Hands down, Saint Lucia is one of the finer vacation destinations in the Caribbean. With plenty of sun, sea, sand, greenery, peace, quiet… and as much excitement as you can fit into your itinerary, you’ll find that these shores are pure magic.
Of all the amazing things to do in Saint Lucia, climbing the Pitons is one of the most popular. These incredible twin peaks are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a trek to the top of Gros Piton in particular, is a sure way to get your adrenaline going. Book an excursion through your resort or online, it’ll without a doubt be the highlight of your trip.
Just so you’re more familiar with the Pitons by the time you get to Saint Lucia, here’s what you need to know:
About the Pitons
Where in Saint Lucia are the Pitons located?
Gros Piton vs Petit Piton: What’s the difference?
Tour options: The best ways to explore the Pitons
Where to get the best views
Climbing and hiking at the Pitons
Where to stay when visiting the Pitons in Saint Lucia
Not only are the Pitons in Saint Lucia a UNESCO World Heritage Site (designated in 2004), they have over the years become a symbol commonly associated with the island. What stands out most about the Pitons is that together, they make for a majestic and carefully composed natural monument, but in actuality, they are located in two different communities on the small, volcanic, island of Saint Lucia. The Pitons are volcanic plugs (dormant), and both are located on the southwestern coast of Saint Lucia.
Did you know? So famous are the Pitons in and out of Saint Lucia, that the Windward and Leeward Brewery operating in Saint Lucia named a beer after them. Piton beer is light, refreshing, and might just be worth purchasing just to pop out of your bag at the summit of Gros Piton!
The Pitons are located in the south of Saint Lucia near the towns of Soufriere and Choiseul on the southwestern coast.
Gros Piton is located in Soufrière, and Petit Piton a little way off in Choiseul. Though these mountains are side by side along the island’s coast, they are not identical. Gros Piton measures 2,461ft, while Petit Piton rises to 2,619ft. Gros Piton is the wider and more navigated Piton as it relates to excursions. Petit Piton is rarely climbed, and especially not during rainy weather. Some people attempt to climb Petit Piton, but special permissions and guides are required. Strenuous and steep with an unmarked trail, the Petit Piton climb is not usually offered by tour companies. Gros Piton on the other hand is frequently climbed and includes marked trails. You can easily sign up to hike up Gros Piton through your resort or via a local tour company.
There are many ways to experience the best of the Pitons while in Saint Lucia. You can hike up Gros Piton, or visit surrounding areas during a day tour where you’ll be able to catch a glimpse and feel the enchantment of this natural landmark.
Or, you can head out on a Catamaran Cruise, which will allow you to approach and scope the Pitons right out on the sea. Many boat tours are available in Saint Lucia whether during the early hours of the day, or around sunset. The best thing about a sea tour will be the amazing photos you’ll get to go home with afterwards.
Last but not least, you can book a helicopter tour to see the majestic twin peaks from above.
Expert tip: Land, sea or air, all these excursions will give a different perspective of the amazing Piton Mountains. If you’re not sure which option would be best for you, do all of them. You won’t get bored of this amazing sight!
Heading south from Soufriere, you’ll be treated to a marvellous view of the Pitons rising triumphantly from the ocean. You can in the same breathtaking manner, take in these views from southern beaches like Sugar Beach. Hiking trails in proximity to the peaks, are also an excellent way to take in the views. And finally, a more leisurely way to appreciate the beauty of these peaks from up close is going on a Catamaran Cruise.
Expert tip: Saint Lucia is a great diving location, and it is possible to snorkel or go scuba diving at the foot of the Pitons while on the island. PADI® certified guests staying at any of the three Sandals all-inclusive resorts in Saint Lucia scuba dive for free (max. two tanks a day), this includes professional equipment!
Climbing the Pitons is without a doubt one of the best things to do while in Saint Lucia. A vast majority of visitors climb Gros Piton and not the more challenging Petit Piton.
The hike up Gros Piton can take 3 to 6 hours each way, and for that reason, comfort is key. Go for footwear you’ll be comfortable in for the duration of the hike (no flip flops!). Bring along sunblock and water as you’re likely to be out for a half or full day.
Expert tip: If you don’t necessarily feel like hiking for more than an hour, try out the Tet Paul Nature Trail which is located in proximity to the Pitons. This 45-minute hike will give you plenty of amazing viewpoints over Saint Lucia’s famous peaks.
