St. Lucia - Soufriere.. a new found paradise

You've seen it in online, you've seen it in travel magazines, brochures and probably on television. The crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches surrounded by palm trees and rainforest with sun beams pounding down across the landscape. We've seen it and imagined being there but is it really as beautiful in real life without photoshop tools and Instagram filters? Let me answer that for you, hell yeah! In fact, in reality it is so much more than these photos could ever portray, this island will stop time just to let you take it all in.

We arrived from a freezing cold UK, so to step off the plane into that pocket of Caribbean heat for the first time was pure heaven. The flight was long and we knew we still had another hour until we got to the Ladera resort but our holiday started from the second we walked out of the airport. We were picked up by Majestic Taxi and Tours who already had a chilled bottle of champagne waiting for us in their air conditioned car. Everything was taken care of and they had even prepared a beautiful St. Lucia beach bag for us stocked up with St. Lucia themed gifts, a tour guide book and even a mug with a photo of us on it! It was truly heart warming that such effort had gone into the pick up. Our driver, Miguel, explained that this was not a one off and they always go above and beyond for their customers and only a few weeks before they had filled a car with balloons and even a cake because a customer was celebrating their birthday!

Our drive to the resort was exciting, which after such a long journey we were not expecting as we were so tired. With Miguel's extensive knowledge we knew so much about the island before we had even started. We arranged to spend the week using Majestic as they offered some great packages including some exclusive ones that we had not seen anywhere else. We stayed at the Ladera resort and had the most magical stay of our lives, you can read our review here.

For our first day we just wanted something close and easy so we let Majestic take control and off we went. We drove for about ten minutes from the resort and arrived at the Sulphur Springs. The Soufrier Volcano (Sulphur Springs) last errupted in the 1700's - over 200 years! It originated from a weak spot in the crust of a collapsed volcanic crater, and is considered to be a dormant volcano - unlike the active Soufrier Hills Volcano in the island of Montserrat. One of the best features of the volcano is the ability to dive into the mud baths. The mud baths at Sulphur Springs attract people from all over the world because it detoxifies the body and helps heal sun burns, eczema, arthritis, sore joints, and more. We thought this may have just been exaggerated to attract the tourists but wow were we wrong. The minute you wash the mud from your skin it feels amazing, I felt like I had just had a week in a spa! Miguel was more than happy to come down to the mud baths with us and took some great photos for us on our phones. We stupidly forgot to bring towels but Majestic were well prepared and had them stocked in the back of the car already for us as well as some chilled water to cool off. We then stopped off at a stunning viewing point and picked up some souveniers and got some brilliant scenic shots. The day was easy, relaxed and not too busy, which was perfect for us.

We spent a couple of days outside of the resort down at Sugar Beach, the hotel ran a free shuttle service down to the beach, which was ideal. The beach has two areas divided by a walkway, one side has a little shop and supplies snorkel equipment to hire as well as free chairs for the day to use right next to the snorkelling spot. Alternatively you could pay $50.00 each and make use of the sun beds at the Viceroy Sugar Beach Resort. The price seemed steep for some but was well worth it as most beds had shades and you get use of a waiter service all day. The food was reasonably priced and tasted great and the buckets of beer and cocktails set us well into holiday mode.

We decided to take advantage

of Majestic's exclusive Soufriere experience tour at the end of the trip. We were lucky enough to meet the whole of the Majestic team and fleet, Shawn, Jeff, David, and Trevern as they were in the area. I cannot express how great these guys are, I have never known service like it from dropping pain killers at our hotel to supplying an I phone cable because ours broke! Our first stop was the Tet Paul nature Trail. This is perfect for those who may find the piton hikes quite a challenge but still want to experience the views and surroundings on the rainforest Walk. The views from the Tet Paul Scenic Trail are heavenly. From the majestic Pitons to the far away islands of Martinique and St. Vincent, you can see it all from points along the trail. The gorgeous southern side of St. Lucia including Jalousie Bay is easily visible along the way. You can even see Fond Gens Libre, Choiseul, Maria Island, and Vieux Fort while on the tour! Majestic knew the perfect photo points and we got some great photos of us touching the top of the pitons in the distance, which was great fun for our photo albums!

Next we stopped off at the waterfall and having already done the springs we headed off for a few scenic spots and then decided to go zip lining at Morne Coubaril Estate. The Soufriere experience tour can be custom to whichever way you want to do it, all you have to do is let them know what you want to do and they will throw in a few surprises on the way! The zip lining was so much fun and was over several different lines all giving you a different view of something spectacular, the guides were great and fill you in on loads of facts and stories as you go round. The guides will also take your cameras for you and phones and take photos and videos as you zip through each area. There were loads of other activities at the estate that you can add to the package including horse back riding and hikes. The huge advantage of this experience tour is that everything is so close so you can do it all in one day without feeling exhausted.

We finished up our day with a visit to Fond Doux Plantation and Resort, which was just down the road from The Ladera. We met with the owners and were taken on a tour of the resort followed by a mouth watering late lunch. Fond Doux Plantation & Resort is a 19th century eco-friendly colonial resort nestled in the heart of St. Lucia, best known for romantic, intimate, and private luxury cottages. The resort is situated amidst a 250 year old working plantation and features an assortment of 15 uniquely crafted cottages, two on-site restaurants, and a collage of outdoor swimming pools, as well as an organic spa. The resort is well spaced out so guests are not on top of each other and the properties vary from family cottages to Honeymoon suites with private pools at the top of the resort. The gardens were beautiful and full of character and wild life with a great atmosphere and friendly staff smiling every corner we turned. The resort also has a fantastic chocolate lab where they make 100% organic chocolates on site and feature a gift shop where guests can purchase a selection of local souvenirs and delicious organic chocolates, which we took full advantage of!

We would like to thank everyone at the resort for their time and efforts whilst we visited and highly recommend the resort and facilities. Our main tips for planning your visit is to get yourself a private tour provider, our recommendation being Majestic. As we visited the sites and attractions we would see huge groups of people coming off tour busses and after a bit of research realised they were paying pretty much the same as us! You are so much better off taking a private driver as they provide a personal service and give you a great flexibility for the same price, plus they always throw in a few surprises! The firm even have a police officer as one of their drivers so your safety and security with them is above and beyond.