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St. Lucia Pitons

Morgan Oliver-Allen


Behind the Shot

Declared one of the five must-see places by Oprah Winfrey, St. Lucia, the tiny island nation in the West Indies in the eastern Caribbean, stands out from its neighboring islands because of its mountainous peaks. Some islands in the Caribbean are flat, formed from coral reefs or limestone plateaus atop bedrock. St. Lucia, though, is volcanic, formed between 5 and 6 million years ago. Its famous twin peaks, Petit Piton and Gros Piton, are babies in comparison, formed between 200,000 and 300,000 years ago.

Worshiped as gods by the first inhabitants of St. Lucia, the Arawaks, the peaks were first known as Atebyra and Yokahu. Atebyra was the god of fertility and life. Yokahu was the god of rain, thunder and fire. These two peaks are actually volcanic plugs. After tens of thousands of years of erosion, the dormant volcanos’ outer structures were worn away, leaving the solid rock centers. These plugs are considered two of the finest examples of volcanic plugs in the world. Gros Piton stands 2,618 feet tall and Petit Piton is 2,438 feet tall. Their geological and ecological importance has been recognized by UNESCO, and in 2004, the Pitons were recognized as one of 20 Heritage sites in the Caribbean.

Morgan visited the island in 2018. “The island is amazing, but the best way to see the Pitons is from the water. Seeing them from a boat is the only way to really get a sense of how massive these rocks are. The waters are so clear here, and the black-sand beaches are amazing. We paid a guy a few bucks to take us out on his small boat and spent the afternoon enjoying the water and the views.”