Soufriere Volcano in St. Lucia is considered as the only “drive-in” volcano in the world! It is locally known as the Sulphur Springs. Now a major tourist attraction in St. Lucia, the road runs right up to and through the crater of the volcano, which emits steam and sulfur with boiling mud and water bubbling away just a few meters from the tourists. Be prepared for the smell of rotten eggs!
Soufriere Volcano in St. Lucia is considered to be dormant, and its last eruption occurred in the late 18th century, unlike the highly active volcano that goes by the same name, Soufriere Hills Volcano, which is located in the island of Montserrat.
Excursion at the Sulphur Springs
At the Sulphur Springs, you are allowed to walk behind a wooden fence, which would appear to offer absolutely no protection if ever the volcano erupts. But don't worry about the eruption, because as mentioned earlier, the Soufriere Volcano is now dormant. During the early times when the tourist attraction was first opened to the public, visitors are allowed to walk over the crater which is covered in a thin crust. But an incident occurred when one of the volcano guides fell in. And so now, visitors are requested to stay behind the fence.
Hot Springs and Mud Baths at the Sulphur Springs
At the Sulphur Springs, there is a stream running through the crater, and a little further down are well-established hot springs and mud baths hotter than the average bath. These bathing pools are blessed with volcanic minerals and health-giving properties, which are reputed to have therapeutic qualities for the skin, the reason why the volcano attracts many tourists. You may not like the smell coming from the spring, or stand the heat for long, but your skin will thank you after a quick dip.
The sulphur springs emit a mixture of iron, calcium oxide, sulphur, copper oxide, carbon and magnesium to create the pungent smell and stain the rocks a green colour. Molten volcanic lava is not part of the toxic mix; otherwise the carter would not be safe to visit.
Images: Boiling mud and steam (left); Hot sulphur spring (right). © Paradise Islands org 2009.