The smell may be a bit stifling, but the attraction is singular. The world's
only drive-in volcano (it's dormant) is just outside Soufriére,
St. Lucia's second largest city. You can park your car or ask your driver to
wait in Sulfur Springs, the seven-acre crater of Mount Soufriére
and wander through this Dantesque terrain. The air is filled with an odor of
rotting eggs and the earth is a cauldron of sulphurous yellow gray mud. Effervescent
springs smolder at a blistering temperature and emit giant cloud-like puffs
of steam. Louis XVI knew of the medicinal properties of the simmering water
seeping from the volcanoes. He granted funds to set up baths, which he felt
would be beneficial to his troops. The streams of Sulfur Springs feed the cascades
that form Upper and Lower Diamond Falls, the site where the French sought
the restorative power of the waters.
Diamond Baths has been renovated and today for a modest fee anyone can
stroll in the estate, gaze at the falls and lull about in the warm bubbly soothing
tubs. There's one large outdoor pool and several small huts with twin baths so that
two friends or family members can soak at the same time.
Nearby and casting a shadow over St. Lucia's copious banana plantations are
the remains of the island's other once active volcanoes. The Petit and Gros
Pitons, two enormous green volcanic cones, stretch a half mile up into the
sky, slide down to the sea below and frame the white sands of Jalousie Beach.
And on a perfect day if you are perched at the right spot—it might the terrace
of Ladera, a hotel built 1000 feet above the sea—you could find a rainbow
forming a bridge in the sky between the double peaks of the spectacular Pitons.
Mineral Baths at Diamond Falls, Soufriére, St. Lucia, West Indies.