Travelers Head to Saint Lucia Not Only for the Local Sulphur Springs

Andrew J. Wein - Aug 30, 2010
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Long before modern times, when the Amerindians roamed the Caribbean Islands, Saint Lucia, affectionately known as Hewanorra by the Caribs and Iouanalao by the Arawaks stood exposed, boasting brilliant multihued landscapes of lush vegetation owing to its volcanic origins. No harsh concrete developments spoilt the magnificently untouched mountains and vibrant rivers rushing through the island and gently streaming into the waiting waters which lapped the soft black and white sand beaches fringing her surface. Worshipped by its inhabitants, the island was praised for its bountiful beauty and became known in later times as the Helen of the West (Indies).

Rising from the coastal waters in the picturesque town of Soufriere are the majestic twin peaks of the isle, Gros Piton and Petit Piton, the remnants of two lava-dome volcanoes formed more than 20,000 years ago. Legend has it that the nomadic citizens saw the image of their Gods personified in the powerful domes and worshipped them fervently. Now, a wondrous site to behold by land, air and sea, the Pitons are classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with some of the most spectacular protected ecologies in the world. Even Oprah Winfrey listed them as one of the five places to see in one’s lifetime.

An idyllic spot for romance, the Pitons, a backdrop of flourishing foliage and atypical topography combined with an oceanic foreground lined by hidden coves, gives the area an unmatched and intense visage, affording unique views of the entire island and neighboring Caribbean islands as well.

Saint Lucia’s volcanic past which is quite evident in its landscape is not a distant memory. At the center of the Qualibou depression which surrounds the Piton Management Area, lies 12 acres of sulphurous fumaroles, hot springs, pumice and ash. The Sulphur Springs, one of the world’s few drive-in volcanoes quietly bubbles. Known for its therapeutic abilities, the mineral water was used by King Louis XIV to heal his soldiers during his many battles to keep this precious island. Today, the baths are still used by the weary traveler wanting to rejuvenate.

Such a phenomenon, the Sulphur Springs has been boiling at above boiling point temperatures since its last minor eruption in 1780 and has not had a major eruption in 40,000 years. A popular geological site, visitors are able to walk over well placed walk ways surrounding the caldera, use the therapeutic mud to treat their skin and even dip into the warm waters of the Diamond Falls nearby.

As there may be a chance of an eruption at anytime, the Sulphur Springs is closely monitored. Geothermal tests are being carried out to ascertain whether or not the steam can be used as an energy source. The Pitons and Sulphur Springs are iconic to Saint Lucia’s heritage and two of the many legendary creations on the island. Many visitors continue to enjoy exploring Saint Lucia and all the majestic isle has to offer.

Create your own legend in Saint Lucia!

By Kezia Preville

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