Dirty Tricks: Erase Years in St. Lucia Mud Bath

September 9, 2018

Sometimes getting down and dirty is a good thing.

Take my birthday, for instance.  Instead of advancing a year, I decided I’d rather try taking a few years off, using therapeutic mud.  At least that was my goal… well, that and jumping on the opportunity to unleash my inner 5-year-old.

The Sulfur Springs on St. Lucia

Sulfur Springs on St. Lucia was the much-anticipated excursion on my week-long birthday celebration on the Carnival Cruise ship Valor.  Just inland from the picturesque fishing village of Soufrière (French for sulfur) on the southwestern side of the island, the thermal pools and mud baths are inside the world only “drive-in” volcano.  The road runs right into the crater of the dormant volcano, where you are immediately surrounded by steam, sulfur, and boiling mud.

st lucia mud bath

The water in the center of the Qualibou caldera boils at around 340 degrees Fahrenheit, spewing sprays up through 24 steaming vents in the crusty surface.  At one time, visitors were allowed to explore the grounds around the tar pits and over the thin crust of the crater’s magma chamber.  However, around twenty years ago a local guide fell through the crust into a pool of boiling water, getting badly burned up to his waist.  A fence now prevents tourists from venturing beyond.

Viewing the exploding steam from the platform is fascinating, but the real reason to visit the park is to create a muddy mineral memory.

Getting Into the Mud on St. Lucia

st lucia mud bath

From the platform, a series of stairs leads down to the stream which runs from the crater, leaving mushy deposits of black volcanic mud along the banks.   The stepping stones are hot and slippery from the volcanic water and mud, but after a few minutes, I became acclimated to the just-less-than-blistering temperature.

An unmistakable odor wafted up from the stream, but after all the warnings I’d heard about the “rotten egg” stench, the smell was not intolerable, certainly less putrid than I had anticipated.

st lucia mud bath

Standing ankle-deep in the hot stream, using your hands as natural cups is the best way to excavate the therapeutic sludge which is then slapped on all exposed skin.  The mud, which is still warm at 110 degrees Fahrenheit, is just cool enough to slather on your body.  The mineral content of sulfur, iron, calcium oxide, carbon, copper oxide, and magnesium is reputed to have medicinal value including therapeutic qualities for the skin. Many spas around the world use sulfur as their main ingredient in facial mud masks.

Fully slathered with the St. Lucia sludge, I look like one tough mudder, no?

Fully slathered with the St. Lucia sludge, I look like one tough mudder, no?

I know, I’m one tough mudder, no? The mud felt very soothing and the tiny bits of dirt acted like an exfoliant, sloughing away dry skin.  The whole effect felt very rejuvenating.

The Thermal “Tubs” in St. Lucia

st lucia mud bath

After allowing myself time to luxuriate in the mineral-laden mud, I walked further downstream to where the flow eventually empties into a large rectangular tub roughly constructed to catch the therapeutic runoff.  That’s where I became one hot babe.  Literally.  “Just jump in!” people were saying as I tenuously offered one toe, only to pull it back.  I plopped down on the edge and then tentatively lowered myself in, up to my waist.  The water was really, really HOT.  And smelly.  Rising up from the brown water, the rank perfume filled my nostrils.  Or maybe it was mud that had inadvertently gotten stuck there.  Whatever the cause, the water was too hot to bath for very long, so I splashed my arms and rubbed my face, in futile effort to remove the mud.

Getting the Mud Off in St. Lucia

st lucia mud bath

Climbing out of the bath, I scurried over to the showers.  Did I say “shower?” I meant “trickle.”  I stood for a long time under the small but steady stream of cold water running down from a spigot.  Yeesh!  The more mud I washed off, the more appeared!  It was no use trying to rinse it off the exposed skin because more just eased out from under my soiled swimsuit.  I tried to inconspicuously remedy that, to no avail.  Finally, I gave up, dried off, and put on dry clothes.

I stuffed my mucky swimsuit into a plastic bag and tossed it into the nearest trash can.  The dense black mud might be great for skin, but there was no way it was coming out of fabric.

Thankfully, the long, winding, one-and-a-half hour drive back to the port of Castries was broken up by a visit to a stunning scenic overlook of Soufriere and the iconic Pitons –  Grande Piton and Petite Piton rising dramatically from the Caribbean, and the lesser known… Tasty Piton.

st lucia mud bath

Back on board, I made a mental note that it was going to take days, or weeks, to get the mud from under my fingernails and toenails.  It was all worth it though. .. my skin felt softer than it had in years.

