St. Lucia Day Three: Sailing to Soufriere, Sulpher Springs, Diamond Falls, and Bullfinch Tongues

St. Lucia. Click photo for much larger view.

The Pitons coming into view.

The Pitons

Magnificent Frigate Bird, female. That is its official name. And it is really rather magnificent tracing scrolling turns across the sky.

Today we set sail on a catamaran to Soufriere, a small town on the south west coast of St. Lucia sitting in the shadow of the Pitons. We took a catamaran from the town of Gros Islet. There are others that set sail from Rodney Bay. If you book a catamaran trip there are few things to look into. Not all offer snorkeling equipement for their snorkeling and swim portion of the tour. You would end up renting the equipment from someone at whatever beach the boat stops at. Make sure to check before booking that, if you want to snorkel, snorkeling equipement is provided by the tour operator. At least one of the tours leaving from Rodney Bay does not provide snorkeling equipment.

We headed south down the west coast of the island, soon passing the high peak of Mount Gimie, the highest point on the island, and finally the Pitons slid into view. The Pitons are two huge volcanic plugs sticking out of the ocean near the town of Soufriere. They are the most iconic image of St. Lucia. The Pitons are UNESCO World Heritage Site. Both Gros Piton and Petit Piton are over 700 meters high. If you are feeling really adventuress you can hire a guide and climb Petit Piton.


Soufriere has a population of about 7500. It was the original capitol of St. Lucia and was founded by the French. The town has a distinct character with its bright wooden houses covered with intricate colonial French style woodwork. We boarded vans and headed up to the Sulpher Springs. Please note that when visiting the Sulpher Springs wear sneakers or good walking sandals. There are a lot of stairs and steep slopes.

Sulpher Springs

The Sulpher Springs claims to be the world’s only drive in volcano. In fact, when you go to the springs you are driving right into a caldera formed from an enormous collapse of a cone volcano when it erupted over 400,000 years ago. The last major eruption happened in the 1700s. If the caldera were to erupt again it has the potential to devastate nearly ¾ of the island of St. Lucia. Today steam and superheated water bubble out of the ground amongst colorful mineral deposits. The deposits contain sulfur, copper, iron oxide, alkaline lead, calcium oxide, and carbon. The steam rising from the vents is hotter than 340 F. The water boiling up out of the caldera is about 212 F. It is colored a beautiful carbon gray. This color is the result of a chemical reaction between the sulfur and iron. There is a bathing area where you can “take the waters.” The sulfur is considered good for helping with skin conditions and other ailments.

Raw cashew nuts hanging from cashew fruit.

Next we headed to the Botanical Gardens (also known as the Diamond Estate or Soufriere Estate). This is a private 2000 acre estate that was known for its waters and baths in the 1700s. The same family has owned the estate since that time. The Botanical Gardens gives you access to about six acres of the estate. The trails lead to Diamond Falls, criss-crossing the Diamond River on the way. The water of the river originates in the nearby caldera and is thus the same beautiful carbon gray of the water at the Sulpher Springs.

Diamond Falls

Cardinal Flower

The trails are lined with flowers the size of your head. Jewel toned hummingbirds flit and fly everywhere, alighting briefly on branches and twigs. There is also a small gazebo used for marriage ceremonies. It would be a beautiful place to get married, but if you don’t like heat and humidity you may have to do so naked. Wearing a tux or a wedding gown would be torture in such humidity.

Cocoa pod. A plant very dear to my heart.

Lesser Antillean Bullfinch, male

Lesser Antillean Bullfinch, female

Lesser Antillean Bullfinch, male
Its not every day you see a the tongue of a Lesser Antillean Bullfinch!

We then headed back to Soufriere for lunch and then back to the catamaran. I believe we stopped somewhere named “the bay of pigs” for snorkeling. There are a lot of nice coral formations here. That afternoon we saw a lot of small fish of many sorts. I could have floated out there forever.

The Brig Unicorn, used as the Black Pearl in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

While we snorkeled our catamaran was surrounded by boats and these enterprising individuals spread their wares out on deck for our perusal.


  1. Nice view of the sky, I also like the bird, feel so free. Wish I could fly just like it.

  2. nice pics


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