The Pitons, Saint Lucia
I wasn't sure I would be able to do the tour all the way from Castries to Soufriere so I could see the Pitons (which I did not get to see on my first visit, but I thought I could see them better from the sea anyway. So although I would miss the geothermal field with sulphurous fumeroles and hot springs, I would have a view of the Pitons.
The Pitons are the remains of two volcano "plugs" (what is left when the sides of a volcano are eroded down to the hardened lava) rising side by side from the sea (770 m and 743 m high respectively), linked by the Piton Mitan ridge. The two are Gros Piton and Petit Piton. They are a World Heritage Site. The description on the site web page says
The Pitons predominate over the St Lucian landscape, being visible from virtually every part of the island and providing a distinctive landmark for seafarers.The combination of the Pitons against the backdrop of green tropical vegetation and a varying topography combined with a marine foreground gives the area its superlative beauty.
The Pitons are a main attraction when visiting St. Lucia. The Pitons are two volcanic plugs that seem to rise out of the water. The larger Piton is called the Gros Piton and is 771meters. The smaller Piton is called the Petit Piton and is 743 meters in height.
We had incredible views of the Pitons during our Son of Man tour. Seeing them from the water is incredible….these big green peaks jutting out of the crystal blue water. You can actually climb the Pitons if you are adventurous…but I’ll pass. We had friends who hiked up the Petit Piton and swore that was the first and last time; it was very difficult.
Oprah Winfrey named St. Lucia and the Pitons as one of the “Five Places to see in Your Lifetime.” Oprah must not be very well-traveled, because the Pitons, while interesting, are far less remarkable than hundreds of other things to be seen around the world. In other words, if you are in the area by all means make an effort to see them, but don’t make a special visit to St. Lucia just to see the Pitons because you are very likely to be disappointed.
Without a doubt, the top attraction on this island. The Pitons are part of the meaning of the national flag, the island's top beer is called Piton and I believe I've read Oprah said this is the number 1 thing to see in your life. It's an UNESCO World Heritage Site. I have heard that some local politicians want to remove this status cause it would be worth more to sell the land. The Pitons sit at the edge of the island close to the town of Soufriere. There are two of them which are both volcanic plugs. Gros Piton is 771 metres tall and Petit Piton is 743 metres tall (I've actually heard different heights for the mountains but they are in that range. You can climb these mountains although I didn't cause it rained a fair amount while I was down there. In the future I would love to do the climb. If possible, try to view the Pitons from the water as it is really a nice view.
The Pitons are two Volcanic corks that rise steeply out of the Coast of St lucia to magnificant heights.
While a trip to the Pitons to view the mountains are worthwhile and are a photographers dream, the hike to the top of Gross Piton (larger mountain) is even more rewarding. I had organised a tour with a local "Carlito" take two friends and myself to the summit. It was a test of endurance and requires sure footedness on steep slopes.
The hike took 4 and a half hours from base to the summit and back. The views on the top of Gross Piton are a 360 degree panarama of the entire island. Be sure to take plenty of water and a light camera.
BIG RECOMMENDATION TO TO THIS
If there is only one thing you can visit in St.Lucia, make it the Pitons. These two peaks, remnants of Volcanos majestically rise out of the water, and give for an impressive sight, best seen from the water.
The national landmark are the Pitons -- two volcanic plugs that look like two conical breasts along the coastline. They're striking, beautiful and make for a great skyline for sure!
Piton is also the local beer (lager), which turned out to be Mark's favorite beer on tap at the bar. I don't like beer, but he thought it was great stuff, and preferable to the other beer on tap, Heiniken.
The two steep Piton mountains are a kind of trademark of Saint Lucia. They even are symbolised in the flag design. The most beautiful way to view them is probably from the sea. Sailing from the north they slowly come closer and appear different after rounding each cape.
The Pitons (2 largest volcano's on the island - the local beer is named after them) are definitely a "must see". There is also a hotel called Ladera nestled right in between the volcano's which you must go to and have lunch. It is an open air romatic hotel - very beautiful - with an open air restaurant as well. You also MUST use the bathroom at the restaurant (upper level by the wooden bar - you'll see why). But the view from the balcony is absolutely breathtaking. You feel so small next to those volcano's and realize how high above water level you are. It's truly amazing.
All you can do is look at them - climbing them looked pretty dubious to me and they are so steep and rugged there's little else you can do - but on a fine day these volcanic plugs provide the scenic signature to St Lucia that will mark you out as a real visitor and not just a package tourist. Why bother? Well, they look splendid and the places you have to be to see them properly are essential visiting!
This little fishing port, St. Lucia's second-largest settlement, is dominated by two pointed hills called Petit Piton and Gros Piton. The Pitons have become the very symbol of St. Lucia. Formed of lava and rock, and once actively volcanic, they are now covered in green vegetation. Their sheer rise from the sea makes them a landmark visible for miles around, and waves crash at their bases. It's recommended that you attempt to climb only Gros Piton, but doing so requires the permission of the Forest and Lands Department and the company of a knowledgeable guide.
Near Soufrière lies the famous 'drive-in' volcano, Mount Soufrière, a rocky lunar landscape of bubbling mud and craters seething with sulfur. You literally drive your car into a millions-of-years-old crater and walk between the sulfur springs and pools of hissing steam.
Nearby are the Diamond Mineral Baths in the Diamond Botanical Gardens. Deep in the lush tropical gardens is the Diamond Waterfall, one of the geological attractions of the island. Created from water bubbling up from sulfur springs, the waterfall changes colors (from yellow to black to green to gray) several times a day. The baths were constructed in 1784 on the orders of Louis XVI, whose doctors told him these waters were similar in mineral content to the waters at Aix-les-Bains; they were intended to provide recuperative effects for French soldiers fighting in the West Indies. The baths have an average temperature of 106°F. For EC$7 (U.S.$2.50), you can bathe and try out the recuperative effects for yourself.
From Soufrière in the southwest, the road winds toward Fond St-Jacques, where you'll have a good view of mountains and villages as you cut through St. Lucia's Cape Moule-Chique tropical rain forest. You'll also see the Barre de l'Isle divide.
The Pitons, twin cone shaped moutains jutting out of the surrounding jungle, they are the most prominent feature of the island and immediately recognized. We were lucky enough to have a bed & breakfast with a very good view from our balcony and dining area of these mountains. This is a view as you approach from the east.
These primeval twin peaks, topping 2,000 feet, are St. Lucia's most famous landmark. Only the most daring climbers have ventured an ascent to their summits, but they can be seen in all their glory from Mt. Gimie or from the decks of a boat offshore.
The most famous landmark in St Lucia would be the Pitons.
Going to St. Lucia and not seeing the Pitons would be like going to a movie and not buying popcorn.....
The Pitons can be seen from various points on the island. The pictures don't do them justice. I have noticed others on this site commenting on the pitons as well. Take everyone's advice and see them.