If you prefer to spend more time in St. Lucia, check out the AMAZING oceanfront Sugar Beach Resort!

Click on the image to PIN so you can find it again.

st lucia mud bath

This  St. Lucia article was originally published in Women’s Toolbox.

This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer.

About the Author

Patti MorrowPatti Morrow is a freelance travel writer and founder of the award-winning blog Luggage and Lipstick. TripAdvisor called her one of “20 Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers Having More Fun Than Millennials.”  Patti is the author of the book “Girls Go Solo: Tips for Women Traveling Alone,” and has over 150 bylines in 40 print and online publications, including The Huffington Post, International Living Magazine, Washington Post Sunday Travel, Travel Girl, Travel Play Live Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal.

Patti has traveled six continents looking for fabulous places and adventure activities for her Baby Boomer (and Gen X!) tribe. You can follow Patti on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Read more about Patti Morrow.

19 comments

  1. Pingback: St Lucia on a Budget: Around Soufriere - Erika's Travels

  2. Pingback: Aruba Travel Tips- Best Things to Do for a Fun-Crammed Vacation

  3. Comment by Jessica

    Jessica Reply November 13, 2018 at 6:12 am

    You really look like one tough mudder, Patti!! 🙂 I’m glad you had fun and relieved despite the rotten egg smell? But still, I should add St. Lucia mud bath in my bucket list, more for the therapeutic reason 😉
    Thanks for sharing.
    Cheers,
    Jessica

  4. Comment by Tam

    Tam Reply September 17, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    LOL. I did this when I visited St lucia too, and I loved it! I don’t know about years, but the thermal mud was certainly invigorating!

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply September 19, 2018 at 3:14 pm

      Haha, but it was worth a try, right?

  5. Comment by Jeff Bryant

    Jeff Bryant Reply September 10, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    What a fun experience. It looks like a St, Lucia mud bath is just what the doctor ordered. We will have to take old suits, so we don’t ruin a good one.

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply September 11, 2018 at 1:46 pm

      It’s quite an experience! I brought a suit that I knew I would just throw away!

  6. Comment by Lori

    Lori Reply September 10, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    I’m absolutely amazed you got all that mud on and hardly a drop in your hair!! That’s precision mud-bathing, my friend! Looks like such fun 🙂

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply September 11, 2018 at 1:47 pm

      Lol, figures you’d notice that! I can’t even imagine how difficult it would have been to get it out of my hair — it took a week to get it from under my nails!

  7. Comment by alison abbott

    alison abbott Reply September 10, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    Have never been to St. Lucia, but feels like this is a therapeutic reason to get there. Nothing like the smell of rotten eggs to feel like you’re turning back the clock! Kind of reminds me of our soak in the Azores: in, get the photo, out and trickle shower. I’m not sure our bathing suits made it home from there either.

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply September 11, 2018 at 1:48 pm

      Haha, yes, very much like the Azores but thicker. Fun times!

  8. Comment by Carol Colborn

    Carol Colborn Reply September 10, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    This will be my reason to take a Caribbean cruise! I’m turning 70 and badly need this therapeutic mud bath. I’ve been to the Bahamas and Cozumel but not those in between. This will be my reason!

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply September 11, 2018 at 1:49 pm

      Yes! A milestone birthday is the perfect reason! Can’t wait to hear about it!

  9. Comment by Irene S. Levine

    Irene S. Levine Reply September 10, 2018 at 8:43 am

    I would have needed the drink before the mud bath!

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply September 11, 2018 at 1:50 pm

      Haha! Or two! Wish I had thought of that!

  10. Comment by Donna Meyer

    Donna Meyer Reply September 10, 2018 at 2:12 am

    You always end up in the most fun places, Patti! Too bad about the swimsuit, but clearly worth it!

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply September 11, 2018 at 1:51 pm

      I do like to have fun! And not to worry — I knew ahead of time I’d have to discard the suit, so I brought an old one.

  11. Comment by Doreen Pendgracs

    Doreen Pendgracs Reply April 24, 2014 at 8:05 am

    You look good in all that mud, Patti! When I was in St. Lucia, I was wrapped in molten chocolate and fed handmade chocolates at the same time! It was truly decadent, and for this chocoholic, preferable to the mud!

    Either way, St. Lucia rocks and is definitely high on my list as a true paradise.

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply April 24, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      Wow! A molten chocolate bath! No need for a shower… I’d just lick it all off! Wish I had known about that. Well, there’s always a next time!

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