We try our best to plan our wanderings for days when there are no cruise ships in town; we ask if there’s a ship docked today. Try to imagine what happens on a tiny island such as St Lucia when a couple cruise ships plow into the big harbor at Castries and disgorge 8 to 10,000 hungry, eager tourists onto the streets. Buses line up, taxis stand at attention, vendors flash their wares, each trying to grab your attention. It’s a zoo!
And that’s the last thing we wanted to have around when we took a tour of the Diamond Botanical Gardens. These gardens, mineral baths, and waterfalls are a peaceful, beautiful tribute to the natural beauty that is St. Lucia. The original holding tank for the mineral waters, built in 1784, is still in use today. Though nature has ravaged the gardens on several occasions, they have been rebuilt time and again to preserve the baths, the falls, and the gardens.
We chose well on this day encountering only one or two small groups of tourists. Serenity ruled over the pathways through the gardens, and we could hear little birds chirping, catch small animals skittering through the woods away from us, and take all the time we wanted at displays of beautiful flowers and trees.
This Pink Torch Ginger below can grow to heights of fifteen feet and is one of the most amazing ornamental flowers in the Caribbean. It has a wax like quality to the petals that preserves its beauty in spite of the heat and moisture.
These mineral falls descend from Soufriere Volcano two miles away. The waters, which can change color daily based on mineral content, supposedly have curative properties, and it is rumored that as a child, Empress Josephine, wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, bathed in its waters while visiting her father’s estate in Soufriere. Many visitors today spend the money to bathe in these waters.