A safe stopover for sailing yachts in the Caribbean
To address the increasing number of sailboats stopping over in the Soufrière Bay to admire the famous Pitons, the SMMA was created in 1992 in order to manage the passage of yachts while preserving marine and coastal resources. The marine area has thus been divided into five mooring areas that are now reserved for pleasure boaters between Anse Chastanet, Anse Mamin, Rachchette Point, Soufrière Jetty, Malgretoute Plage and the Beausejoure area.
The use of the moorings requires a Coral Conservation Permit. The amount of this permit depends on the size of the vessel and the duration of use. Permits are delivered by SMMA rangers, who patrol the area and can be contacted by VHF radio.
The SMMA thus strengths the viral role of Soufrière in the nautical sector in St Lucia by providing a secure stopover for private or charter boats crossing from Martinique to the Grenadines Islands.
Over the past 15 years, the SMMA has contributed to bringing together local fishermen, hoteliers, divers, pleasure boaters and the Soufrière community as well as managing and developing all the economic activities linked to the coastal area and maritime domain.
A secure stopover for yachts navigating in the Caribbean
- Access to moorings: EASY – However, water depth rapidly increases and moorings are placed a short distance from land. They are also close to one another and the aft of boats needs to be attached to a hawser to avoid drifting towards other boats.
- Shelter: AVERAGE – The bay is sheltered from dominant winds but is exposed to gusts and swirling winds blowing from the mountain. Swells on the Caribbean Sea can enter the bay in bad weather. Emergency shelter for boats is also available in Prince Rupert Bay, 25 km away from the Soufrière Bay.
- Night access: YES – But some moorings close to the coast are difficult.
- Night mooring: YES
- Maximum draught: The bay can accommodate all types of leisure craft, but it is recommended to ask for advice from the ranger who will come and greet you.
Reminder: The Soufrière Bay is a protected marine reserve and mooring is forbidden without a navigation licence, which is issued on demand during clearance formalities.
Even if the Soufrière Bay is considered a port of entry, no official agency is based there for the clearance of boats. It is thus recommended to carry out relevant formalities at Marigot Bay or at the Rodney Bay Marina before heading for Soufrière.
Soufrière, a major tourist area
Soufrière is a major tourist area on the island. Besides the restaurants, bars and small hotels, this village with 14,000 inhabitants is, however, not well developed. The shops are properly stocked and you will easily find seasonal fruit and produce. The local fishermen deserve a special mention as they turn into travelling vendors and sell their catch directly to boats. However, some important services for pleasure crafters are lacking such as a waste and blackwater management system, water and electricity supply, a Laundromat, a propane gas depot and a site for a boat repair.
The typical village and its painted wood houses are worth the visit. It was founded in 1746 owes its name to its closeness to Sulphur Springs. It is the oldest village and the former capital of St Lucia with a somewhat similar story to that of St Pierre in Martinique. The atypical cathedral built with dark volcanic rocks and painted in royal blue is a very interesting place. The locals are generally welcoming but tourists are often called upon and are advised to remain discreet and alert.
A starting point to visit various tourist attractions
Soufrière is a starting point of various tourist attractions and is only a few kilometres from lush botanical gardens and naturally hot sulphur water ponds.
There is an excellent site for snorkelling enthusiasts at Anse Chastanet, 2.4 km from Soufrière. It is recommended to get there by boat, or tender as the road is not in very good condition with steep terrain. Only 10 metres from the shore of a beautiful fine sandy beach, snorkelers can indulge their passion and wander in the meanders of a remarkably unspoilt coral ecosystem in shallow waters with an exceptional profusion of marine life!
Moreover, diving sites in Soufrière are renowned throughout the Caribbean and outings allowing the observation of resident and transient sea mammals are also on offer.