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What to Do in St Lucia: Hike to Volcanic Hot Springs at Soufriere

Updated on June 28, 2012

Hiking in the Caribbean

In the southern part of St Lucia, the volcanic peaks of the Pitons are rarely out of sight. The volcanic origin of this fascinating island make it a great place for a vacation because there is such a variety of things to do. If you like hiking in the Caribbean, I recommend this easy half-day hike to the volcanic hot springs at Malgretoute, near Soufriere.

We left our resort at l'Anse Chastanet after lunch and caught a water taxi around l'Anse Chastanet headland, past the fishing town of Soufriere, and landed at Malgretoute beach. We passed almond and mango trees that grew near the Soufriere Home for the Retired, and joined the paved road to Malgretoute.

Flowering Flame Tree, or red Jacaranda, beside the Floraison balcony at l'Anse Chastanet, screens  Petit Piton. Tropical flowers, vines and trees abound in St. Lucia along the path to the volcanic hotsprings near Soufriere.
Flowering Flame Tree, or red Jacaranda, beside the Floraison balcony at l'Anse Chastanet, screens Petit Piton. Tropical flowers, vines and trees abound in St. Lucia along the path to the volcanic hotsprings near Soufriere. | Source
A
Malgretoute, Soufriere:
Malgretoute, St Lucia

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Soufriere, St Lucia:
Soufriere, St Lucia

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l'Anse Chastanet Resort, St Lucia:
Anse Chastanet Beach, Saint Lucia

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Our water taxi took us around l'Anse Chastanet headland into Soufriere Bay to the beach at Malgretoute.
Our water taxi took us around l'Anse Chastanet headland into Soufriere Bay to the beach at Malgretoute. | Source

By Sea toward the Pitons, St Lucia

The volcanic peaks of the Pitons, sea view.
The volcanic peaks of the Pitons, sea view. | Source
We took a water taxi from our resort at l'Anse Chastanet, past Soufriere to the trailhead at Malgretoute Beach.
We took a water taxi from our resort at l'Anse Chastanet, past Soufriere to the trailhead at Malgretoute Beach. | Source
The road to the hot springs lies at the foot of the volcanic peaks of the Pitons.
The road to the hot springs lies at the foot of the volcanic peaks of the Pitons. | Source
Menno, our personable and informative guide, taught us about the history, geology, plants and animals, and regaled us with tales of St Lucian family life and personalities.
Menno, our personable and informative guide, taught us about the history, geology, plants and animals, and regaled us with tales of St Lucian family life and personalities. | Source

St Lucia Volcanoes

Along the way, our guide Menno talked to us about the history of the island, and pointed out plants and geographical points of interest. The Lesser Antilles, a chain of Caribbean islands, are the tips of old volcanoes that emerge above sea level at the subduction zone where the edges of the Caribbean plate and the North American plate meet. Especially in the southern part of St Lucia, near Soufriere, the volcanic peaks stand out, and hot springs, caldera, mud baths and fumaroles are common.

At the Malgretoute Home for the Elderly, Menno stopped for a few minutes to introduce us and to give a message to one of the residents. Although most St Lucian elders are cared for at home by younger family members, in some cases young people have moved abroad to seek work, and the parish supports elders who are infirm or cannot live independently.

After a fifteen minute walk up the gently sloping unpainted tarmac road across the lower slope of Gros Piton, we came to a white house that blazed in sunshine with colourful Caribbean art masks displayed on the porch. This is the art studio of Zaka, who began making these unique masks years ago, when one of his carved sculptures disappointed him and he experimented with slicing off the face, painting it in wild bright colours and hanging it on the wall. People liked it, and soon his business started to develop in an unexpected but gratifying direction. Today his masks are displayed internationally, and sold at his studio, at local galleries, and through his website.

Zaka Art Masks and Totems in St Lucia

These three Zaka art masks hang in the l'Anse Chastanet Art Gallery, which displays many of the local St. Lucian artists work. As well, this resort showcases local musical talent nightly.
These three Zaka art masks hang in the l'Anse Chastanet Art Gallery, which displays many of the local St. Lucian artists work. As well, this resort showcases local musical talent nightly. | Source
We stopped at Zaka studio in Malgretoute to see colourful Caribbean  art masks.
We stopped at Zaka studio in Malgretoute to see colourful Caribbean art masks. | Source
The volcanic hot springs mix with a mountain waterfall in the constructed basin near Malgretoute, Soufriere.
The volcanic hot springs mix with a mountain waterfall in the constructed basin near Malgretoute, Soufriere. | Source

Volcanic Hot Springs at Malgretoute near Soufriere, St Lucia

After a forty-five minute walk, we turned off the main road to a pathway that led to the park entrance and the Malgretoute Hot Springs. There are change rooms and concrete steps that lead to the constructed basins where the hot water from the volcanic springs is piped in to mix with the cooler water from the mountain waterfall. The location is shady and peaceful, and the day we went we were the only ones there. We spent the afternoon relaxing in the hot water, talking together and exploring the area, before making our way back to Malgretoute Beach to catch our water taxi back to l'Anse Chastanet Resort.

