Hiking in St Lucia

Hiking in St. Lucia means trekking through lush rainforests and untouched volcanic landscapes.  St. Lucia hiking trails are a nature lover’s paradise and the island offers a variety of hikes that can suit different experience levels. One of the best things about St Lucia hiking is how after you’re done, you can usually jump in a warm mineral spring heated by volcanic activity – definitely soothing for the leg muscles. 

Soufriere and Pitons St Lucia

When you’re hiking St. Lucia, it’s hard to forget it’s a volcanic island. The “Pitons” probably encompass some of the most popular and well-known Saint Lucia hiking trails, but hiking in Saint Lucia is possible across much of the island. Many of the best hikes on the island are also located near the best snorkeling spots in St. Lucia making for a fun active combo day trip.

We’ve put together a list of our favorite and best hikes in St Lucia, so you can decide which to give a try, including hikes through the Pitons, Tet Paul Nature Trail, Mt. Pimard, and Pigeon Island.

ST LUCIA PITONS HIKE

The Pitons are the two volcanic spires that dominate St. Lucia’s skyline. They’re remnants left over from a heavy volcanic eruption thousands of years ago, but they’re now dormant. Gros Piton is the taller of the two mountains but is actually a bit less difficult of a hike. When the subject of hiking in St Lucia comes up, everyone always asks about the Gros Piton hike.

Climbing the Pitons in St Lucia is not an easy undertaking. Petit Piton is very difficult and requires permits and a guide as there are sections of unmarked trail and rock scrambles. Gros Piton is still a very strenuous hike but is the one that is more commonly done. Pitons St Lucia hiking is only for people who are physically fit and are not casual hikes.

Gros Piton Hike

  • Distance: 4 miles (2 up; 2 down) / 6.5 km (3.25 up; 3.25 down)
  • Elevation: 2579 ft / 786 meters
  • Time: 2 hours up and 2 hours back down on average
  • Difficulty: difficult; official park guide required ($50 + tip)
  • Location: south (Soufriere)

This one took us two hours each way. My mother, who is physically fit and works out regularly but is in her early 60s, was able to make it—although she found it incredibly challenging. I would put hiking the Pitons in St Lucia in the top five most difficult hikes I’ve done. Around the island, pretty much everyone we met mentioned how hard the Gros Piton hike is.

There are stops along the trail at every quarter of the way up. Online it’s mentioned that the first half is relatively easy, and the second half is more difficult. However, I felt it was difficult from the start. You can stop and turn back at any point, and honestly, the prettiest view is probably at the halfway point—this is the only spot where you will be able to view Petit Piton.  From the top, you have views to the south of the island.

Upon arrival at the base of Gros Piton, you’ll check in and get assigned your guide. The fee for the hike including the required guide is $50, but the cost is often wrapped into tour costs. These guides can and should be tipped at the end of the hike. They will visually check that you have at least 1.5 liters of water before you start—if you don’t have enough, you will be required to purchase more from the small shop at the base of the Piton.  You can also grab a snack or two here which is highly recommended.

The guide leads you up the mountain, but that’s about it. Don’t expect much more than a bit of chatting. However, our guide called Alvin was very friendly, and he even offered us some local fruits he had picked and some of his cookies. We chatted along the hike—when this was possible. At the top, this becomes much more difficult.  

The first half of the hike surprised us with its difficulty. There is little to no part of the hike that isn’t made up of large rocks to climb. Primitive hand railings are available through most of the hike, and they are REALLY needed given the terrain. The only real difference in the first and second half is the speed at which you gain elevation. The second half is more straight up the mountain.

At the top, the views are beautiful and the sense of accomplishment is well worth all of the work.  But, you’re only halfway there. The hike back down may not require as much cardio, but navigating the large rocks and steep descent is still quite difficult and hard on your knees and ankles.

Our guide said about 80 percent of people hiking the Pitons St Lucia make it to the top, but for him, it’s more like 95-97 percent! He was great at pushing us to keep going but allowing us time to rest when needed.  We did encounter several hikers who had turned around at either the half or three-quarter mark and were still happy to have done that.  

