Without a doubt, these two twin mountains, known as the Pitons Mountains, are the symbol and emblem of Saint Lucia, even appearing on its flag. They are also reported [b] to be a [/ b] World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The two mountains stick up about 800 feet above the Caribbean Sea, and are named [b] Gros Piton [/ b] and [b] Petit Piton [/ b]. They are near the [poi = 110926] Soufriere Bay [/ poi] and were formed by lava from ancient volcanoes, which is generally how islands are formed. Then they were covered with vegetation that inhabits diverse types of animals (birds , reptiles, molluscs ...) all native to the area. Under the water there is a coral reef which caters to scuba divers (in [poi = 110906] Anse Beach [/ poi] there is a [poi = 110904] dive center [/ poi]).
Toraille Waterfall and other watefalls are probably some the most visited places on the island of St. Lucia. The waterfalls are mostly in the [poi = 110910] Soufrière [/ poi] area. When we went there we visited the Toraille Waterfall because of its easy access from main road to the community of Fond St Jacques. The setting is beautiful. The waterfall is surrounded by lush tropical vegetation that forms a real [poi = 110935] Botanical Garden [/ poi] with [poi = 110159] Pitons [/ poi] as a backdrop, but the waterfall itself disappointed me a little, and that only has about 15 meters high. Underneath them is a natural pool that you've got to see! It really hits you how amazing it is once you're under water. The lucky owners of this farm (Casilda and Altus Hippolyte) have (quite rightly) turned it into a tourist spot, now just be included as [b] Natural Heritage [/ b] of St. Lucia. Admission is 2 USD (includes [poi = 110935] Botanical Garden [/ poi]). Hours: 9 to 4:30 p.m.
[poi = 110910] Soufrière [/ poi] has a small harbor in front of the [poi = 110926] bay [/ poi] that's drenched by the gorgeous waters of the Caribbean. It's kind of a small jetty, which are mainly small boats and fishing vessels, although catamarans and yachts loaded with tourists who are doing the "Soufriére by land and sea" tour sometimes dock there) from Castries. With it being such a mountainous island the roads here can be pretty bad. They're very narrow and have a lot of curves, so you usually get to the catamaran city here, where you take the bus to go visit [poi = 110349] Sulphur Springs [/ poi] and [poi = 110927] Toraille Falls [/ poi].
Anse Beach is the beach of Soufriere. It is located on the outskirts of the city (it has only port), Anse Chastanet, right in front of the Pitons. St. Lucia is a volcanic island, so the sand of this beach is dark, but fine. Its Caribbean waters are calm warm. there is small fish everywhere as well as a coral reef in the deeper waters. This beach therefor offers snorkeling and diving and has a renowned diving center, The Scuba St. Lucia. You can also surf. Although the beach is a public beach, it is virtually taken over by loungers and hammocks from the huge resort perched between the lush tropical vegetation. There is also a beach bar where you can buy a drink and even eat, but at prices quite expensive (eg, a hamburger 10 USD, a fruit cocktail 3 USD).
Soufriere is the second largest city on Saint Lucia, after Castries, the capital. It is located on the west coast of the island and was founded in 1736 by French settlers. Currently it has a population of about 8,000 inhabitants. Its growth has several times been interrupted by the devastation of hurricanes and the eruption of the nearby still active volcano, Qualibou. The town's economy is driven by snuff production, cotton plantations, which were originally cultivated by slaves from Africa, and tourism. It is a very touristy town and its main attractions can all be found near the city center: The Pitons (twin mountains emerging from the sea and which is the emblem of the island), Sulphur Springs (the crater of the volcano with sulfur fumes coming out), cataract Toraille, the Diamond Falls with their botanical gardens, and Anse beach. Soufriere has a beautiful bay, where there is a coral reef frequented by scuba divers as well as a small harbor. It's a small town, with narrow streets. The typical architecture are houses two stories high with walls painted in different colors. The Empress Josephine, wife of Napoleon, was born here.
We arrived at Soufriere Bay by boat on a [poi = 111375] half-day tour [/ poi] to visit [poi = 110349] the Sulphur Springs [/ poi] and [poi = 110927] the Toraille waterfall [/ poi]. It's the fastest form of transportation from [poi = 111088] Castries [/ poi] (the island's capital). The city was built along the bay, making it narrow and elongated. It literally has no more space, but from the boat we could see some houses perched on the hills covered with vegetation. Soufriere is bathed by the Caribbean Sea and has a small [poi = 110909] port/pier [/ poi]. The famous [poi = 110159] Pitons [/ poi], two volcanoes that rise nearly 800 meters above sea level, are the most spectacular image from the bay. They are also the island's emblem. The island is also a very important dive spot.
Around [poi = 110910] Soufrière [/ poi], the Sulphur Springs are one of the most famous and visited tourist attractions on the island. They have been declared a [b] World Heritage Site [/ b] by UNESCO. It's a geothermal area, in the [b] Qualibou volcano crater [/ b], which is still active. The impressive sulphur vapours (smells pretty bad) are constantly emanating. The guide explained that this occurs because the volcano is still active, and if these vapours weren't being released, the volcano would erupt. The petrified lava can be various colours produced by other deposits of various minerals, like copper, iron oxide, alkaline lead, calcium oxide, and carbon, giving it a somewhat lunar shade. There are also some natural pools where you can take a bath, but it costs 3 $US. The water is about 40°C, while the vapours leaving are about 175°C. At the entrance of the complex, there is a small [poi = 110558] market [/ poi].
The [poi = 110927] Cataract Toraille [/ poi] is located on a 4 acre farm with lush tropical vegetation that forms a botanical garden, which was declared a Natural Heritage site of St. Lucia. The hike takes place along paths, with wooden walkways and stairs covering the mountain. It's a truly wonderful wander through the gardens looking at the greenery, with [poi = 110159] Petit Piton [/ poi] as the backdrop. Entry costs $2. Hours: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
On the way into Sulphur Springs there is a small market with wooden stalls selling local crafts, as well as cold drinks. You can find sea shells, pendants, spices, figurines made from carved wood, key chains, etc.
On the outskirts of Soufriere, on the bay of Anse Chastanet overlooking the majestic Pitons, is "Anse Beach", where you can find one of the most popular diving centers on the island. It is PADI 5 star rated and offers all kinds of facilities to practice scuba diving, including equipment hire, lessons for all levels, three dive boats and even video cameras and underwater photography. The dives are always guided, accompanied by a professionally qualified diver. They also offer evenings out. Under these Caribbean waters there is a large coral reef, where more than 150 different species of fish live.