Pigeon Island St Lucia is, in fact, not an island any more. A manmade causeway now links the two islands together to form Pigeon Island National Park as we know it today. Here the island’s heritage is on full display and a visit will take you on a journey through St Lucia’s past. Here is a brief guide to Pigeon Island Saint Lucia including all the cool things to do at Pigeon Island National Park in Rodney Bay Saint Lucia.
Pigeon Island History
The town of Gros Islet lies on the northern edge of St Lucia on Rodney Bay in the Caribbean Sea. Pigeon Island is located on the northern leg of Rodney Bay, a pristine stretch of coast in the northern region of Saint Lucia.
Artifacts have been found on the island that date back as far as 1000 A.D. Halfway through the 16th century the French pirate Francois le Clerc (famous for his wooden leg) used Pigeon Island as his base to attack Spanish ships returning with the riches of its South American colonies. He and his 300 strong crew were the first Europeans on St Lucia.
St Lucia flipped back and forth between the French and the British 14 times before the British finally won. In the 18th century, the British naval officer, Admiral George Rodney, sailed into Gros-Islet Bay and built Fort Rodney.
From Fort Rodney, Admiral Rodney could observe any military action by the French fleet at Fort Royal, the French Naval Base, on the nearby island of Martinique. Fort Rodney is also perfectly positioned to see who goes in and out of Rodney Bay (now Rodney Bay Marina).
Fort Rodney was a military stronghold for over 100 years until the mid-19th century when Pigeon Island was no longer needed as a military base.
Pigeon Island has had multiple uses in later years, included being a whaling station and a quarantine camp for Indian indentured servants brought by the British to work on St Lucia’s plantations.
During World War 2, the US Navy was strategically based on Pigeon Island St Lucia to keep an eye on enemy action in the Caribbean, especially the strategic Panama Canal.
By 1971, a causeway was built to connect Pigeon Island and the mainland after which the area was declared as Pigeon Island National Park.
Pigeon Island National Park
The 44-acre piece of land offers plenty to do as it is a museum and natural sanctuary. The whole area is covered in beautiful vegetation with a pristine coastline all around the edge.
This national park in St Lucia, Pigeon Island, is open to the public year-round every day. There are nominal entrance fees for adults and children over the age of 5 that goes towards the preservation of Pigeon Island National Landmark.
The Pigeon Island Causeway is mostly dominated by one of the three Sandals Resorts on St Lucia, the Sandals Grande St. Lucian Beach Resort & Spa. From this beach resort, you can see Pigeon Island up close and personal.
Things to Do on Pigeon Island Saint Lucia
A visit to Pigeon Island is one of the best things to do in Saint Lucia for visitors and locals alike. The big cruise ship docks in Castries means that Pigeon Island is often a popular part of shore excursion.
The island is only around 30 minutes from the capital of Castries, so it is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a day away from the bustling streets of the city.
Pigeon Island Beach St Lucia
Pigeon Island beach St Lucia is actually two separate white sand beaches. Both beaches have bathroom facilities and are kept in pristine condition. Visit Pigeon Island Beach St Lucia and it’s pretty much the same as the Sandals resort beach next door but at much less cost.
Here you can spend your day lazing on the sand, wading in the shallows of the turquoise waters, or even exploring the stunning reef just off the beach. Generally uncrowded, especially midweek, Pigeon Island beach is one of the best beaches in St Lucia.
Snorkeling Pigeon Island St Lucia
St Lucia has excellent snorkelling and Pigeon Island is no exception. There is a reef near the island for snorkelling fun. There are also options for snuba and sea trekking (where you have the giant helmet on your head and walk)
Hiking Pigeon Island St Lucia
Hiking is one of the most popular things to do in the National Park. The hiking trails takes you to various clearings where you can soak in breath-taking panoramic views.
The hike up to Fort Rodney and its spectacular viewpoint is fairly easy. There is the more challenging hike up to Signal Peak. Both viewpoints have incredible views. If you do both hikes, allocate 2 hours and bring plenty of water.
Hiking Pigeon Island St Lucia though is nowhere as challenging as the hikes up Gros Piton, Petit Piton or even the Tet Paul Nature Trail in the south of the island at Soufriere. Seasoned hikers will find it easy.
From the viewpoints at Fort Rodney and Signal Hill you can enjoy uninterrupted 360-degree views of the island, both the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea and possibly even Martinique on clear days.
Fort Rodney St Lucia
Although the whole park has fascinating military and civilian ruins all across the area, Fort Rodney undoubtedly played the biggest part in Pigeon Island’s history.
Fort Rodney St Lucia is a historic site which still has cannons pointing out to sea. In the told days, soldiers would have been looking for French ships from this British fort but now we can just appreciate the amazing views.
There are old cannons, barracks and bunkers built in the early 19th century scattered across the landscape attesting to St Lucia’s importance to the European colonial powers. The lime kiln where the mortar was made to make these buildings is still around, too. There is even a cemetery where both French and British deceased soldiers are buried together.
The military ruins of the officer’s quarters, soldiers’ barracks and mess hall all speak to how important this strategic point in the Caribbean was.
Fort Rodney St Lucia Museum
Although Pigeon Island itself is considered a living museum, there is also an actual physical museum and interpretation center. Run by the Saint Lucia National Trust in a restored section of the Officer’s Quarters, this museum gives visitors a peek into the history of the island.
Small but fascinating, the Fort Rodney St Lucia museum has artefacts from as far back as when the native Carib Indians lived on the island before the Europeans came.
It will tell you about all the battles that took place in the area, including the decisive Battle of Saints. It was from St Lucia that British Admiral Rodney set sail to save Jamaica from being taken by the French. This battle gave the British their decisive victory over the French in the Caribbean during the American Revolution.
Saint Lucia Jazz Festival
Parts of the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival happen on Pigeon Island. This jazz festival is part of the Saint Lucia Carnival every July. (Unlike Rio’s Carnival and Mardi Gras in New Orleans which happen in spring, Saint Lucia Carnival is a summer event).
Map of Pigeon Island St Lucia attractions
For your planning convenience, here is a map of Pigeon Island St Lucia and the visitor attractions.
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