St. Lucia, Soufriere, Tet Paul
One day I was chatting with a security guard at western entrance to Sugar Beach in Beausejour which is at Jalousy. I was mentioning that I had just hiked up to ridge above the village of Morne la Croix, but the spectacular views of Petit Piton I remembered from the past now seemed to be blocked by rich people’s houses (all two of them). He pointed to a ridge way above Morne La Croix and said “Look at that ridge up there – now see the little bit of a platform, that is where the view is, at Tet Paul.”
The Tet Paul Park is a community project under the auspices of the Soufriere Foundation that provides employment for people from the small village of Chateaubelair, which lies high in the hills between the Pitons. The owner of the land in the olden days was Paul, and the park is at the precipitous head of this land; thus the name. The main attraction is a super-dramatic precipitous view of Petit Piton and the anchorage from a platform perched on the edge. They also have some organic gardens, a nice “old-style” house full of the things people used in those days including a calabash water carrier, and model of an old cassava production hut. Entrance is at the moment $5 US per person, and you probably need to allow the same again for a tip as the tour is guided.
Now you can reach this park by taxi and take in this view in half an hour or so, but that is not the real sailors way. We like to start and end up on the waterfront which makes this a lot more interesting. Beach or tie up your dinghy on what is left of the dock at the western end of Sugar Beach. Come out to the road, go right (sort of ahead as you come out), and climb the hill to Morne La Croix. You could probably buy a red spot or some such here if you forgot to bring water, but better not to forget. Continue up to the ridge where you will see a water tower, and the magnificent house “Villa des Pitons”. This will take about 20 minutes. If you stand at the water tower and turn around looking back out in the Petit Piton direction you will see a clear trail leading uphill into the bush to your right. Follow this trail. The problem, in as much as there is one is not to take one of the side trails. I noticed a place where you might be tempted to turn left over some open ground very shortly after the starting, and another higher up where another equally well defined trail takes off to the right but heads downhill. Don’t take either of those. The trail was the main way people from Chateaubelair and surrounding villages used to get down to Jalousy and the beach. They now mainly have cars so the trail is not in great shape, with sometimes uncertain footing, but clear enough. It is pretty much all uphill, quite a lot of it shaded, until you arrive at the tarmac road in the village of Chateaubelair. Turn left on this road, but before you have gone too far make sure you recognize your path exit for when you return, (in our case, to come back, turn right at the cow). Continue uphill till the next T junction. Turn left at this junction where you should see a sign to Tet Paul. Continue to the park. (This will take you about 30-45 minutes from Morne La Criox). Enjoy the park where a guide will take you around and this part also takes about 40 minutes with a suitable long pause at the view. Our guide was called John and perfectly delightful. Retrace your steps to get back down.
By way of full disclosure, seeing as when I did this trip I did not yet know where to go, I called Anthony who has the water taxi Livety, and who lives in Morne La Croix to come and guide us (488-7820/717-2019). I was very glad I did because Anthony a great guide. He really enjoys meeting you, showing you the sights and telling you about life here. Even better, he took us back a different way which was really beautiful, but you could not do on your own as it takes you right through Union Vale a big private estate, St. Lucia’s largest cocoa plantation where they provide cocoa for the Chicago based Best Chocolate in the World Co. We passed though lovely farmland, met Anthony’s daughter, all of which really added to the experience. If you want to do it that way call Anthony who will collect you from your boat, drive up to the ridge to begin the hike, give a you a wonderful tour for $30 US per person (minimum 4 or $120 US). He can also guide you up Gros Piton if you wish.