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Staying in Soufriere, St. Lucia

Staying in Soufriere, St. Lucia

St. Lucia has recently topped my list of favorite Caribbean destinations. While I love the Caribbean overall, as I jetted off to St Lucia over the holidays I was expecting more of the same of what I’ve come to love about this region – sun, sand, and snorkeling. And while St. Lucia has these things, it has so much more to offer. Cue the waterfalls, mineral baths, mountains, and hiking trails. St. Lucia is great for those who grow restless just hanging on the beach all vacation – there are endless activities to keep you moving. I’d highly recommend staying in Soufriere, a small town named for the sulphur smell that (sometimes) hangs in the air. From Soufriere, all your adventurous activities are just a short hike or drive away.

Here are the must do activities for your stay in Soufriere, St. Lucia!

Hike the Pitons

View from Gros Piton Summit

St Lucia’s iconic twin mountains are the island’s best known and arguably most beautiful features. Google St. Lucia and you’ll see what I mean. While staying in Soufriere, you’ll have beautiful views of one or both of these peaks from just about anywhere, however you’ll be missing out on an amazing view of the island if you don’t hike up these beauties.

Gros Piton, the larger of the two, is actually easier to hike because the climb is flatter. It takes most people about two hours to summit and two hours to descend. The view from the top is definitely worth your pain, and on a clear day you’ll be able to see the whole island and across the ocean to Martinique. Most describe this hike as “moderate” – it’s definitely challenging but you can complete it in tennis shoes. Along the hike we saw people of all ages and even a couple of dogs. You are required to be accompanied by a certified guide, so he/she will slow or quicken the pace as needed for your fitness level. If you have your own car, drive yourself to the mountain and skip the organized tours. The tours will just drive you to Grand Piton and pass you off to the next available guide, so you’ll save cash if you drive yourself. Don’t forget to bring at least 1.5 liters of water per person, which is required to make the climb.

Petit Piton is more suited for climbers with experience. I didn’t hike the Petit but have heard that it’s much steeper and challenging, and you’ll be using ropes to climb vertically for a good portion. A lot of hikers decide to turn back before reaching the summit. Read more here before deciding if you’re up for the challenge. If not, stick with Gros Piton.

Climb the Stairway to Heaven

Tet Paul Nature Trail offers one of the best views of the Pitons in Soufriere. This easy, short trail is lined with tropical plants and flowers and has multiple unobstructed views of the mountains. Towards the end, you’ll ascend the “stairway to heaven” to a bridge with a 360 degree view of the island. The view was so beautiful and the photo ops so great that we did the loop twice. Go early in the morning to have the trail to yourself. Well worth the $10USD entrance fee.

Soak in Waterfalls & Mineral Baths

Top Left: New Jerusalem Baths; Bottom Left: Sulphur Springs; Center: Diamond Falls; Top Right: Toraille Waterfall; Bottom Right: Piton Falls

Treat yourself to a “spa day” in Soufriere and make your way to the natural mineral baths and waterfalls that you can bathe in. Below are my recommendations in order of preference:

New Jerusalem Baths – these baths are a collection of hot, warm, and cold pools that are fed by a waterfall. You unfortunately can’t see the waterfall from the baths, but New Jerusalem was my favorite because of the uncrowded, local vibe and its location tucked back into the rainforest. To get to the baths, park on Fond St. Jaques road and look for a sign to the trail. You’ll hike about 15 minutes into the forest and cross a wooden bridge over the river to reach the pools. Time to relax!

Sulphur Springs – the sulphur springs are near the “drive in volcano,” which is a volcano with a collapsed crater that you can access via a road, hence the name. You can purchase a package ticket for ~12 USD once you arrive that grants you access to the crater and the springs. The crater is just okay, in my opinion. You’ll see grey bubbling sulphur pools and steam, however be warned that the smell is horrible…think rancid rotten eggs. The sulphur springs, which are warmed by the volcanic activity, are the highlight of this area. There are buckets of volcanic mud that you can paint over your face and body. Once the mud dries, you wash it off in one of the warm springs. It really does leave your skin feeling super soft and smooth. I highly recommend completing this activity on your own and skipping the organized tour. If you go towards the end of the day (~3pm or after), the springs will likely be less crowded. Crowds can definitely ruin the experience as the springs are pretty small.

Diamond Falls – you actually can’t swim in this waterfall, but this was the most scenic due to its multi colors from the minerals. To access Diamond Falls, you’ll walk through nice botanical gardens. There are baths offered at this location, but they looked pretty underwhelming (like older concrete hot tubs).

Toraille Falls – Toraille is a pretty waterfall with a small, cold pool that you can swim in. Again, I recommend visiting late in the afternoon to avoid the organized tours. We went at about 4pm and had the place to ourselves. It’s freezing, but the waterfall is gentle enough that you can swim right up under it.

Piton Falls – The Piton Waterfall is another option for swimming. This pool is warm, so you may prefer it to Toraille, however the stairs down and manmade tubs for swimming are a bit worse for wear. This place could be really nice if spruced up a bit. Entrance is only a few dollars.

Snorkel at the Beach

There are a few beautiful beaches in and close to Soufriere. My favorite was Sugar Beach, which is situated between the two pitons which makes for a grand view. There is decent off the beach snorkeling here with rocks and fish, in front of the public beach access area. Bring cash as there is a local guy who makes piña coladas from his kayak.

Anse Mamin and Anse Chastanet, which are next to each other, are also good options for beach days. The road to Anse Chastanet from Soufriere is pretty treacherous, so be prepared with 4 wheel drive and lots of honking to let others know you’re coming around blind curves. Off the beach snorkeling is available here as well, though I preferred Sugar Beach.

Eat, Drink, and Be Pampered in Chocolate

If you’re in the mood to splurge for a delicious dinner, look no further than Boucan at the Hotel Chocolat. Everything you order at Boucan has some element of chocolate, from the tart cacao fruit to sweet chocolate. They even have chocolate butter and olive oil. If you have a sweet tooth, visiting here is a must. Expect to spend around ~100 USD for dinner and dessert for two. There’s also a spa at the hotel where you can get a variety of treatments, from chocolate massages to body wraps and facials. Quite literally, treat yourself.

I hope you enjoy your stay and the activities above in St. Lucia! Remember to stay in Soufriere and rent a car so that you have easy access to all these activities.

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