It is best to start the hike up Gros Piton in the early morning hours when it’s cooler. You also don’t want to get caught making your way back to the bottom at night fall, so plan accordingly. A tour guide is highly recommended for this excursion. Bring a camera with you as well, as the view from the top is simply divine. Find a full packing list further down this article.
The Gros Piton Trail is about 3.2 miles (5.1 kilometer) long. The trail is rated as challenging, and offers many sights and sounds along the way, including colorful wildflowers, and other animal and plant life. The trail is accessible year-round.
As this is a jungle expedition, you can expect to see a variety of tree, plant and wildlife species on your way to the top of Gros Piton. There are points along the way where you’ll have amazing ocean views, and rest stops where you can stop to just chill and take in the ambiance. There’s even points where you can see the nearby island of Saint Vincent. The views alone are enough to propel you to keep walking no matter how tired you might feel as you near the top. Though this hike can be difficult, it is by no means impossible. The victory at the summit is certainly sweet!
The Interpretive Center in Fond Gens Libre is one of the first points you’ll get to as you prepare for your trek up Gros Piton. It is more or less the point where you’ll pay your fees to the guide, if these have not already been paid. Inside, there’s a model of Gros Piton which your guide might refer to in order to get you familiar with the hike. Ask any questions you would like at this point.
Waypoint Coordinates: 13.8065755, -61.0611749 (13°48'23.7"N 61°03’40.2"W)
Near the Interpretive Center, you’ll find the beginning of the trail. There’s a rocky path your guide will show you through, and once cleared you’ll get to a beautiful area filled with mango trees. If your tour is during mango season (May and June), you might even be able to pick a couple delicious ones for later!
Waypoint Coordinates: 13.80595, -61.06208 (13°48'21.4"N 61°03’43.5"W
Once you get to this point, you’ll be well on your way to the top of Gros Piton. It’ll take a while to get to the top, but at this portion of the hike you’ll basically be walking along a dirt path through the jungle, with thick overgrowth blocking the possibility of any real views. There’s rocks and roots in some areas you’ll have to make your way over, but this area can be navigated fairly easily with instructions from your guide.
Waypoint Coordinates: 13.8042833, -61.065681 (13°48'15.4"N 61°03’56.5”W)
There’s a point after this where you’ll come around the curve of the mountain and you’ll see a break in the trees which will be quite the welcome sight. The rush of cooling breeze through the open space, and the view of the ocean below will build your excitement even more for what awaits at the top. Just a little way after that, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the summit of Gros Piton.
Waypoint Coordinates: 13.8054086, -61.0686207 (13°48'19.5"N 61°04’07.0"W)
The halfway mark! The guide will let you know when you get to this point, and this announcement will definitely trigger a feeling of relief. Your reward? Amazing views of the nearby Petit Piton. Some say this is the point where things get a little more challenging, and some hikers even turn back. Whether you choose to turn back or not at this point, getting that far is still a commendable achievement!
Waypoint Coordinates: 13.8092, -61.06911 (13°48'33.1"N 61°04’08.8"W)
This will feel like the point where a personal trainer turns up the heat of a workout. You’ll see large stair steps here, just waiting for you to venture up. Some of these steps are cut out of dirt with logs and roots to keep the dirt stable, and others are made up of rocks and boulders. The steps of the stairs are pretty high in some places (some measuring as much as 24 inches) but there are handrails made out of sticks you can use in some areas, which will help you pull yourself to the next level. Take your time, and use your walking stick or your hands for support if you must. Slow and steady will get you there!
Waypoint Coordinates: 13.8102, -61.06761 (13°48'36.7"N 61°04’03.4”W)
Finally, you’ve made it to the top! Your reward? The incredible panoramic views and the unmatched relaxation you’ll get to bask in for a few moments before heading back to the bottom. Though the summit is covered with thick vegetation which makes it hard to see the views beyond, you can climb down a bit to an area with a small lookout platform. Once you make it to the top, you’ll be able to sign the summit register in the Interpretive Center once you get back down, which will forever serve as a record of your momentous climb!
Waypoint Coordinates: 13.80978, -61.06544 (13°48'35.2"N 61°03’55.6"W)
Packing list of items to bring on your hike up the Gros Piton:
● Insect Repellent
● Swimwear (for before or after the climb)
It’s best to leave any jewelry at home, as you might lose it during the hike.
