Port and Shore Excursions
The best snorkeling is supposed to be at Long Bay Beach, so we grabbed a cab. There are chairs and umbrellas to rent, a restaurant, and some little shops. The Grand Pineapple Resort shares this beach. We had some rain and rough seas off and on this entire cruise, which churns up the surf and makes visibility poor, so the snorkeling at all of the ports was less than anticipated. The reef to the right and close to shore was way too shallow and the water was too choppy to swim the 100 yards out to the other reef. The beach was nice, though, and we enjoyed a day of swimming and relaxing. Our driver returned for us at the designated time.
We pre-booked with Sail Calabaza on the internet. This is one of the best sailing excursions we've ever done, and the only one we have repeated. They limit it to just 12 people. We had one beach stop and two snorkeling stops, one with the turtles. From greeting you with warm smiles and banana bread to unlimited beverages from the moment you board, the attentive crew will make you feel like you are the only one who matters all day long. We can't recommend this one enough!
We pre-booked an excursion to Buck Island with Big Beard's online. They sent us all the information we needed to get there and we had no trouble finding the place. Big Beard decided to cancel the full day trip as the weather was again being uncooperative, but we went on the half day snorkel and beach stop. There were only about 20 of us and the cat had plenty of room for everyone. The crew seemed to know what they were doing and the captain did a fine job of managing the rough waters. In hindsight, this excursion probably should have been cancelled. We were given snorkeling gear and life vests (mandatory by US) When we arrived there were other boats already there...the excursions booked through the ship. Unlike the roomy, stable catamaran we were on, their boats looked more like fishing boats crammed with people. We were briefed on safety and taken on a short guided tour. To be frank, the guided tour was a joke. The water was so rough and the guide so concerned about keeping us together for safety's sake (to his credit) that we were given no information about what was under the water at all. We did spend about 45 minutes snorkeling, but that was about all even the most experienced of us could handle. We were fighting against 4 foot swells and a strong current. The reef looked to be quite good and we would love to return at a future date to spend some time really getting a chance to explore it. On our return, we stopped on the leeward side of the island at a lovely beach for a nice swim in the turquoise waters.
This was our second time in St. Lucia. In February we went to Jalousie Beach with Spencer Ambrose Beach Break and snorkeled for the day, so this time we chose to do an island tour with Cosol who is also highly recommended. As his web site states, we hit all of the highlights including the volcano, the garden, Jalousie Beach, and had a great, though very long, day. We snorkeled again at Jalousie between the Pitons, and the visibility was definitely worse than when we were here in February. Cosol was friendly and informative, an excellent driver, and kept us entertained with stories and history all day. He provides beverages and snacks. Be advised some of the bathroom stops have a fee of $1, which is common in the islands. We finished the day with some warm bread and cheese which was absolutely delicious!
Took a cab to Dawn Beach for the day. Weather was again iffy, and we indeed got rained on more than once, but only for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. The water was warm, the snorkeling poor because of the choppy water and poor visibility, but there was a cafÃ©, chair and umbrella rentals, clean restrooms, and beautiful views when it did clear up.