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Mountains of Selling PointsJune 1, 2007 By: Joe Pike Home-Based Travel Agent
The Pitons provide a backdrop for a cruise and volcano tour
No one wants it to rain when they are in the Caribbean, but because I was a recent victim of a nearly three-day, on-and-off downpour in St. Lucia, I figured I'd use the opportunity to put the island to the test.
My goal: to find out if it was possible for travelers to have fun without the sun in the Caribbean. Short answer, yes.
St. Lucia has year-round temperatures of 70-90 degrees with trade winds coming from the northeast. The rainy season is from June to November, but showers are usually brief. It should be noted that it's very rare to have the rain that I experienced in the spring. But, then again, if I had to be stuck in the rain, looking up at the two most beautiful green mountains I have ever seen, the Pitons, makes the dreary weather a tad bit more bearable.
Such a view was provided for me aboard the Spirit of Carnival. For $100 a person, you can take the boat that departs daily from Ganters Bay, Castries at 9 a.m. and returns at 4 p.m. Also included is an entry ticket for a guided tour of the drive-in volcano at Sulfur Springs, snorkeling, tour of the botanical gardens, drinks and other amenities.
Despite the light drizzle, a cold Piton (the local beer named after the mountains) was enjoyable coupled with the view of St. Lucia's twin peaks. On the island's southwest coast, just south of Soufreiere, the Pitons are a recognizable symbol of St. Lucia. Formed of lava and rock, these volcanic cones rise from the sea and are covered in green vegetation.
You can climb the Pitons, a challenge for even professional climbers, or you can take the safe approach and watch them from the boat, which I gladly did.
If that's not enough lava for you, the included ticket to Sulfur Springs, one of the world's few drive-in volcanoes, will allow you to experience the sights and scents of bubbling mud, never-ending steam and sulfur seeping from crater upon crater.
The smell, however, isn't exactly appetizing—it resembles that of raw eggs—but it is considered a badge of honor in St. Lucia, and to be able to endure it might be considered an initiation of sorts. Honestly, after five minutes, you get used to it and, even if you don't, the views of a burning volcano will provide the distraction you need.
If you decide to venture to the Sulfur Springs but opt to not use the boat tour, entrance is only $2.60 and includes a guided tour with a short informative history lesson.