TI KAYE VILLAGE RESORT, ST. LUCIA
During the day, activities include lounging by the pool, walking the 166 steps down to the beach to enjoy a quiet walk or lounge on the sand (beach chairs and umbrellas are provided). The steps, built into the hillside, offer resting areas with magnificent views. Once on the beach, you can swim in the warm water, paddle a kayak, snorkel in the cove, or... do as I did, SCUBA dive.
Island Divers is the diving and water sports operation at Ti Kaye and is PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certified. Island Divers offers instruction that ranges from resort diving courses (much shallower dives) to complete diving certification. They also conduct guided diving tours. There is also a full array of rental gear for scuba and snorkeling and they can supply lockers to keep your gear for the duration of your stay, which proved to be a good deal for me since there was no way I could lug my diving gear up and down 166 steps each day. You can arrange for the staff to bring your gear down to the beach and back to your room at the end of your stay. You can rent locks or bring your own. The main doors are locked at night and there is an alarm system.
Island Divers is still a work in process and the owners have big plans to enhance their operation. They are building an extended deck and plan to purchase a larger dive boat. The bathroom facilities they're constructing on the beach should be ready by the end of 2004. Presently, they have one small boat that will hold 6-8 divers comfortably. I like their method of taking small groups and offering personalized service. As an experienced diver, I rate the diving here at the beginner level. It's a great place to learn to dive, or, if you are a new diver, it's a great place to do your first dives and to practice your skills, as the dive sites range from 20 to 70 feet with a minimal current. Island Divers does drift dives (where you follow the current and the boat follows you) and it is one of the easiest ways to dive, because you don't have to do any navigation. Wherever you surface, the boat will pick you up.
I enjoyed the simplicity of each dive, whether I dove an underwater version of the Pitons called the Pinnacles or visited the Nursery, filled with baby and juvenile fish. Fish and coral life that I rarely see in other Caribbean locations were in abundance here. I saw families of drum fish, nudibranchs, and reef systems that looked very healthy.
While Ti Kaye Resort has a private beach, there is a daily onslaught of tour groups that come by boat to snorkel, dive, swim, and use the beach facilities. If you want to avoid these crowds, visit the beach in the morning. Spend the afternoon at the pool, enjoy an afternoon massage in your room, and take a dip in your private plunge pool, if your cottage has one.
You can feel safe at Ti Kaye, as the hotel maintains private security on the property with roaming guards and guard dogs overnight. My week in Ti Kaye Village was just what the doctor ordered to erase those pressures of the outside world.
All photos ©Hillary Bloom