I’m going to be real. Not long before I landed in St. Lucia, I had never really heard that St. Lucia was a country. Like, less than 6 months previous and I would have responded to the topic of ‘St. Lucia’ with a blank stare and trying to remember a list of Catholic saints.
Bathing in Soufriere St. Lucia:
Mud Bath, Hot Springs, and a Drive In Volcano
But with knowledge comes opportunity, and I soon found myself travelling in St. Lucia. And one of my main discoveries on this trip is that St. Lucia is full of ways to bathe yourself!
Mineral baths, warm waterfalls, and sulfur mud baths are all part of a trip to ragingly volcanic St. Lucia. And yes, I stripped down for all of them! Here are my 3 natural mineral baths in 3 days in St. Lucia!
Warning: There is a startling amount of pictures of me in a bathing suit in this post. I just don’t know.
The Caribbeans Only ‘Drive-In’ Volcano, aka Sulphur Springs
An interesting name for an interesting place. Formally called Sulphur Springs, this stinky nook in the earth is about 3km south of Soufriere. Soufriere is the hub for these kind of hot springs on the West of the island and the hot springs are all totally do-able as an excursion from the cruise ships in St. Lucia.
The drive-through Volcano is in fact, as they say, a volcano. It counts as such as it is an area that is exposed to the geothermal elements, with hissing vents of the earths bile steaming out of its pores.
The colours of the cliffs surrounding the ‘volcano’ range from pinks to yellows and your nose tells no lies when it says there is a volcano abound. But shed the idea of a conical mountain to climb. I’m sure back in whatever age, there was an eruption on this site, and now we are free to marvel at what would be the inside of the volcano. Like when you cut a baseball open to see what is inside.
Am I the only one who did that as a child? Ok, right. Sure.
Sulphur Springs really is a ‘drive-in’ volcano. If you had a car, you could drive it right up the viewpoints for this area of geothermal activity, spewing and steaming, and stinky as it is. I of course did not have a car, so I walked to the Sulphur Springs from Soufriere (I could have taken the bus, I just didn’t, so don’t feel too sorry for me).
Where to Stay in St. Lucia
I stayed in a budget guesthouse in Soufriere that I actually would not recommend, but as a solo budget travel my options were limited. I would instead recommend one of the many hotels and resorts in St. Lucia‘s West Coast, all within 5 kilometres of Soufriere. In particular, there are the moderate options right in downtown Soufriere like the River Side House or the Downtown Hotel which is nearer the beach.
Alternatively, go upscale, which St Lucia does VERY well. There are some super expensive resorts, like Sugar Beach, or more realistically, the Still Beach House or the Fond Doux Plantation and Resort, both solid options with great views of St Lucia mountains and ocean.
A Mud Bath in St. Lucia
Arriving at Sulphur Springs, you choose whether you want to bathe, have a tour, or both. Having just walked an hour uphill in the heat of the Caribbean day, and being slightly cagey as to how boring a tour on geology might be, I opted for the bath, straight up.
Not your typical bath. After changing into my mismatched bathing suit, I first soaked in almost black water in an 8 by 8-concrete pool. This water is coming from the volcano (I’m merely guessing, I didn’t take the tour), is rich with healing minerals of the earth and reaches a skin numbing 38 degrees Celsius! That’s 100 degrees Fahrenheit for all of the Yanks in the audience. It’s a hot hot bath.
Lucky for me, I was ready for a hot bath having ran 5 km earlier than day followed by the 3km walk. After a good soak in the black water to loosen up my pores, I hopped out to be covered head to toe in mud. Note, I was covered. You read that right.
There are guys at this place, and seemingly it is their JOB to swathe bodies in mud. Head, shoulders, knees, toes, love handles, sternum. Skin so bare, don’t care!
Don’t worry, I did my own inner thighs.
My first thought was clearly something inappropriate, and then I wondered if these guys were married. This is that man’s JOB! He does this every day and gets money for it. I am not a jealous person, but I’m not sure I would dig my dude being in this line of work. #single.
The world is awesome.
Slathered in mud that supposedly contained everything that could heal my physical woes, I stood in the sun to bake. Once the mud dried and I felt like a very dirty mummy, I jumped back into the steamy black water to rinse off and soak more, emerging like a phoenix from the ash, a phoenix with baby soft skin and very runny mascara.
After I changed back into my sweaty clothes, I walked up to the viewpoints to take a look at this ‘volcano’. Reminded of my time in New Zealand, I was taking some photos and getting a good look when a woman asked for my ticket. I gave her my bath ticket. She said I didn’t have a tour ticket so I couldn’t be there. I couldn’t even just look and demand literally no information?
