Mothers’ Day on the beach in St Lucia {Caribbean cruise diary #2}

BRIGHT blue water, white sand and palm trees. The beach at St Lucia was almost stereotypically beautiful. It was exactly what I’d hoped for…

And what we needed, having been up for three-and-a-half hours by the time the Azura docked at Castries Harbour at 8am (plus the 22 hour day travelling to Barbados the day before). Either our boys were still on British time, and not four hours behind like the rest of the Caribbean, or they’d decided to give me as many hours of Mothers Day with them as physically possible. Either way, it was a crazy early start.

We’d got dressed, eaten breakfast and been for a paddle in the pool before most passengers had emerged from their cabins, and we were smothered in factor 30 ready to explore the minute the captain announced the gangway was open.

Caribbean cruise St Lucia
Early morning view of St Lucia

Castries HarbourOnce we’d negotiated our way through the duty free shops and stalls at the dockside, and through the throngs of taxi drivers thrusting maps and tour listings in our faces (which we discovered was standard in each of the ports we visited), we started to walk into town. It was amazing to see how huge our ship the Azura was from the roadside – in such a small port it was really quite imposing.

Our biggest boy entertained himself throwing stones into the sea, and had an audience of taxi drivers watching and cheering him on. I once asked him to catch up with us as he was falling behind and was immediately told off by the crowd for hurrying him along … talk about mum guilt, they’re clearly on island time!

Caribbean cruise St Lucia

Castries Harbour St Lucia

On the walk in, we passed a few little stalls where people were selling crafts and jewellery, and one man gave our biggest boy a small bracelet with St Lucia written on it as a gift. I have to admit I was sceptical, but he genuinely wanted him to have it which was really nice.

After stopping to watch a crab scuttle along the rocks and jump into the sea,  we made it to the market, where we had a quick look at the t-shirts and hats on offer. It was all very touristy, but amazingly loads of people were wearing them on the ship the next day. I loved how into it everyone got – there were bright coloured floral shirts and dresses, barbecues on deck – it was nothing like the other cruises we’ve been on.

We stopped for a drink (and to use some free wifi to let family know we had arrived safely) and sat outside on the street watching everyone go by and chatting with some other passengers (when you’re on a cruise and stop at a small port, pretty much everyone you come across will be from your ship!). It sounds awful, but the town wasn’t what I was expecting – it was quite run down and not the quaint, colourful streets I’d imagined.  I did have a slight niggle that we should have gone on a tour so we would know we’d seen the nice parts of the island, but I think the 4.30am start was to blame for my worry.

The view from the bar…

Anyway, as we cooled down under an umbrella, our littlest boy woke up from his nap – he’d managed to fall asleep within minutes of getting off the ship – and both boys decided they were hungry. Walking past one of the street stalls, the biggest spotted some bananas  (which he pronounced in a Caribbean accent à la Rasta Mouse, of course), which turned out to be plantain. He insisted he wanted one, and thankfully a man took us down the street to another stall to buy some actual bananas. This is when I realised that people were so lovely we’d made the right choice in not getting on a tour bus and exploring the island ourselves – you get to experience so much more when you go it alone.

With four bananas in hand, which our biggest boy held up proudly to show everyone we passed (remember the accent, which he quickly adopted), we jumped in a taxi to the beach.

Not doing our research, we didn’t know where we wanted to go and ended up on the sand next to St Lucia’s airport. It didn’t matter where we were though, it was stunning. The driver had dropped us off at Vigie Beach, which was a curved stretch of sand with a couple of beachside cafes and trees for shade. Since coming home I’ve found out that we were just a few metres down from two couples-only luxury resorts (Sandals was one), so it was a pretty good choice by the taxi driver!

Vigil Beach St Lucia

Our biggest boy wasted no time in running into the sea, quickly getting his shorts soaking wet and covered in sand. His face was an absolute picture when he saw the sea – he was so excited and happy to be there, it was just amazing to watch him.

Vigie Beach St LuciaVigie Beach St Lucia

Once we’d put his swimmies on (and most sun cream as it was 27 degrees), he was happy splashing in the waves, letting them chase him up the sand and throwing shells into the water. He was running around, trying to get his little brother into the water with him, and just generally being a very happy little boy.

Our littlest, on the other hand, was hit by one wave (also soaking his clothes) and started crying, demanding to be picked up, and spent the rest of the time sitting in the shade. I felt bad at first, but he had a great time. He munched on a banana, pointed out birds, and climbed in and out of a wooden frame someone had left behind. It did mean he was mostly in the shade, which was such a relief as he is not a fan of hats or suncream … or shoes as we discovered while we were away!

He refused to be put down on the sand!

Perfect spot for a snack

Not a bad view from the buggy!

It sounds so cheesy, but I loved just being able to spend time with our boys. Through the whole holiday it kept hitting me how much we miss out on by both me and Stew working full time. Travelling together gives us that quality time we miss out on when we’re at home. Our boys, as exasperating and exhausting as they can be, are such good fun to be with, and it’s so nice seeing their little personalities come out while we’re away.

Vigil Beach, St Lucia
Our happy little bear (pre-wave incident)

Caribbean cruise St Lucia

When you’re on a cruise, there’s obviously a strict time to get back onto the ship and sadly it was quite an early  departure from St Lucia. We’d arranged for the taxi driver to pick us up at the beach at a certain time – this is a fab system on all the islands we visited – so we didn’t need to worry about missing the ship or having to trek back to the harbour. After a quick drink and a snack at the beachside bar, and a few more photos to make sure we’d captured everything, we were ready to head off.

Just one of me to prove I was there!

Of course we had to walk back through the shops to get back to the ship, and we left St Lucia with a wooden lizard and a set of maracas. I think we were quite a sight with two boys squeezed onto the buggy board dancing and playing along to the music!

This is our third cruise as a family (second for the littlest), but our first with warm weather. It felt like such a luxury getting back on board at 3pm and being able to hop into the pool. We had a quick bite to eat from the poolside pizza bar and had an hour in the water to cool down.

P&O Azura

P&O Azura

We struck it lucky on night one, with the biggest boy going to children’s club for the evening and the littlest falling asleep in the buggy after a little walk around the deck, so we had a couple of hours to ourselves. I took the chance to have a cocktail – much needed after being up since 4.30am – we picked the biggest boy up before the kids’ club film started and we were all in bed by 8.30pm!

I couldn’t have asked for a better Mothers’ Day.

You can read more of our Caribbean cruise diaries here:

Part one: Travelling to Barbados, a long haul flight with two under four