Climbing the Gros Piton, the taller and southern of the 2 pitons, was the most excting and rewarding thing we did on St. Lucia. The hike takes on average 4 hours, 2 hours up and 2 hours down. It is a difficult hike and you should be in good shape to enjoy it. The piton rises to 2,600 ft. and you will climb most of that. You can set up a tour at one of the local hotels or you can do it as we did it - we just drove there and found it ourselves. When heading south out of Soufriere ( towards the volcano and sulfer springs) continue on that road, past the famous Ladera resort, on your right. Continue driving - On your right hand side you will see a small green sign saying, "Gros Piton Nature Trail" , and a road leading down.( Just ahead on the main road is a big pink house, you can also keep and eye out for this). Take the road to the piton. This is a poor road, make sure that you are driving a 4 x 4. When you reach the end you will be at a small village. Head into the visitors center and there you will find a giude to take you up the piton. The cost for the guide is around $25 US per person or $65 EC. It is also reccomended that you tip your guide at the end of your trip. Whether you book a tour group or Arrive there on your own, you will have to pay for a guide, so why not save a few bucks.
The volcano crater situated close to Soufriere is said to be "the only drive-in volcano in the world", on the basis that you can park your cars in the crater! In fact, there are even people living within the perimeter of the crater.
The crater was created some 40,000 years ago and the last volcanic activity was in the late 1700s. There are still pools of mud and water bubbling away under the surface, and some areas of the crater are no-go areas due to potential danger. The guide showing us around the site told a story of a fellow guide, a couple of years ago, jumping up and down on the crater when the ground gave way and he fell through into boiling water. He was fortunate that the crater was only waist deep, so he was able to be pulled to safety, but did suffer severe burns from the waist down.
There is an over-powering smell of sulphur in the crater, but the guide ensured us that this is actually a good sign and that if the smell of sulphur disappeared then this would indicate that further eruptions are about to occur - with unimaginably devastating effects!! A volcanic eruption would not only wipe out the island of St Lucia, but would also cause Tsunamis that would hit other Caribbean islands and even further afield.
The activity of the volcano is still monitored, but is thought to be practically dormant now.
The Diamond Waterfall is located in the Diamond Botanical Gardens in Soufriere.
The water comes directly from the nearby volcano crater and is coloured by the minerals that it contains. On the day that I visited, the water appeared to be brown. On other days it appears green apparently!
The Pitons are undoubtedly the most famous landmark on St Lucia, and arguably one of the most famous sights in the Caribbean.
These two volcanic peaks stand either side of Soufriere Bay, although from a distance they appear to be side by side (see above photo).
The peaks are covered in rainforest.
Gross Piton, the larger of the two peaks, stands at 2,619ft, while Petit Piton stands at a slightly smaller 2,461ft.
The Pitons cast a shadow over the town of Soufriere which lies beneath the peaks.
The island's locally produced beer, Piton, takes its name from these impressive peaks.
It's not easy to get to this area if you're coming from the capital of Castries - but the ride through the St. Lucian rainforest is interesting and educational.
Once you arrive in Soufriere, you'll see the famous Pitons' silhouette in the distance. Just ask anyone where the hot springs are - you can soak in the sulfur springs nearby, which is free. The smell may be off-putting, but the sulfer bath is good for you.
Give it a try!
This is a picture of the town of Soufriere as seen from the south as you climb the road toward the Pitons. There is a "lookout" there where you can see this view and also a perfect place for seeing some of those perfect Caribbean sunsets. If you look close you can just about see the Talk To Me Cool Place (the Beb&Breakfast where we stayed) on the slopes of the mountain behind the town.
There is an active volcano on St.Lucia which they promote as the only "drive through" volcano. They don't let you actually drive through it, but the road does lead into the old caldera. You then take a short walk through to see the active fumerols.
The Pitons as seen from our dining area at Talk To Me Cool Place. They loom over the town of Soufriere and are the most noticeable landmark on the island. There is a trail that you can hike up to the top, but it is almost straight up.
If, after experiencing the Hot Springs you dont fancy the Piton climb then go to Hotel chocolat and watch the sunset behind The Pitons. Its a brilliant place to eat or drink.