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St. Lucia

St. Lucia Cruise Port Tips

Beautiful Harbor Introduces Visitors to Lush Landscapes

St. Lucia cruise ships
St. Lucia cruise port; © St. Lucia Tourist Board
The St. Lucia cruise port of Castries is one of the prettiest in the Caribbean. If the flowers are in bloom, all the better.

The Castries Harbor is really a snug inlet surrounded by hills like a deep comfortable blanket.

Wait until the ship arrives and then walk out onto the deck for the best and most fulfilling view of the trees, water and docks.

The main sea port is Castries and many cruise ships anchor at Pointe Seraphine and La Place Carenage.

Fast Facts


  • St. Lucia is known for beaches, scenery and outdoor attractions.
  • Outside of Castries, check out Reduit Beach and the Pitons.
  • Taxis closest to the docks tend to charge the most. Negotiate price.

Attractions


St. Lucia Pitons
St. Lucia Pitons draw hikers and people trying
the volcanic mud baths; © St. Lucia Tourist Board
St. Lucia is a fairly large island at 238 square miles. It offers plenty of space to explore.

The first attraction for any cruise visitor is the Pointe Seraphine Duty Free Shopping Complex right by the cruise docks. Like most popular Caribbean destinations, it is an open-air mall with several dozen shops selling jewelry, perfume, car rentals, excursions, clothing, liquor and food.

The city itself has a few other attractions worth noting. Derek Walcott Square, named after the Nobel winner from St. Lucia, is another gathering place for shoppers. It is one mile southeast of the cruise docks.

Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Micoud Street and Laborie Street at Walcott Square, is a picturesque photo opportunity of one of the largest churches in the West Indies.

Fort Charlotte, which is now a college, was the site of some of extensive fighting between the French and the British. The Choiseul Heritage site is a village with history, crafts and island views.

Otherwise, the rest of St. Lucia outside of Castries emphasizes nature.

Soufrière is both a village and home of St. Lucia's most famous landmark, the Pitons, a pair of dormant volcanoes more than 2,000 feet high. It is a common cruise excursion.

Visitors hike up the mountains and take volcanic mud baths for their reputed restorative powers.

Anyone who wants a gentler nature excursion can take a rain forest tram, another cruise line excursion. The open-air gondolas hold eight passengers and a nature guide. It is a three-hour excursion for less than $100 per person.

Pigeon Island, a destination for some cruise line excursions, has been the home of the Amerindians, a pirate hideout and a military base. It also has a beach. It is about 25 minutes north of Castries and is actually accessible by car.

Fond Doux Estate is a Caribbean-style working plantation has a variety of tropical fruits and plants.

Families or people with less time or energy can take advantage of St. Lucia’s beauty on the Tet Paul Nature Trail, a 45-minute hike near Soufrière.

The hike has views of Jalousie Bay and Gros Piton as well as the islands of Martinique and St. Vincent. It also has an organic farm, traditional house and exotic horticulture.

Anyone renting a car might explore the fishing villages of Anse-La-Raye and Canaries.

Nearby Beaches


Anse la Raye
Anse La Raye beach; © St. Lucia Tourist Board
Reduit Beach at Rodney Bay, located about 10 miles north of Castries, is the longest and one of the most popular beaches on the island.

Next to Reduit is Pigeon Island National Park, a popular spot for snorkeling and scuba diving.

Grande Anse lies on the east coast of the island and is a few miles farther from Castries as Reduit. It is a popular beach for turtle watching.

About eight miles south of Castries is Anse Chastanet, another popular beach known for long stretches of white sand and some stretches of black volcanic sand. It also has good snorkeling and scuba diving.

Smaller nearby beaches for anyone with limited time include Vigie, La Toc and Malabar.

Shopping / Dining


Duty-free shopping is located at La Place Carenage and the Spanish-style complex of Pointe Seraphine. Goods include fine china, crystal, perfume and leather products.

Designer jewelry and watch brands include Caribbean Hook, Honora, John Atencio, John Hardy, Kabana, Roberto Coin, Starnight, Alfex, Cartier, Concord, Gucci, Maurice LaCroix, Michele, Movado and Wenger.

An outdoor market on Jeremie Street has a wide array of straw goods. The best known products are the hand-silk-screened and hand-printed fabrics and fashions created by local craftsmen.

A variety of shopping malls with extended opening hours offer a wide selection of boutiques and restaurants. Most hotels have boutiques and vendors' markets.

Local shops are generally open weekdays from 8.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturday 8 a.m. to noon.

Higher-end restaurants in Castries or nearby include Tao, Foggie Jacks, Coal Pot at Vigie Marina and Rainforest Hideaway. Fast food restaurants include Domino's Pizza, Burger King and Burger Plus.


Getting Around / Transportation


Roads outside of Castries are limited, so plan on taking extra time to get to the most popular beaches and attractions.

Taxis have standard fares for common destinations rather than metered fares. Always ask for the fare before getting into the taxi.

Minibuses serve as the main public ground transportation for the island. Buses run at varied times depending on the route.

There is no scheduled bus timetable. Bus fares from Castries to the north end of the island is EC $2.50. From Castries to the south end of the island (Vieux Fort) is EC $8.

Car travel via the new West Coast Road from Castries to Soufriere takes about an hour.

Major car rental agencies include Avis, Budget, Hertz and National.

Weather


Anyone planning to go to St. Lucia on a cruise or thinking about going should know what to expect with the weather.

The island's average high temperature ranges from the low 80s Fahrenheit in January and February to the mid to high 80s for the rest of the year.

Rainfall varies greatly month to month. The island receives about three to four inches of rain from December through June.

It starts to climb in July during the Caribbean hurricane season and reaches a high point of eight inches in September and October.

Other Tips


  • The official currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (XCD). U.S. dollars, credit cards and traveler's checks are widely accepted.

  • Tipping is usually 10-12 percent of the bill.

  • There is an 8 percent tax on restaurant bills.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

 > Category: Cruise Ports   

October 15, 2018

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