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St Lucia - Viex Fort area
I spent Christmas 2009 at the Coconut Bay Resort and Spa in St Lucia, we flew out on the 15th and returned on the 29th. This report is split into 2 areas, flights, island and hotels and then diving.
We had to check in to Gatwick at silly o’clock in the morning, a stay at the Holiday Inn Gatwick the night before made it easy. The airport was busy so Virgin did the sensible thing and had one check in desk open! They had four bag drop desks for those that had checked in on line or at the machines, but that’s not so easy with kids and flight cots required. Still once on the flight it was fine.
Food was ok, plenty of drinks, films and games kept us busy and the 8 hours soon went by. The airport the other end was a real pain, long slow queues in hot metal sheds for immigration then the same again at customs. A few extra staff would have helped. One of the main reasons we chose the resort was the transfer time; a whole 5 minutes! The return flight was as good with a fairly easy check in. Annoyingly we had to re pack as we were over weight on one bag, and low on the others; had the same within it as the outward trip so never quite sure how these things work!
We were met on arrival with champagne and soft drinks for the kids. Check in was painless and the room was what we expected. Large, with twin double beds and a cot. Air con worked well and the fans kept the air moving, it was clean, tidy and had a good shower.
The pool area was clean and the water clear. The beach was cleaned 4 or so times a day. It was windy being on the Atlantic but this helped keep the area cool so you didn’t always feel the 30-degree heat. The foyer was large and cool with plenty of through drafts. There was a choice of bars to use and they were open from 1000 until 0200, although a couple shut at 1800. The food choice was great with a snack bar open all day as well as the restaurants. We loved the food and there was always plenty of choice. Themed nights and entertainment was enjoyable although the outside food points served lukewarm food after the first hour or so.
We used the kids club and the kids liked it and kept returning, the staff were friendly and the tee shirts, bags and hats went down well with the kids. The Spa was loved by the wife and she had a number of treatments there – one joint one with me that was most fun!
Would we return? Yes happily as it was an easy transfer, good food with a clean tidy site – pictures for the place are here Coconut Bay Resort & Spa as it seems daft me uploading them as well.
I had hoped to dive with Dive Fair Helen. They had been great at email response and had provided me with all the information that I had asked. However it turned out that they were at the other end of the Island, up by Morgan Bay – we were staying on the South Coast and they are based on the West Coast about and hour and a half North, this made transfers an issue and a cost.
The hotel was advertising dive trips and they had just entered into an agreement with Rainbow Divers. These were also based up country – in Castries with a lass called Marie in charge but were picking up divers and running them the forty minute drive up to Soufriere, this is the town based at the bottom of the Pitons, the 2 high mountains – left over by a volcano – that make the island famous and give the name to their beer. We dived of a local water taxi that had a 70 hp outboard on the back that was tiller control!
I completed 4 dives over 2 days with them all based around the foot of the Pitons, The first 3 were on the Southern Piton with the first being Supermans Flight, so named as the area was used in Superman 2. After an interval on an idelic beach we then dived Three rocks, a clump of 3 rocks sticking out of the wate gives the dive it’s start point, the first dive the following week was also based here and ran from the beach up to Supermans Flight. The fourth was on the headland to the North of the bay that contains the Northern Piton and was called Gods Hole. Water teamp was around 15 degrees with an air temp of about 30. I used a ND dive skin and was happy, ohers were in shorts an shirts or shorties, one brave lass was in a bikini and got a tad cold!
The first three had similer topography, flauna, forna and fishies, you could pick your depth from 8 down to about 50m. This was on a gradual slope so the bottom was always I view. I played mainly in the 20 – 30m range and found plenty to see, Supermans is a drift with the other two being a gentile swim that ends at Superman. I’m not great at identification but I’ve been assured that we saw the following; Georgonias, sea whips, tuba and barrel sponges, sea plumes, sea fans as well as a range of corals and a coupel of conch shells.
Fish included; morey eels, lizedfish, goatfish, lobsters, blue tangs, honeycomb cowfish, parrofish, trunkfish, shrimps, blueheads and ballon fish. I’m sure there were others and the pictures below may show you some that I’ve missed.
God’s hole was a shallower dip that was around the top of a pinacle, the sides disappeared of fino the distance and we didn’t drop down below 20m. There were a couple of octopus here as well as the other usual stuff. A great rock that was part coevered in coral and part not made a good view. The life here was not so prolific but the views and the corals made up for it.
Average dive time was 45 minutes and this was set by time or air, which ever came first, the guide did just that and guided the group around the site. I didn’t have a buddy with me and spent one of the days on my own out of the way enjoying myself.
It was great diving and the area should be good for all levels of qualification due to the shelving. The boat had no water or snacks on board the first week although it did have a couple bottles of sprite for week two, and when it’s 30 degrees liquid is required. I’d appily dive with them again however I know the wife wouldn’t. She doesn’t dive that much since the kids and likes to be looked after, she’d be fine if she took her own buddy but wouldn’t be happy just following the guide on her own.
Hire kit seemed well looked after, I only used a BCD as I took the rest and it was too large really wih no alternatives. I gather they have more kit up at the main base. We had a full boat for the last day and a range of kit appeared for them to use and all worked well. I trie dto get them to take me out to the wreks on the Atlantic side but with only me based there they wouldn’t go, it’s supposed to be a great place to dive.
All in all a great place to visit, friendly locals, cheap shopping and food off resort and some really good diving.
Stayed there in Sept for our Honeymoon, one of the worst places we've ever visited and definitely wouldn't recommend it!
Complained to our tour operator upon return and they did a full investigation, all complaints upheld yet no compensation :-(
How odd - we really enjoyed it and would happily go back (or would have before your thoughts)- things change as time ticks on - shame really.
Originally Posted by Beaker
Anything specific or has the place just gone down hill?
St Lucia - Viex Fort area
Rooms dilapidated and infested with ants, damp in the rooms, restaurants full of scavenging birds eating food from displays and tables. 'Entertainment' very poor and almost non-existent and usually ended at 8pm with nothing to do after. Sun loungers covered in bird crap, beach unusable due to seaweed that wasn't cleared up, poor staff that just stood by and watched a guy die poolside without even trying to help.
Our little girl fell in the shower and split her chin as there was no mat, required 5 stitches, they never provided a mat no matter how often we asked so we used towels, they then complained we were ruining towels and tried to charge us!
They wiped the main restaurant chairs down with neat bleach which then ruined about 20 people's outfits, we were given a voucher to use in the hotel shop.
Beggars on the beach, rowdy British Airways staff threatening the local staff, BA staff playing sex games in the pool during the day.......
There's more but I think you're getting the picture, it was worse there than my budget stag party in Benidorm (and that was VERY cheap and nasty lol)
Far, far from being a tropical paradise.
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