I debated whether or not to write about the beach at Cas-en-Bas. While the afternoon I spent there was certainly a high point of my trip, the area's remoteness and tranquility are a large part of its charm. Selfishly, I don't want to see it "discovered"!
We went on the last full day of my vacation. Luckily for me, my friend owns a rugged 4WD (which he lovingly calls Bessie the Beast), because the muddy, rocky, unpaved road would have been impossible to navigate in an ordinary vehicle. I use the term "road" loosely; it was more like a wide dirt path, pocked with deep craters and crisscrossed by gullies filled with mud-coloured water. The road forked at one point, with a hand-painted sign pointing towards Cas-en-Bas straight ahead, or Anse Lavoutte to the right. We bumped, pitched, and splashed onwards.
The poor condition of the road perhaps explains the beach's isolation. The entire time we were at Cas-en-Bas, we saw only a handful of people. Three young St. Lucian boys were catching crabs among the rocks. A group of tourists came for a guided horseback ride and disappeared into the hills. An unadorned building selling refreshments was empty save for a couple of locals. It was absolutely lovely.
After our adventurous ride, we left Bessie in a shady grove and set out around the bay, stopping here and there to admire the view and marvel at the perfect silence. All we could hear was the sound of the wind blowing in from the Atlantic, and the rush of the waves as they swept into shore. The water was a beautiful blue colour, but it was not the impossible turquoise of the Caribbean. It was the colour of sapphires; the water glittered in the sun like a sea of sapphires.
As we followed the curve of the bay, the land would break into the sea in rocky clusters, then jaggedly continue north. We climbed over the rocks towards the water, wading along the flattened boulders, marveling at how soft and warm the slippery seaweed felt beneath our toes. We peered into shallow pools for glimpses of interesting sea life, and were rewarded in seeing a yellow and black eel rippling lazily among the rocks.
Further along the bay, we discovered a small sandy beach hidden behind a high sea wall. A secret beach?! We scrambled down the rocky ledge like excited kids, landing on a quiet, shallow stretch of unblemished sand. It wasn't exactly secret, as there were some bits of refuse strewn about, but as we sat on the rocks and the Atlantic waves swept in around us, it was hard not to feel like we were the only ones ever to have found it.
I could have stayed there all day.
After retracing our steps to the main beach, we hauled out snorkeling gear for a dip in the bay. The water at Cas-en-Bas is murkier and the sea life less plentiful than in Anse Cochon or Anse Mamin, where I'd happily snorkeled earlier that week. Soft green clusters of seaweed undulated beneath the waves. I kept thinking of the eel we'd seen earlier, and steeled myself in case he, or one of his kin, came slithering out of the seaweed to greet me. Mercifully for both of us, he didn't.
It was really difficult to leave Cas-en-Bas, especially knowing that my holiday was almost at an end. I already know that if I ever return to St. Lucia, this is the beach I'll long to revisit.