: www.islandatvtours.com
Coconut Bay Resort BeachFull Moon over Coconut Bay

Zip Therapy

The Benefits of Ziplining

Click to see video:
St Lucia Zipline

"If you never have, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.”
Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You'll Go

When presented with the chance to ride a zip line on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, I applied the above philosophy. How cool. Gliding through an emerald rainforest renewed my spirit and released giggles galore.

My friend and I arrived at Tree Top Adventure Park, near the village of Dennery, eager to try the challenge. Certainly wasn't expecting someone to flop a white bakery-style hairnet onto our heads; nor top that off with yellow helmets.

Next, we found ourselves draped in more harnesses and clinking chains than the ghost of Jacob Marley. Then, we donned extra heavy-duty leather gloves.

"Ready?" asked Daniel, a guide with an impish smile.

"Sure," replied Johanna, "but a little nervous."

"No problem," said Daniel, a hint of his Creole accent breaking through. "This is Simeon; he'll be helping out."

We climbed to a wooden platform built around a tree, making me feel akin to the Swiss Family Robinson. Daniel hitched three pulleys from his harness to a stainless steel wire strung across a ravine, then scooted off. Safety procedures require one guide to be on each end of the line.

"I'll go next," I shouted and lowered myself into a semi-sit, the harness cradling my body. Off I flew like Tarzan's Jane, suspended from a vine. The process was easy and the ride just scary enough to cause a rush.

Swoosh; I landed on my feet, laughing and raving about the wild ride. The rest of the group crossed over with equally happy faces and cheers. We were clipped into safety lines, and then our guides snapped us onto the next cable.

I found it hard to resist the urge to pound my chest like an ape and let out a deep yodeling cry. Trouble was I needed to grip the tether with my left hand and stabilize any rotation with my right.

During ten more rides, we frolicked as monkeys in the mist. We soared as colorful yellow-headed parrots; took flight over small gushing rivers, flew higher than treetops and danced in dense tropical foliage.

Helen, age 50, conquered her fear of heights and couldn't wait to tell her college-age daughters she won their challenge. Her husband David seemed to come alive, beaming with joy, as a child deep in an imaginary world.

I know it sounds dramatic to say a zipline escapade is therapeutic. But, for boomers fraught with creeping age, it just might be. The outing encouraged a return to carefree play, ignited laughter and an "I don't wanna grow up" attitude. Dr. Seuss is right: "These things are fun and fun is good."

Video: Riding the zipline St Lucia


If you find yourself on St. Lucia, don't miss the chance to go ziplining: