This article by Ralph Ferrusi appeared in The Poughkeepsie Journal.
Hike name: Pigeon Island National Park, Saint Lucia.
Location: Just north of Rodney Bay, in the far northwestern corner of Saint Lucia.
Length: There were quite a few trails on the island. We walked most of them.
Rating: A great hike.
Dogs: As I mentioned last week, I didn’t recall seeing any dogs in the Rodney Bay area, so I really didn’t expect to see any dogs — or, for that matter dog walkers — on Pigeon Island. The ride up from the airport was on the windward side of the island. From my experience, all the glitz — fanciest hotels/resorts, nice beaches — are on the leeward (protected) sides of the islands. The surf/seashore/settlements on the windward sides were always rougher, steeper, and, more “basic.” Saint Lucia was no exception: I noted in my journal (yes, I still keep a basic “trip journal” even after all these years) that I spotted several “scrawny” dogs (and junk cars) on the ride. But not in Rodney Bay…
Map(s): There was a nice trail map on a big board on the arrival jetty. I couldn’t find any maps online.
Features: Several great trails. Great views from Fort Rodney on one end and the high point on the other end of the island. Scattered “ruins of barracks, batteries, and garrisons [dating] from 18th-century French and English battles.” A Museum and Interpretive Center (closed when we where there in August).
Watch out for: There’s a $7 U.S. “users fee.” Fodor’s goes on a bit about Pigeon Island’s two small beaches, but they were crowded and raucous when we were there, and 3/4-mile Reduit Beach was a very tough act to follow. The climb up the high point on the eastern end was a bit rugged compared to the rest of the trails. And, the drop off from the top was pretty abrupt.
Background: You couldn’t miss Pigeon Island from our third floor balcony at Bay Gardens Beach Resort, just to the north across Rodney Bay, looming over the fancy peaked roofs of the restaurant/bar. Pigeon Island wasn’t the more typical Caribbean island mountain triangle rising out of the water, the center being the highest point, as, for example Saba. Instead there were two “humps,” one at each end, connected by a long, apparently fairly narrow saddle. The top of the western hump was flat, obviously some kind of old man-made fort. The eastern hump was taller, and looked much more rugged.
Our Fodor’s was pretty coy, revealing Pigeon Island was a national park, but not much more. No mention of trails; how many, how long… As I recall, the “activities” lady at our hotel told us there were trails on the island, and how we could get to it.
Hike description: After forking over $14 U.S. to a didn’t-really-care “parks” woman in a booth, we asked a uniformed parks kid how to get to the fort. He grunted and pointed, and we followed a wide old dirt road, gradually climbing to a trail junction, then climbed steeply up to the fort on stone stairs. We ooohed and ahhed, then headed back down and followed our noses across the saddle to the eastern end high point. Wowzer!
How to get there: We took the “Pigeon Island Water Taxi” from the shed on Reduit Beach pretty much in front of our hotel. The sign said it would be open at 10 a.m.; we arrived at 9:50, were told they’d be open at 10:30, didn’t get under way until 11. C’est la vie: “island time, mon…”… We had to give an estimated time for the return trip; we figured 2½ hours would be enough time to explore the island. The “taxi” was a wooden “skiff” with an outboard motor. The local kid who drove it was a good boat handler; heck, we were probably the seven millionth touristos he’d zinged across the bay in the last couple of months.
Ralph Ferrusi writes Hike of the Week each week for the Poughkeepsie Journal. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the second in a series of four hikes Ralph Ferrusi took on the island of Saint Lucia. Next week. Ferrusi tackles the island’s southeast corner.