Southern Surroundings, Soufrière
The prime geographical feature of the region, the Pitons, soar out of the sea to great heights. The Gros Piton (large piton) to the south is 2,619ft/798m and the Petit Piton (small piton) is 2,460ft/750m.The were formed by volcanic activity about 200,000 to 300,000 years ago.Both are considered difficult climbs. The Petit Piton was first climbed in 1878. Some divers enjoy exploring them as underwater cliffs. However, most visitors simply view them for their scenic beauty.
Morne Coubaril Estate
Morne Coubaril Estate is a working estate, growing cocoa, coconuts and manioc. It is open to tourists who want to see traditional agriculture methods or ride horses around the 250 acre property.Guides show how coconuts are opened, roasted and sent off to be made into margarine, soaps, oil and animal feed. Cocoa is fermented, dried on racks in the sun, oiled, polished by a man dancing on them, crushed and then formed into chocolate sticks. Manioc roots are grated, squeezed of excess water, dried over a fire and turned into farina and tapioca pudding also called kassava.The grounds also house a re-creation of a farm workers village. Opening soon is Daniel's Ark, a farm tour for adults and children.Activities provided for visitors include horseback treks, organized hikes to the hot sulfurous Coubaril Falls and jeep tours of the area. Another attraction, Accro-Branche, opens in 2000, where visitors use special equipment to climb trees.The estate also serves local cuisine at its 600-seat restaurant, The Pitt.While the concession of this tract of land was made in 1713 by Louis XIV of France, it wasn't until 1742 that the owner started working the estate. Though the original grant was subsequently split among heirs, this plantation remained in the same family until 1960. In about 1762, the owner as head of the local militia, built a fort on this land overlooking Soufrière bay to protect this village. A cannon still remains on this estate.Over the years, crops switched to whatever was economical at the time: cotton, coffee, sugar cane, though cocoa has been grown from start to present.
Sulphur Springs Park - Drive-in Volcano
The last major volcanic eruption in St Lucia occurred about 40,000 years ago and the last minor one was in 1780. To this day this volcanic pit continues to vent sulfur into the air and heat pools of water above boiling. The sulfur, which was even mined and 760 tons exported in the 1830s, is the source of the name of the nearby town of Soufrière.The present-day terrain resulted when a volcanic dome collapsed into a 7 acre depression called a caldera. The surface is a crust over a soft substrate which has been closed to tourists since one guide fell through into scalding water. Now observation is from solid overlooks, but goats still scamper across the multicolored surface. Notably, the road traverses the edge of the 900 ft crater making this one of the world's rare drive-through volcanoes.The many colors of the surface are the result of deposits of iron, sulfur, copper oxide, calcium oxide, carbon, magnesium and other minerals. The changing light and steam patterns of the 24 vents, make it quite easy to watch this natural display for long periods.This caldera is probably connected to the ocean because reactions increase when the full moon causes high tides. Though part of a volcanic arc linking the islands of the eastern Caribbean, the Sulphur Springs park is unique in that the therapeutic value of its waters is comparable to the hot springs of Onzendaki in Japan and Prezzuoli in Italy.
Fond Doux Estate
Fond Doux, a working cocoa, banana and citrus plantation, is the noted site of the 1795 Battle of Rabot where former slaves changed St Lucian history by defeating the British. Rabot is a nearby lake. While Fond Doux mainly focuses on renting cottages and suites it also offers tours and dining.The French Revolution resulted in freedom for the island's plantation slaves in February 1794. However, the British captured St Lucia by April of that year and reinstated slavery. Ex-slaves, known as Brigands, allied themselves with French Republicans to fight a hit and run war against the British.On April 15, 1795 the British sailed from Vieux Fort to capture Soufrière, a Brigand stronghold. Slowed by guerrilla tactics, the British only reached Fond Doux on April 22 where the Brigands were dug in on three sides. After an exhausting battle, the British were forced to retreat, encouraging the Brigands to attack elsewhere.On June 18, 1795 the British abandoned the island during the night.Brigand fortifications and camps, plus the ruins of the original plantation house still exist.The estate has large second growth forests which attract birds and wildlife. Three trails expose visitors to various aspects of the estate: Brigand Trail (1 hour), Cocoa Trail (45 minutes), Citrus Grove Trail (45 minutes).
The Jalousie Plantation resort is located on the beach between the large and small Piton peaks. The large Piton across the bay is scenic, but the small piton is so close it appears to be a half mile tall wall, still spectacular, but don't expect to photograph its silhouette.Yachts anchor offshore and scuba facilities take advantage of a small protected area in the arm of the bay.The grounds are well landscaped with the ruins of an old sugar mill incorporated.The hotel is quite isolated, with very steep roads to the site. Guest with cars must leave them in a parking lot and use shuttles within the grounds. Visiting other locations takes some effort.
Stonefield Estates processed lime fruits into oil during the early 19th century. The old factory has been converted into one of the luxury villas which dot the property. Located on the north side of the small Piton, the view is stunning, but the large Piton is not visible. One advantage of this location is that it is easy to get into Soufrière.A prominent Amerindian petroglyph is found on the estate.
Ladera Resort is a deluxe hotel offering 6 villas and 18 suites all with an incomparable view of the two Pitons and the jungle between them. Perched on the same level as the Soufrière - Vieux Fort highway, the resort is high above the beach. The resort runs a complimentary shuttle service to the beach.
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