St Lucia’s world renowned, “World’s Only” Drive-In Volcano – Sulphur Springs Park, is located in the south west coast of St Lucia in a town called Soufriere.
Advertised worldwide as the home of the, “World’s Only Drive-In Volcano”; for the visitors ability to drive and walk right into the heart of a dormant volcano, the park attracts over 200,000 patrons annually. Its 46 hectares spreads majestically between two hills that are centrally located within St. Lucia’s Piton World Heritage Site; a status accorded by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for the area’s outstanding universal beauty and unique natural phenomenon, to a 2,909 hectare area which includes the world famous pitons, Gros and Petit Piton. The area is a realm of the senses and a stark reminder of the volcanic origin of the island; however, the present tranquility and captivating beauty of the area, belies the fact the forces that shaped it are still very much alive.
At Sulphur Springs Park you are in the middle of a dormant volcano and on the site of the last recorded eruption in St. Lucia in 1766. As expected, the immediate area is heavily bruised from the intense volcanic activity experienced in the formation of the south western part of the island. The park’s main attraction is its sulphur springs – an impressive collection of boiling springs and fumeroles that is seated 305 metres above sea level, between the Rabot Ridge and Terre Blanche. The springs, from which the area gets its name, Sulphur Springs, occurs at the intersection of two fault lines which traverse the centre of a large steep sided volcanic depression, called “Qualibou” caldera. This caldera is about 32, 000 to 39,000 years old.
Sulphur Springs has been described as, “the hottest and most active geothermal field in the Lesser Antilles”. As you walk or drive through the park, you will actually be moving over a magma chamber just about 2 km beneath the area’s surface. This magma chamber is responsible for heating the rocks above it, which in turn heats a combination of rainwater that seeps into the ground and seawater from the Caribbean Sea that has seeped into the substratum, giving rise to boiling springs with temperatures between 70 – 90oc and fumaroles with temperatures of up to 172oc. These boiling springs give rise to the world famous therapeutic waters at Sulphur Springs Park, which form the park’s Black Water Pool and the Pool of Love.
Though not adorned in commercial minerals, the area is a mineral lover’s delight. It has abundant supplies of kaolinite and quartz and smaller quantities of gypsum, alunite, pyrite and geotite. As with all other geothermal systems the area is bathed in a copious supply of sulphur. Small supplies of jarosite, which has generated interest from the Wesleyan University of Connecticut, USA, can also be found within the area.
Hot water baths
The waters flowing within the park and within the pools are ranked as highly as the waters of the Baden Baden in Germany, Yellow Stone Geysers and Hot Springs in Wyoming, USA and Onsen Ryokan, in Japan and are world renowned for their ability to reduce stress, cure rheumatism, psoriasis and other skin ailments. In fact, in 1784, under instructions from King Louis XV1 of France, samples of the mineral saturated water emerging from Sulphur Springs were analyzed in France and found to possess similar medicinal properties to the waters of the Aix-les-Bains. Consequently, baths were built by Baron-de-Laborie, the French Governor of St. Lucia (1784 to 1789), at Diamond Estate, 1 km north-west of Sulphur Springs Park. The original Diamond Baths were destroyed during the Brigand War that followed on the heels of the French Revolution (1789-1794), but, were rebuilt by the owners in the early twentieth century. These baths today sit within St. Lucia’s largest and best kept botanical gardens and are themselves a tourist attraction.
Our guides confidently boast that a dip in our magical waters makes every visitor look ten years younger!!! Well, come take a dip and find out for yourself.
Black Water Pool
Just beside the park’s entrance is our famous Black Water Pool. Built in 2004 and refurbished in 2009, this area boasts a natural open air hot water pool, sitting area, hot and cold water showers and changing rooms. You can feel free to dip your feet in this black mineral-rich pool or if you’re more adventurous take a full bath in its 38.7oc (101.6 Fahrenheit) waters.