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St. Lucia

Monday, November 09, 2015

Top 5 Caribbean Adventures, Dive Bonaire

As leaves blanket my backyard in suburban Boston, my mind turns to the warm weather locales of the Caribbean. Next week, I’m excited to be blogging live from that lush paradise known as St. Lucia. To get you in the mood, I’m going to devote this week to my Top 5 Adventures in the Caribbean, always a favorite at ActiveTravels. 

 
A mere decade ago, Bonaire was known only to scuba enthusiasts—a coveted gem discussed in hushed conversations with other serious ocean lovers (types who come out of the water with seaweed in their hair). Now that the secret is out, travelers are learning that nature thrives here both above and below the water. The reef’s proximity to shore is ideal for divers and snorkelers who want to swim with blue and yellow queen angelfish and orange trumpetfish in waters with visibility of 100 feet or more. Bonaire’s semi-arid landscape is home to some 200 types of birds, including one of the world’s largest colonies of pink flamingoes, numbering some 15,000. Overlooking one of the island’s loveliest beaches is the Harbour Village Beach Club. Heinekens and gouda are the sustenance of choice on this Dutch colony, but if you prefer gourmet, go with the resort’s La Balandra Beach Bar and Grill.  
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/09/15 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, November 13, 2015

Top 5 Caribbean Adventures, Hiking to Boiling Lake, Dominica

Devastated by Tropical Storm Erika in late August, the island of Dominica is bouncing back and needs your support. All you do is travel there and hike its lush interior to understand the allure. Around every bend is another raging waterfall, a serene swimming hole nestled in the thick bush, or a hidden hot springs to rest your weary body after a day in the outdoors. Ken’s Hinterland Adventure Tours will take guide you on a 7-hour round-trip hike inside Morne Trois Pitons National Park to the crater known as Boiling Lake. You’ll hike through a dense forest of tall gommier trees, staring at the iridescent purple-throated hummingbirds as they keep you company. Relax your muscles afterwards in the natural hot spring at Papillote Wilderness Retreat. Owner Anne Jno Baptiste first came to the island from the States in 1961. Eight years later, she bought a 7-acre chunk of land enveloped by the rainforest that she would cultivate into a flower-rich botanical garden and one of the Caribbean’s first eco-resorts, using Dominica’s wealth of fruits and vegetables for her meals. 

 
I’m off to St. Lucia next week to sample all the exciting adventures there. Please follow along on this blog, Twitter @ActiveTravels, and Facebook. Enjoy the weekend and keep active! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/13/15 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, November 16, 2015

St. Lucia Week: Hiking Pigeon Island

A perfect introduction to the lush volcanic island of St. Lucia, especially if you’re staying at one of the resorts at the northern end of the island, is to simply take a hike at Pigeon Island National Landmark. Once surrounded by water, a causeway was built in 1972. Pay the $7 admission fee and soon you’re walking in the shade under a row of casuarina trees. As you climb the hillside, the beaches and resorts on Rodney Bay come into view. There was a slight drizzle when I took the walk yesterday and the tropical vegetation smelled ripe with humidity. The high-pitched calls of birds greeted me to the walls, ramparts, and cannons still standing at Fort Romney. The 18th century fortress perched atop the promontory was an important chunk of land for the British trying to hold off the French in their many battles over the island. I walked past an intrepid group from the resort, BodyHoliday, who were rappelling down the cliffs before sea kayaking back to the property. Then continued to climb up the rocky path to the top of Signal Peak. To the north, I could see the ridges of the long island of Martinique. To the south, I could make out the two jagged volcanic peaks on St. Lucia known as the Pitons, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  
 
Then it was back to my private plunge pool at my resort for the first two nights, Windjammer Landing. Known for its villas that climb a hillside offering spectacular views of the sunset, the resort is popular with families. They feature a Kids Club, long sloping shallow beach, and spacious villas with full kitchenettes. Judging from all the people carrying around scuba gear, tennis racquets, and golf clubs, the resort is also known as a playground for adults. I took full advantage of the opportunity to take out a Hobie Cat in the sheltered bay. So far, it’s been smooth sailing in St. Lucia, my friends. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/16/15 at 05:00 AM
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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

St. Lucia Week: A Magical Day Sea Kayaking and Snorkeling Ti Kaye

Take it from a travel writer who’s been penning stories since 1990—rarely is a day on the road seamless. I wouldn’t say I’m jaded, just realistic. There always seems to be some problem, whether it’s traffic congestion, the lodging not living up to those over-hyped TripAdvisor reviews, the adventure a bit too touristy and not feeling authentic. Then there’s days like yesterday where everything is perfect and this job is sheer bliss. 

