Vacation To Jade Mountain, St. Lucia

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St. Lucia is the sort of island that travelers to the Caribbean dream about--a small, lush tropical gem that is still relatively unknown. One of the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, it is located midway down the Eastern Caribbean chain, between Martinique and St. Vincent and north of Barbados. St. Lucia is only 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, with a shape that is said to resemble either a mango or an avocado (depending on your taste). The Atlantic Ocean kisses its eastern shore, while the beaches of the west coast owe their beauty to the calm Caribbean Sea.

A verdant, mountainous island halfway between Martinique and St. Vincent, St. Lucia has evolved into one of the Caribbean's most popular vacation destinations—particularly for honeymooners and other romantics enticed by the island's striking natural beauty, its many splendid resorts and appealing inns and its welcoming atmosphere.

The capital city of Castries and nearby villages in the northwest are home to 40% of the 180,000 St. Lucians. This area, along with Rodney Bay farther north and Marigot Bay just south of the capital, are the destinations of most vacationers. In the central and southwestern parts of the island dense rain forest, jungle-covered mountains and vast banana plantations dominate the landscape. A tortuous road follows most of the coastline, bisecting small villages, cutting through mountains and passing by fertile valleys. On the southwest coast, Petit Piton and Gros Piton, the island's unusual twin peaks that rise out of the sea to more than 2,600 feet, are familiar landmarks for sailors and aviators alike. Divers are attracted to the reefs found just north of Soufrière, which was the capital during French colonial times. Most of the natural tourist attractions are in this area, along with several more fine resorts and inns.

The pirate François Le Clerc, nicknamed Jambe de Bois (Wooden Leg) for obvious reasons, was the first European "settler" in St. Lucia. In the late 16th century Le Clerc holed up on Pigeon Island, just off the island's northernmost point and used it as a staging ground for attacking passing ships. Now Pigeon Island is a national park, connected by a causeway to the mainland; today Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort, one of the largest resorts in St. Lucia and The Landings, a luxury villa community, sprawl along that causeway.

Like most of its Caribbean neighbors, St. Lucia was first inhabited by Arawaks and then the Carib Indians. British settlers attempted to colonize the island twice in the early 1600s, but it wasn't until 1651, after the French West India Company suppressed the local Caribs, that Europeans gained a foothold. For 150 years battles over possession of the island were frequent between the French and the British, with a dizzying 14 changes in power before the British finally took possession in 1814. The Europeans established sugar plantations, using slaves from West Africa to work the fields. By 1838, when the slaves were emancipated, more than 90% of the population was of African descent—roughly the same proportion of today's 180,000 St. Lucians.

On February 22, 1979, St. Lucia became an independent state within the British Commonwealth of Nations, with a resident governor-general appointed by the queen. Still, the island appears to have retained more relics of French influence—notably the island patois, cuisine, village names and surnames—than of the British. Most likely, that's because the British contribution primarily involved the English language, the educational and legal systems and the political structure, whereas the French culture historically had more influence on the arts—culinary, dance and music.

The island becomes especially tuneful for 10 days every May, when the St. Lucia Jazz Festival welcomes renowned international musicians who perform for enthusiastic fans at Pigeon Island National Park and other island venues. St. Lucians themselves love jazz—and the beat of Caribbean music resonates throughout the island.

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Light Jets: 8 Passengers

A light jet is a category of small jets seating anywhere from 4 to 8 people (depending on configuration) and often with a maximum takeoff weight of under 10,000 pounds. Light jets are considered the lightest business jets and are approved for single pilot operation. Light jets are ideal for shorter trips for business meetings or family getaways.

Midsized Jets: 10 Passengers

Midsize jets – also referred to as mid-size jets, are great for long distance travel such as transcontinental flights or trips requiring larger passenger capacity (depending on configuration). Unlike a light jet rental, Mid-size private jets are incredibly versatile private aircraft, combining the comfort and space of larger personal planes, with the speed and agility of small private jets. Private jet speeds help the aircraft travel a range of over 5,000 nautical miles and typically seats 7 to 10 passengers.

Super Mids: 16 Passengers

Super mid-sized jets are designed to comfortably accommodate from 8 to 16 passengers (depending on configuration) - with substantial baggage space. Super mids can be chartered for international, non-stop transcontinental or mid-range travel with an average flight range of up to 9 hours of flight time - or 4,500 miles - in optimum conditions.

Large Jets: 16 Passengers

Large cabin jets have a cabin height of over six feet. Cabin width varies from nearly seven to over eight feet, while cabin length can range from 28 feet to nearly 50 feet. With endurance of 8 to 10 hours, many large cabin jets - like the Falcon 900 - are also designed for longer range flights such as New York to Paris. Large cabin jet cabin amenities can include WiFi, private lavatory, PlayStation video games, satellite phone, cabin attendant and a full galley.

Turbo Props: 10 Passengers

What sets turbo props apart is their versatility. Unlike other private jets, planes with a turbo prop engine don’t need a full runway for landing and take off; a short grass airstrip is more than enough. Which makes them perfect for taking the route less traveled. Made for short to medium journeys, turbo prop planes can land on grass airstrips and short runways. Turboprops are an economical way to fly, with room for eight to ten passengers.

Helicopters: 13 Passengers

While there are many reasons to take a chartered helicopter flight - the fact that for most it is a once in a lifetime experience is probably the most prominent. Helicopter flight in itself is an adventure that most people find thrilling. Making use of helicopter flights is also a great way to mark a special occasion and create new memories that will make a special day even more special.


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