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Storybook adventure comes to life amid St Lucia’s natural wonders — from the Piton peaks to the world’s only drive-in volcano

Category : Beach , Travel , travel deals

“ARE we nearly there yet?” came the oh-so familiar plea from the back of the car as we made our way through the tropical rainforests of St Lucia’s interior.
Those whinges turned to gasps as we arrived at Sulphur Springs and the kids read out the sign: “The World’s Only Drive-In Volcano”.
Spectacular view of one of the Piton peaks from the beach
And when we told them we were ALL going to cover ourselves in the warm, mineral-rich volcanic mud, the children were officially in paradise.
The dormant volcano last erupted some 200 years ago but the springs and its famous mud — said to take ten years off you — are one of the top attractions on the Caribbean isle.
For my kids Kitty, aged nine, Jack aged ten and Eddie, 15, it was a storybook adventure come to life — literally. The island’s stunning natural wonders are the setting for a new children’s book The Secret Treasures Of St Lucia.
It tells the story of Jack, a boy who while holidaying at the Coconut Bay Resort meets Nyla, a local young volunteer with the St Lucia National Trust. The pair embark on a whirlwind adventure that takes them to all of the best spots on the island.
The luxurious Landings Resort is on quiet part of Rodney Bay
Families travelling to St Lucia with Virgin Holidays will be handed a copy of the book as they fly out to the island, and its the perfect way to inspire the young — and their families — to explore.
Following in the footsteps of Jack and Nyla we left the heat of our volcano experience and took a short drive to Toraille Waterfalls.
It was like a scene from a shampoo advert — apart from the cries and laughter as our less-than-serene kids dived in.
We returned to our hotel — the Coconut Bay Resort described in our book — to relax and relive our adventures over a cocktail or two.


GETTING/STAYING THERE: Virgin Holidays has seven nights all-inclusive at the 4H Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa is from £1,115pp based on two adults and two children sharing a deluxe ocean splash room.
Seven nights all-inclusive at The Landings Resort & Spa is from £1,715pp based on two adults sharing a one-bed villa suite.
Both include direct Virgin Atlantic flights from Gatwick on January 29, 2019 (virginholidays.co.uk or call 0344 557 3859).
MORE INFO: Visit stlucia.org.

The family-friendly all-inclusive hotel is just five minutes from the airport and boasts nine restaurants and seven bars as well as a mile-long beach and even a waterpark. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
An early start the following morning found us sailing the calm Caribbean Sea aboard a catamaran. We were about to witness Saint Lucia’s iconic Piton landmarks up close.
En route, we anchored up for the chance to snorkel with tropical fish. The secret to swimming with the fishies? Locals told us to bring a banana. It worked a treat!
Within minutes hundreds of fish were up close and personal to enjoy their snack — giving us a fantastic view.
‘I’ve never met any community so welcoming and loving’, says Kitty, nine
Following the adventures we’d read about in the book, our most exhilarating excursion took us back to the rainforests where we were whizzed through the tree tops at death-defying speeds.
Having never been on a zipwire before, I must admit I was a little worried. More frightened than me was my ten-year-old son whose legs were actually shaking.
He said he couldn’t face it but one of the experienced staff at Treetop Adventure Park in Dennery shared a zipline with him to settle his nerves.
By the time we had been whizzed 12 times from tree-to-tree on lines of up to 800ft across my son wanted to do it all over again!

The children's verdict

I’VE never stayed in a hotel so friendly and entertaining.

Coconut Bay has without doubt exceeded my expectations.
It has an awesome waterpark with a lazy river, slides and tubes to whizz down that were appropriate for all ages; a swim-up mocktail bar with a “no adults allowed” sign, foam pool party, table tennis and pool tables. I went horse-riding on the beach here for the first time.
It was a great journey with a great horse and made unforgettable memories.
Snorkelling was also great. I saw so many multi-coloured fish but the people were the best part; I’ve never met any community so welcoming and loving.

Kitty Barun, age nine

IT was a sensational experience. The entertainment, the food, the accommodation and, most amazing of all, the people.
I could never say “I’m bored”, because it would be a lie. Every second that went by was packed with fun and excitement.
I’ve never set foot in a hotel in the same league as Coconut Bay. This extraordinary hotel has everything.
You can order delectable food from the restaurant and with all-inclusive it is a great feeling to eat whatever you want – free.
Coconut Bay is the ideal hotel for kids with a great kids club, kids’ food and drinks menus including in the restaurants; it is all exemplary for children.

Jack Barun, age ten

The last few days of our trip were spent in the far north at the ultra-luxurious Landings Resort.
Nestled on the tranquil far edge of the otherwise bustling Rodney Bay, the resort is located on a picture-postcard sandy beach a short walk from Pigeon Island National Park.
It seemed fitting this would also be our last adventure as it is also where The Secret Treasures Of Saint Lucia is concluded. Even getting there was part of the excitement — as we boarded the hotel’s own water taxi for the short hop across.
Over on the island we learned about its vital role as a British military base guarding St Lucia from the invading French in the 18th century.
Heading back down to the waterfront, we finished off an idyllic day discovering the island with a traditional curried lamb lunch on the tree-shaded veranda of the Jambe de Bois restaurant.

