Did you know Maria Islands were declared a Nature Reserve in 1982 by the Government of Saint Lucia in recognition of their special function as a wildlife habitat and their unique flora and fauna?
There are over 80 plant species found on Maria Islands. The islands are home to five endemic reptile species such as the world’s rarest snake – the Kouwés snake (Saint Lucia Racer), the whiptail lizard (Zandou), Worm Snake (non-poisonous), the Pygmy and Rock Geckos, as well as several species of cacti and undisturbed tropical plants on the vertical cliff.
The islands are set about one-half mile from Pointe Sable on the southeast coast of Saint Lucia. Maria major is 10.1 hectares and its little sister Maria minor is 1.6 hectares. The islands are also a major nesting site for migratory birds which travel thousands of miles from the west coast of Africa to nest annually.
It is usually closed for the nesting season which runs from May to August. This time frame is adjusted annually by the Saint Lucia Forestry Department depending on the birds’ migratory patterns.
The Saint Lucia National Trust has been conducting special environmental education tours to Maria Islands since the early 1980s. The knowledgeable guide escorts visitors to Maria major by a local fishing boat, which pulls ashore on one of the most spectacular white sand beaches. The exciting walk showcases the unique and breathtaking views of the town of Vieux Fort, the Pitons and the entire Pointe Sable area.
The waters around the islands are surrounded by coral reefs, making them great for snorkeling.
This feature runs every Tuesday and Thursday. It is written by daughter of the soil Anselma Aimable, a former agricultural officer and former correspondent for Caribbean Net News, who has a deep interest in local culture and history. Send ideas and tips to [email protected]