No visit to Saint Lucia would be complete without a visit to Soufriere, so-called because of the sulphurous aromas emanating from the area’s unique drive-in volcano and steaming mud baths. Secluded waterfalls lie just minutes from the tiny town centre, a picturesque slice of Saint Lucian life, complete with street vendors and tiny local stores, and some of the island’s finest resorts are located in Soufriere. But it’s the spectacular sight of The Pitons that brings a gasp of appreciation from visitors. Some visitors choose to climb a Piton, and feel the awe of seeing Saint Lucia from an eagle’s eye viewpoint – that can be arranged! As can a deep dive below the mountains, where coral clings to underwater cliff and tropical sea life is another island miracle. Soufriere is also home to many unique cultural and historical tour destinations, including working cocoa plantations, former sugar estates and lush botanical gardens.
Best Time to Visit
The best times to visit Soufriere for ideal weather are mid February to April based on average temperature and humidity.
Top Places to Visit in Soufriere
1. Sugar Beach
The most famous beach on the island, gorgeous Sugar Beach is spectacularly situated between the two Pitons, ensuring phenomenal views both from the sand and in the water. Like most in the area, it was originally a gray-sand beach – the soft white sands are imported from abroad. There are free basic public loungers at the far northern end; alternatively, when occupancy is low, you can rent one of the resort’s more luxurious models.
2. The Pitons
Part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Pitons Management Area, the Pitons are St. Lucia’s twin towering peaks and prime topographic features. These distinctive peaks soar out of the sea to great heights. The Gros Piton (large piton) to the south is 798 meters high, and the Petit Piton (small piton) is 750 meters high. Formed by volcanic activity about 200,000 to 300,000 years ago, both the Pitons are considered difficult climbs. If you’re a diver, you can explore them as underwater cliffs. However, most visitors simply view them for their scenic beauty. The colorful fishing village of Soufriere affords one of the best vistas of the twin peaks, and some hotels also boast breathtaking views of them.
3. Tet Paul Nature Trail
Winding through tropical forest in St. Lucia’s World Heritage-listed Pitons Management Area, the Tet Paul Nature Trail offers some of the most spectacular views in southern St. Lucia. On a clear day, hikers can see all the way to Martinique and St. Vincent. The hike takes about 45 minutes and is rated easy to moderate. Along the gentle trail, you can learn about medicinal plants and trees, sample exotic tropical fruits, and discover the traditional Amerindian art of cassava production. The highlight is the “stairway to heaven,” steps leading up to a 360-degree panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.
4. Sulphur Springs Park
Named for the sulfur once mined at this site, Mount Soufriere (also known as Sulphur Springs Park) is the most active geothermal area in the Lesser Antilles. A road traverses the edge of the 274-meter crater making this one of the world’s rare “drive-through” volcanoes. Though the last major volcanic eruption in St. Lucia occurred about 40,000 years ago, this volcanic pit continues to vent sulfur into the air and heat pools of water above boiling. You can view the bubbling pools and hissing fumaroles from observation platforms and soak in some nearby therapeutic springs.
5. Diamond Botanical Gardens, Waterfall & Mineral Baths
The Diamond Falls section of the Soufrière Estate offers three popular attractions: well-conceived gardens, a beautiful waterfall colored by mineral deposits, and healing mineral hot spring baths originally built for the troops of King Louis the XVI of France. The gardens were planted among coconut, cocoa, mahogany, and red cedar trees, with tropical flowers and shrubs from around the world. Within the gardens are educational displays of local fruits & vegetables such as christophine, soursop, and dasheen. For a small fee, you can also use the soothing outside pools or private bathhouses. Another attraction of this historic estate is the old mill and waterwheel, where visiting groups are served a Caribbean buffet.
6. Edmund Rain Forest Reserve
Accessed at Edmund, above Soufriere, the Enbas Saut waterfall trail lies on the lush slopes of Mount Gimie, St. Lucia’s highest mountain. The well-maintained trail circles through dense rainforest to a waterfall, which has eroded its way into volcanic rock. The trail takes about two hours 30 minutes and requires suitable hiking shoes. Be prepared to work your calves by walking up and down many steep steps. Along the way, you might spot birds such as the St. Lucia parrot, St. Lucia oriole, Semper’s warbler, and St. Lucia wren, and the park also harbors exotic plants, such as the Blue Mahoe and Honduras mahogany. Most visitors access the trail in four-wheel-drive safari vehicles along a rough and rocky road that also affords one of the best vistas of the Pitons.
7. Anse Chastanet
Stretched out in front of the resort of the same name, Anse Chastanet is a fine curving beach. The sheltered bay is protected by high cliffs. The snorkeling just offshore is some of the best on the island; hassle-free access is through the resort, which also offers day passes if you want to use the sun loungers and water-sports facilities.