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Luckily our last night was a Friday. Every Friday night across the island, local Saint Lucians welcome in the weekend with a street party.
At nearby Gros Islet music was blasting from wardrobe-sized speakers. We sampled the street food and local rum punch as we took in the intoxicating Caribbean atmosphere.
Our adventure may have come to an end but the memories would live on — and we have got the book to prove it!

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The sandy beaches, scenic railways and luxury hotels that make St Kitts a Caribbean gem

Category : Beach , Travel

HOLIDAYMAKERS peering from plane windows on approach to the nation of St Kitts and Nevis might notice the cricket-mad islands are shaped just like a bat and ball.
Formerly colonised by both the British and French, these volcanic Caribbean isles are in fact the smallest nation in the Americas.
SHORE NICE… Beach lovers can grab a local beer on St Kitts
But what the country lacks in size, it makes up for in laid-back vibes and a rich past — brought to life by a string of historical attractions.
As holidaymakers quickly learn, rum is the islands’ national drink, with locals priding themselves on their ability to knock back measures aplenty.
For the lighter drinker, the excellent Carib lager is also brewed on the island.
Menus provide a fantastic range of dishes — including seafood from the surrounding waters. Favourite fare includes lobster, snapper, and saltfish with coconut dumplings.
Seafood is a very popular choice on the menu
But it’s the wild beauty of the islands, their spectacular sandy beaches, and stunning colonial monuments, that created the magic of these islands.
One of the more popular beaches is Frigate Bay, which lies a few miles from St Kitts capital Basseterre.
By day, holidaymaking families enjoy the palm-fringed white sands and calm sea.
By night, beachfront bars and restaurants come alive — including the aptly named Mr X’s Shiggidy Shack Beach Bar and Grill.
The island is packed with beach bars to enjoy and relax in
A short walk away is the affordable 3H Sugar Bay Club Suites Hotel, a lovely spot with views of the Atlantic Ocean from the lush gardens, and two swimming pools.
Along the island and over the thin strip of land snaking between the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea sit another cluster of beaches.
The luxury Park Hyatt resort at Christophe Harbour, at the southern tip of cricket bat-shaped St Kitts, is a stunning base for travellers.
Classy apartment-style rooms with gardens look out to a private beach facing the sister island of Nevis and its atmospheric 3,200ft volcano.
A room in the Park Hyatt hotel
Friendly staff ferry guests around the estate on golf buggies while down by the jetty a wooden cocktail bar rests above calm waters.
Close by, the Spice Mill restaurant at Cockleshell Beach serves up delicious dishes, local and international.
The 50,000-Kittisians and Nevisians — as the islanders are called — still retain strong links to Britain, with the Queen still the islands’ head of state.
Many islanders moved to the UK after the Second World War — although over the years some of them, or their families, have returned to make their home on St Kitts and Nevis.
The Brimstone Hill Fortress is a must see for historians
For amateur historians, these anglo-Caribbean links are etched into the landscape in the most iconic fashion at St Kitts’ colossal Brimstone Hill Fortress.
Set almost 800ft up a volcanic hill, the stone fort on the island’s west coast is a Unesco World Heritage Site — known as the Gibraltar of the West Indies.
The site dates from 1690 — almost 70 years after the English and French invaded the island — and dominates the coastline.
Stone walls built in rings guard the main fort, whose rooms have been restored to give the feel of a soldier’s life — hopping between the gun and food stores, bedrooms and latrines.
St Kitts has strong links to the UK
Soldiers’ graffiti is still etched into the fortress walls with names common to any British village or town.
The fortress offers commanding views over Sandy Point, where the first English settlers including the British West Indies’ first governor Sir Thomas Warner arrived in 1623.
A stop-off after Old Road Town — one of the oldest settlements on the island — is where visitors can see Sir Thomas’ impressive 17th-century grave at an Anglican church sharing his name.
Meanwhile, over on sister island Nevis, is the location where the great Admiral Horatio Nelson married Fanny Nisbet.
The Montpellier resort is located under a jungle-like canopy
For views of St Kitts take the scenic railway which winds its way around Mount Liamuiga
The historic Nisbet plantation, Fanny’s ancestral home, caters for hotel guests as a glorious beachside resort overlooking the Atlantic.
Another stunning plantation-turned-hotel is the Montpellier resort, situated under a jungle-like canopy and visited over the years by the late Princess Diana, as well as her sons William and Harry.
Both St Kitts and Nevis were once cornerstones of the British Empire’s trade in sugar.
But in 2005 the island authorities brought an end to the sugar business, with the locals instead shifting to a tourism-led economy.

GO: St Kitts

GETTING/STAYING THERE: British Airways Holidays offers seven nights at the 3* Sugar Bay Club Suites & Hotel from £779pp, the 5* Belle Mont Farm from £1249pp or the 5* Park Hyatt from £1499pp, including return flights from Gatwick. See ba.com/stkitts or phone 0344 493 0120.
MORE INFO: See stkittstourism.kn



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Golf courses have since sprung up, alongside luxury hotels such as a Marriott resort and the mountainside Belle Mont Farm, while cruise tourists hop off to admire the islands.
A scenic railway winds its way around the 1,100 Mount Liamuiga, for relaxing views of St Kitts, while the more energetic tourist can choose to hike up the mountain.
But if that’s not your thing, you can always just relax and happily return to those rounds of rum at the beach bars.

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