My driver Vaughn is a delight, passionate about the history and people of this island. So much, in fact, that he left Brooklyn after 6 years and returned to St. Lucia to make his mark. He picked me up and drove me to the lush western side of the island, home to the largest banana plantation on the island, a rum distillery, and fishing villages like Anse La Raye, known for its seafood street festival held every Friday. At an overlook peering down at picturesque Marigot Bay, where Mick Jagger and Oprah both own homes along the waterfront, we walked into a nearby store to sample banana ketchup, hot pepper spices, and spiced rum with grenadine. 

Less than an hour later we made it to Ti Kaye, a boutique resort nestled into a hillside above a glorious strip of secluded beachfront. I would soon find out that the best part of the resort is the bay next to that beach called Anse Cochon. I threw my bags down in my room, changed into a swimsuit and practically flew down the 165 steps to the gray colored beach, a mix of volcanic black sand and the usual white sand from the coral. I grabbed an ocean kayak and was soon paddling down the western shoreline past cliffs where vines clung precariously to the top, deserted beaches which I’m sure honeymooners staying at Ti Kaye have taken full advantage of, and a green velvety hillside that led to jagged mountainous ridges. I can’t tell you how liberating it is to grab a kayak and take a paddle just by your lonesome down this unpopulated stretch of coastline. The only person who passed me during the 2-hour paddle was one fisherman.

Back at Ti Kaye’s beachfront bar, Ti Manje, I ordered the smoked marlin salad, slices of fish topped with mixed greens, tomatoes, corn, and a chipotle dressing, washed down with freshly made ice tea. Waves pounded the restaurant as I watched scuba divers take the plunge into Anse Cochon. You want to know one of the most cherished spots for all those scuba diving and snorkeling boats? Yes, this exact spot, which is a preserved marine sanctuary. Avoid the boat traffic in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon and the place is yours. I grabbed snorkeling gear, walked to the far end of the beach and soon was swimming in a natural aquarium of neon-colored fish including parrotfish, the multi-colored queen angelfish, and the bright blue chromis. I also loved seeing fan, organ pipe, and brain coral that was very much alive.

Afterwards I washed off in my outdoor shower and relaxed in the hammock on my porch, where I now relax after another hard day of work. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/17/15 at 05:00 AM
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Friday, December 11, 2015

St. Lucia, NYC Hotels, and Anna Maria Island in our December Newsletter

With the Holidays soon upon us, December is the perfect time of year to give yourself a gift and create a wish list of destinations for the next 1 to 3 years. Take it from a travel writer who’s spent the past 25 years flying around the world. I still haven’t been to China, Russia, Denmark, Malaysia, or Uganda. It’s simply impossible to see the entire world, so please don’t make the mistake of leaving all your travels to that day you retire. Try to knock one or two dream destinations off each year. 

You can add Saint Lucia to the list of countries I finally made it to, having just returned. I write about my experience in this month’s “On the Road” feature story. If you’re looking for a warm weather destination a little closer to home, consider Anna Maria Island and the Bradenton section of Florida, easily accessible with direct flights to Sarasota. Lisa and I love visiting New York this festive time of year. In fact, we head to the city later this month to see my family and the hit Broadway smash, “Hamilton.” So we thought it would be a good time to discuss some of our clients’ favorite lodgings in New York. We’d also like to introduce you to an outfitter we like using for the increasingly popular destination of Colombia, and compare the amount of legroom available in airlines. When you travel with ActiveTravels, we want to make sure you do it in comfort! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/11/15 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, April 07, 2016

