October 10th, 2017
This Caribbean Bay is Paradise for Adventure Travelers
St. Lucia’s Marigot Bay offers active travelers more than just sun, sea, and sand. Its sheltered position, amid the island’s rugged coastline, provides a haven for adventures both on and off the water.
St. Lucia’s Marigot Bay has been described as “the Caribbean’s most beautiful,” and for good reason; it’s stunning landscapes are second to none. Surrounded by forested hills on three sides, it is known locally as ‘the hurricane hole’ and recognized as one of the world’s true safe harbors. Thanks to the bay’s sheltered position and naturally deep waters it is an attractive hideaway for sailors escaping stormy seas. These features also make it the ideal spot for those seeking a more dynamic Caribbean retreat.
The third in our series on Caribbean getaways, read on for our guide to a Caribbean hotspot that has long played host to adventurous travelers from all over the world.
Explore Beyond the Beach
When you first cast your eye over the bay it’s clear to see that its outstanding natural beauty is the reason why so many choose to visit Marigot. A white peninsula of sand shaded by palm trees protrudes from the northern shore into this wide, deep inlet, and rows of yachts bob to-and-fro in the breeze in the marina to the southeast.
Although admittedly a fantastic place to relax, unlike other parts of the Caribbean, the beach is far from the main attraction here. Boasting a full service marina, the bay offers berthing for over 40 yachts. But for those of us who don’t arrive under sail, there are plenty of opportunities to make the most of the azure waters lapping gently at the shore.
Snorkeling, sailing, SUPing (Stand-up paddleboarding), and kayaking equipment is available for rent daily at the ramshackle watersports shed on the southern edge of the beach. These activities require no prior experience to enjoy and provide an intimate way to explore the far reaches of the bay. (You’ll want to bring a durable, water-repellant pack to keep your clothing and camera dry while onshore.)
If you’re looking for an aerobic challenge to kick-start your day, I can highly recommend the two-hour ridge hike that ascends over 1,000ft from sea-level to the summit of the bay’s protective alpine cocoon. The top offers a near 240-degree panorama encompassing much of the bay and marina as well as distant views over the neighboring Roseau Valley. A packable day pack is the ideal addition to your luggage for active excursions such as this.
Marigot Bay’s Maritime History
Once referred to as “the Caribbean’s most beautiful bay” by prolific American author James A. Michener, the rolling ridgelines of Marigot have been playing host to adventurous travelers for centuries.
First discovered in the late 15th century it is hotly debated as to whether it was English, French, or Spanish explorers who first arrived on the island of St. Lucia. However, there’s evidence that as the battle for colonization began in earnest between the English and French, Marigot Bay played a key role in helping the French evade capture by the British fleet.
Believe it or not, the French are said to have sailed into Marigot Bay, dropped anchor, and tied palm fronds to their ships’ masts to camouflage their position. Having sailed out to the spot where they would have sat in a Hobie Cat and looked back through the palm trees toward the open ocean, I’m convinced that the story could very well be true.
When to Go and Where to Stay
St. Lucia is blessed with a temperate climate year-round and largely avoids any threat from the tropical storms that plague islands further north during hurricane season (August through November). Peak season runs from December through mid-March, so if you’re looking to make the most of your travel budget consider booking a trip in April or May when the weather is still sublime and the crowds have long dispersed.
Fortunately, Marigot Bay isn’t overrun with large resorts and maintains a feeling of exclusivity with ease. I chose to stay at the 5-star rated Marigot Bay Resort & Marina which boasts chalet-style accommodation, a fabulous infinity pool overlooking the water, and spectacular views out over the bay.
The idyllic island vistas that draw people to Marigot are unparalleled. Add to that the wealth of outdoor activities on the doorstep and it’s clear that the bay is the ideal choice for the active traveler in search of adventure in the Caribbean.
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