Norbert Propst/age fotostock
tropical rainforest at Piton du Carbet (3937 ft), Martinique, Piton du Carbet
T. Deschamps/© T. Deschamps
St. Lucia’s Pitons are one of its most recognizable sights.
Photo by Shutterstock
St. Lucia’s iconic twin peaks—Gros Piton and Petit Piton—dominate the island’s scenery, soaring 2,500 feet from the sea on the island’s southwest Soufrière corner. Designated a World Heritage Site along with the surrounding Pitons Management Area, these volcanic spires take every first-time visitor’s breath away. There are various ways to experience the Pitons. The brave hike either peak—Petit Piton is more strenuous, and the trail isn’t marked; Gros Piton has marked trails and is a two- to three-hour hike from the village of Fond Gens Libre. Others opt to take it easy and sail past them on a catamaran cruise, or view them from land along the coast or from the terrace of La Haut’s restaurant. Sugar Beach, facing Gros Piton, offers a frontal view of the peaks as you swim.
Gros and Petit Piton are not just St. Lucia’s pointiest (and most photographed) landmarks, they’re also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are worthy adversaries for hikers. It’s an athletic rite of passage to ascend Gros Piton, the second-highest peak on St. Lucia at 798 meters (2,618 feet). Count on uneven paths, a steep incline, two to three hours each direction and sore muscles for days (insert massage appointment here). The reward, however, is a stellar view over the island and bragging rights when you return to flat earth.
Drive in volcano
St. Lucia’s iconic landmarks, these twin volcanoes tower over the coastline near Soufrière Bay. Gros Piton reaches a height of 771 meters (2,530 feet) and Petit Piton rises 743 meters (2,438 feet); the Piton Mitan Ridge connects the two. Geologically, the Pitons are volcanic plugs, cooled lava that blocks the vents of active volcanoes, and the area around them is rife with geothermal activity. Hot springs and fumaroles bring visitors to Sulphur Springs Park, which has been called the Caribbean’s only “drive-in volcano.”