To the south of Castries on the island’s western coast is the former french capital of Soufrière. The picturesque fishing village is framed by the Pitons, which rise out of the crashing waves and stretch roughly a half-mile into the cobalt sky.
The literal translation of the French word soufrière is “sulfur in the air,” which is fitting; both the 2,619-foot-high Gros Piton and the 2,461-foot-high Petit Piton are the result of a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. The fraternal twin peaks, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, are covered with dense emerald-green foliage of more than 150 species of plants that spring from the nutrient-rich soil.
Hiking on Petit Piton is not recommended, and hiking up Gros Piton is a feat reserved for the extremely athletic, and even they should try it only when accompanied by a qualified guide. The base of the trail gradually winds around the mountain, growing steadily steeper as it approaches the summit. Keep an eye out for any number of the 27 species of birds found in the region, five of which are native to St. Lucia.
A less-strenuous way to get up close to the Pitons is via a coastal cruise, which sails from Castries past these majestic natural wonders.