Getting Into Hot Water – Experiences of Hot Sulphur Springs in the Caribbean.

Caribbean Sulphur Springs

In my last blog I found out that bathing in seawater has so many incredible benefits to health that it even has the official name of thalassotherapy. I’m not sure if bathing in hot sulphur water has such a technical term but I am certain that it is just as healing.

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Hot sulphur springs are a natural feature of many Caribbean islands, especially the Lesser Antillian islands of St. Lucia, Martinique, Grenada, St. Vincent and some of the other more mountainous islands. These volcanic islands were formed millions of years ago as the tectonic plates of North America and the Caribbean slid over each other. The tectonic sliding continues to this day and gives rise to the many locations where sputtering steam vents and sulphur springs can be found.

The origin point of most of these sulphur springs is a bubbling stew of grey/black water that is boiling temperature and would scald the skin immediately on contact. When the boiling cauldron bursts through the Earth it definitely makes for good sight-seeing but the main attraction point in my mind is the baths of hot water that are created after the water has traveled or been channeled enough distance away to make it suitable for a delicious soak.

A common comment made about sulphur springs is that they smell of rotten eggs. I actually think the natural smell of sulphur water is not nearly so pungent and has a rather pleasant fragrance. But even if the smell does make you think twice about bathing in it, I would definitely urge you to ignore your olfactory system and plunge in. The delightful treat of a natural Caribbean sulphur spa provides healing to mind, body and spirit. Natural sulphur waters have been shown to ease symptoms of rheumatism, arthritis, gout and skin complaints such as eczema and sunburn. Surrounded and bathed by nature eases away stress and tension and many of these springs around the world have been referred to as fountains of youth. I know that I honestly feel complete cellular rejuvenation after any trip to the springs and recommend them highly!

I have been blessed to visit some of the hot springs within the Caribbean region and would like to share some of the experiences.

I’ll start with what is on my doorstep – the hot springs in the village of Wotten Waven, Dominica. This small village in the Roseau valley has fast become the unofficial spa destination of the country. There are currently four operations that have created pools and tubs with the healing sulphur waters and offer a natural spa experience for visitors and locals alike.

Ti Kwen Glo Cho (meaning: little corner of hot water) is my most local spot. Within the beautifully landscaped gardens there is a mud bath and waterfall and, in a separate location, five bath tubs are continuously filled with hot water that allow you to recline in your own private paradise. The water is channeled through the property in bamboo pipes and as the water flows onto your body it is like receiving a massage from the hands of Mother Nature herself!

Screws Sulphur Spa offers a selection of large pools of water in varying temperatures so there is something to suit everyone. They are deep enough to take a little ‘swim’ and float in them. Screw’s also offers a nice selection of fresh tropical fruits and juices to accompany the bath – yum!

Tia’s Bamboo Cottages as the name suggests is a set of creative constructions made primarily from bamboo. At Tia’s you can take a bath undercover which is great for rainy days and privacy. There are also pools right next to the river, a bamboo restaurant for lunch or dinner and of course the cottages are available to rent in case you really don’t want to go home!

The new kid on the block is the Shangri-La Resort and Spa which offers accommodations and healing treatments. Their three pools are constructed from stone by the riverside and range from hot to hotter to hottest! Here a qualified Watsu therapist can offer you a treatment in the waters that is like returning to the womb – what bliss!

Dominica also has several other hot springs… there is one on the climb to the spectacular Trafalgar Falls which is as untamed and pure as nature intended. Also in Trafalgar are the three tubs at Papillote Widerness Retreat. For the more adventurous there is a wonderful hot waterfall and pool after the valley of desolation on the trail to the Boiling Lake – you need this soak to recover from all the hiking.

On the west coast a small hot water outlet can be found in the Layou River and on the way down south a stop off into Champagne beach you can revel in the bubbles as you snorkel in the sea! At the very southern tip of the island, Soufriere boasts not only of hot springs but has a trail to walk to the ‘sulphur mountain’ which I always feel is like going to the moon without leaving the Earth! The white cratered surface is covered with vents which gurgle and cough out steam and I was once completely cured of flu by taking this walk and breathing in the vapours.

Dominica’s close island cousin, St Lucia, also has a Soufriere which offers the world’s only drive-in volcano tour – thankfully it is now dormant! Here you can walk through a lesson in Caribbean geology and then soak away stresses in a selection of natural or man-made pools.

I’ve been to Jamaica twice and I was blessed both times to visit different hot springs. The first time was to the famous Bath, where I was massaged and stretched on the rocks whilst being immersed in the hot water. It was such an incredible experience that I don’t think my body has ever been the same! On my second visit I stayed in the Northern parish of St Ann’s and visited the spot of the firewater! Yes this sulphur water actually sets on fire and I was completely amazed as I reclined in the water which was then lit on top and burst into flames! A more wild and wonderful time could not be imagined!!

I have read about other sulphur springs in St Kitts and Saba and I am sure there are many more within the region that I have yet to visit. I’d love to hear from anyone else about other hot springs in the Caribbean and your experiences of bathing in them. For now I think I deserve to go for yet another healing hot water soak!

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