St Lucia is an island found in the Caribbean, famed for it’s diverse typography, stunning beaches and of course the friendly caribbean culture, attracting and welcoming visitors to the island every year.
Despite St Lucia featuring a host of activities, attractions and natural beauty spots including a zipline tour of its rainforest and the world’s only drive in volcano, one of the most poignant and renowned landmarks of the island remain the Pitons.
The Pitons of St Lucia gracefully protrude from the south west coast of the island in a region known as Val Des Pitons, an area which borders the quaint southern villages of Labourie and Soufriere.
The Gros Piton is the largest of the two and is located south of the slightly smaller and aptly named Petit Piton. The Gros Piton stands around 786m tall, with the tip of the Petit Piton reaching a height just 47m below. The ocean bed adjacent to the Pitons is a sheer drop travelling as deep as the the Pitons themselves. The two volcanic spires are one St Lucia’s most photographed beauty spots as their imposing beauty can be visualised from any aspect of the western coast.
The Pitons are recognized for their natural beauty and importance to the island by the UNESCO World Heritage Found, which protect the land in which they are situated ensuring that over development will not occur.
The Birth of the Pitons
The Pitons for all their beauty are actually ‘Volcanic Plugs’, a name which slightly downplays their brilliance. They are part of a collapsed stratovolcano which overlies a tectonic plate within an area known as the Soufriere Volcanic Centre. The movement of this plate led to the birth and collapse of the volcanos. The rocky masses that make up the Pitons are the remnants of lava which plugged two volcanos before their collapse.
The sheer expanse of the stratovolcano is hard to contemplate, as at 7km in diameter the depression caused by the volcanos collapse nearly covers the whole of Soufriere. The centre of this depression is where the active Sulphur Springs are found.
Living on the Pitons
As well as the marvelous residences of the Sugar Beach Resort, nestled between the Pitons, the two landmasses also provide a habitat for a varied and somewhat endangered wildlife. Over 148 species of plant life have been found on Gros Piton, closely followed by 97 species on Petit Piton. From all of these flourishing specimens eight are very rare types of tree. The Gros Piton is also home to around 27 bird species of which five of are endemic.
From the small 617 km² landmass of St Lucia, it is obvious then that the mere 29 km2 that form the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Pitons play a vital role in St Lucia’s ecosystem.
Hiking the Pitons
One of the most fulfilling attractions of the island, is hiking to the top of the Pitons. It is hard work but the exhilaration is rewarded with awe inspiring views and photographs to cherish for a lifetime. On average you can expect to spend a long two to three hours attacking the relentless ascent of the Gros Piton, so only the fittest need apply!
The majestic Pitons dominate the the skyline of St Lucia,creating aesthetics that define the country; featuring on the countries flag, naming the national ‘Piton’ beer and being painted on just about all tourist memorabilia. It is no wonder then that this year the St Lucian tourist board have been invited to enter the Pitons into the ‘8th Wonder of the World Award’ held by VirtualTourist.com.
This article has been written by Sugar Beach Residences Caribbean Property