Hiking the Pitons is not recommended if you:
● Are pregnant
● Are physically challenged (not wheelchair accessible)
● Recently had arm/hand surgery
● Have back/neck problems
● Have motion sickness
● Have heart/respiratory issues
There are many excursions to explore the Pitons in Saint Lucia, and you can book one easily though your resort, which would normally include transfers (but check to be sure!). The other option is to organize a taxi ride or rent a car.
Picture: Sandals Grande St. Lucian. Guests of this all-inclusive resort in Saint Lucia also get access to two other all-inclusive resorts: Sandals Regency La Toc and Sandals Halcyon Beach. Transfers included!
Although the Pitons are located in the South of Saint Lucia, you’ll find that the north of the island is best for travelers who want to be part of the action; people who like to reconnect with nature during the day, but want to eat out, have a drink, and join the fun at night. The North of Saint Lucia is where you’ll find the best beaches, restaurants, hotels and all-inclusive resorts.
It takes a 60-minute, or 90-minute scenic drive to get from north to south in Saint Lucia, depending on whether you’re travelling on the east or west coast.
Sandals features three all-inclusive resorts in this area. Sandals Grande St. Lucian in Rodney Bay, located right next to Pigeon Island, is the most lively of the three with amazing views from the beach. Sandals Regency La Toc is known for its amazing cliffside views, golf course and villa suites with private swimming pools. Last but not least, Sandals Halcyon Beach is the more intimate and quiet resort of the three, with the beautiful Paradise Pool.
Picture: The over-the-water restaurant at Sandals Grande St. Lucian, one of the 12 gourmet restaurants located at this resort. The best part: food and drinks are always included, always unlimited!
The best part: when staying at one of these resorts, you’ll get free access to all three Sandals Resorts on the island (including free transfers in between the resorts). This means any Sandals guest in Saint Lucia has access to 27 restaurants, 21 bars, and two golf courses at no extra cost. It’s all included in your stay.
Sandals Resorts partnered up with Island Routes, to offer its guests the best local experiences on the island. Underneath, you’ll find an overview of the excursions to the Pitons offered from the resort:
Regular airport transfers from and to the resort are always free for Sandals guests. However, if you’re planning to see the Pitons from above, make sure to book a helicopter transfer from the airport to the resort. Helicopter transfers are available from 205 USD per person, and rest assured, there’s no better way to start your all-inclusive vacation in Saint Lucia! The helicopter ride itself will take around 10 minutes.
The Piton Sunset Snorkel Cruise is a cool way to see the Pitons in all their glory without breaking a sweat. The snorkel cruise takes around 5 hours and starts from 86 USD a person. Looking for a party? Look no further than the Saint Lucia Sunset Evening Party Cruise starting from 77 USD a person takes you along the magnificent west coast within 2 hours.
Want to hike up the Gros Piton? The Gros Piton Hike from Castries/Vieux Fort starting from 150 USD a person is your cup of tea! The excursion itself will take around 7 hours.
Can you hike the Pitons in St Lucia, and are special preparations needed for this hike?
Yes. While in Saint Lucia, you will be able to climb Gros Piton, the taller of the two Pitons. You can do this whether or not you have climbing experience. There also aren’t any special preparations you’ll need to do, though it is worth it to stretch ahead of this challenging hike.
What if I want to climb Petit Piton?
While it is possible to climb Petit Piton, this is not a hike typically offered as a tour option. It is not advisable to climb Petit Piton without a guide, especially if you’re not a skilled hiker. If you’re looking to try a climb like this which at best will be difficult and technical, with high elevation bouldering, you may need special permissions.
Is the volcano in Saint Lucia active?
Saint Lucia is a volcanic island, but volcanic activity here has been unreported for many years. While the last major eruption on the island was reported thousands of years ago, the last minor eruption was sometime in the 1700s.
There are many incredible things you can do in Saint Lucia, but none that stand out as much as enjoying the view of the Pitons and the view from the Pitons. There’s a certain awe-inspired feeling that comes with staring up at a mountain more than 2,000 ft high, especially when it's right in front of you, and that feeling and the good times you’re sure to have on this island, will make your trip to Saint Lucia that much more memorable!
Insider tip: Need more reasons to travel to this island country? Check out these amazing pictures of Saint Lucia.