Day trips and activities for the best Birdwatching excursions:
While Saint Lucia is a modest sized island 27 miles long and 14 miles across at its widest point, a surprising variety of often dramatically different habitats are found throughout. The island’s east coast is generally rather dry but as the trade winds blow in off the Atlantic they are quickly forced to ascend the interior mountains; the rapidly cooled air is forced to release its moisture creating the island’s lush interior rain forests. Created are a great number of unique habitats where various bird species have become adapted resulting in the large variety of birds found on island.
To ensure an enjoyable birding holiday experience for our guests, Anse Chastanet offers a variety of tours to these very scenic natural environments where an alluring variety of birds are found.
One of the most popular is the Millet Bird Sanctuary Trail which is located in the island’s midsection north of Soufriere. The walk is led by a Department of Forestry guide; over 30 species can be seen along the way, including the five endemic species: the Saint Lucia Black Finch, Saint Lucia Pewee, Saint Lucia Warbler, Saint Lucia Oriole and Saint Lucia Parrot. It takes approximately two hours to complete the relatively easy trail which is perched at about 1,000 feet above sea level.
For those who wish to combine birding with a visit to Saint Lucia’s most lush rain forest we offer excursions to the Des Cartier Trail, which is located inland from the east coast village of Micoud. Following ridge tops at about 1,800-feet above sea level, this relatively easy 1.5 mile loop hike takes you through one of the wettest tropical forests on earth receiving as much as 200 inches of rain annually. The St. Lucia Parrot is readily encountered along this trail which is considered to be one of the very best birding sites on island.
The dry coastal scrub between the east coast town of Dennery and Praslin village is home to the largest population of the endangered White Breasted Thrashers left in the world. These beautiful birds are regularly encountered when the area is visited with one of Saint Lucia’s experienced birdwatching guides. For those who wish to add a bit of a challenge to their birdwatching, you can climb to the top of Gros Piton, the higher of Saint Lucia’s two iconic mountains.
The Gros Piton Hike offers encounters with a number of rare birds and wildlife that find sanctuary in this rugged and somewhat remote part of the island. The Saint Lucia endemic House Wren, Saint Lucia Oriole, Saint Lucia Black Finch and the Scaly-naped Pigeon are just some of the species that are seen along the trail. Climbing Gros Piton is a strenuous challenge and should be undertaken only by very fit and experienced hikers.
The Forestiere Trail is located just to the east of Saint Lucia’s capital city, Castries. The trail is part of the old French Road which cut across the island’s interior. The island’s endemic species, including the parrot, can be seen along the trail.
A must for our more adventurous visiting bird enthusiasts is a visit to the Edmund Rainforest Reserve which is located in the middle of island and accessed from the Soufriere area. Within the forest the most popular birding trek is the Enbas Saut Falls Trail which passes through one of the most remote, wild and unbelievably scenic parts of the island. The trail features a combination of Rainforest, Cloud Forest and Elfin Woodlands as well as encounters with the Saint Lucia Parrot, Saint Lucia Oriole, Saint Lucia Black Finch, Antillean Euphonia and Rufous-throated Solitaire. The trail is also famous for its two cascading waterfalls and pools at the head of the Troumassee river. Enbas Saut is a challenging and strenuous hike and should be attempted only by those with an above average fitness level.
The Tet Paul Nature Trail is ideal for birders who wish to enjoy from up high the majestic beauty of the world’s most famous pair of mountains without doing any serious hiking or climbing. The trail, which is approximately ½ mile in length, affords an easy stroll through the cool air in the midst of St. Lucia’s World Heritage site. Great views of both Gros Piton and Petit Piton, the island’s southern region and the blue Caribbean below abound and numerous species of birds are viewed all along the way.
A very popular activity for visiting bird watchers to enjoy in Saint Lucia is Dolphin and Whale Watching which combines wonderful sightseeing, viewing sea birds and the opportunity for up close encounters with several species of sea mammals. Saint Lucia is fortunate to have several experienced operations which feature large, comfortable boats who communicate and work together to dramatically increase the odds of encountering whales.
Cape Moule a Chique is a rugged and lofty crag on the very southern tip of Saint Lucia near the town of Vieux Fort. Perched on the top is a lighthouse which, located at an elevation of over 800 feet, is the third highest in the world. A road winds to the top of the cape providing encounters with birds along the way. A variety of tropical birds nest below the lighthouse and the surrounding area including red-billed Tropicbirds, a ‘must see’ species for birdwatchers. From Moule a Chique guests also are treated to a panoramic view of the southern half of the island and the Maria Islands lying directly below.
Adjacent to the Hewannorra International Airport are the Vieux Fort Wetlands which comprise approximately 6 acres attracting several bird species throughout the year. Many varieties of ducks, herons, sand pipers, plovers, egrets, gallinules, rails and other shorebirds can be seen.
Grande Anse, a mile long pristine beach located on the east coast, is best known as a Leatherback Turtle nesting site and as being part of the Saint Lucia’s Iguana Reserve, but the area also offers enjoyable birdwatching. The Saint Lucia endemic Rufous Nightjar is regularly seen along with many other species. Geographically, Grande Anse is located not far from the city of Castries and other well populated areas in the north of the island, but the challenging 4-wheel track leading in makes it seem to be one of the most remote tropical paradise locations in Saint Lucia.
The Maria Islands are a protected nature reserve located a half mile off Pointe Sable on the southeast coast. The islands are a major nesting site for migratory birds which travel thousands of miles from the west coast of Africa to nest annually. They are also home to five endemic reptile species including the world’s rarest snake, the Kouwés snake (Saint Lucia Racer), the Saint Lucia Whiptail lizard (Zandou), and the Worm Snake, listed in the Guinness Book as the world’s smallest. The Maria Islands can only be visited through special arrangements with the Saint Lucia National Trust.