About St Lucia
HIKE THE WORLD FAMOUS PITONS
Saint Lucia, the Southernmost island we cover at Hike Caribbean, is located between Martinique, St Vincent and Barbados. The French were the islands first permanent European settlers during the Seventeenth century and the island is named after Saint Lucy of Syracuse. The islands French and English heritage is evident through all aspects of life, from the cuisine to the architecture. Like many of its neighbouring islands the sugar industry developed on Saint Lucia and its legacy can also be seen throughout the island, such as derelict stone windmills. The island was contested by the French and British until it was secured as part of the British Windward Islands colony in 1814, following the end of the Napoleonic wars.
Modern day Saint Lucia gained full independence in 1979 and with over 160,000 citizens is one of the more heavily populated of the Caribbean islands with one third of its citizens living in the capital, Castries. Like many islands in the Caribbean, tourism it is an important part of the economy and Saint Lucia offers a heady mix for visitors of great beaches, lush rainforest and precipitous mountains. The island still has a strong agricultural base as is an important exporter of coffee and bananas, one of the most diverse manufacturing sectors in the Caribbean as well as an offshore banking sector.
Saint Lucia has been influenced by African, Caribbean, French and English heritage and most of the population speak Saint Lucian French Creole. The English influence can be seen in the Darren Sammy cricket stadium on the North of the island honouring Sammy who became the first Saint Lucian to captain the West Indies cricket team. African and Caribbean heritage is represented by the strong tradition of music and dance which come together its internationally renowned Jazz & Arts Festival. The island also boasts the second highest ratio of Nobel Laureates of any country in the World with both an Economics and Literature prize winner.
The island of Saint Lucia is a nature lover’s paradise with great natural scenery and a rich variety of plant and animal life. Orchids and exotic plants grow wild in the rainforests and the roadsides are covered with tropical flowers. Colorfully-plumed tropical birds abound, including endangered species like the indigenous Saint Lucia parrot as well as, the White Breasted Thrasher, hummingbirds and the Saint Lucia Oriole.
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Foundoux Plantation Inn
Our chosen accommodation in Saint Lucia is Foundoux Plantation Inn. Fond Doux Plantation & Resort is a 19th century eco-friendly colonial resort nestled in the heart of St. Lucia, best known for romantic, intimate, and private luxury cottages. The resort is situated amidst a 250 year-old working plantation and features an assortment of 15 uniquely crafted cottages, two on-site restaurants, and a collage of outdoor swimming pools, as well as an organic spa.
The resort is a scenic 45 minute drive from the island’s international airport. As a guest of Fond Doux, you will be conveniently located just minutes away from St. Lucia’s main attractions and the best hiking location including The Pitons and Mount Gimie. Also close by are The Sulphur Springs – ‘The Caribbean’s only drive in volcano’ – and the best diving sites on the island, all within a prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is also a free shuttle bus to the nearby Sugar Beach in Soufriere where you can lap in the warm Caribbean Sea.
The luxury resort of Anse Chastenet is within sight of Saint Lucia’s famous Pitons which will be part of your hiking. Architect owner Nick Troubetzkoy believes passionately in nature and created a hotel that makes the foliage and the flowers, the perfumes and the peaks, the sea and the bird song an integral part of the experience. The estate encompasses 600 lush tropical acres bordering two soft sand beaches.
With such a unique setting as his canvas, Nick Troubetzkoy was inspired to design a one-of-a-kind resort. He was committed to an environmentally conscious development before “green” became fashionable.
And while the sensuous seclusion of the rooms provides some guests with the perfect excuse for lolling away the day on the balcony, others head out to partake in the many activities on offer; yoga, snorkelling, scuba diving, tennis, sunset sailing, sea kayaking or jungle biking, hiking and bird-watching among the ruins of an 18th century colonial plantation.