Saint Lucia was occupied by both French and English during the European colonization of the Lesser Antilles, and many of the names, especially in the south around Soufriere, show the French connection. "Malgretoute" means "in spite of," and I picture the feelings of the ones who named the locale. "In spite of " the heat, the humidity, the blazing sun, the hurricanes, the insects, the distance from friends across the water, the uncertainty of boats and storms at sea, in spite of everything, the place is compelling. It catches at the heart.

The waterfall rushes down volcanic cliffs amidst tropical ferns, vines and flowers.
The waterfall rushes down volcanic cliffs amidst tropical ferns, vines and flowers. | Source
In the rainy season, the waterfall is a pleasant temperature.
In the rainy season, the waterfall is a pleasant temperature. | Source
Relaxing in the hot water.
Relaxing in the hot water. | Source
After a tropical shower, the plants flower.  Do you know the name of this one?
After a tropical shower, the plants flower. Do you know the name of this one? | Source

On the way back, the water taxi skirted slowly the cliffs at l'Anse Chastanet headland where a deep cleft in the rocks provided a home for bats. There were hundreds of them, clinging to the rough rock with small claws, hanging upside down with wings folded across their furry bodies during the hot equitorial days. At sunset they emerged hungry, to chase mosquitoes and flying insects that fed them instead of feeding on us. I felt grateful to the bats.

Things To Do in St Lucia

  • Walk in the rainforest in Edmunds Forest Preserve
  • Visit the active Caribbean volcano at the Soufriere Volcano Centre
  • Walk in the Diamond Botanical Gardens amidst flowering tropical plants, and float in the Diamond River Hot springs pools on the grounds
  • Float in the hot springs pools at Malgretoute
  • Laze on the beach
  • Snorkel the coral reef off the south coast near Soufriere
  • Qualify as a PADI-certified scuba diver at the Dive Centre at l'Anse Chastanet dive shop
  • Join the St Lucia Jazz Festival held every summer in various venues around the island
  • Take a sunset jazz cruise
  • Have a massage, hot stone massage, or spa treatment
  • Sail a Sunfish
  • Learn to windboard
  • Mountain bike the trails in Anse Mamin plantation
  • Walk through Soufriere on Saturday morning market day
  • Eat a fish dinner Friday nights at Anse la Raye

We trolled slowly past the base of the cliff where the bats roost in the cleft during the day.  At sunset, we often saw bats swoop above the balconies, eating mosquitoes.
We trolled slowly past the base of the cliff where the bats roost in the cleft during the day. At sunset, we often saw bats swoop above the balconies, eating mosquitoes. | Source
At sunset, the bats emerge from their cave and hunt insects.  Mosquitoes rarely bothered us at Anse Chastanet Resort.
At sunset, the bats emerge from their cave and hunt insects. Mosquitoes rarely bothered us at Anse Chastanet Resort. | Source

Comments

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    • jellygator profile image

      jellygator 

      5 years ago from USA

      Gorgeous. The things you've highlighted are similar to the things that made me fall in love with Puerto Vallarta. I have long wanted to retire to PV but this sounds pretty enticing, too.

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judi Brown 

      5 years ago from UK

      Stunning photos! On a dreary October evening in the UK, I am quite green with envy!

    • Funom Makama 3 profile image

      Funom Theophilus Makama 

      5 years ago from Europe

      wow. Beautiful. Thanks for the share and definitely voted up

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 

      5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful photographs and experience of this paradise. I love warm mud baths and these looks just divine, as do the lovely plants, the mountain range, the guides and indeed those amazing paintings.

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 

      5 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      What a neat hub, and with gorgeous photography. I've been to the Caribbean, but never even heard of this, let alone visited. In a way it reminds me of both our trip and a trip to Yellowstone Park.

      Should we ever return to the Caribbean I want to do this, too. Thanks, Janis!

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