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Relaxation comes naturally on St. Lucia

By Mark Vanek

St. Lucia offers a comfortable year-round climate and secluded white-sand beaches. This avocado-shape Caribbean island is a scant 27 miles long and 14 miles wide. It could fit snuggly into Hawaii’s Waimea Canyon – and considering the lush tropical habitat and two imposing mountain peaks, St Lucia actually resembles a Hawaiian island.

Staying there: Marigot Beach Club and Dive Resort ( www.marigotbeachclub.com) is the perfect place for a plethora of activities or just kicking back and soaking up mind-blowing views of the sea. Many of their hotel rooms are equipped with a full kitchen, so you can save some cash on groceries. This resort revolves around scuba diving, but also has an award-winning beach. Plus, it’s reasonably priced (just $125 U.S. and up).

Dining out: Perched on the hillside overlooking Marigot Bay is The Rainforest Hideaway ( www.rainforesthideawaystlucia.com), one of St. Lucia’s most well-regarded restaurants. It proudly boasts that the celebrated author James Michener referred to Marigot Bay as “The most beautiful bay in the Caribbean,” but after a few of their healthy rum punches, I’d challenge anyone to disagree.

The Rainforest Hideaway presents a mixture of French and Caribbean cuisine in an intimate atmosphere ideal for a romantic outing. Prepare for wind: St Lucia boasts some of the finest sailing in the world. Steady trade winds and warm water combine to make conditions ripe for great sailing. That means the breeze is up and it’s time to get out and hit the water: Charter your own sailboat for a half day and explore the coastal splendor and magnificence of St. Lucia. Fuel a lifetime of nostalgia by sightseeing unspoiled, exotic locations such as Marigot Bay, the Pitons Peaks, Pigeon Island National Park and Anse Cochon Marine Reserve. Details: www.sailsaintlucia.com (under “Day Charters” click “Half Day Charters”).

Ayurvedic rituals: Enjoy an invigorating mind and body revitalization designed to eliminate toxins and mental exhaustion. Ayurvedic therapy begins with a head massage followed by a gentle flow of lukewarm aromatherapy oils poured directly onto the forehead.

Relax as your practitioner soothingly massages you neck, shoulder, hands and feet paying extra attention to the stress-busting points on the face. This can be combined with other treatments – body wraps, salt glows, steam therapy, etc. – at the Anse Chastanet Spa ( www.ansechastanet.com).

Bubbling action: St. Lucia is one of the world’s premier destinations for scuba diving and snorkeling. Thanks in part to the island’s volcanic nature and exotic coves, there are a large number of spectacular wall drop-offs and coral reefs. Whether a novice or a diving expert, you’ll crave searching for underwater treasures, swimming with turtles, and discovering sunken shipwrecks.

The pros at Scuba Steve’s dive shop ( www.scubastevesdiving.com) can introduce you to all of the shallow reefs and wonderful wrecks just beneath the waves.

Soufriere Sulfur Springs: Create a unique memory on a fun-filled and healthy to this drive-in dormant volcano and the mud bath. Be sure to bring along your swimsuit, as you will take a dip in a pool of very hot black water. Splatter and cover yourself and your partner with volcanic, mineral-rich mud that will exfoliate your skin.

Mark Vanek, who lives in the Lake Norman area, has unlimited standby flight privileges. Vanek’s blog: http://flying-standby.blogspot.com.
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