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Saint Lucia: Sulphur Springs

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Sulphur Springs | Saint Lucia | Americas

[Visited: September 2011]

An early rise, and I was on my way through the still sleepy town of Soufrière towards the sulphur springs. I walked energetically up the mountains, initially having good views of the bay of Soufrière and the Petit Piton, ending up in a forested area. I was walking on the main road and fortunately, there was not too much traffic. The hike was further than I had thought, also because the north entrance appeared closed, and when I finally reached the turn-off it was already warm. A narrow road leading down the valley turned out very pretty and quiet, with birds singing around me, calls from other animals coming from the forest, and a hot sun burning on my head. I started to wonder where the sulphur springs would be; I could not see anything yet.

Picture of Sulphur Springs (Saint Lucia): A curious sight: geothermal activity right in the middle of a forest

After a while, I reached a parking lot, and I realized I was getting close. There was not one car parked, and I wondered about the opening times I had read about, as I did not see a fence or gate. But sure enough, there was a ticket office which was open, and the woman at the counter told me that the area would only open after one hour, but that I could buy a ticket only for the springs, even though I would not be allowed to visit the volcanic area which was, of course, the reason for my hike up here. Since I had come all the way up and was still sweating after the effort, I decided to try my luck and buy a ticket for the hot baths only. As expected, a little further down the road, I managed to get off the main road that I should have sticked to, jumping over a low fence. I was now on the path following the edge of the volcano.

Picture of Sulphur Springs (Saint Lucia): River running through the rocky surface of the volcano

Or, so it is called. What opened before my eyes, was a huge gaping wound in the friendly forest, with a rugged barren terrain full of boiling mud, steam coming off the earth, and of course, the inevitable stench of sulfur in the air. On my right, the forest with its sturdy trees, and on my left, where once had been a forest too, a scenery from hell, making for a dramatic combination. Further down, a wooden platform made sure people could not walk on the earth anymore as used to be the case, as the crust of the earth turned out to be too weak to carry a tour guide, leaving him with severe burns on his lower body. The geothermal activity here is intense, you can hear the hissing sound of hot water escaping vents in the earth, and realize that this is the proof of the volcanic activity that created the landscape around Soufrière, including the Pitons, in the first place. It is assumed that this drive-in volcano will actually erupt within a hundred years, and that this could wipe out large part of Saint Lucia. For now, the sulphur springs are a curious sight, and offer a great opportunity for a healing bath in the hot springs down the road.

Picture of Sulphur Springs (Saint Lucia): The large crater area with geothermal activity at Sulphur Springs
Picture of Sulphur Springs (Saint Lucia): Hot air comes out of the earth, causing steam to rise
Picture of Sulphur Springs (Saint Lucia): Earth rich in minerals right in the drive-in volcano
Picture of Sulphur Springs (Saint Lucia): View of the sulphur springs area where the forest has been destroyed by the force of nature
Picture of Sulphur Springs (Saint Lucia): The geothermal activity is very visible at the sulphur springs
Picture of Sulphur Springs (Saint Lucia): Steam coming from the earth, with hot water river running down the sulphur spring area
Picture of Sulphur Springs (Saint Lucia): Vapour coming out of the earth in a huge gap in the forest

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