Petit Piton Hike

  • Distance: 2 miles (1 up; 1 down) / 3.2 km (1.6 up; 1.6 down)
  • Elevation: 2425 ft / 739 meters
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Difficulty: very difficult; guide required
  • Location: south (Soufriere)

For full disclosure, we haven’t done this hike yet. It’s on the list for the next trip. Everyone that mentions hiking Pitons St Lucia talks about how difficult they both are, but it’s known that the Petit Piton hike is quite a bit harder. It is shorter, but it’s nearly entirely straight up. While there are a few ropes you can use to climb up over the large rocks, it’s still very physically demanding. You’ll also need to squeeze between two large boulders.  

While hiking the pitons is difficult in general, Gros Piton is doable if you’re in decent shape. However, the Petit Piton hike should only be attempted by those who are in very good physical shape and are prepared for quite a challenge.  

TET PAUL NATURE TRAIL ST LUCIA

  • Distance: 0.75 miles / 1.2 km
  • Elevation: 138 ft / 42 meters
  • Time: 30-45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Location: south (Soufriere)

Tet Paul Nature trail is located at the top of a flat area on the mountain behind the pitons. The nature trail runs along the top of the mountain offering beautiful views of both the Pitons without much exertion. It’s also quite a bit shorter than either of the Piton hikes, and it’s a great option for those looking to get outdoors, enjoy a short and fun nature hike, and experience the fantastic views. 

It has similar views to the Piton hikes but without all the work—you could even say Tet Paul has better views since you’re able to see both the Pitons. There’s a $10 entry fee and you’ll need to tip your guide. Apparently, you can go without a guide, but they don’t make it seem that way. If you really want to go on your own, ask at the entrance.

Along the way, you’ll walk through a working organic farm and a pond that was once used by the farming communities around Soufriere. There’s a small picnic area here too. Probably the best hike to do for families. It’s a loop so you’ll end up back where you started.

MT PIMARD HIKE ST LUCIA

  • Distance: 1.62 miles / 2.6 km
  • Elevation: 561 ft / 171 meters
  • Time: 2 hours (1 up; 1 down)
  • Difficulty: easy to moderate
  • Location: north (Rodney Bay)
  • Cost: $10 entrance fee
  • Tour: Mt Pimard nature trail hike

Mt Pimard is located in the north of the island on the south side of Rodney Bay and is a popular spot for an easy-to-moderate nature hike. It’s perfect if you want to experience a proper hike on the island but don’t want to commit an entire day. You’ll journey through the rainforest, see the Pitons, and get 180-degree views of the ocean.

There is an easier path lower down that you can walk or take a Segway tour along, and then the path gets a bit steeper and harder as you get closer to the top. There are ropes to help you closer to the top. We haven’t been able to do this hike personally yet.

PIGEON ISLAND

  • Distance: 1.26 miles / 2 km
  • Elevation: 302 ft / 92 meters
  • Time: 2 hours to do both peaks and back
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Location: north (Rodney Bay)
  • Cost: $8 entry

Pigeon Island is a small national park with beaches for snorkeling, ruins to explore, and hiking trails to the top of the mountain. It’s home to Fort Rodney—a fort built in the 1700s that was a top-of-the-range defense during times of war that still boasts many old cannons and other artifacts. This hike can easily be done without a guide or organized tour.  

With some of the prettiest views of the island, the hike to the top of Pigeon Island is relatively short and enjoyable, despite looking quite tall from the ground. There are two hikes to be done here—Fort Rodney and Signal Point which are connected by a land saddle. Fort Rodney is the easier of the two. You can choose to just go up one or do both.

The views keep getting better as you go up, but both hikes get progressively harder as you go up too, although doable for anyone in moderately decent shape. There are gorgeous 360-degree views of the Caribbean Sea, Rodney Bay, Sandals Grande St. Lucian next door, and the northern end of the island.

At the base of the peaks in the bay are two small beaches. One is the main beach used by visitors to Pigeon Island, and the other is mostly used by the Snuba company offering tours.  Pigeon Island Public Beach is a much larger beach just a little further to the east where lots of locals hang out and there are a couple of beach bars.

For the best snorkeling on the northern end of the island, you can swim out from any of these three beaches. The reef runs along the shore starting about 100 yards from the beach, with the best coral and fish being found near the large rock that sits just offshore.

Looking for more information on St Lucia? Check out all our guides to the island Here!

About the author
Kristin Young