The Gros and Petit Pitons are the most recognisable natural landmarks on St. Lucia, and have been for centuries. Their steep, towering sides are instantly recognisable from miles around and, indeed, from far out at sea.
Located on the southwestern coast of the island, close to the small town of Soufriere, the peaks give the island a unique profile when approaching from the sea. It’s amazing to think that sailors, exhausted from a hard Atlantic voyage, might have felt a huge sense of exhilaration upon spying the Pitons, knowing that they were almost safe on dry land.
The Gros Piton stands almost 790m high, and is St. Lucia’s second highest peak after Mount Gimie. The Petit Piton approaches 740m and is connected to its sister by the Piton Mitan ridge. Both Pitons are volcanic in composition, formed by the action of magma flows many thousands of years ago and exposed by millennia of erosion.
Together, the two peaks are part of the Pitons Management area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004. In addition to their impressive geography, the Pitons are also home to a huge variety of plant and animal life. Lush vegetation surrounds the slopes, providing a valuable habitat for hundreds of different species. Volcanic activity continues to this day, with hot springs bubbling from the rocks.
Of course, the Pitons also provide an impressive backdrop for holiday photos – their steaming, jungled slopes providing the quintessential image of a tropical island. The rainforest, which covers large swathes of St. Lucia, also offers an amazing opportunity for trekking and tours.