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St. Lucia There & Back Part 4: Soufriere Day Trip
There are few destinations that have a special place in my heart reserved all for their own. Soufriere, a fishing town about 45 minutes south of Rodney Bay found its way in and I will forever remember it for a number of reasons, although the one that stands out the most isn't something I'd recommend anyone trying to duplicate. I was told going down to Soufriere was a MUST and shouldn't be missed with the amount of time I was spending on the island. Intrigued by most of what I had heard I decided to follow what everyone was saying and make the journey down.
My only initial dilemma was finding the best method to carry me there. At first I tried booking one of the open-air jeep safari adventures that take approximately six hours to show you all the key attractions and averages $65 in cost. If it includes a meal it might be a little more, but I didn't go with this because there weren't enough people to fill a jeep and head on out during my planned day trip dates. My second option was to venture down with a Rasta I had recently befriended and was willing to show me around provided I rent a car. I was too lazy to rent a car and as much as I liked the Rasta fellow, I went with a pal of the hotel chef and paid around $90 for a full day of sightseeing. Most taxi's will get you there and around for something around $120-$150 and the local mini-buses (red and green) will certainly get you there for far, far cheaper, but you'll need a way around to all the tourist attractions once you're there and then a way back.
After solving the ride down issue it was all down hill or should I say there were some twists and turns and steep uphill climbs in the semi-long road to Soufriere, but if one can handle it then do it! It is a natural place and full of nature. Walk with me through my day adventure into the village, the volcano and waterfalls.
For starters, Soufriere is the home of a UNESCO World Heritage site known as the Pitons. Gros Piton and Petit Piton are two volcanic plugs rising from the sea's surface in a visually striking manner. There are a number of ways to view the dramatic peaks aside from the marked view points on the way into the village. There are boat trips, day hikes, and then there is the view from a helicopter window which I'll cover in another two days. The point is they are a work of art from Mother Nature. When I stopped at one view point there was a pleasant woman named Mary wearing a St. Lucia tourism shirt awaiting any tourist that popped in to tell them a few facts about the area like what films had been shot there (Pirates of the Caribbean), population and when the area last felt the wrath of a volcanic eruption.
Soufriere boasts itself for having the Caribbean's only drive-in volcano, meaning the town sits in the volcano and that the volcano is still very much active even if it has been centuries since the last eruption. I've lived in an inactive crater in Hawaii, but I don't think I would live where there could potentially be some future molten lava action. Hats off to the residents of Soufriere.
We kept driving on down and through the city until we finally reached the first real stopping point and attraction - the sulphur springs. Before you enter the springs the smell of sulphur fills your nostrils to let you know you've arrived. My driver shared his thoughts on the whole sulphur phenomenon by saying he didn't buy everything they said about it. He didn't think bathing in that kind of mineral filled water was really as good for the skin as they said it was and still you find tourist after tourist dipping their toes and hands into the water. I told him I actually use sulphur soap back home and love what it does for my skin, but I wasn't going to be plunging into the waters that day.
They give short guided tours to see the steam rising from the boiling pools and offer a little info, such as how the most dangerous volcano in the Caribbean right now is in Grenada because it is under water and should a tsunami or something like it occur some very scary things could happen. Things we don't even want to imagine. Things we won't mention here. Things like destruction. One of the women on the tour looked pretty shaken up by this news which my travel companions for the day found sort of funny for some odd reason.
From the sulphur springs we headed to the Toraille Waterfall. At the Toraille Waterfall you can spend a moment or two bathing underneath the falls, but on this particular day the water was quite cold and so there weren't many splashing around. I took it as an opportunity to wonder around the land and snap a few photos. I was blown away by all the beautiful flowers and hummingbirds and other creatures crawling around. My guides were well-informed on the various plant life and called out the name of each as I photographed them. I was so caught up by their beauty that the names just breezed through one ear and out the other. I did manage to remember the Bird of Paradise.
Oh, wait -it's me at the Toraille waterfall! Hi all!
The name of the next waterfall escapes my mind, but it wasn't any of the ones found at the Diamond Botanical Gardens. When we pulled up there we were told by a Rasta selling handicrafts that there were others that were much better and less crowded. He directed us to the warm waterfall which I think is called the Pitons waterfall and was indeed very warm. There were tons of people bathing in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall and my travel companions quickly joined in on the fun. I gladly sat this one out as I was still fighting a little cold and didn't want to chance the current feel good feeling I was having by simply being an onlooker. This typically isn't my way of doing things, but it worked well for the day.
And here we have a charming little lizard.
Beyond waterfalls and volcanoes there are several other activities to take part in while touring the area that I just didn't have the time to do. The Morne Coubaril Estate is a working family plantation offering tours and a demo on how the coffee and cocoa are processed. Additionally they have horseback riding tours for only $30. There are a number of banana plantations on the ride up and back worth stopping to look at if time permits. For additional ideas try the Tropical Traveller. I used the magazine as a reference many times and it stays well up-to-date with events happening in Soufriere and across the island.