Soufriere, St. Lucia

Feb 25, 2019 - Sea Cloud


St. Lucia is approximately 200 square miles and despite its small area and population, it has produced two Nobel Laureates—one in economics, Dr. Lewis, and one in literature, Derek Walcott. The islanders are proud of their achievements, and literacy and education are highly valued. We anchored in Soufriere Bay (at places it has a depth of 4,900 feet) just to the north and east of the Petit and Gros Pitons. The setting is very dramatic, as the town of Soufriere is actually situated at the west end of an ancient caldera created by a volcano that blew the western ridge of the mountain chain away about 39,000 years ago.

We boarded minivans for the short ride to the interior of the caldera where the hot gases, and molten waters and rock are still quite active. Here we were able to see and smell—sulfuric gases leave a pungent smell in the air—the island’s seismic activity. We then headed to the Diamond Botanical Gardens—one of the unsung gems of the Caribbean. Plants of every sort abound in profusion and our guide, Hyacinth, was able to point out all the most interesting varieties—the bamboo, the national plant of St. Lucia; and the jade vine, whose colors of turquoise, aquamarine, and blue I’ve never seen anywhere else in nature.

We returned to our vans for the very short drive to the center of Soufriere and Hummingbird Beach for snorkeling. The snorkeling is typically good here. There is a cleft in the cliff face, which is inhabited by a colony of bats. Their guano droppings produce an algae bloom, which brings fish to feed, and thus good snorkeling. Some of us visited the town and bought fresh coconut water from locals who used razor sharp machetes to prepare them for us.

Back aboard Sea Cloud, after lunch, we were visited by a large pod of white-sided Atlantic dolphins. They circled the port side and occasionally leapt completely out of the water. They are intelligent and social marine mammals and play is an important part of their behavior.

In the evening, we had the captain’s farewell dinner and Captain Nemerzhitskiy gave a splendid toast. We all went off to bed reflecting on an incredible voyage and awaiting our visit to Barbados in the morning.

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About the Author

Tom Heffernan

Historian

Tom, a native of New York City, who has had a life-long passion for travel and exploration, is the Kenneth Curry Professor of Humanities at the University of Tennessee and the founding Director of the university’s Humanities Center. His areas of interest are anthropology of religions and historical linguistics.

About the Photographer

Alex Krowiak

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

A childhood surrounded by the woods and streams of Pennsylvania initially sparked Alex’s curiosity about nature. That curiosity eventually led him to pursue degrees in biology and environmental studies at Boston College. During his time there he conducted research on carnivorous plants in Iceland and kelp forests in South Africa. Together these diverse experiences provided him with the background and passion to become a teacher. 

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