A tropical triathlon paradise

Laura Williams
Tempted to give it a tri? Laura Williams discovers you could do a whole lot worse than St Lucia

I USUALLY associate triathlons with unflattering wetsuits and cold, murky water, so it was welcome news that the Caribbean island of St Lucia will be hosting its first ever triathlon in November. Forget shivering changeovers – this is my kind of endurance test.

St Lucia is one of the Windward Islands, located midway down the Eastern Caribbean chain between Martinique and St Vincent, north of Barbados. It is 27 miles long and 14 miles wide. The Atlantic Ocean laps at its eastern shore while the beaches of the west coast face the tranquil Caribbean sea. It’s in the clear waters of this western side that the triathlon is taking place.

The Landings St Lucia (thelandingsstlucia.com) is the official race hotel and HQ; the swim start and transition area will both take place on the hotel beach. Accommodation consists of self contained suites ranging from modest one-bed condos with harbour views to a three bed penthouse that sits right on the beach. From the balcony hot tub to the Italian marble floors, this is the pad you want to be rustling up your porridge in come race day.

On arrival I made the mistake of taking The Landings chief executive Ollie Gobat up on his offer of an early morning trail run. This east coast run is roughly two miles from the triathlon swim location. Described as “a hilly trail run... a tough challenge for people of good fitness levels”, it was in fact the toughest course I’d ever encountered. I kept wondering if this was going to be the workout to finish me off.

Still, I can think of worse ways to go – the route included some of the most spectacular scenery I’ve ever seen. On arrival back at The Landings, I decided to swim part of the course. In these conditions, swimming is definitely the more pleasurable of the three disciplines.

But enough of all things fitness: what’s on offer for your other, non-sporty half? If cheering you on with a curried roti and coconut water proves too sedentary, there’s plenty more to do in St Lucia. My companion tried Seatrek, the underwater helmet diving system at Pigeon Island. It’s fun, apparently, but not great if you suffer from claustrophobia.

And then there’s the often overlooked south, home to the impressive but whiffy Sulphur Springs, whose boiling water creates impressive plumes of steam. Once south, you should squeeze in a visit to the Diamond Botanical Gardens too, home to the majestic Diamond Waterfall (but don’t forget the insect repellent for this one). If it’s a spa you’re after, St Lucia doesn’t disappoint – a massage at The Landings’ Soleil is just the ticket after a hard day training.

St Lucian food varies from authentic roadside jerk chicken to fine nouveau French/West Indian cuisine. Just up the road from The Landings on the island’s wealthy Cap Estate lies the elegant boutique hotel, Cap Maison (capmaison.com), with its equally elegant restaurant, Cliff at Cap (thecliffatcap.com). The list of patrons includes Mick Jagger and Justin Bieber, and its cliff top location made it the perfect backdrop for The Bachelor. The Cliff at Cap is definitely worth a visit, as is the more down to earth Jambe de Bois café on nearby Pigeon Island, serving the best rotis and virgin coladas on the island. Post-roti, it’s worth making the tough climb to Fort Rodney, a lookout dating back to 1778 offering breathtaking views of St Lucia and Martinique.

Whether you’re looking for the venue of a lifetime for your last tri of the season, or just a bit of guaranteed sunshine before heading into another freezing British winter, I suggest you book those flights now.

Need to know
The St Lucia triathlon is on 22-23 November. To find out more, visit tristlucia.com
Five star accommodation at The Landings St. Lucia starts from £417 for a one-bedroom suite, based on two people sharing thelandingsstlucia.com reservations +1 866 252 0689

Both British Airways (ba.com) and Virgin Atlantic
(virgin-atlantic.com), fly non-stop to St Lucia.

For more information on St Lucia, visit stlucia.org