Caribbean Snapshots: The Pitons, St. Lucia

Once worshiped, these lush volcanic spires continue to offer awe- inspiring views


The twin peaks known as the Pitons are among the most iconic landmarks in the Caribbean. Located on the west-central coast of St. Lucia, they rise dramatically from the shore to heights of just over 2,600 feet. The Arawak viewed the spires as gods; the larger of the pair, Gros Piton, being the god of thunder, fire and food, while Petite Piton was endowed with fertility, the phases of the moon and tides. Today these majestic summits are admired by visitors from around the world, and are under the protection of UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The cones are actually the remains of a pair of long-dormant volcanoes, and their slopes continue downward beyond the beach, giving divers and snorkelers a coral-encrusted volcanic slope to explore. Ambitious hikers can make their way to the top of Gros Piton on a steep but manageable trail, while an ascent of Petit Piton is considered a borderline mountain climbing expedition. Those who make it to the top of either are rewarded with 360-degree views of St. Lucia, the Caribbean Sea and even the neighboring island of St. Vincent. If you’d prefer to enjoy the view in a more leisurely fashion, check in to one of the upscale resorts that nestle into nearby hillsides. Properties such as Jade Mountain offer especially impressive panoramas of the peaks from balconies and private plunge pools set high on an adjacent slope.