Hummingbird Beach Resort
The Humming Bird Beach Resort also overlooks the Pitons but is a short walk from the town of Soufriere. The accommodation here is more basic than Foundoux or Anse Chastenet but it still has beautiful grounds where you can observe the hummingbirds the resort was named after as well as drinking in the amazing views of the Pitons from the pool or the beach. Being close to the town you also have lots of eating options as well as the excellent food served in the resort.
Hikes St Lucia
Short / challening (clear well laid path but some very steep sections)
We organise your hike to the top of Gross Piton, which is the highest and most accessible of the two Pitons, in association with the Soufriere Foundation which are a non-profit group dedicated to help preserve the Pitons Management Area. Gros Piton is home to 148 plant species and 27 bird species which are guides will help you observe along the trial. The route itself is well marked and the round trip should take around 3 to 4 hours. Although a relatively short hike, it is very steep particularly towards the top of the peak where you will need to crawl with your hands over boulders and haul yourself up on ropes. The effort will be worthwhile though as you will be rewarded with spectacular views across the coast line of Saint Lucia and away to St. Vincent in the distance.
Long / challenging (very steep in places, path is difficult to see with rocks, river beds and tree roots)
At 3,117 feet (950 metres) Mount Gimie is a different hiking proposition to the Pitons and involves a longer round-trip hike of about 9 km which should take you five or six hours. It is a wild hike and you will see far less people (if any) along the way whilst your guide may well have to use his machete to clear the path.
The trail begins with a gradual uphill climb along with views of nearby valleys and villages where you can see a variety of fruit trees such as banana, grapefruit, breadfruit and tangerine. After this the hike branches out through dense rainforest. Your guide will point out the varied flora, some of which are used for local medicines, and fauna, such as the different varieties of hummingbird or if you’re very lucky a Saint Lucian amazon parrot which can only be seen on the island.
The final ascent to the summit is then very steep and you will find yourself clambering over rocks and using tree stumps as a natural ladder. As with the Pitons though you will be rewarded with fabulous views at the summit all around the island including the Pitons themselves. Finally, on your return to the trial head, you can take a short detour to a waterfall and pool where you can dive in a cool off after your strenuous climb.
Long / moderate
Experience a botanical paradise on this hike which traverses through the Central Rainforest of the island, from the Des Cartiers Rainforest on the East side to the Edmond Rainforest on the West.
This trail was first established over 150 years ago by the French inhabitants as the main road from the town of Vieux Fort to the town of Soufriere. Huge trees and other rainforest vegetation covers the trail which was first designed for horses and carriages but now gives one the opportunity to hike and enjoy the rainforest and its ecosystem at its best.
Trek along a 10-kilometre trail through the verdant forest amidst numerous towering trees and other plants which include bromeliads, orchids, giant ferns, mushrooms and lianas. Discover St. Lucia’s endemic wildlife, perhaps see the beautiful but rare St. Lucia Parrot (Jacquot) in flight, numerous endemic birds and a Boa Constrictor resting quietly on a tree trunk. Enjoy intermittent distant views of the Caribbean Sea. As you emerge from the dark shade of the forest there are magnificent views of Mt. Gimie, St. Lucia’s highest peak.
Our expert naturalist will be on hand to guide you through this complex and wonderful expression of Mother Nature. He will interpret the ecology and nature of the rainforest around you, tell you about the history, legends and folklore of the rainforest making it a hike that will resonate with you forever.
Saint Lucia has plenty more to offer if you wish to stay longer either for adventure or relaxation. Activities include hiking the smaller (by 20 metres) Petit Piton or driving into a volcano in a 4×4 vehicle tour, zip lining in the jungle or a more sedate canopy train which gives you panoramic views of the rainforest and the island. Rodney Bay on the North West of the island is also worth a visit with its horseshoe-shaped bay, a man-made lagoon, endless golden sand, a range of resorts, lively nightlife and a marina with a treasured pirate history – it’s a thriving hub of activity. Saint Lucia is also famous for its rum and its chocolate and we can arrange tours to see these being produced or you can just choose to eat or drink them!