Once the capital of St. Lucia, Soufrière is best known as the home of Gros Piton and Petit Piton, the iconic pair of now-dormant volcanoes that rise from the gin-clear Caribbean — best viewed from the breezy upper balcony of Orlando’s. But there’s a lot more to this west coast town.
What to Do
Hiking 2,619-foot Gros Piton — a four-hour adventure rewarded with views of neighboring Martinique and St. Vincent — while a rightfully popular choice, isn’t the only way to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of St. Lucia’s famously lush landscape. Less intrepid visitors can hitch a ride on Rainforest Adventures aerial tram and glide effortlessly through the canopy on open-air gondolas as they pass lacy ferns, ficus, and chirping bananaquits.
Back on the ground, consider a trip to Soufrière’s second-most visited attraction: the “drive-in volcano.” It’s actually a seven-mile-wide caldera, a collapsed volcanic crater that last erupted in 1766 — but which scientists predict could blow any time this century. You can no longer drive (nor walk) onto its forbidding lunar terrain, where plumes of steam rise menacingly from chalky rocks, but a guided 15-minute tour will bring you close to the action. (The distinctive “rotten-egg” sulfur smell rising with the steam makes you realize it’s quite close enough.) Pack a swimsuit and towel so you can head to the nearby Sulphur Springs, where you can bathe in the reputedly healing mud pits.
Where to Shop
On Soufrière’s oceanfront main street you’ll find Zaka Art Café, where Simon Gajadhar (a.k.a. Zaka) sells kaleidoscopic wooden masks and totems made from recycled telephone poles. Pick up a few — it’s impossible to choose just one — plus a pound of his homegrown coffee.
Where to Stay
A good lodging choice in the area is Ladera, which has 37 three-walled suites — some with their own plunge pools — that are open to sea and sky. The on-property T’cholit Bar is the perfect place to sip a Dasheen Fantasy (pineapple, rum, dark orange) as you watch the dramatic sunset over the Caribbean, perfectly framed by — you guessed it — those majestic Pitons.
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