Lots of choices during a cruise but hiking up Gros Piton was a good shore excursion for my wife and I. Real St. Lucia Tours took us to the trailhead in a BMW and set up the required guide for us. How nice.
Today we climbed Gros Piton, one of the two iconic and most famous mountains of the island (the other is the Petit Piton). We went with Real St Lucia Tours since they gave us a good price (a guide is required for the hike) and it wouldn't have been any less expensive to drive ourselves. The drive to the trailhead was very scenic too. The Pitons definitely fit the definition of rising straight out of the ocean!
The climb was excellent, and although steep, it wasn't as difficult as some of the other rain forest mountains that we have done. We began to worry a big when every single people we met on the trail (we got a later star than most) before the half way point said that they didn't reach the summit and that it was extremely difficult.
There were some sections where scrambling over logs and over rocks was required, but the trail was actually really well constructed and there were even handrails in places. It was steep, but wasn't overly slippery. Past the half way point, we started to meet people that had actually made the summit. I guess the reason a lot of people don't make it is because they are "regular tourist" rather than climbers.
We saw many birds and lizards along the way and even a hermit crab high on the peak. We also heard the brush rustling a bit, but never did see what animal it was. We also saw a gigantic (!) wasp and some humming birds.
The views were excellent and you could look straight down on the ocean for much of the distance. Even with three rest along the way, we reached the summit in just over two hours at a fairly leisurely pace. It was a little warm at times, but the climb was very enjoyable. We took a long lunch and break on the summit before heading back down. It did rain a bit, but the trail didn't get that slippery. It took about 4 and a half hours round trip, including rest breaks.
We still had time, so we visited the Piton Waterfall, which is only a short "hike" (actually more of a stroll). There were some warm pools, but the waterfall itself had water that was a perfect temperature. It was very pleasant and a great way to end the climb.
We actually arrived in Rodney Bay very late. A semi had overturned on the main road, so we were delayed for hours.
Climbed the evening with Cameron Vauroque from Fond Gens Libre. Blown away by the gorgeous forest on top, which has all kinds of atmosphere if you are there before or after the midday rush. Should've brought headlamps for the descent, but Cameron's phone did the job.
Nice hike on a beautiful day.
Great climb...lots of fun!