BodyScience at St. Lucia’s BodyHoliday

I had the pleasure of meeting Andrew Barnard last night at an event in Boston. His family has owned the BodyHoliday and Rendezvous resorts on St. Lucia for 50 years. Barnard, an endurance runner, was experiencing gastrointestinal problems on his runs until he consulted a doctor at BodyHoliday who did a detailed analysis of his health, only to discover that he had a severe allergy to eggs. Avoiding eggs these past two years, Barnard told me that he feels better than ever. Now he’s helping his guests. In 2014, BodyHoliday implemented a BodyScience program that combines western medicine with the Indian practices of Ayurveda. Complete a detailed questionnaire at home and send it back to BodyHolday along with DNA samples. Once onsite, each BodyScience guest consults one-on-one with a physician who tests heart rate, blood pressure, body fat, lung capacity, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, cardio and arterial fitness, hormone levels, and food allergens. Based on the results, BodyScience doctors will provide a unique nutrition and lifestyle plan to help the body handle stress and reduce the risk of chronic disease. Already a leader in the field of active lifestyle resorts, it seems like BodyHoliday is now setting the bar even higher with this wellness initiative. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/07/16 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, November 21, 2016

A Great Stay at BodyHoliday

The first morning at BodyHoliday I woke up for a 7 am bike ride to Pigeon Island, the conical shaped chunk of land that juts out of the northwestern coast of St. Lucia. We biked along seaside villages and deserted beaches breathing in the humidity-thickened tropical air spiced with a heavy dose of salt. The next morning, I got out of bed early once again to hike up Mount Du Cap, climbing high above the resort for unparalleled vistas of the coastline and the island of Martinique in the distance. I had read about BodyHoliday’s long line-up of fitness classes—Spin, Pilates, Yoga, Tai Chi, AquaFit—but loved the fact that the resort takes full advantage of its locale to offer activities outside. On Saturday morning, British Olympic Silver Medalist Keri-anne Payne led swimmers on a mile race. On Sunday, you could participate in BodyHoliday’s version of a triathlon by biking to Pigeon Island, running to the fortress atop the island, rappelling down to the sea, and sea kayaking back to the property. 

 
The best reward of all is the daily treatments included in the price. Walk up a short hill to a mega-sized spa where a talented local staff works on your body via massages, wraps, and facials. Restaurants serve fresh fish, grilled meats, all washed down with a good house shiraz. After dinner, with what little energy we had left, we danced to a live band. I’d happily return to this little patch of paradise any time. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/21/16 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Perfect Day Trip on St. Lucia

Splitting time between the BodyHoliday and Rendezvous resorts on the northern coast of St. Lucia, I wanted to show Lisa the rest of the island, most importantly those majestic twin peaks, the Pitons, that tower over the water near the town of Soufriere. We made the smart decision to go with Joy’s Tours for a six-hour boat tour along the western coast. They picked us up at Rendezvous and made the 10-minute drive to St. James’s Club where we started our cruise on a very fast Boston Whaler-like boat. Soon we were zipping past the cruise ships in port at Castries, the exquisite cove of Marigot Bay, and small seaside villages. We got our first glimpse of the Pitons just past the beach at Anse Chastanet, the classic resort where I stayed on my visit to St. Lucia last year. Just around the bend in Soufriere, we were led into mini-vans to head up the hills for our volcanic mud path and swim under a waterfall. The volcanic mud was gritty as we placed it all over our bodies. When we washed the dirt off in the warm waters, our skin was baby smooth. For lunch, we dined on native fare at Joy’s large home and toured the property to check out his guava, papaya, and banana trees. After lunch, we went back to the boats to snorkel at Sugar Beach resort, smack dab between the Pitons. We spotted a moray eel, numerous blue tangs, and my favorite, a large prehistoric looking sea cucumber. On the return trip, we drank homemade rum punch as we cruised back at high speed. When we told our guide, Johnny, we were staying at Rendezvous, they insisted on dropping us off at the beach directly in front of our cottage. A Class Act! 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/22/16 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, June 22, 2017

NFL Great Randy Moss to Lead Fitness Classes at BodyHoliday

When Lisa and I were at St. Lucia’s BodyHoliday this past November, British Olympic Silver Medalist Keri-anne Payne led swimmers on a mile race. That was in addition to the biking, hiking, and sea kayaking jaunts we did. The resort is known for taking advantage of its glorious beachfront setting to keep folks active. Your reward? A daily massage is included in the cost of the all-inclusive price. In the summer months, BodyHoliday caters to families who want to stay fit at low-season Caribbean costs. NFL legend Randy Moss will lead the way July 16-22. He’ll be joined this summer by British Olympic sprinter Marlon Devonish (July 2-16) and Olympic swimmer Michael Jamieson (August 6-20). The party continues at night with dancing to live music at the outdoor bar. At BodyHoliday, they want to make sure you sweat to the wee hours of the morning. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/22/17 at 06:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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