It is hard to believe that a tiny island of less than 100,000 people and about 150 sq km can have so much diversity around it. Let’s start with the beaches – there are several – and with far more variety than you would expect to see on a single small island including a few that have been rated among the best in the world.There is a steep hill right in the centre which makes up for a very green, twisty and steep drive and provides some spectacular views. There is a city centre which has its share of crowds, traffic and parking problems, not to mention souvenir shops. There is a rum distillery, several small villages, a small lane full of street food. There is even a sister island aimed for the rich foreigners to own their villas and park their yachts.
I spent 4 nights here with a car at my disposal, so there is a lot to unpack. Rains played a bit of a damper on first day but I used the time to drive around and get a feel of the island. I stayed around the North East corner of the island and it was a beautiful serene villa with a clear view of the sea. The beach right in front of the villa offered a great sunrise view. Part of it was a pretty good surfing beachthough some parts had shallow rocks and hence not the best for any water adventure. It usually had large waves which meant the most relaxing background score and a lovely sight.
The North West side of the island is the famous beach of Beau Vallon. It is a long wide beach with spectacular sunset views and a couple of popular restaurants and the street food lane right there. The water is just perfect to play in the waves and you can find some pretty large waves even though the shelf is only waist deep. The sand is soft and while and the street food stalls serve fresh fruits, coconut water and some grilled sausages and fish. What more can you want on a beach – oh wait, maybe a Takamaka mojito. Two restaurants around serve great cocktails and some famous food – not necessarily delicious.
A drive towards the south in the island will lead one to a beautiful beach called Anse Grande and a restaurant on it called Surfer’s Restaurant. It is a beautiful beach for wading in the sea, and just enjoying the spectacular scenery. The day I was there, it was raining off and on and didn’t get much time to enjoy the place, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t stunning to look at. The drive itself goes past several viewpoints with expansive views of the sea in different forms and is a mist do.
The best beach I found was though to the West extreme of the island. One can drive around the island all the way across the southern tip or cut across the central mountains to get here. There are 3 spectacular beaches here, one after the other and nature spares the best for last. Towards the right, there are some stunning areas for snorkelling with a large variety of fish and the rest of the makes makes for some beautiful calm swimming. There is a resort right next to it, that organises some very inviting water sports, but it is for resort guests only. One can walk into the resort for using the washrooms, though – just look confident and no one will stop you. There is also a waterfall which is a short hike from near the beach. I got so tired (and sun burnt) snorkelling that didn’t have the energy to try the waterfall. There is also a very suave looking restaurant around here. They had an hour long waiting so I didn’t hang around.
The fun part is that the beach story doesn’t end here, there are several other beautiful ones that I drove past or took a few pictures at. The one in the picture here is where I took a brief stop and had a overpriced sip of coconut water. Lesson learnt – always ask the price before you ask someone to break the coconut open.