Reflections on Pigeon Island

It’s been almost a year since we visited St Lucia – a lush Caribbean island where we managed to switch off and let go of the stresses of daily life. 

I’ve written about this place before on the blog – about palm trees and sandy beaches, about street parties with the locals, and paddleboarding in the rain.

Palm trees and blue skies

But as the mornings are getting darker and my commute is getting more tedious, I’ve started thinking back to the beauty of St Lucia, and in particular, to the journey we made to Pigeon Island.

Originally completely surrounded by water, Pigeon Island is now connected to St Lucia thanks to a man made causeway built in 1972. Protected as a National Landmark, the lush 44 acre reserve is like a living museum.

I knew a little about Pigeon Island but I didn’t quite realise how impressive it was.

The approach to Pigeon Island

The island has long been seen by the navy as an important location thanks to its vantage point overlooking Martinique. Occupied by Amerindians, pirates, the French and the British, Pigeon Island has a long military history and you can find ruins of military buildings and garrisons as you wander around.

Yet there’s also an abundance of greenery and wildlife, and most notably, a sense of immense calm.

And to get there?

Water taxi.

We took a boat from Reduit Beach and were taken straight to the main jetty of Pigeon Island. Be prepared to barter and expect numerous touts to approach you offering their taxi as the best and quickest…

Reduit Beach, St Lucia

Eventually settling on one, we clambered barefoot into the boat. It was slightly surreal to be honest – the taxi was decorated to look like a New York city cab; with yellow paintwork and black and white checked patterns!

The journey over is fairly quick and not too choppy. It’s also amazing fun – depending on your driver and guide. Ours were chatty and they enhanced the experience of travelling by boat with the sun shining overhead onto crystal blue waters around you.

Once on the island, you have to pay a small entrance fee (US$8) but then you’re free to roam around as you like. We aimed straight for the main ruins, trying to imagine what it must have been like to be stationed somewhere so beautiful, but also somewhere so hot (there’s a lot of information dotted around about how heavy and hot the military uniform was…)

Walking through passageways of trees; through the flora and fauna of the island, it’s worth keeping your eyes open. Lizards and hummingbirds lurk in the plants and if you’re quiet, they’ll stay just long enough for a photo.

Hummingbird

Can you see it? (Just off centre)

Via a sandy beach, we decided to walk up towards the high vantage points, climbing what seemed like hundreds of steep steps to get there.

The view was incredible.

Anyone who has been to St Lucia will know just how beautiful an island it is. Clean sandy beaches, rainforests and lush vegetation everywhere, all surrounded by crystal blue waters. It’s the stuff of dreams.

But standing at the top of Pigeon Island? Idyllic.

When we did this, not many people had climbed all the way up, which meant we could enjoy this unspoiled view in relative quiet. And I think that’s what you need to do.

At the top of Pigeon Island
It’s rare now that we can find pockets of calm in places where tourists so often flock. But on the island, after what must have been years of military ownership, it now seems to have reclaimed itself. The wildlife is left at peace; beautiful eucalyptus trees grow on the cliffside, and plants have begun to grow over the ruins.

Eucalyptus tree on cliff side
Standing at the top of it, you can feel a wave of calm wash over you, and any stresses you had previously simply disappear.

We spent a full afternoon on the island, and eventually decided to head back to the jetty where our return water taxi would be waiting. As we passed it, we spotted a heron standing tall, occasionally dipping it’s head down for fish.

Heron by the jetty at Pigeon Island

With a bit of time to spare, we discovered a tiny bar tucked away on one side of the island, with a room full of old books and wooden chairs set out on a veranda.

Rustic charm - the bar on Pigeon Island

I would highly suggest trying to find that place – it’s so quirky and seems to be perfectly placed on such an interesting little island.

As for the water taxi back? They decided to drop us off at the beach by our hotel and we spent the entire time listening to soft reggae, chatting to the driver and the guide, and feeling unbelievably lucky to be travelling around the Caribbean by a taxi on water…

 

 

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