Fine, I wanted to leave anyways.
Piton Waterfall, a Warm Water Waterfall
With my lovely experience getting mudded up with St. Lucian earth, I was hooked. While walking to Sulphur Springs I saw a sign for Piton Waterfall, touted as a warm water waterfall. So… a shower?
The next day, after my climb up Gros Piton, I was in desperate need of both a shower and some spa treatment, so I hit up this mysterious waterfall. After paying $3US (a bargain for SL I tell you what!), I followed a path leading towards the sound of falling water. A good sign.
At the bottom of the path was a pool very similar to the pool to the Sulphur Springs, also full of dirty looking warm water, but above said pool was a legitimate waterfall rushing down a rock face. There were a few places to perch underneath the cascading water, so I slowly made my way across the slippery rock. Very slowly.
Ever the cynic, I was wonderfully delighted to discover the advertising was true. The water flowing over this rock was indeed nice and warm, probably around 30 degrees and so fresh and clean. The rushing water pelting your body made you feel completely pure. Physically pure, obviously. Not morally.
On the ride back into town after my natural shower, the rain hit. Hard. And yes, I was riding in the open bed of a pickup truck. Just consider it my second natural shower of the day, fully clothed this time.
Diamond Waterfall and Mineral Baths
Last but not least is the most formal arrangement for bathing in the Soufriere area, at the Diamond Botanical Garden, an easy 10-minute walk from town. The Botanical Garden and Waterfall sit on a swatch of land that has been passed back and forth among rich Europeans for centuries, even King Louis XIV owned it at one point. Apparently Napolean’s wife, Empress Josephine bathed in the pools as a child (Wow, sounds like she had a true hard knock life. Until she married an ego-maniacal short man of course).
Today the Botanical Gardens are truly exceptional, and are owned by the Devaux family. I don’t think of myself as a big botanical gardens junkie (they might be right up there with geological lectures in my book), but the variety in plants, trees, and flowers was really something. I took many close up pictures of pretty flowers.
Winding my way through the garden, I ended up at the Diamond Waterfall, a 30-meter gush of water that settles momentarily in a pool before being siphoned off to feed the mineral baths. My next destination.
There are 5 mineral baths at the Diamond Botanical Garden, two indoor and private, and three outdoors and open for all to see. These pools were definitely more posh than the other baths I had been to in St. Lucia; they were even tiled!
Anyone can use the pools; you just have to pay (more for the indoor pools, privacy has a price). Because I am a needlessly cheap weirdo, I of course went for the outdoor variety, felt out the three pools, and jumped into the warmest. The water was probably the same temperature that the Piton Waterfall had been, so it was not too hot, but warm enough to keep me happy when it started to rain.
The good thing about mineral bath tourism is you really don’t mind when it rains!
I floated around in the 4 feet of water for about 45 minutes before deciding I needed to get my act together to head back into town to catch my boat up North. I was leaving that day and had managed to weasel my way onto the second half of a day cruise instead of into a taxi.
As I got dressed, it started to rain harder. And then harder. I wandered around the gardens a bit more hoping the rain would let up while I was under the canopy. No such luck.
So I just started walking back to town, getting completely drenched all over again. Basically the theme of this blog is “Pay to have a fancy geothermal bath, and then fall victim to a torrential downpour from the gods”.
Side note to anybody who ever rents cars while they are travelling: I know you rented your car for your use, but if you see a lonely looking, drenched traveler walking along the road in the middle of a tropical squall, pick her up. Give her a ride. Especially if you had actually spoken to her at the mineral pools you both just left. It’s not your car; you don’t have to clean it. Have a heart.
I did take a walking break half way back to town, seeking refuge on a closed restaurant covered patio. I sat on a bench eating peanuts willing the rain to stop so I wouldn’t slip in the flooded streets and hurt myself. As I am prone to do. The rain eventually subsided, and I did make my boat.
Mineral Baths in St. Lucia
My overall bathing experience in St. Lucia was incredible. In three days I hit three different bath types and enjoyed all of them. My favorite was surely the waterfall, because you just do not get to stand under a warm waterfall in nature everywhere you go! All of the baths felt great after my hard work of running and hiking; my body thanked me for pampering it by not getting too sore after these physical exertions.
And thanks St. Lucia! I may not want to know the details of your geothermal make-up, but I sure appreciate the outputs of it!
***For more things to do in St. Lucia, check out this post from Erika’s Travels about exploring Northern St. Lucia: Marigot Bay and Pigeon Island!