Top Tips for Climbing the Pitons

The guest post below was written by Paula C, a vacation planner for The Moorings and first-time visitor to St. Lucia. Follow along as Paula highlights the unforgettable hiking journey she experienced while sailing the splendid cruising playground of St. Lucia.

St. Lucia is a beautiful mountainous island with stunning views, picturesque beaches, and breathtaking landscapes. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the St. Lucia Pitons are two volcanic plugs on the southwest coast of the island attracting many tourists from all over the world. It is a very popular travel destination for honeymooners – as I learned, and an idyllic place for adventurous visitors.

Friends and I went on a 10-day sail charter around St. Lucia and the Grenadines this past summer (July 2017). Besides the obvious excitement for the vacation itself, I was pretty pumped about the Gros Piton hike we had planned to do. I’m not your average active tourist, or active person for that matter, but I do enjoy new challenges, especially ones in places I never thought I’d be!

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General details about the Pitons: It’s not really a hike or a trail. It’s a very challenging path with steep inclines and intense rock climbing. It is rough and it is tough! The path is maintained by the “local mountain men,” who climb the mountains weekly or daily, cleaning the path and creating the trail for climbers by making log rails, benches and ladders along the way, it was remarkable to see them at work. Even though Gros Piton is the biggest of the two (2,619ft), it is easier to climb compared to Petit Piton (2,461ft).

For the hike, you are required to go with a local guide and the cost is $45 (plus tip) per person. They generally open around 8am and the earlier you can go, the better. Trust me on this one, as the 12pm Caribbean summer sun will not be your friend and you have a LONG way up and a LONG way down. There are two start points for the hike: Anse L’ivorgne Beach (0ft up) and Fond Gens Libre (about 600ft up).

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It was just Hal and I doing the hike. We had planned to eat and stretch prior to going, but our boat taxi came for pick-up earlier than expected. Do make sure to have some bread and fruits before starting, but nothing too heavy that will weigh you down. Basic and healthy is the way to go! So, at 7:30am, at 0ft/sea level, literally from the sand, off the boat and slightly unprepared, we began our hike!

Within 30 minutes we were exhausted, and I am not exaggerating. It took us a total of 5 hours to complete the hike, up and down, but it was a struggle from the very start. We had friends that had done it before, so we thought we knew what to expect... Ha! This was definitely one of the hardest physical challenges I’ve personally endured, but at the same time, also one of the biggest accomplishments I have achieved. I almost gave up a few times, and then a few more times, but thanks to Hal’s moral and mental support I kept going.

Just like in a marriage, when times are tough and you want to give up, that’s when you have to be the strongest and support each other. Not to mention, Hal and I were literally the only non-honeymoon couple compared to the other five or six that we passed along the way, varying in all ages. It was neat to see, but an unexpected activity to enjoy on your “fake honeymoon”.

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Along the way we ran into “Sprite” – the mountain dog, who accompanied us all the way to the top, an adorable little guy! We passed by the “shack at the top,” which is a log cabana built by a local, who goes to the top everyday brining water, beer, other drinks and all kinds of fruits to sell to hikers at – wait for it...reasonable prices!

Both the way up and the way down were very challenging for different reasons. On the way down, towards the end, our guide took us off trail where the natural springs run. It was so peaceful, so beautiful, and had free water! But the dry leaves on the slope down made it a very tricky path.

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We were tired, we were hungry, and we were drenched, but we were DONE! WE DID IT! All the way up and all the way back down. Got all the “honeymoon shots” along the way, enjoyed the views throughout and most importantly, we completed it! I could not have been more proud of myself, of Hal or of you, when you get the pleasure of trying it out for yourself!

Continue Exploring St. Lucia

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