Pigeon Island is mountainous in nature, volcanic like lots of other parts of the island of Saint Lucia. It covers about 44 acres and used to be a small offshore island until 1972. The once isolated islet in the Caribbean Sea, it was artificially joined to the western coast of mainland in 1972 by a man-made causeway built from dirt excavated to form the Rodney Bay Marina.
Composed of two peaks, joined by a saddle the island is a historic site with numerous forts such as an 18th-century British fort and Fort Rodney both used by the British to spy on French Ships from neighbouring Martinique. In 1979 it was named a national park and again in 1992 it became a national landmark under the control of the Saint Lucia National Trust. The Island is a living museum and is probably one of the most important monuments of Saint Lucia’s history.
The Arawak people, the original inhabitants of Pigeon Island, were driven out by the Caribs around 1000 A.D. The Caribs lived in caves along the shore of the island, and hunted for fish, shellfish, small animals and birds. They also foraged for plant food. In the 16th century, a French pirate, François le Clerc. He had a wooden leg and was known to the French as Jambe de Bois, used Pigeon Island as his base. He forged an agreement with the Caribs, so that they would not attack his ship.
The French who owned the island in 1778 declared war on the British, who retaliated by attacking them in Saint Lucia and capturing the island. The British then built a Naval Base at Gros-Islet Bay, heavily fortifying Pigeon Island.
In 1778, Admiral George Rodney took over Pigeon Island, expelled the natives, and built a fort on the smaller of the two peaks. This fort is known as Fort Rodney. To establish clear sightlines, Rodney ordered all trees on Pigeon Island to be cut down. From the higher peak, Signal Hill, Rodney was able to observe the French naval base on Martinique.
Over the next several years, the British built several other structures on Pigeon Island, including two barracks, a mess hall, and a lime kiln.
In 1782, Admiral Rodney sailed from Pigeon Island to confront the French fleet, which he defeated in the Battle of Saints.
In 1824, a barracks which had been destroyed by a hurricane in 1817 was rebuilt. The island has also been a whaling station.
Amongst other things to see –
- Ruins of military buildings used during the battles between the French and the British for the island of Saint Lucia.
- An Interpretation Centre describing the rich history of the island.
- Two beautiful beaches.
- A restaurant featuring local cuisine.
- A pub and restaurant with a historical theme.
- A lookout point at the top of the Fort which gives a panoramic view of the Northwest coastline.
- Plenty of amenities as well as a restaurant.
Today, Pigeon Island is the home and major venue of the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival, Rodney Bay Gros-Islet
It is open to visitors 365 days a year from 9 am till 5 pm.
Entrance fees are - EC$7 for residents, US$7 for visitors to Saint Lucia, and EC$3 for children 5 years to 12 years old.
You can visit the Pigeon Island National Park every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for approximately $5 per adult